What the World Court Ruled on the Matter of Genocide in Gaza

There is a profound irony in the reaction to the preliminary ruling issued on Jan. 26 by the International Court of Justice in the case brought by South Africa, asking that Israel be found guilty of genocide, and be ordered to stop the genocidal attacks on the Palestinians in Gaza. The irony is that the ruling has been disparaged by both those defending Israel’s actions, and some who oppose them. Defenders of Israel, including members of the Netanyahu regime, first declared a victory since there was no demand issued for a ceasefire, but also attacked the court, in the words of Defense Minister Gallant, for accepting an “anti-Semitic request to discuss the claim of genocide in Gaza”. Those disappointed with the decision accuse the Court of corruption and fear of the power of the “Israel Lobby”.

Both “sides” missed the significance of the ruling, and are responding in a pre-programmed way, fitting the profile of their followers. A reading of the text confirms that the Court’s findings do challenge Netanyahu’s apologists, and represent a strong first step to restoring accountability in strategic affairs.

The six orders issued are:

  1. Israel must “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts defined” by the Convention on genocide, which include ending the killing, and acts causing serious bodily and mental harm to Palestinians; and stop “deliberately inflicting…conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction…;and imposing measures intended to prevent births within that group.”
  2. Ensure “with immediate effect that its military does not commit any acts described in point 1.”
  3. Take all measures to “prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide….”
  4. Take immediate measures to provide “urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
  5. Take “effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts” described above.
  6. Must “submit a report to the Court on all measures…within one month as from the date of this order”.

The ruling was greeted enthusiastically by South Africa’s President Ramaphosa, who described it “as a victory for international law”, adding that this “Order is binding on Israel,” and represents “an important first step in our quest to secure justice for the people of Gaza”. For those complaining that the judges did not order an immediate ceasefire, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Dr. Naledi Pandor, said that “If you read the order, by implication, a ceasefire must happen” in order to fulfill the demands placed on Israel.

Following its decision on the emergency provisional measures requested by South Africa, the ICJ will now fully examine the charges of genocide against Israel. A definitive ruling is not expected for months.

The order can be read in full here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email