UN court says Israel must prevent genocide as Gaza war rages
AFP | The Hague, Netherlands
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
The UN’s top court yesterday said Israel must prevent genocide in its war with Hamas and allow aid into Gaza, but stopped short of calling for an end to the fighting.
The International Court of Justice also said Israel must facilitate “urgently needed” humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been under relentless bombardment and siege since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the case as “outrageous” while Gaza’s Hamas rulers hailed the ICJ ruling, saying it “contributes to isolating Israel and exposing its crimes in Gaza”.
Soon after, the Islamist movement released a video showing three Israeli women held hostage in Gaza, two of whom said they were Israeli soldiers.
The United Nations court based in The Hague - while refraining from ordering an immediate halt to the almost fourmonth-old Gaza war - said Israel must do everything to “prevent the commission of all acts within the scope” of the Genocide Convention.
South Africa brought the case against Israel, accusing it of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, set up after World War II and the Holocaust.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and senior officials erupted in cheers after the ruling, which is legally binding although the court has no enforcement mechanism.
Speaking after the ruling, Netanyahu said the charge “is not only false, it’s outrageous, and decent people everywhere should reject it”.
Israel “does not need to be lectured on morality,” his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said.
For the Palestinian Authority, the ruling showed that “no state is above the law”, and the European Union said it wanted immediate implementation of the court’s decision.
Mushtana Musalim, a 56-yearold displaced man from Gaza City, expressed gratitude to South Africa for bringing the case against Israel.
“This in itself is an achievement in our favour but, going back in history, Israel has not recognised international decisions,” he told AFP. “As Palestinians, we support the step and we feel proud of it.”
The war started with the October 7 attack by Hamas that resulted in about 1,140 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.
Hamas fighters also seized about 250 hostages and Israel says around 132 of them remain in Gaza, including the bodies of at least 28 dead captives.
Israel has vowed to crush Hamas and launched a military offensive that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says has killed at least 26,083 people, about 70 percent of them women and children.
Risk of famine
On the ground, AFPTV images from Gaza City yesterday showed hundreds of Palestinians crowding around a truck delivering aid, after the UN World Food Programme this week warned of increasing risk of famine in Gaza.
Footage from Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, showed scores of decomposing bodies amid the rubble. In Khan Yunis, south Gaza’s main city, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said Nasser Hospital had “completely run out of food, anaesthetics and painkillers as a result of the Israeli siege”.