Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

The International Court of Justice (‘the Court’) has granted South Africa’s Urgent Request of 6 March 2024, for further provisional measures to prevent Israel from causing irreparable harm to the rights invoked by South Africa under the 1948 Genocide Convention in respect of the ongoing siege of Gaza.

In doing so, the Court agreed with South Africa’s assertion that the situation in Gaza had deteriorated significantly since the Court’s Order of 26 January 2024 as a result of Israel’s failure to comply with that Order. Therefore, it was necessary for the Court to indicate further provisional measures.

As the Court put it, “Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine, as noted in the Order of 26 January 2024, but that famine is setting in, with at least 31 people, including 27 children, having already died of malnutrition and dehydration”.

The Court unanimously ordered Israel to:

Take all necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay, in full co-operation with the United Nations, the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance, including food, water, electricity, fuel, shelter, clothing, hygiene and sanitation requirements, as well as medical supplies and medical care to Palestinians throughout Gaza, including by increasing the capacity and number of land crossing points and maintaining them open for as long as necessary.

By fifteen votes to one (Judge ad hoc Barak of Israel dissenting), the Court ordered Israel to:

Ensure with immediate effect that its military does not commit acts which constitute a violation of any of the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza as a protected group under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, including by preventing, through any action, the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance.
Submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this Order, within one month as from the date of this Order.

These provisional measures supplement those of 26 January, which ordered Israel inter alia to refrain from committing genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza and to prevent and punish direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.

The impact of the International Court of Justice’s order is significant. The changing circumstances in Gaza warrant the implementation of new strategies.

The fact that Palestinian deaths are not solely caused by bombardment and ground attacks, but also by disease and starvation, indicates a need to protect the group’s right to exist.

The most effective way to uphold this right is through prevention. The Court’s actions include specific responsibilities to prevent genocide.

As a number of Judges pointed out, these responsibilities can only be fulfilled by halting military operations in Gaza and adhering to the court’s directives. If there is non-compliance, the global community must ensure adherence when it comes to the sanctity of humanity.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

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