ICJ to deliver a ruling Friday on South Africa's genocide case against Israel

Thursday, January 25, 2024
 – On Friday, January 26, the international court of justice (ICJ), Hague, Netherlands will deliver its highly anticipated verdict on South Africa’s request for an interim ruling in its genocide case against Israel.

The ruling, if granted, would probably take the form of an order to Israel to announce a ceasefire in Gaza and allow more UN humanitarian aid into the country.

South Africa's claim that Israel is committing genocide under the 1948 Geneva convention might not get a totally favorable judgement, but the ICJ, the UN’s highest court, has powers to issue the equivalent of an interim injunction.

Israel has dismissed South Africa’s claim as a blood libel, but attended the court to mount a defence, potentially making it more difficult for Israel simply to dismiss any negative verdict.

Representatives of both states laid out their legal arguments in The Hague on 11 and 12 January in hearings that were watched worldwide.

Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu also issued a formal statement designed to reassure the court that Israel was acting in self-defence after the 7 October Hamas assaults.

The Israeli prime minister also dismissed suggestions that Israel was seeking to expel Palestinians from Gaza. Intent is critical to a court decision on genocide, so it would require the ICJ judges to hear statements by ministers, and other statements of the Israeli Defense Forces, if it was to rule there is a threat of genocide that needs preventing.

An immediate ceasefire, or cessation of hostilities, is the prime provisional measure requested by South Africa. In such a scenario, nations and their governments could respond by applying pressure on Israel to comply with the order.

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