In a historic ruling against Israel for apparent acts of genocide, the International Court of Justice called on Israel to immediately prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and punish calls for incitement. The case against Israel will now move forward.
Speaking on behalf of the World Court’s 17 justices, two of them ad hoc (from South Africa and Israel), President Joan Donoghue delivered the court’s response to South Africa’s application against Israel under the 1948 Genocide Convention and its request for an urgent injunction – ‘provisional measures,’ in legal jargon, against Israel.
Donoghue delivered a withering summary of the situation Gaza’s 2.3 million people face after sixteen weeks of unrelenting Israeli violence, featuring acts plausibly defined as genocidal under Article II of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
In her 45-minute presentation to a packed chamber of attorneys and diplomats, President Donoghue quoted a host of senior UN sources, UN Special Rapporteurs and the UN Secretary General himself, describing a situation in Gaza that looks, sounds and smells like genocide.
She also quoted statements by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and other senior Israeli officials that South Africa argues are genocidal.
After a detailed review of the procedural requirements for the court to ‘indicate preliminary measures’ (an injunction of sorts) – all of which were met in South Africa’s application, she confirmed – Judge Donoghue read out a half dozen preliminary measures the court expects Israel to carry out as state party to the 1948 Genocide Convention. Four of the six measures passed by a vote of 15-2. Two passed by a vote of 16-1.
Israel, Judge Donoghue announced, must:
1) take all measures to ensure that acts deemed genocidal under the Genocide Convention do not take place in Gaza;
2) ensure that its military does not commit genocidal acts;
3) prevent and punish genocide incitement and rhetoric;
4) enable and facilitate the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza;
5) prevent destruction and preserve evidence of genocide in its military operations, and
6) report to the court within one month, informing the court of its compliance with today’s preliminary measures order, and in response to South Africa’s genocide complaint.
The court did not instruct Israel to suspend its military operations in the besieged enclave, however, as South Africa had requested in its application.
In its meticulously detailed, 84-page application to the ICJ instituting proceedings against Israel under the Genocide Convention, South Africa had asked the court, pending its determination of the facts underlying its charges (something that will take years), to instruct Israel to “immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.”
Israeli lawyers may think they dodged a bullet at the International Court of Justice today in The Hague because the court neglected to do so. But they have little reason to celebrate, and they know it….