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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

South Africa calls ICJ Gaza genocide ruling a “decisive victory” for the international rule of law

Nelson Mandela statue unveiled in Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine, 2016

In a ruling that South Africa called a “decisive victory” for the international rule of law. the International Court of Justice in the Hague has issued an interim ruling that backs many of the points made in its case against Israel under the Genocide Convention.

As reported by Al Jazeera, the presiding judge, Judge Donoghue said that "the court notes that the military operation conducted by Israel has resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries, as well as massive destruction of homes, the forcible displacement of the vast majority of the population and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure."

Donoghue also noted the “dehumanising language” used against Palestinians by senior Israeli officials and leaders after stating that the court recognized the Palestinians as a people with the right to be protected from acts of genocide.

The court also affirmed its jurisdiction in the case and refused to dismiss it outright as Israel had requested.

Key points of the ruling include:

  • The court ordered Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip and ordered it to report back in one month.

  • The court said Israel must prevent and punish incitement to genocide.

  • The court says Israel must allow humanitarian aid into Gaza

  • The court obliged Israel to take more measures to protect Palestinians

The court did not demand a ceasefire as so many people around the world had hoped it would do.

The ruling is, however, a huge blow to Israel and its key supporter the United States who had called South Africa's case "meritless" and demanded its immediate dismissal.

Common Dreams reports that the Intercept's Jeremy Scahill wrote Friday: "This ruling from the ICJ is a massive legal defeat for Israel and its premiere defenders, the U.S. and Germany. The question now is enforceability and whether the U.S. will openly trample international law in an effort to continue aiding Israeli crimes against Palestinians."

The U..S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights said in response to the decision: "This is a crucial moment in history to finally holding Israel accountable. One thing has been made clear on the world stage: There is vastly documented evidence that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians."

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