Israel rejects ‘outrageous’ ICJ ruling

Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 24, 2023 ©  AP / Ohad Zwigenberg

The International Court of Justice has ordered West Jerusalem to prevent genocide in Gaza Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 24, 2023 © AP / Ohad Zwigenberg

The Israeli government has brushed off a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering it to prevent the genocide of the Palestinian people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the very claim that Israeli is committing genocide is “not only false, it’s outrageous.”

The Hague-based court ruled on Friday that “the state of Israel shall take all measures to prevent the commission of genocide to Gaza,” punish any members of its military who commit genocidal acts, punish all public calls by officials for genocide, and immediately allow more humanitarian aid into the Palestinian enclave.

The court ruled that South Africa may pursue its genocide case against Israel, but stopped short of demanding that the predominantly Jewish country “immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza,” as Pretoria had requested.

While South Africa described the court’s decision as a “decisive victory for the international rule of law,” the first official comment from West Jerusalem was one of scorn.

UN Court orders Israel to ‘prevent genocide’ UN Court orders Israel to ‘prevent genocide’

“Hague schmague,” Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir posted on X after the verdict was announced. A member of the hardline ‘Jewish Power’ party, Ben-Gvir caused international controversy last month when he declared that Israel should “encourage the wilful emigration” of Gaza’s population to other countries, a statement that was widely seen as a call for ethnic cleansing.

In a statement shortly after Ben-Gvir’s post, Netanyahu welcomed the court’s decision not to order a ceasefire, stating that “Like every country, Israel has a basic right to defend itself.”

However, “the mere claim that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians is not only false, it’s outrageous, and the willingness of the court to even discuss this is a disgrace that will not be erased for generations,” Netanyahu continued.

The Israeli leader promised that he would not allow any of his soldiers or military commanders “to be hauled before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.”

The ICJ lacks the power to enforce its rulings, meaning that any judgement in the genocide case will ultimately be symbolic.

Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking nearly 250 to Gaza as hostages. Israel responded by declaring war on the Palestinian militant group and placing Gaza under a near-total siege.

The Israeli operation has left more than 26,000 Palestinians dead, roughly two-thirds of whom were women and children, according to the latest figures from the Gaza Health Ministry. Around 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been destroyed and a quarter of its population are starving and unable to access drinking water, according to a UN report published earlier this month.

South Africa lodged its case in late December, arguing that Israel was breaching the UN Genocide Convention by “killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction.” (RT)

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