ICJ orders Israel to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza, stops short of demanding ceasefire- as it happened

Ahram Online , Friday 26 Jan 2024

The United Nations’ top court ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction, and any acts of genocide in its military offensive in Gaza, but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire.

Pro-Palestinian activists wave flags during session of the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 AP


While the ruling stopped short of that, it nonetheless constituted an overwhelming rebuke of Israel’s wartime conduct and added to mounting international pressure to halt the offensive that has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, decimated vast swaths of Gaza, and driven nearly 85 percent of its 2.3 million people from their homes.

In the highly anticipated decision made by a panel of 17 judges, the International Court of Justice decided not to throw out the case — and ordered six so-called provisional measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza.

Many of the measures were approved by an overwhelming majority of the judges. An Israeli judge voted in favour of two of the six.

"The court is acutely aware of the extent of the human tragedy that is unfolding in the region and is deeply concerned about the continuing loss of life and human suffering,” Joan E. Donoghue, the court's president, said

19:00 The World Health Organization denied Israel's claim that the WHO was in collusion with Hamas by ignoring Israeli evidence of the "military use" of hospitals in the Gaza Strip.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said that such accusations could endanger its staff on the ground.

Tedros was responding to claims made Thursday by Israeli Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar at a meeting of the UN health agency's board.

"WHO refutes Israel's accusation at the executive board meeting yesterday that WHO is in 'collusion' with Hamas and is 'turning a blind eye' to the suffering of hostages being held in Gaza," Tedros said on X.

"Such false claims are harmful and can endanger our staff who are risking their lives to serve the vulnerable."

"As a United Nations agency, WHO is impartial and is working for the health and well-being of all people."

Earlier this month he told a press conference that healthcare should always be protected. It "cannot be attacked and it cannot be militarized," he said

18:15 Germany has affirmed that its ally, Israel, must comply with the order issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to take all necessary measures to prevent genocide in the Gaza Strip. While Berlin rejects the allegation of genocide, it intends to intervene in the ICJ proceedings at a later stage.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock emphasized that the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ on Friday are binding under international law and that Israel must abide by them. She acknowledged that Israel's actions in Gaza were a response to the terrorism of 7 October but stressed that the court also highlighted Hamas' obligation to adhere to international humanitarian law and release all captives.

Baerbock further stated that Germany will support Israel in complying with the ICJ's order to provide urgently needed aid to Palestinians in Gaza. The provision of aid aims to alleviate the adverse conditions faced by the population in the region.

17:30 Palestinian resistance group Hamas released a video showing three Israeli women held captive in Gaza since the 7 October attack, AFP reported.

Two of the women who appeared in the five-minute video said they were Israeli soldiers, and the third said she was a civilian.

AFP wrote they could identify the three women using official and community sources.

The women said they had been detained for 107 days, suggesting the video may have been filmed on Sunday.

The release of the video came shortly after a ruling by the UN's top court that Israel should do everything it can to prevent any acts of genocide in Gaza

17:00 The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Friday it had sacked several employees accused by Israel of involvement in Hamas's unprecedented 7 October attack, prompting the United States to suspend critical funding.

The decision had been taken "to protect the agency's ability to deliver humanitarian assistance," said UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini.

"Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution," he said.

Israeli authorities had provided information about the staff members' alleged involvement, he said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres "is horrified" by the accusations and an "urgent and comprehensive independent review of UNRWA will be conducted," said his Spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The US State Department said it was "extremely troubled" by the allegations and had "temporarily paused additional funding" while it reviewed the claims and the UN's plan to address concerns. 

Twelve employees "may have been involved," it added.

The United States was the agency's biggest bilateral donor in 2022, contributing more than $340 million, according to UNRWA's website

16:30 The European Union said it wanted "immediate" implementation of the United Nations court ruling that Israel must prevent genocidal acts in Gaza. 

"Orders of the International Court of Justice are binding on the parties and they must comply with them. The European Union expects their full, immediate, and effective implementation," Brussels said

16:05 The Palestinian Authority has expressed its welcome for the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki stated that the Palestinian Authority appreciates the ICJ's ruling, which he believes upholds humanity and international law.

Minister Al Maliki called on all states to ensure the implementation of the court's provisional measures, emphasizing that Israel, as the occupying power, has a binding legal obligation to comply. He urged states to take action to halt what he referred to as Israel's genocidal war on the Palestinian people in Gaza and to avoid complicity in such actions.

The ICJ's order serves as a reminder that no state is above the law, according to Minister Al Maliki. The Palestinian Authority sees the ruling as a significant milestone in the pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people.

16:00 Palestinian resistance group Hamas hailed the UN top court's "important" ruling stating that Israel should do everything it can to prevent any acts of genocide in Gaza, saying it "contributes to isolating Israel."

"The (International) Court of Justice's decision is an important development which contributes to isolating Israel and exposing its crimes in Gaza," the group said in a statement.

15:56  South Africa has hailed the ICJ's decision as a "decisive victory" for international rule of law. The country's Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued a statement expressing its satisfaction with the court's order. South Africa hopes that Israel will not obstruct the application of the order, as it has threatened to do publicly. Instead, it expects Israel to fully comply with the order, by its legal obligations.

The ICJ's provisional measures and the positive response from the Palestinian Authority and South Africa underscore the significance of the court's decision and its potential impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The international community will be closely watching the developments following this ruling.

15:55 A total of 31 foreign passport holders and 40 Palestinians in need of medical treatment will enter Egypt from the Gaza Strip, the crossing’s administration announced.

Typically, foreigners crossing from Gaza to Egypt can travel to their respective countries shortly after evacuation.

The Palestinian patients are composed of both those who were injured in the war and those who need medical treatment for other reasons.

The patients were evacuated from several hospitals in the strip, including the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, the European Hospital, and the Nasser Medical Complex. They will be transferred to hospitals in North Sinai, Ismailia, Suez, Port Said, and Cairo, a source told Al-Masry Al-Youm news website.

Ambulances stationed at the crossing will be responsible for transporting the injured Palestinians to Egyptian hospitals for surgery, the source noted.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) teams transferred a new batch of humanitarian aid provided by Egypt, as well as various Arab and European countries, to the Gaza Strip on Friday.

As of 19 January, Egypt has received 528 aircraft and 34 ships carrying humanitarian aid from 40 countries and 13 organizations, according to the ERC. A total of 7,179 trucks, including 2,691 provided by Egypt, have delivered a total of 111,490 tons of food, medical supplies, and other relief materials to the strip.

15:00 In a preliminary decision, the United Nations' top court has ruled against throwing out genocide charges against Israel for its military offensive in Gaza. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Israel to allow humanitarian access to address the adverse conditions faced by Palestinians in Gaza. The landmark decision has drawn global attention and has significant implications for one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

The ICJ stated that Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza. Additionally, Israel is required to prevent any possible incitement to genocide and take all measures within its power to prevent and punish direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

South Africa, which brought the case to the court, has asked Israel to halt its operations in Gaza. While the case will take years to be fully considered, South Africa has urged the judges to impose provisional measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza. These measures could include ordering Israel to suspend its military operations and take reasonable measures to prevent genocide, as well as allowing access to humanitarian aid.

The decision has sparked cheers from the South African ANC ruling council at the UN Court. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh expressed hope that the verdict would lead to an immediate end to the aggression and genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and the swift flow of relief aid to those in need.

Israel, which rejects the genocide accusation, had expected the court to dismiss the charges. However, it sent a high-level legal team to defend its position, underscoring the seriousness with which it regards the case.

The ongoing offensive in Gaza has resulted in the decimation of vast areas and the displacement of nearly 85 percent of the territory's population. The death toll has risen to more than 26,000 Palestinians, with concerns about disease and starvation growing.

14:00 Ajith Sunghay, the Head of the UN Human Rights Office for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has expressed grave concern over the escalating violence in Gaza, stating that the situation is nothing short of a catastrophe. Sunghay's remarks come after witnessing the dire conditions faced by civilians during his visit to Khan Younis and Rafah.

In Khan Younis, Sunghay met with frustrated and anguished residents who shared their stories of fleeing their homes to seek shelter in overcrowded camps. He witnessed the destruction of schools and universities, leaving children without education and hope for the future. The personal toll on individuals and families, including the loss of loved ones, family separation, violence against women, and the uprooting of homes and communities, is devastating.

In Rafah, Sunghay witnessed displaced people living on the streets with no accommodation after being ordered to leave their homes by Israeli authorities. The dire conditions, including sewage running in the streets, create a breeding ground for a breakdown in order.

Despite the chaos, human rights and humanitarian organizations in Gaza continue their courageous work, documenting human rights violations and providing humanitarian aid, even as their own lives crumble.

Over the past few days, the violence has intensified, with Israeli airstrikes and street-to-street fighting between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian armed groups. The attacks have targeted medical facilities, schools, and residential areas, causing fear among the population. The spillover of violence into Rafah would have catastrophic implications for the already overcrowded area.

The IDF's designation of "safe" areas, such as Al Mawasi in western Khan Younis, has proven ineffective, as shelling continues in those areas. Chaotic evacuation orders have placed civilians in increasingly dangerous situations, including the evacuation of more than half a million people and three hospitals under heavy attack and siege.

Sunghay expresses grave concerns about the loss of civilian lives and the impact on healthcare access and security. He calls for an end to the attacks on protected facilities, a ceasefire, the release of hostages, and a political solution that respects the rights of all Palestinians and Israelis.

The deteriorating conditions in Gaza, coupled with the rainy and cold weather, exacerbate the already unsanitary situation and pose a threat to the well-being of the population. Urgent humanitarian aid is needed, but access to affected areas is limited due to ongoing bombardment.

13:00 Al Amal hospital in Khan Younis has come under heavy gunfire from Israeli tanks, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. The organization reported on X (formerly known as Twitter) that the hospital's surroundings were being targeted, resulting in several injuries. However, their teams were unable to reach the wounded due to the ongoing attack.

The Red Crescent further revealed that Israeli occupation tanks specifically aimed at the eastern gate of Al Amal Hospital, causing debris to scatter inside the building. The hospital is now effectively under siege, as the heavy gunfire continues, posing a significant threat to the safety and well-being of patients and medical staff.

The targeting of a medical facility is a grave violation of international humanitarian law, as hospitals are meant to be protected spaces where the injured and sick can receive vital care. Such attacks not only endanger the lives of those directly affected but also hinder access to medical assistance for the broader community

12:00 The Ministry of Health in Gaza has marked the 112th day of the relentless Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, providing an update on the latest developments. During the past 24 hours, the Israeli occupation forces have committed 19 massacres against families in Gaza, resulting in the tragic loss of 183 lives and leaving 377 individuals injured.

The aftermath of these attacks has left several victims buried under the rubble and scattered on the streets. The Israeli occupation forces continue to obstruct the access of ambulance crews and civil defence teams, preventing them from reaching those in need of urgent medical assistance.

The overall toll of the Israeli aggression has now risen to a heart-wrenching count of 26,083 martyrs and 64,487 injuries since the beginning of the 7 October offensive.

The situation in Gaza continues to worsen as the official spokesperson for the Health Ministry in Gaza Ashraf al-Qedra has announced a complete depletion of food supplies and a shortage of anesthetics and painkillers at the Nasser Medical Complex. The medical facility along with the whole Gaza Strip has been subjected to an Israeli-imposed siege for the past five days, exacerbating the already dire humanitarian crisis in the region.

Within the Nasser Medical Complex, there are currently 150 healthcare staff members, 350 patients, and hundreds of displaced families enduring catastrophic conditions of hunger, targeting, and a lack of essential treatments. The situation has been described by Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, as a dire catastrophe.

The absence of food and critical medical supplies further compounds the challenges faced by healthcare workers in providing adequate care to the wounded and sick. The prolonged siege has severely restricted access to essential resources, leaving medical professionals and patients in a precarious situation.

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