Israel further blocks Gaza aid defying UN court: Rights groups

AFP , Monday 26 Feb 2024

Two human rights groups on Monday accused Israel of further limiting humanitarian aid into Gaza despite an order from the UN's top court.

Palestinians wait for humanitarian aid
Palestinians wait for humanitarian aid on a beachfront in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. AP


The International Court of Justice in The Hague exactly one month ago said Israel must do everything to prevent genocidal acts in the besieged territory. It must also take "immediate and effective measures" for aid provision, the ICJ said.

But Israeli authorities have "failed to take even the bare minimum steps to comply" with the ICJ ruling issued on January 26, Amnesty International said.

Both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the number of aid trucks entering Gaza had actually decreased by roughly one-third since the ruling, which came in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of breaching the UN Genocide Convention.

"The Israeli government is starving" Gaza's 2.4 million Palestinians, "putting them in even more peril than before the World Court's binding order," said Omar Shakir, HRW's Israel and Palestine director.

"The Israeli government has simply ignored the court's ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid."

ICJ rulings are legally binding but the court has no enforcement mechanism.

The United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, said there was a "50 percent reduction" in humanitarian aid entering Gaza during February compared to January.

"Aid was supposed to increase not decrease to address the huge needs of two million Palestinians in desperate living conditions," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said on X, formerly Twitter.

He said a lack of political will and regular closing of border crossing points were among the reasons.

The latest comments from the two rights groups and UNRWA came as Israel prepares for an expected ground invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday would "put the final nail in the coffin" of aid operations.

Since Oct.7, Israel's military offensive in Gaza has killed at least 29,782 people, 70% of them women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israel has dismissed the case brought by South Africa as a "grossly distorted story."

In a separate, non-binding, case, the UN has asked the ICJ to hand down an "advisory opinion" on the "legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem".

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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