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ICJ: Israel must stop genocidal acts in Gaza

...but international court stops short of calling for a ceasefire in Palestine

LEFT MPs demanded Britain stopped arming Israel after a top international court ordered Tel Aviv today to take steps to limit killings and acts of genocide — but stopped short of insisting on a ceasefire.

In the highly anticipated decision made by a panel of 17 judges, the International Court of Justice decided not to throw out the case brought by South Africa as the Israelis had demanded.

President of the court Judge Joan E Donoghue said: “South Africa has standing to submit to it the dispute with Israel concerning alleged violations of obligations under the Genocide Convention.”

Before issuing the judgement Judge Donoghue said: “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.”

The court ruled that Israel must do all it can to prevent genocide, including refraining from killing Palestinians or causing harm to them. 

It also said it wanted to see urgent steps taken to get basic aid to people in Gaza and that Israel should prevent and punish any incitement to genocide, among other measures. 

The court said Israel must submit a report to the court on measures taken within a month.

Despite the ICJ falling short of calling out for a ceasefire in Gaza, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister issued an angry response to the judgement, denouncing the court as “anti-semitic.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The charge of genocide levelled against Israel is not only false, it’s outrageous, and decent people everywhere should reject it.”

But a statement from Hamas welcomed the court’s “important” ruling, saying it “contributes to isolating Israel.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Maliki said: “Palestine welcomes the significant order by the International Court of Justice in South Africa’s case against Israel under the Genocide Convention. 

“The ICJ ruling is an important reminder that no state is above the law or beyond the reach of justice.”

Speaking on the steps of the seat of the ICJ, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said Israel will have to halt fighting in Gaza if it wants to adhere to the orders of the UN’s top court.

“How do you provide aid and water without a ceasefire?” Ms Pandor said. “If you read the order, by implication a ceasefire must happen.”

Labour MP for Leeds East Richard Burgon demanded a halt to arms sales to Israel. 

He said: “Our government has a clear obligation to ensure it does nothing to aid Israel’s war on Gaza. It should start by suspending arms sales to Israel.”

And Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe told the Morning Star that she agreed with the need to stop all arms sales to Israel and congratulated South Africa for being brave enough to bring the case “when many of the world’s so-called ‘leading’ nations either sat on their hands while civilians, mostly women and children, were slaughtered, or, worse still, actively participated or supported Israel’s actions.”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also congratulated South Africa for bringing the case. “If our political leaders respected international law, they would call for the unconditional fulfilment of the provisional measures, and demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” he urged.

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf wrote on X: “With such death and destruction, we will continue to call for an immediate ceasefire.”

Fiona Edwards of No Cold War Britain said: “Only an immediate and permanent ceasefire can stop Israel committing further crimes against humanity.”

Islamic Relief said they were praying “that world leaders are listening and will now finally act to save lives. Alongside the provisional measures that the ICJ ordered today, there must be an immediate ceasefire.” 

Manolo De Los Santos, founder of the New York-based People’s Forum, called the ICJ ruling “a major political defeat for Israel. Its genocidal war crimes are officially on the record now. A court ruling wasn’t going to stop the war on Gaza but it’s a win in the struggle for Palestine.

“Only the struggle of the Palestinian people and massive international pressure will end zionism.”

The International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine said the Israelis have made repeated declarations that they intend to ignore the ruling, so governments must “hold Israeli war criminals to account for their genocide.”

Irish MEP Mick Wallace called the ruling a huge defeat for Israel and said “they must now act to ensure that Palestinians are no longer at risk of harm and genocidal acts. Nations facilitating Israel’s war must stop.”

Meanwhile the relentless bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza continued.

Israel launched its massive air and ground assault on Gaza after Hamas’s surprise attack on October 7 which killed about 1,200 Israelis and saw another 250 taken hostage.

The offensive has destroyed vast swathes of the territory and driven nearly 85 per cent of its 2.3 million people from their homes.

The Gaza Health Ministry said the Palestinian death toll, mostly women and children, was now over 26,000. 

UN officials have expressed fears that even more people could die from disease, with at least one-quarter of the population facing starvation.

Israeli air strikes on the Nuseirat urban refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip killed at least 15 people today, including a five-month-old baby.

In southern Gaza, Israeli forces pushed further into the city of Khan Younis, where the intensity of the fighting has increased in recent days. 

The Israeli military today ordered residents of three neighbourhoods and the Khan Younis refugee camp to evacuate to a coastal area.

The camp, like others in Gaza, was initially settled by Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation and has since been built up into a district of the wider city. 

But some argue that the latest attack is another act of collective punishment by the Israelis as the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yehya Sinwar, and the commander of the group’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, both grew up in the Khan Younis refugee camp.

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