AP

Top UN court orders Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza but stops short of ordering cease-fire

Jan 26, 2024, 7:44 AM

FILE - View of the Peace Palace which houses World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on Sept. 19, 20...

FILE - View of the Peace Palace which houses World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on Sept. 19, 2023. Israel is sending top legal minds, including a Holocaust survivor, to The Hague this week to counter allegations that it is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The United Nations’ top court ordered Israel on Friday 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 cease-fire.

South Africa alleged that Israel’s campaign in the tiny coastal enclave amounted to genocide in the case, which goes to the core of one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, and had asked the court to order Israel to halt the operation.

While the ruling stopped short of that, it nonetheless constituted an overwhelming rebuke of Israel’s wartime conduct and adds to mounting international pressure to halt the offensive that has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, decimated vast swaths Gaza, and driven nearly 85% 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 favor 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.

Provisional measures by the world court are legally binding, but it is not clear if Israel will comply with them.

After the ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the fact that the court was willing to discuss the genocide charges was a “mark of shame that will not be erased for generations,” and he vowed to press ahead with the war.

“We will continue to do what is necessary to defend our country and defend our people,” he said. “Like every country, Israel has the basic right to defend itself. The court in the Hague rightfully rejected the outrageous request to take that away from us.”

Friday’s decision is only an interim one; it could take years for the court to consider the merits of the genocide accusation by South Africa. Israel rejects the allegation.

While the case winds its way through the court, South Africa had asked the judges “as a matter of extreme urgency” to impose provisional measures.

Top of the South African list was a request for the court to order Israel to “immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.” But the court declined to do that.

South Africa also asked for Israel to take “reasonable measures” to prevent genocide and allow access for desperately needed aid.

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 ruled it urgently needs 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 should submit a report on measures taken within a month.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki welcomed “the significant order.”

He said that the judges “ruled in favor of humanity and international law.”

The South African minister for international relations, Naledi Pandor, said outside the court that Israel can’t effectively implement the measures ordered without a cease-fire.

Israel often boycotts international tribunals and U.N. investigations, saying they are unfair and biased. But this time, it took the rare step of sending a high-level legal team — a sign of how seriously it regards the case.

Israel launched its massive air and ground assault on Gaza after Hamas militants stormed through Israeli communities on Oct. 7 killing some 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducting another 250.

More than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said on Friday. The ministry does not differentiate between combatants and civilians in its death toll, but has said about two-thirds of those killed were women and children.

The Israeli military claims at least 9,000 of those killed in the nearly four-month conflict are Hamas militants.

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

How the U.S., Israel’s top ally, responds to any order will be key, since it wields veto power at the U.N. Security Council and thus could block measures there aimed at forcing Israel’s compliance.

The U.S. has said Israel has the right to defend itself, but also spoken about the need for the country to protect civilians in Gaza and allow more aid in.

The genocide case strikes at the national identity of Israel, which was founded as a Jewish state after the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews during World War II.

South Africa’s own identity is key to it bringing the case. Its governing party, the African National Congress, has long compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank to its own history under the apartheid regime of white minority rule, which restricted most Black people to “homelands” before ending in 1994.

___

Casert reported from Brussels. Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Gerald Imray in Cape Town, South Africa, contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

AP

This image provided by the Denver Police Department shows Miles Harford. Denver police are asking f...

Associated Press

Denver police search a former funeral home owner who kept the cremated remains of at least 30 people

Denver police are asking for the public's help in finding a former funeral home owner who they say kept a woman's body in a hearse for two years and also kept the cremated remains of at least 30 people.

4 hours ago

FILE...

Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Seattle officer who struck and killed graduate student from India won’t face felony charges

Prosecutors in Washington state said Wednesday they will not file felony charges against a Seattle police officer who struck and killed a graduate student from India while responding to an overdose call.

1 day ago

In this screen grab from lapel camera video provided by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, movie...

Associated Press

Jury selection begins for trial of ‘Rust’ armorer in fatal 2021 shooting by Alec Baldwin

Prosecutors are pursuing accountability in the 2021 death of a cinematographer who was shot by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal for the Western movie “Rust."

1 day ago

Investigators on the beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla., take photos of the scene of a sand colla...

Terry Spencer, Associated Press

A sand hole collapse in Florida killed a child. Such deaths occur several times a year in the US

A family trip to a Florida beach turned tragic when a 5-year-old Indiana girl digging a deep hole with her brother died after the sand collapsed on them.

1 day ago

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JULY 26: Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, departs the J. Caleb...

Rio Yamat and Lindsay Whitehurst

Ex-FBI informant charged with lying about Bidens had Russian intelligence contacts, prosecutors say

Prosecutors say a former FBI informant charged with making up a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden had contacts with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence.

2 days ago

This illustration provided by the European Southern Observatory in February 2024, depicts the recor...

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

Astronomers find what may be the universe’s brightest object with a black hole devouring a sun a day

Astronomers have discovered what may be the brightest object in the universe, a quasar with a black hole at its heart growing so fast that it swallows the equivalent of a sun a day.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Top UN court orders Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza but stops short of ordering cease-fire