ICJ asks Israel to stop ‘acts of genocide’ in Gaza; Netanyahu unfazed

Netanyahu says Israel will continue to defend itself

Israel Gaza ICJ ruling Pro-Palestinian protesters attend a demonstration outside the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as judges rule on emergency measures against Israel following accusations by South Africa that the Israeli military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide, in The Hague, Netherlands | Reuters

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday ordered Israel to "take all measures within its power" to prevent genocide in Gaza.

Judge Donoghue said that Israel must ensure "with immediate effect" that its forces do not commit any of the acts covered by the genocide convention.

She also added that Israel must take immediate measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

However, ICJ ruling does not clearly order a ceasefire. The court's 17-judge panel voted for urgent measures which covered most of what South Africa asked for except the halt in firing part.

Following the ICJ ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to do what is necessary to defend itself. Netanyahu also rejected the genocide claims as outrageous and vowed to press ahead with the war.

Meanwhile, South African minister said that the ruling implies ceasefire essential in Gaza. "How do you provide aid and water without a ceasefire? If you read the order, by implication a ceasefire must happen," minister Naledi Pandor said in Netherlands.

Palestinian foreign ministry welcomed the orders by the ICJ. An "Important reminder that no state is above the law," said Riyad al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister. 

During the ICJ hearing in Hague, South Africa alleged that Israel plans to "destroy" Gaza. However, Israel defended its actions in the ICJ following the Hamas strike against the nation in October last year.

Israel foreign ministry called the allegations as "one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history". Israel also criticised South Africa for supporting Hamas. South Africa, which raised the issue in the ICJ, works as "the legal arm of the Hamas", said Israel.

Tal Becker, the Israeli foreign ministry legal adviser said that South Africa's genocide case is "profoundly distorted".

"The civilian suffering in this war, like in all wars, is tragic. It is heartbreaking. The harsh realities of the current hostilities are made especially agonising for civilians given Hamas’ reprehensible strategy of seeking to maximise civilian harm to both Israelis and Palestinians, even as Israel seeks to minimise it," he said during the Hague hearing in Netherlands.

Israel also asked the judges to drop the genocide case as it lacked any merit.

“The genocide convention was not designed to address the brutal impact of intensive hostilities on the civilian population, even when the use of force raises, quote, very serious issues of international law and involves enormous suffering and continuing loss of life, end quote,” said Becker.

According to Gaza Health Ministry, over 26,000 Palestinians were killed so far in the war. Israel has also strengthened its strikes targeting the south Gaza regions including Khan Younis city.

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