The International Court of Justice at the Hague made history on January 26 by stating that there is sufficient evidence to investigate allegations that Israel has committed genocide against the Palestinian people.
In the words of the UN News agency, the ICJ “declared that Palestinians had a right to be protected from acts of genocide, calling on Israel to ‘take all measures within its power’ to prevent such actions and allow the entry of desperately needed humanitarian aid into the war-shattered enclave”.
The @CIJ_ICJ on Friday declared that Palestinians had a right to be protected from acts of genocide, calling on Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent such actions and allow the entry of desperately needed humanitarian aid into the war-shattered enclave pic.twitter.com/W0tsSPKjw9
— UN News (@UN_News_Centre) January 26, 2024
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the top legal authority of the United Nations. In December, South Africa introduced a case at the ICJ that accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinian people as part of its brutal war on Gaza.
In its January 26 decision (PDF here), the ICJ stated that “Israel must, in accordance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of … (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.
The Hague emphasized that “Israel must ensure with immediate effect that its military forces do not commit any of the above-described acts”, and that “Israel must take all measures within its power to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip”.
The ICJ likewise decided that “Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip”.
“Israel must also take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of … the Genocide Convention against members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip” the Hague added.
The ICJ ordered the Israeli government to submit a report in a month detailing how it is abiding by the court’s decision.
South Africa had initially requested that the ICJ order an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The Hague did not do so overtly. However, in effect, the court indirectly called for a ceasefire.
This is the interpretation of South Africa’s head of public diplomacy, Clayson Monyela, who wrote on Twitter, “To be clear… the ICJ has effectively ordered an immediate ceasefire and for Israel to halt military operations”.
To be clear…the #ICJ has effectively ordered an immediate ceasefire & for #Israel to halt military operations. The order: "The state of Israel shall ensure WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT that its MILITARY does NOT commit any acts described in point 1. These are: a) Killing of members… pic.twitter.com/pAIVGtUiCp
— Clayson Monyela (@ClaysonMonyela) January 26, 2024
However, many Western media outlets distorted the ICJ decision.
The New York Times provided a case study of misleading coverage, with the headline “U.N. Court Declines to Demand Israel Stop Its Military Campaign”.
Similarly, The Wall Street Journal published the ridiculously skewed title “World Court Rejects Demand for Gaza Cease-Fire”.
Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah pushed back against critics who argued that this decision was not a victory because it did not explicitly call for a ceasefire.
The Hague “gave Israel a month to report back but it must halt all killing and other genocidal acts forthwith. Please don’t award Israel a victory it did not win”, Abunimah wrote.
These are among the measures the ICJ ordered Israel to implement *immediately*. It gave Israel a month to report back but it must halt all killing and other genocidal acts forthwith. Please don’t award Israel a victory it did not win. https://t.co/hj9TuWElKn pic.twitter.com/Aep0wtRJhB
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) January 26, 2024
Legal expert Heidi Matthews described the ICJ decision as “a big win for Palestinian advocates“, arguing “the fact that the Court ordered the measures it did, including directing Israel not to commit or incite genocide, indicates it has concluded that it is (a) plausible for Palestinians in Gaza to claim protection from genocide, and (b) that the need for protection is urgent”.
Matthews explained on Twitter: “I think we can infer from this that at a minimum there is a serious risk that Israel will commit genocide. This is important because it puts all states on formal notice of the serious risk of genocide, which triggers states’ duty to take concrete steps to prevent genocide. Among other things, this means that in order for states to fulfill their international obligations under the Genocide Convention they must do something. For e.g., states exporting arms or military technology to Israel must stop”.
The US government has continued to send billions of dollars worth of weapons to Israel throughout this war. This makes it clear that Washington is complicit in Tel Aviv’s crimes. And the Hague has implicitly stated that the US must stop arming Israel.
This ICJ decision was particularly important because it is exposing the hypocrisy of the Western governments that sponsor Israel and claim to support international law.
Israel’s far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proudly declared in a speech before the ICJ decision, “Nobody will stop us – not The Hague”.
Israel boasting that it is a rogue state that will ignore the International Court of Justice made it quite difficult for its sponsors in Washington to pretend to care about international law.
This double standard was made especially ironic when the Palestinian armed group Hamas stated clearly that it would abide by a ceasefire order made by the Hague.
A tale in 3 acts: pic.twitter.com/PEKG3uid8N
— Omar Baddar عمر بدّار (@OmarBaddar) January 26, 2024
In short, one side – the Palestinian people, and its supporters in South Africa and most of the Global South – truly supports international law, whereas the other side – the Israeli government, and its Western sponsors – blatantly disregard and violate international law, while pretending otherwise.
Responding to the decision, the US State Department blasted South Africa’s allegations of genocide against Israel as “unfounded”, despite the fact that the ICJ stated that there is sufficient evidence for them to be investigated. That means they are the opposite of unfounded.
The Canadian government did the same. Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said that “Canada supports the ICJ’s critical role in the peaceful settlement of disputes and its work in upholding the international rules-based order”. But mere seconds later, she insisted, “Our support for the ICJ does not mean that we accept the premise of the case brought by South Africa”.
Joly then promptly asserted that “Canada will continue to support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself”.
So Ottawa claimed to support the ICJ while rejecting the ICJ’s decision and backing Israel’s brutal military assault on Gaza, which the ICJ effectively called for an end to.
Despite all of this chicanery by Western governments and the relentless pro-Israel propaganda in the corporate media, support for Tel Aviv is rapidly declining, around the world.
Slightly over one-third of people in the United States agree that Israel is committing genocide, according to a poll that was published before the historic ICJ ruling.
The Economist/YouGov survey found that 35% of North Americans believe that Israel is committing genocide, including 49% of people aged 18-29.
Even 49% of Democrats say that Israel is committing genocide, while Democratic President Joe Biden ignores his own base and steadfastly backs Israel’s assault.
Protesters have repeatedly disrupted Biden’s events, referring to him as “genocide Joe”.
This may at least partially explain why Biden’s approval rating fell to an abysmal 33% in January.
???? Pew Research: Biden Job Approval
College grad: 36-62
No college: 27-71
Ages 18-29: 27-71
N=5,140 | January 16-21 | MoE: ±1.7%https://t.co/n9H5XicREZ pic.twitter.com/YLA1KlGkfr
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) January 26, 2024