International Court of Justice: Israel Must Cease All Activities That May Constitute Genocide, Punish Genocidal Officials and Allow Humanitarian Aid into Gaza


Palestinian flags outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Friday, January 26, 2024, as the Court’s President, Joan Donoghue, read out the court’s ruling regarding provisional measures relating to South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide. (Photo: Patrick Post/AP).

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Make no mistake about it. Today’s ruling, by the International Court of Justice, imposing provisional measures on Israel under the 1948 Genocide Convention, in response to a submission submitted by South Africa, and argued before the Court on December 29, is hugely significant.

By a majority of 15-2, and in some cases 16-1, the Court found that South Africa had established a compelling case that Israel’s actions, in response to the attacks by Hamas and other armed groups on October 7, were so severe that it is plausible that they constitute genocidal intent under Article II of the Genocide Convention; namely, “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”, via “killing members of the group”, “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”, “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”, and “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”

The Court duly ordered 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 all acts within the scope of Article II of [the] Convention”, and “must ensure with immediate effect that its military forces do not commit any of the above-described acts.”

The Court also ordered 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”, taking direct aim at the genocidal comments made by its senior officials, and also ordered that it “must also take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article II and Article III of the Genocide Convention against members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.” Article III, for reference, notes that “[t]he following acts shall be punishable: (a) Genocide; (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide; (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide; (d) Attempt to commit genocide; (e) Complicity in genocide.”

The Court also ordered 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”, and also ordered Israel to “submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this Order within one month”, as well as calling for the “immediate and unconditional release” of “the hostages abducted during the attack in Israel on 7 October 2023 and held since then by Hamas and other armed groups.”

While some commentators are criticizing the Court for not demanding an immediate ceasefire, the reality, it seems to me, is that, as the Court continues its deliberations into South Africa’s case, making the point that Israel is, essentially, now on trial for genocide, as the evidence cited in the ruling confirmed, any further military action equivalent to what has been taking place over the last 112 days will only confirm Israel’s breach of Article II of the Genocide Convention. In addition, the only way that “the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip” can be delivered is for hostilities to be brought to an end.

As Ali Abunimah, the director of Electronic Intifada, and an implacable critic of Israel, stated on X, this is a “huge win.” As he described it, “ICJ ruled that accusation of genocide against Israel is credible, that Palestinians face urgent, catastrophic situation & that Israeli leaders express genocidal intent. It ordered Israel to immediately halt killing and all other prohibited acts under Genocide convention.”

Israel, of course, has already responded to the ruling with arrogant and dismissive insults, but its western allies cannot afford to be so bullish, as they will all be aware that they now stand accused of naked complicity in Israel’s crimes, having uncritically and unconditionally supported Israel’s “right to defend itself” since October 7, having continued to supply Israel with arms in pursuit of its genocidal aims, and, in many cases, having flown out to Israel for photo-opportunities with the very men accused of espousing genocidal intent.

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission (on the right) and Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament (on the left), at a fawning photo-op with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on October 13, 2023.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, shakes hands with Israel defense minister Yoav Gallant on November 30, 2023.

As a result, while Israel blusters, and western leaders squirm, the desired result — an immediate end to Israel’s attacks — may not be openly declared, but it seems reasonable to assume that hostage exchange negotiations will be swiftly resuscitated, as a way of conforming to the Court’s rulings without appearing to do so, and it is very much to be hoped that western leaders finally shake off their servitude to unfettered and genocidal Zionist aggression by finally recognizing that it is no longer adequate to facilitate the relentless slaughter while uttering mealy-mouthed and shamefully empty platitudes about the need for Israel to exercise restraint.

An analysis of the Court’s findings

In reaching their conclusions, the Court very clearly took on board the frankly unassailable case presented by South Africa on December 29 regarding the extent of Israel’s destruction of the Gaza Strip, as well as genocidal statements made by senior Israeli officials.

In the ruling, the judges noted that, “While figures relating to the Gaza Strip cannot be independently verified, recent information indicates that 25,700 Palestinians have been killed, over 63,000 injuries have been reported, over 360,000 housing units have been destroyed or partially damaged and approximately 1.7 million persons have been internally displaced.”

They also quoted from UN and WHO reports about the extent of the humanitarian crisis brought about by Israel’s actions, beginning with an extensive quote from a statement on January 5 by Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, in which he concluded, “Gaza has simply become uninhabitable. Its people are witnessing daily threats to their very existence — while the world watches on.”

In addition, they quoted a WHO report on December 21, which noted that “[a]n unprecedented 93% of the population in Gaza is facing crisis levels of hunger, with insufficient food and high levels of malnutrition”, and that “[s]tarvation, destitution and death are evident”, and a statement on January 13 by Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), who declared, “In the past 100 days, sustained bombardment across the Gaza Strip caused the mass displacement of a population that is in a state of flux — constantly uprooted and forced to leave overnight, only to move to places which are just as unsafe. This has been the largest displacement of the Palestinian people since 1948. This war affected more than 2 million people — the entire population of Gaza. Many will carry lifelong scars, both physical and psychological. The vast majority, including children, are deeply traumatized.”

Noting that Lazzarini also stated that the crisis in Gaza is “compounded by dehumanizing language”, the Court observed that it had “taken note of a number of statements made by senior Israeli officials” in this regard, citing, in the first instance, defense minister Yoav Gallant’s statement on October 9 that he had ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza and that there would be “no electricity, no food, no fuel” and that “everything [was] closed”, and his comments the day after, in which he told Israel troops, “I have released all restraints … We are fighting human animals … Gaza won’t return to what it was before. There will be no Hamas. We will eliminate everything.”

The Court also cited comments made on October 12 by Isaac Herzog, the President of Israel, when he stated, “It is an entire nation out there that is responsible. It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved. It is absolutely not true”, and comments made on October 13 by Israel Katz, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, who stated on X, “We will fight the terrorist organization Hamas and destroy it. All the civilian population in Gaza is ordered to leave immediately. We will win. They will not receive a drop of water or a single battery until they leave the world.” 

The Court also noted the significance of two other statements; one on November 16 by 37 UN Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and members of Working Groups, in which they “voiced alarm” over “discernibly genocidal and dehumanising rhetoric coming from senior Israeli government officials”, and another on October 27, in which the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination observed that it was “[h]ighly concerned about the sharp increase in racist hate speech and dehumanization directed at Palestinians since 7 October.”

Moving on to the “risk of irreparable prejudice and urgency”, in which “the power of the Court to indicate provisional measures will be exercised only if there is urgency, in the sense that there is a real and imminent risk that irreparable prejudice will be caused to the rights claimed before the Court gives its final decision”, the Court noted South Africa’s observations that “daily statistics stand as clear evidence of urgency and risk of irreparable prejudice, with an average of 247 Palestinians being killed, 629 wounded and 3,900 Palestinian homes damaged or destroyed each day”, and that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are at “immediate risk of death by starvation, dehydration and disease as a result of the ongoing siege by Israel, the destruction of Palestinian towns, the insufficient aid being allowed through to the Palestinian population and the impossibility of distributing this limited aid while bombs fall.”

In assessing these claims, the Court began by citing a UN General Assembly resolution from December 11, 1946, which stated, “[g]enocide is a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings; such denial of the right of existence shocks the conscience of mankind, results in great losses to humanity in the form of cultural and other contributions represented by these human groups, and is contrary to moral law and to the spirit and aims of the United Nations.”

The Court proceeded to cite warnings from UN Secretary-General António Guterres about “a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system” in Gaza, which “is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region”, as well as another statement by Philippe Lazzarini, on January 17, in which he noted, “Every time I visit Gaza, I witness how people have sunk further into despair, with the struggle for survival consuming every hour.”

After also noting that the WHO “has estimated that 15 per cent of the women giving birth in the Gaza Strip are likely to experience complications, and indicates that maternal and newborn death rates are expected to increase due to the lack of access to medical care”, the Court concluded that “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at serious risk of deteriorating further before the Court renders its final judgment”, satisfying the requirement of “urgency” in the case.

Finally dispelling Israel’s self-regard as “a permanent and unassailable victim”

Quite what happens next remains to be seen, of course, but as I noted above, nothing suggests to me that either Israel or its doting western supporters can endlessly defer the implications of the ICJ’s provisional measures, especially as this ruling so clearly indicates that the Court’s forthcoming full judgment will confirm Israel’s place in a small but morally repugnant group of countries who have been found to have undertaken genocide since the Convention entered into force in 1951, finally defeating the Israeli Zionists’ absurd and horrendously blood-soaked claim that, because of the Holocaust, the genocide by Nazis of six million Jews, nothing they do can ever be criticized, because they — and they alone — are a permanent and unassailable victim. 

Finally, today, after at least 25,700 Palestinians have been killed over the last 112 days (or, more probably, 33,600 Palestinians, including 13,022 children), and the Gaza Strip has been subjected to relentless and unprecedented destruction, that lie has finally been put to rest by the International Court of Justice. As the Palestinian-Canadian neuroscientist Afif Aqrabawi stated on X, “please take a moment to celebrate the *first* acknowledgment of our oppression in a court of international law in 75 years. Celebrate Israel’s humiliation and indictment. The first domino has fallen.”

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (see the ongoing photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and, in 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to try to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody.

Since 2019, Andy has become increasingly involved in environmental activism, recognizing that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to life on earth, and that the window for change — requiring a severe reduction in the emission of all greenhouse gases, and the dismantling of our suicidal global capitalist system — is rapidly shrinking, as tipping points are reached that are occurring much quicker than even pessimistic climate scientists expected. You can read his articles about the climate crisis here.

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21 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, a report about today’s unprecedented ruling by the International Court of Justice, in response to South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza.

    The Court found it plausible that Israel’s actions since October 7 have demonstrated genocidal intent, and ordered Israel not to undertake any further acts that may constitute genocide, to punish senior Israeli officials who have made genocidal statements, to enable the provision of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, and to report back within a month regarding its compliance with the Court’s ruling.

    Some commentators are upset that the Court didn’t order a ceasefire, but, to avoid being held accountable for genocide as the Court proceeds to a full ruling, and to deliver the humanitarian aid required, it seems to me that Israel has no choice but to cease its military operations. Perhaps most crucially, all of its western supporters now need to be aware that they too may well be complicit in genocide, unless they finally act to meaningfully restrain Israel’s actions.

    A “huge win”, as Ali Abunimah has explained, and, as the Palestinian-Canadian neuroscientist Afif Aqrabawi stated, “please take a moment to celebrate the *first* acknowledgment of our oppression in a court of international law in 75 years. Celebrate Israel’s humiliation and indictment. The first domino has fallen.”

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Al Glatkowski wrote:


  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes indeed, Al. My feeling, as I explain in my article, is that to avoid that particular capitulation, Israel will soon reopen hostage negotiations, which will require some sort of ceasefire. Israel will regard this as temporary, of course, but hopefully what will happen then is that western leaders who still have functioning brains – so probably not Biden, who seems now solely to operate on a kind of reptilian Zionist genocidal instinct – will be told by their legal advisers that they need to finally take action to rein in Israel to avoid being complicit in genocide, somewhere they’ve never been before, and really don’t want to be, however much they may pretend to despise the UN and international courts.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Judith Lienhard wrote:


  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes indeed, Judith. I’m genuinely relieved and impressed by this ruling, but sadly it’s not stopped the bombs from raining down just yet, although it really isn’t good news for Israel, as it seems pretty clear that an actual finding of genocide is coming down the line. They need to stop their arrogant posturing, and work out to how to deescalate – and, crucially, to prevent a devastating famine by allowing entry to Gaza of all the international aid that is stuck at the border, and which they’ve been inspiring their fascist foot soldiers to block over the last few days.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Janet Hussain wrote:

    So basically you can carry on the genocide but with terms and conditions.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Not quite, Janet. Israel may not care, but its backers will be very jittery from now on, as their legal advisers will definitely be warning them that, unless they stop supporting Israel unconditionally, they too will be held complicit in genocide. I wish so fervently that the ruling could have stopped the bombing right now, but I expect there’ll be a hostage release scenario soon which will act as a temporary ceasefire, and which will hopefully be followed by Israel’s western supporters deciding that, for the first time in their lives, they don’t want to be condemned for complicity in an actual genocide.

    I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in the western corridors of power today …

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Rick Staggenborg wrote:

    Absolutely brilliant analysis, Andy. I intend to share it as widely as I can given Meta’s restrictions and my limited reach.

    It’s critically important that we counter the ignorant cynics who are spreading the idea that the ruling was window dressing. Will you be posting it widely on popular websites?

    We need to make people understand that this is a huge success that should inspire us to redouble our efforts to make the Western public demand an end to the genocide.

    Then we make Biden and the rest of the Duopoly accountable for their crimes. That’s the next step toward a global revolution to free ourselves from those who control our governments for their own interests.

    On that note, I give you this brilliant 8-minute commentary of Carey Welder:

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the resoundingly supportive words, Rick, and please do share it as much as you’re able, and if you know of any websites with a wide reach that would be interested then please let me, or them know. All my work is freely available to cross-post, with credits and links. I’ve carved out something of a niche for myself on Guantanamo over many years, but I recognize that it’s not always easy to reach a new audience, as, for example, with the persistent writing I’ve been doing about Israel’s genocide post-Oct. 7.

    I couldn’t agree more with you about the need for all of us in the west to recognize and be empowered by the fact that this is definitely not “window dressing.” This is an extremely significant ruling, and requires western powers to recognize their complicity – or potential complicity – in genocide, which is extremely unfamiliar territory for imperial and colonial powers who are used to having the rules apply to everyone else but themselves.

    The Biden administration, for example, is already trying to spin it as fundamentally irrelevant, as law professor Heidi Matthews has noted on X, where she has stated, “So far the U.S. reaction to today’s historic ICJ order of provisional measures against Israel misconstrues the impact of the decision on states’ international obligations. It doesn’t matter whether the U.S. itself believes specific intent has been established.

    “That was not the question before the Court either. The question the Court had to answer was whether there was sufficient evidence to establish the plausibility of genocidal acts + special intent. It found there was.

    “If the U.S. disagrees with this finding, which it appears it does (having stated that it still considers the case to be ‘meritless’), then its position is actually fundamentally *inconsistent* with the ICJ.

    “And this inconsistency is important: it’s the difference between the U.S. understanding that it actually has to act differently now, because it is on formal notice that there is a serious risk of genocide in Gaza (if not actual genocide, which again the Court just didn’t answer).

    “It is this serious risk that creates a positive obligation on the U.S. to act to prevent genocide by, for eg, at a minimum conducting a publicly transparent assessment of whether support it provides Israel could be used to commit genocide (or indeed other serious IHL violations).”

    The Biden administration clearly wants to wish away the significance of the ruling, but wheels are in motion now, rumbling inexorably on to a finding by the ICJ that Israel has indeed been engaged in a genocide – and, crucially, that those who have assisted it unquestioningly are also complicit.

    Imagine that for the US, which has never been held to account for its long history of genocidal impulses and actions. Either the Biden administration changes course swiftly, or the Democrats are going to need to jettison Biden and to take meaningful action to distance themselves from his absolutely outrageous support for Israel’s genocide.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    When my friend Bernard Sullivan shared this, he wrote, “A brilliant, damning and yet ultimately slightly hopeful explanation of the declaration by the International Court of Justice by independent journalist Andy Worthington.”

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Bernard Sullivan also wrote:

    Congratulations Andy on this superb piece of journalistic analysis. I’m surprised that mainstream quality newspapers aren’t beating a path to your door.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, Bernard, and for your lovely supportive words. Your comments about “mainstream quality newspapers”, however, seems to recall a time now gone, when such a thing existed. Certainly, when it comes to the Gaza genocide, I can count on the fingers of one hand, and sometimes just on one finger, the number of critical voices allowed.

    Fortunately, hard-working independent journalists have to some extent filled this gap, although it does of course leave a significant number of our fellow citizens, who watch mainstream news and read the surviving papers, fundamentally uninformed.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary MacGregor Green wrote, in response to 3, above:

    Andy, it seems like this ruling IS THE BEST step forward for now … political negotiations are so delicate and often baby steps are the most productive.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    The ruling has opened up a whole new perspective on Israel’s actions, Mary. Whereas the EU President Ursula von der Leyen has been horribly supportive of Israel, today, in contrast, the EU formally issued a statement saying, “The EU reaffirms its continuing support of the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Orders of the International Court of Justice are binding on the Parties. The European Union expects their full, immediate and effective implementation.”

    There’s a whole list of reactions from governments around the world here:

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Gail Baker wrote:

    Appreciate some of your comments here. But Andy, I am not so optimistic. The ceasefire should have been yesteryears; the genocide stopped immediately. The courts asking for Israel to report back in a month???? How many lives are lost within one day? By that time Palestine will be wiped off the map. I give credit to South Africa for at least bringing this to the international community as to make all those complicit in this genocide somewhat nervous. I give South Africa credit for pushing awareness of this and other genocides across the globe, enough so that we cannot turn our backs on this. But as for the international courts, is very hard to give any credit to the lame rulings. They are appealing to Israel, where they should be demanding immediate end to the genocide. As well, demanding an end to flow of munitions, supplies, etc to all these monsterish regimes complicit in emboldening Israel. All the leaders should have been held accountable – not one was. They are still in power and they are still bombing and starving the Palestinians.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    I understand your frustrations, Gail, but I really advise people not to dismiss the significance of today’s ruling. Israel has brushed it aside – as, crucially, it would have brushed aside a call for a ceasefire – but the Court found grounds for implicating them in a genocide, and that will now, without doubt, given the staggering majority in the Court for South Africa’s case, proceed to a full ruling that will confirm that Israel has indeed engaged in a genocide, which will make it a pariah state.

    Western leaders now have to face the reality of being held complicit in genocide, or to continue blindly supporting the unhinged and discredited State of Israel – and I genuinely think that most western governments contain high-profile legal advisers who will be very hesitant to let them go down that road. Genocide is meant to be something that western powers can pin on other countries; to be condemned as complicit themselves isn’t supposed to be even a remote possibility.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Gail Baker wrote:

    Andy, I really do hope that you are right about this. But even so, we know the record of Israel and cohorts whenever legal terms were brought against them throughout. Do you remember the First Goldstone report in the case of Israel using illegal white phosphorous in Operation Cast Lead? What happened to that first report? It later was ruled that it had to be rescinded, because it was too incriminating to Israel? hmmm, I wonder who manipulated the stats and data on that second report? to come out on the other side, favouring Israel, as if it was the victim (who reframed the war crimes of Israel so that it totally contradicted the authentic original report???). Goldstone was in all likelhood blackmailed, coerced, threatened.

    Plus, as I am typing this out, how many deaths and casualties are occuring right now. Immediate action needs to be taken. That ‘one month’ granted to Israel to report back, really got to me. Just gives them more time to invent new lies and also to continue the genocide. Remember, every day that this is left presumedly to investigate, there are hundreds of lives destroyed. This should have been ended yesterday. Indeed, never should have culminated into this in the first place but it has. And, I simply hope others push back on the ‘too little, too late, insufficient’ rulings.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Again, I sympathise with your concerns, Gail, and it is beyond frustrating that nothing has immediately changed on the ground in Gaza, where people are still being bombed, and facing starvation because of the blockade on humanitarian aid. However, Israel would have ignored any ruling that was handed down, including a call for an immediate ceasefire, which might also have encouraged its western allies to be more dismissive than I expect them to be with the threat of complicity in genocide hanging over them.

    As for the requirement to report back within a month, that’s not a loophole. Israel is now required to show that it is taking steps to mitigate a finding of genocide against it, and if it doesn’t comply by the required date it will, I think, undoubtedly be officially found to be actively engaged in a genocide. Again, Israel’s leaders don’t care, and nor, apparently, does the sclerotic Joe Biden, but its other backers are going to have to undergo some serious soul-searching over the next month if they continue to unconditionally support Israel, knowing that doing so is leading them inexorably towards being held complicit in genocide, somewhere they have never been before, despite so many of them having such dire genocidal histories.

    It’s time for campaigners to step up calls for a ceasefire, for the prevention of weapons being sent to Israel, and for sanctions, and also to start discussing the valid suggestion that Israel should be expelled from the UN. The Court ruling gives campaigners leverage that we simply didn’t have two days ago.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    As I’ve been discussing above, although the Court’s failure to call for a ceasefire was disappointing, it would have been ignored by Israel anyway. However, by focusing on genocide – a claim that Israel has, of course, also dismissed – and by requiring Israel to report back within a month regarding compliance with the Court’s ruling, which it will also, presumably ignore – Israel is now on a seemingly inexorable path towards being officially held responsible for a genocide, which will make it a pariah state.

    Those of us in western countries that support Israel need to use the Court’s findings to push our own governments not to be complicit in this genocide, highlighting the Court’s findings about the genocidal intent of senior Israeli officials, pushing for humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza, as ordered by the Court, pushing for them to stop all arms sales, military support and aid to Israel, and reminding them of the death toll.

    The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s latest death toll figures, which include those lost and presumed dead under the rubble, show that close to 100,000 people have now been killed (33k +) or wounded (64k +) by Israel since October 7 – that’s nearly 5% of the population. If, proportionately, this genocidal fury had been unleashed on the US population, it would have led to 16.5 million people being killed (5.6 million) or wounded (10.9 million).

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna M wrote:

    Hi Andy, I have not read your assessment yet as there are so many comments on AJE that I have already consumed, that I reached my limit for today. But here’s my gut reaction. I of course followed the proceedings and the verdict, which I suppose is a case of the glass half full/empty, depending on what you hoped for or expected.

    The full one is on the one hand that the court acknowledged the validity of South Africa’s case and will now be investigating – and one day judge – Israel and its powerful cronies as a having committed, aided & abetted genocide. Followed I hope by its own ‘Nuremberg’ court …

    In addition this should mark the beginning of true decolonisation, with countries from the global ‘South’ taking their rightful place on the moral world stage, calling us out in matters of rule of law and basic human rights. The Gambia, South Africa self-assuredly exposing our hypocrisy and multiple standards for the whole world to see. Leading by example – as Obama once said about the US, which they indeed do, but only in war mongering.

    As for the glass being half empty, like many others I did hope for a ceasefire call. Israel would of course ignore it anyway, but it would have made a much stronger impact psychologically. The rulings which were passed of course are wrapped in diplomatic law terminology, but to me seem to offer ready loopholes to ignore them, as they miss specific, verifiable parameters for how they are to be implemented. Even the seemingly straightforward one of allowing aid to enter the Gaza strip, does not specify what exactly that is supposed to entail. The report in 30 days’ time will again need scrutiny to assess its veracity and will be hiding behind intentions & actions ‘within our power’. So it will be just another document for the full investigation. As much of this is about psychological warfare, governmental PR & public opinion, I think ‘ceasefire now’ would have had a greater impact and would be more measurable objectively.

    That Hamas must unconditionally release thei 100+ surviving hostages (their only trump card), unfortunally ignores the 6.000+ Palestinians which since October 7th are equally taken hostage in Israeli prisons, where they are so mistreated that seven of them already died. While the Israeli hostages seem to be treated as humanely as possible under such circumstances. Which does not excuse Hamas attacking civilians in any way.

    As for my personal opinion about Israel as such, it does not engage anyone else, particularly you as owner of this blog.

    I have been closely following developments since about 2018 and unfortunately analogies with nazi terminology have been creeping in. From Herrenvolk, Untermenschen to pogroms & Lebensraum for illegal settlers on the occupied West Bank, to systematically using Palestinian kids as shooting practice targets during the March of Return. I increasingly realised that genocide can take many different shapes. No need for the most drastic forms from WWII, with patience, step by increasingly criminal step with total impunity, the same result can eventually be achieved.

    And that is indeed what we are witnessing now. Several future generations will ask the preceding ones the same question that we asked the ones before us, after WWII : how on earth was it possible that some fascist dictator could murder six million Jews and other minorities without being stopped before it was too late ? Never Again was a serious objective concerning everyone and had not yet become the empty slogan which it is now, applied exclusively to Jews and no doubt again abundantly used tomorrow. The fact that many of my ancestors were brutally murdered, does not entitle me to murder others, particularly Others who had no responsibility whatsoever in the Holocaust.

    The experiment of creating an artificial (increasingly religiously fanatic) nation-state on someone else’s land, has miserably failed. If after 75 years not only nothing has improved but it is going from bad to worse, I don’t see how it ever will get better either.

    After the present carnage a one-state solution with the two nations living together in peace within the same borders is even less possible & probable than it already was.

    As for the oft touted two-state solution (another empty slogan), that has become even physically impossible as settlers have cut up the West Bank in too many tiny pieces. Yesterday Cameron’s convoluted ‘explanation’ of how the UK/USA/Germany & v.d. Leyen one distant day can have their ‘sustainable’ ceasefire & humane two-state miracle cake and eat it, was outright mindboggling.

    So – unless Israel achieves its intended Endlösung by either murdering or expelling all the remaining Palestinians – what could the future be ?

    I would expect – also on the basis of last year’s protracted Israeli demonstrations about the rule of law – that decent Israelis will give up on the Zionist utopia – where they are more insecure than in most other countries – and emigrate, leaving the country to their fascist compatriots, the rabid religious fanatics.

    Then the only decent thing to do would be what originally was promised anyway : return Palestine to the Palestinians, its rightful native inhabitants. As they tend to be very hospitable, I expect they would not object to ‘decent’ Israeli living among them, as citizens with equal rights. Not easy, but arguably more doable & potentially successful than the present situation.

    As for the rabid Zionists, I do not wish to be cynical, but I would suggest they go back to where they came from (if any country would be willing to take them in, I admit I would not fancy have them as neighbours but would be willing to make the sacrifice and maybe US evangelicals would love to welcome them in their midst ?) or find another piece of desert to make ‘bloom’. They want rapprochement with Saudi Arabia ? That country has plenty of fallow desert.

    Ridiculous ? Maybe, but plenty of island nations soon submerged because of climate change-induced rising ocean levels, also will have to start a new life on a piece of land purchased in a foreign country. Legally negotiated & purchased – as opposed to forcefully grabbed by people wielding absurd 2000 years old biblical claims !

    Also utopian ? Possibly, but at least more just and leading to less tensions in the Middle East.

    I found this an interesting analysis by an Israeli/US psychologist :

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Anna. There’s been widespread disappointment that the Court didn’t call for a ceasefire, although I note that, in the Guardian, Kenneth Roth, the former executive director of Human Rights Watch, pointed out that, “Some were disappointed that the ICJ did not order a ceasefire, a step that was unlikely because the court addresses only disputes between states, so Hamas was not a party. A ceasefire imposed on only one side to an ongoing armed conflict is not plausible.” Thisis an assessment that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

    Unfortunately, as the western media seems in particular to have fixated on the lack of calls for a ceasefire and the supine Americans are still endorsing Israel’s risible claims that their genocide conforms to international humanitarian law, we can only hope that legal advisers in other western countries that are doing so much to support Israel are sufficiently alarmed at the prospect of being held complicit in genocide that they start urging detachment from Israel.

    As you note, the passage on the Israeli hostages wasn’t helpful, as it failed to mention the thousands of illegally held – and abused – “detainees” in Israel custody, but the hostages issue isn’t going away, and is causing serious headaches for Netanyahu in Israel itself, from those family members who can see that their loved ones are being sacrificed to fulfil the far-right Zionists’ dream of emptying Gaza and resettling it with Israelis, even though doing so requires either the complete elimination of the Gazan people, or the increasingly fanciful notion that other countries will offer to help by welcoming them in as refugees.

    I do think, however, that the hostages issue isn’t going away, and I very much hope that a ceasefire, dressed up as a “pause” emerges – and soon – to facilitate another prisoner exchange, and that pressure is then exerted on Israel to not then resume its aimless genocide.

    It also seems to me that any western powers troubled by their looming indictment in genocide might do well to exert pressure on Israel to prevent the mass starvation and the spread of diseases that is already happening, and for which, of course, the justification of Yoav Gallant – as highlighted by the Court – that the Palestinians are “human animals” and there must be a “complete” and apparently unending siege is so demonstrably inhuman.

    I also hope, of course, that calls for a ceasefire continue as loudly as possible amongst the many millions of people who have found that watching a genocide being live-streamed is the most disturbing thing they have ever seen, and that campaigners realize that the Court’s findings have given them some very powerful arguments to let their governments know that, if they don’t change course, they will one day be found complicit in genocide, which, I suspect, they really don’t want, having always, until yesterday, taken it for granted that being found guilt of genocide isn’t something that happens to the colonial powers.

    I’m not holding my breath for any of this, of course, but there are important aspects to yesterday’s ruling that all decent people should amplify as much as possible from now on.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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