International Court of Justice President Joan Donoghue

International Court of Justice President Joan Donoghue and ICJ judges arrive prior to the verdict announcement in the genocide case against Israel brought by South Africa in The Hague, Netherlands on January 26, 2024.

(Photo: Remko de Waal/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

'Crucial Moment in History': ICJ Orders Israel to Prevent Acts of Genocide in Gaza

"One thing has been made clear on the world stage: There is vastly documented evidence that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians," said the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

The International Court of Justice ruled Friday that South Africa's genocide case is plausible and ordered Israel to "take all measures within its power" to uphold its obligations under Article II of the Genocide Convention.

The court also ordered the Israeli government to ensure its military does not commit violations of the convention in Gaza, punish those who incite genocide, immediately provide basic services and humanitarian assistance to Gazans, prevent the destruction of evidence that could show violations of international law, and submit a report to the ICJ on all steps it takes to implement the above measures.

The ICJ did not grant South Africa's request for a cease-fire.

While a final determination from the court on whether Israel is guilty of genocide in Gaza could be years away, Friday's ruling from the United Nations' highest court was seen as a huge blow to the Israeli government and its top arms supplier, the United States, which called South Africa's case "meritless."

"This ruling from the ICJ is a massive legal defeat for Israel and its premiere defenders, the U.S. and Germany," The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill wrote Friday. "The question now is enforceability and whether the U.S. will openly trample international law in an effort to continue aiding Israeli crimes against Palestinians."

As she read the court's interim decision, ICJ President Joan Donoghue cited testimony from United Nations officials and others on the appalling conditions on the ground in the Gaza Strip, where most of the population is displaced, starving, and struggling to survive Israel's relentless aerial and ground assault.

Donoghue said the court deemed the threat of "irreparable harm" to Gazans real and concluded that emergency measures were necessary to protect the Palestinian population from genocide.

"This is a crucial moment in history to finally holding Israel accountable," the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights said in response to the decision. "One thing has been made clear on the world stage: There is vastly documented evidence that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians."

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