The International Court of Justice on Friday held that some allegations brought against Israel for excesses committed in its ongoing aggression against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fall within the provisions of the Genocide Convention and that there is enough evidence of dispute for a case.
It ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide, ensure that evidence of alleged genocide is preserved, and allow aid but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire.
A near full bench of 16 judges issued on Friday its initial ruling on South Africa's case of genocide against Israel.
The initial ruling was read out by the Presiding Judge Joan Donoghue. The court was supposed to be held with 17 judges, but one judge, who had duly participated in the deliberation and final vote, did not sit for the final announcement of the ruling.
Judge Donoghue recalled the sequence of events leading up to South Africa's case, including the October 7 attack mounted by Hamas and Israel's subsequent large-scale military operation in Gaza by land, air and sea, which caused massive civilian casualties, extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure and the displacement of the overwhelming majority of Gaza's population.
She added that the court was acutely aware of the extent of the human tragedy unfolding in the region and was deeply concerned about the continuing loss of life and human suffering.
Judge Donoghue went on to establish two fundamentals. The first was that the International Court of Justice did have jurisdiction to rule over emergency measures cited in the case.
The second fundamental was whether South Africa could bring such a case against Israel. The court ruled that South Africa - whose case had received widespread backing, including from Pakistan - did have the standing to move the case.
Some allegations against Israel fall within the provisions of the Genocide Convention, Judge Donoghue stated, adding that the court will not throw out the entire case against Israel.
Moreover, the ICJ presiding judge said that the court recognises the right of Palestinians to be protected from acts of genocide.
The court ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent a genocide in Gaza. Further, it must ensure that its forces do not commit genocide, those inciting genocide are punished and ensure the preservation of evidence of alleged genocide.
Israel was told to report to the court within a month all the measures it had undertaken within its powers to prevent acts of genocide.
The court ordered Israel to take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip.