The UN court has ruled on the Gaza genocide case. This is what happens now

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Israel’s defense hearing at the International Court of Justice on January 12, 2024, in The Hague, Netherlands.

Dursun Aydemir | Breath | Getty Images

Last month, the International Court of Justice ruled on South Africa’s lawsuit accusing Israel of genocide.

Legal proceedings began after the African country submitted a reason for emergency measures in Gaza, which led to a two-day hearing, with testimonies from the South African and Israeli legal teams.

The court issued its interim ruling on January 26 with six legally binding provisions, including those ordered by the Israeli army: banning activities that could be considered genocide in the besieged maze; allow humanitarian aid into the strip; punishing incitement to genocide; submit monthly reports; and take steps to protect Palestinians.

CNBC takes a look at what the next steps might be, and how we got here.

What next?

In the ICJ’s order last month, it did not grant South Africa’s main request, which is to order Israel to suspend military airstrikes in Gaza and a permanent cease-fire. called

Israel rejected genocide charges at the World Court and accused South Africa of using it as legal cover for Hamas.

After the decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the decision and said that Israel would continue to defend itself and its citizens against Hamas while complying with international law. Israeli officials did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Cases under the Genocide Convention in court have dragged on for years – such as with Serbia – which took more than 10 years to reach a final decision.

Cases involving genocidal intent are among the most difficult to win – evidence must show that the perpetrators have a premeditated intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

The ICJ has ordered Israel to submit a report this month detailing its compliance with the court’s orders and withholding evidence of any acts of genocide.

Last week, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, said that Israel will not stop airstrikes on Gaza anytime soon. Gallant, who has called Palestinians “human animals”, was one of three officials who used the statements previously made by the South African defense legal team.

Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories since 1967, told CNBC last week that she is “not comfortable not knowing any history.”

“So I know with absolute certainty that in 100 years, Palestinians have consistently denied ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​three things: justice, human rights and freedom.”

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Albanese said that regardless of the outcome, the case contributes significantly to growing international pressure to end the war and is highly symbolic, adding to which the accusations of genocide at the ICJ are without merit.

Vincent Magwenya, spokesperson for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, told CNBC that the country intends to continue pushing the issue at a high level.

“We are working together to ensure that the case is successful for the sake of peace in the region and for the many innocent people, women, and children, young and old who are suffering from decades of Israeli occupation and genocide ,” he said. said.

How did we get here?

South Africa started proceedings against Israel in December before the International Court of Justice under the “Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip”.

“As a country that fought and defeated apartheid, we have a special responsibility to stand up for justice and basic human rights for all people everywhere,” Magwenya told CNBC on Sunday.

South Africa’s legal defense was heard on January 11, and Israel’s the following day at The Hague in the Netherlands.

“It is this obligation that informed our appeal to the International Court of Justice to stop the violence that Israel has unleashed on the Gaza Strip,” said Magwenya.

Magwenya said that as a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention, the country has a responsibility to prevent genocide, wherever it occurs. He said the past “reflects South Africa’s long history of solidarity with Palestinians.” “

Other countries that have publicly supported South Africa’s cause include Turkey, Jordan, Brazil, Colombia and Malaysia.

That comes as Israeli forces continue a military campaign in the Gaza Strip that has so far claimed more than 27,000 lives, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The court also said it was “deeply concerned” about the well-being of Israeli hostages kidnapped by the Palestinian militant group Hamas during its October 7 terror attacks, of which more than 120 were still at large. in captivity Thursday. The world court called for the immediate release of those guards who are still in captivity.

A precedent

Although the ICJ can issue requests to countries that it has made in the past, it has no jurisdiction to enforce them or rule on disputes between states.

On February 26, 2022, two days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Ukrainian government filed a case with the World Court under the 1948 Genocide Convention and asked Russia to order it to stop put on military action.

The following month, the ICJ issued a quick decision that asked Russia to stop military operations on its neighbor. Back in 2015, after an original appeal was filed in 1999, the court acquitted Serbia of committing genocide against Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian war of the 1990s in the judgment final and rejected Bosnia and Croatia’s request for compensation.

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