UN Security Council addresses ICJ provisional measures in Gaza genocide case

Top UN court has found it is 'plausible' that Israel committed acts that violated the Genocide Convention

Destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip along the border with southern Israel. AFP
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The UN Security Council on Wednesday held a session on the ruling by the International Court of Justice issuing provisional measures on Israel's war in Gaza, with the US saying that Israel has the right to self-defence as long as it acts within international law.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, added that the measures also echoed continuing requests from Washington for Israel to do everything it can to reduce harm to civilians, to improve the delivery of humanitarian aid and to address “dehumanising rhetoric”.

“In our conversations with Israel's leaders, the United States has been clear, as has this council, about the urgent need to increase the flow of food, water and medicine so that it reaches all those civilians in Gaza who desperately need it,” she said.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield pointed out that the court did not demand an immediate ceasefire and did not find that Israel has committed genocide.

“The United States continues to believe that such allegations are unfounded,” noted Ms Thomas-Greenfield. She added that US President Joe Biden's administration still opposes a ceasefire, as it believes it would allow Hamas to regroup.

“We must instead work towards a durable solution to this conflict through the hard work of on the ground, relentless diplomacy – diplomacy like the kind the United States has pursued since day one of this conflict.”

Her comments come after the US announced a cut in funding to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, after claims by Israel that agency employees had participated in the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

The ICJ found on January 26 that it was “plausible” that Israel has committed acts in Gaza that violated the Genocide Convention.

The ruling in The Hague was based on an urgent application brought by South Africa, a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause.

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The court voted 15-2 on the order that Israel must take all measures in its power to stop any actions related to genocide in Gaza.

“Read it, study it and reread it to know what's in it,” Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s UN ambassador, told council members of the ruling.

“It is crystal clear that the provisional measures adopted by the court are binding and Israel must comply with them.”

He also questioned Israel’s attacks on the UN, which he called “the source of the evidence of Israeli crimes”.

“Israel wants to discredit the witness, to destroy the evidence,” he said. “Because the UN helps the Palestinian people survive, remain in their land, and Israel wants to uproot them.”

Israel’s deputy UN representative Jonathan Miller noted Hamas’s “inhumanity”, saying it never seems to be part of the conversation, accusing South Africa and Algeria – which is currently representing the Arab Group on the Security Council and called the session – of bringing a “distorted reality” of genocide.

South Africa’s ambassador Mathu Joyini argued that the international community “cannot proclaim” the importance of international law and the importance of the UN Charter in some situations and not in others.

“For international law to be credible, it should be uniformly applied and not selective,” she said.

Ms Joyini emphasised that “war is never wise” and called for Security Council to “fulfil its mandate and focus its efforts on enforcing peace”.

According to Gaza's Health Ministry, nearly 27,000 people have been killed and 65,949 wounded in Israeli strikes on the enclave since October 7.

Israeli officials say about 1,140 people were killed in the Hamas-led October 7 attacks in southern Israel.

The Palestinian militant group took about 250 hostages during the attack and 132 are still in Gaza, according to Israeli figures.

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Updated: February 01, 2024, 2:23 AM