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South Africa v. Israel: International Court of Justice Calls for Israel to Provide Humanitarian Aid Amidst Genocide Allegations

On Mar. 28, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) passed a ruling regarding the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza. This ruling is a result of an application against the State of Israel filed by South Africa on Dec. 29, 2023, which accused the State of Israel of violating sections of the Genocide Convention by committing specific acts in Gaza. 

This basis for this accusation is rooted in Israel’s response to the Oct.7 massacres, which South Africa classifies as “offensive attacks,” considering the alleged 32,000 Palestinians who have been killed in Israeli attacks since, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The ICJ’s ruling states: “in view of the worsening conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza, in particular the spread of famine and starvation,” Israel shall take “all necessary… measures to ensure…the unhindered provision at scale [of] humanitarian assistance to Palestinians throughout Gaza.” 

The aid mandated by the provisional measure includes food, water, electricity, fuel, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and sanitation requirements, as well as medical supplies and care. It also calls on Israel to increase the capacity and number of land crossing points and to maintain them open for as long as necessary. Furthermore, the Genocide Convention calls on Israel to ensure immediately that its military does not commit acts that constitute a violation of any of the rights of Palestinians in Gaza as a protected group. The list of violations includes killing members of the group and causing them serious bodily or mental harm. 

The March 28 ruling followed months of deliberations for the ICJ, including appeals by both Israel and South Africa. It is significant to note that the ICJ expressed its grave concern over the fate of the hostages abducted on Oct. 7 and called for their “immediate and unconditional release.”

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