The question is – will Israel ignore it? In a crucial development, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is tomorrow set to decide on whether to bring in emergency measures related to Israel's military actions in Gaza.
South Africa filed a case earlier this month accusing Israel of genocide in its assault on Gaza, leading to the ICJ's upcoming announcement on whether emergency measures will be ordered. It is currently thought by legal experts that South Africa has more than met the criteria of ‘plausibility’ enabling the court to call a legal halt to Israel’s current attacks on Gaza:
“At this stage in the proceedings, South Africa just has to establish that its claims are plausible” said Adil Haque, professor of international law at Rutgers University, USA.
The ICJ, the United Nations' top court, will address South Africa's requests for emergency measures on Friday January 26 at 12:00 GMT. These measures aim to restrain Israel's actions in the ongoing military campaign in Gaza. While the court won't tackle the main question of genocide, it will evaluate South Africa's nine injunctions, including the suspension of military operations and facilitating humanitarian aid delivery, which has been noticeably lacking.
In the earlier hearings, South Africa argued for provisional measures to prevent further harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention. The ICJ, which is not bound to put in place the actions requested, may indicate measures deemed appropriate, with a ruling on the full case expected to take several years.
Legal expert Michael Becker suggests the court might weigh in on Israel's military operation, but is sceptical about a complete halt. The ICJ may reinforce the UN's December resolution, instructing Israel to adhere to international law in military operations and ensure unimpeded humanitarian aid delivery.
If the ICJ grants provisional measures, they are legally binding but not enforceable, leaving the obvious question as to whether Israel will simply ignore any ICJ ruling and carry on its assault on Gaza. Israel, dismissing genocide allegations despite current evidence, asserts its right to defend against Hamas, claiming that military targets focus on the group, not civilians. With potential implications for Israel's international standing, the court's decision on Friday remains pivotal amid varying perspectives on the ongoing conflict.