ICJ rules that Israel must take all measures to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza but does not order ceasefire

Today, January 26 2024, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled calling Israel to take all measures necessary to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza. However, the court did not rule that Israel must end the war. A verdict on South Africa's allegation of genocide is not expected for years.

The case in the ICJ was brought by South Africa alleging that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians violating the UN's 1948 Genocide Convention, an allegation which Israel has vehemently rejected.

South Africa has asked for nine separate measures, which are:

  1. Israel must immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza

  2. Israel must ensure that any military units which may be directed, supported or influenced by it, as well as any organisations and people which it controls or influences, take no steps to further military operations in Gaza

  3. South Africa and Israel will prevent genocide against Palestinians

  4. Israel must desist from killing, injuring, destroying life and preventing births in relation to Palestinians

  5. Israel must prevent displacement, deprivation - including of food, water, shelter, aid and medical supplies - and the destruction of life of Palestinian people

  6. Israel must not incite genocide, and must punish acts of and encouragement to genocide

  7. Israel must prevent the destruction of and ensure the preservation of evidence and not deny access by fact-finding missions, international mandates and other bodies to Gaza

  8. Israel must submit reports to the ICJ to give effect to the order by South Africa on measures taken within a week and regularly after that until a final decision is made by the court

  9. And Israel must refrain "from any action and shall ensure that no action is taken which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve"

The court does not have to issue measures that are identical to those requested by South Africa.

Judge Joan Donoghue outlines measures Israel must take which are:

  1. Israel must take all measures to prevent any acts that could be considered genocidal - killing members of a group, causing bodily harm, inflicting conditions designed to bring about the destruction of a group, preventing births

  2. Israel must ensure its military does not commit any genocidal acts

  3. Israel must prevent and punish any public comments that could be considered incitement to commit genocide in Gaza

  4. Israel must take measures to ensure humanitarian access

  5. Israel must prevent any destruction of evidence that could be used in a genocide case

  6. Israel must submit a report to the court within one month of this order being given

Max du Plessis SC and Associate John Dugard SC are a part of South Africa’s legal team against Israel.