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ICJ Orders Israel to “Immediately Halt its Military Offensive”: International Community Must Ensure Israel’s Compliance With All Provisional Measures Orders

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24 May 2024

Date: 24 May 2024

Al Mezan, Al-Haq, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcome the new provisional measures order issued today by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel). This new order instructs Israel to, inter alia, “[i]mmediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”, and “[m]aintain open the Rafah crossing for unhindered provision at scale of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance”. 

On 10 May 2024, South Africa filed an urgent request with the Court for the indication of additional provisional measures and the modification of provisional measures previously prescribed by the Court. The request was made in response to the commencement of the Rafah ground invasion by Israeli forces in the late hours of 6 May 2024, which was followed shortly thereafter by a renewed Israeli assault on northern Gaza, the severity and atrocity of which are reminiscent of that of the worst days of the ongoing genocide. 

In this new order, the Court reaffirmed the provisional measures it previously indicated on 26 January and 28 March 2024, emphasizing that they “should be immediately and effectively implemented”. On 26 January 2024, the Court had already determined plausibility of Israel carrying out genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to stop with immediate effect all genocidal acts in Gaza. On 28 March 2024, the Court indicated additional provisional measures, particularly concerning the catastrophic humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the declared famine in the northern governorates. As previously noted by our organizations, nearly three months later, Israel has blatantly ignored the provisional measures orders issued by the ICJ, amid the international community’s failure to ensure compliance. 

The Court itself today noted that “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip which, as stated in its Order of 26 January 2024, was at serious risk of deteriorating, has deteriorated, and has done so even further since the Court adopted its Order of 28 March 2024.” Our organizations once again reaffirm that the Court’s provisional measures orders of 26 January, 28 March, and 24 May 2024 can only be effected by an immediate cessation of hostilities in the entire Gaza Strip. 

Al Mezan, Al-Haq, and PCHR remind the international community that the implementation of provisional measures is mandatory under international law, as set forth in Article 41 of the ICJ Statute and established by international legal practice. Accordingly, Third States must take firm and unequivocal action to ensure Israel’s compliance with all three provisional measures orders issued by the Court. It is time to move beyond diplomatic rhetoric and implement concrete measures in line with international law. This includes imposing an immediate arms embargo and sanctions. Israel’s evident, complete disregard for international law and human rights principles cannot go unchecked any longer. For nearly eight months, 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza have endured a genocidal military campaign by Israel that has killed over 35,700 and injured more than 80,000, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The time for action is long overdue.

Earlier this week, on 20 May 2024, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) filed applications for arrest warrants before Pre-Trial Chamber I in relation to the Situation in Palestine charging Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant for international crimes set forth in the Rome Statute, including the war crime of starvation and the crimes against humanity of extermination and persecution. Upon confirmation by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I, it is imperative that all States Parties to the Rome Statute promptly fulfill their obligations by executing the arrest warrants. As pointed out by the Prosecutor, the investigation into the Situation in Palestine remains ongoing. Our organizations reiterate our call on the Office of the Prosecutor to vigorously investigate and indict the highest level of the Israeli leadership for the crime of genocide.

Significantly, the ICJ ordered that Israel “[t]ake effective measures to ensure the unimpeded access to the Gaza Strip of any commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission or other investigative body mandated by competent organs of the United Nations to investigate allegations of genocide”. It is imperative that the Human Rights Council take immediate steps to ensure that competent genocide experts and investigators enter the Gaza Strip to investigate the commission of genocide. 

In the context of Israel’s persistent violations of Palestinian rights, not only in Gaza, it is past time for accountability and action. The continuous disregard for international law and human rights by Israel demands a resolute response from the international community, who can no longer afford to ignore these violations. Decisive measures are necessary to hold accountable those responsible for these egregious actions and to ensure justice for the countless Palestinian victims affected.