Human Rights Watch has hailed the International Court of Justice (ICJ) provisional measures against Israel in a case initiated by South Africa, alleging violations of the Genocide Convention in Gaza.
This historic ruling mandates Israel to take immediate steps to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, facilitate basic services and humanitarian aid, and curb incitement to genocide.
Balkees Jarrah, the associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, hailed the significance of the ICJ's decision.
"The World Court’s landmark decision puts Israel and its allies on notice that immediate action is needed to prevent genocide and further atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza,” Jarrah said.
She spotlighted the urgency for governments to leverage their influence to enforce the court's order, given the severe civilian suffering in Gaza attributed to Israeli war crimes.
The ICJ's decision followed hearings on January 11 and 12, where South Africa sought urgent measures in response to Israel's alleged atrocities against Palestinians, marking Israel's first formal response to such allegations since October 7, 2023.
The case was filed by South Africa on December 29, 2023, accusing Israel of breaching the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The ICJ order urges provisional measures to safeguard the rights claimed by South Africa, notably the Palestinians in Gaza's right to protection from genocide.
The court also obligated Israel to safeguard evidence pertinent to the case and report on the implementation of these measures within a month.
This order, legally binding for the involved parties, was not as extensive as South Africa had initially requested, Huma Rights Watch noted.
However, the court exercised its discretion in determining the necessary measures, which will be forwarded to the UN Security Council automatically.
The current ICJ case is state-to-state litigation, distinct from criminal proceedings against individuals, and is not associated with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Meanwhile, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan confirmed ongoing investigations since March 2021 into alleged atrocity crimes in Gaza and the West Bank since 2014, covering unlawful actions by all involved parties.
Jarrah further highlighted the gravity of the situation in Gaza, where civilians face unprecedented levels of starvation and violence.
“The ICJ’s speedy ruling is a recognition of the dire situation in Gaza," she said.
Jarrah called on Israel's allies to support compliance with this critical ruling, in line with their commitment to a global rules-based order.