The Hague-based ICJ to deliver interim ruling in Israel genocide case on Friday

South African report says Pretoria officials are in Netherlands ahead of ruling on request for emergency suspension of fighting

Judges and parties sit during a hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, January 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)
Judges and parties sit during a hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, January 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

Judges at The Hague-based International Court of Justice will rule on Friday whether or not they will grant emergency measures against Israel following accusations by South Africa that the Israeli military operation in Gaza is a state-led “genocide.”

The United Nations’ top court issued a statement Wednesday saying the 17-judge panel will hand down its ruling in court on January 26 at 2 p.m. Israel time.

In the initial ruling, the ICJ will not deal with the main question of whether Israel is committing genocide. The court will just look at possible emergency measures, meant as a kind of restraining order while the court looks at the full case, which usually takes years.

There was no immediate reaction from Israel’s Foreign Ministry to the announcement on Friday’s hearing.

Ahead of the ICJ statement confirming the hearing, South African’s News24 reported that a South African government delegation had touched down in The Hague in anticipation of the judgment. Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the arrival.

Earlier this month, South Africa asked the ICJ to order an emergency suspension of Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip, accusing it of carrying out a state-led genocide.

Israel dismissed the genocide allegations as false and libelous and said it had a right to defend itself and was targeting Hamas, not Palestinian civilians.

Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the Netherlands Vusimuzi Madonsela, right, and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services of South Africa Ronald Lamola, center, during the opening of the hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Jan. 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

Israel launched its war on Hamas in Gaza following the terror group’s October 7 onslaught against more than 20 communities in southern Israel, slaughtering close to 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing another 240 as hostages, 132 of whom remain held captive in the Strip.

In Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry has said that more than 25,700 people have been killed since the start of the war, an unverified figure which includes close to 10,000 Hamas operatives Israel says it has killed Gaza. More than 200 IDF soldiers have been killed fighting in Gaza.

Israel is not a member of the ICJ and does not recognize its jurisdiction. However, it is a signatory to the Geneva Convention which gives the ICJ jurisdiction over questions of possible violations of the convention.

The prosecutor of the International Court of Justice (ICC) — a criminal tribunal that prosecutes individuals — has also claimed his court has jurisdiction over potential war crimes carried out by Hamas terrorists in Israel and by Israelis in Gaza. The ICC’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan made a first visit to Israel and the West Bank last month, and said a probe by the court into possible crimes by Hamas terrorists as well as the IDF “is a priority for my office.”

The day after South Africa presented its case to the ICJ in The Hague, Israel’s legal team attacked the fundamental claims of South Africa’s genocide allegations, which contained little mention of the Hamas-led atrocities committed on October 7, with Israel arguing that the “appalling suffering” of civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, was the result of Hamas’s strategy of hiding behind innocents. Israel called the genocide allegation a malevolent “libel” and said Hamas had declared genocidal ambitions against Israel.

Separately, the ICC has been investigating both Israel and Hamas for alleged war crimes since 2021 and has confirmed that the incidents of October 7 and the ongoing war in Gaza would be examined in the probe.

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