Top UN Court Says Israel Must ‘Take All Measures’ To ‘Prevent Genocide’ in Gaza

New Delhi: The United Nations’ top court on Friday ordered that Israel must “take all measures” to prevent “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza, but it stopped short of ordering an immediate cease-fire in Israel’s war with Hamas.

In a hearing in The Hague, the Netherlands, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said that Israel must ensure its forces did not commit genocide and take measures to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinian civilians in the enclave, reported Reuters.

“The court is acutely aware of the extent of the human tragedy that is unfolding in the region and is deeply concerned about the continuing loss of life and human suffering,” the court said.

South Africa brought the case against Israel, accusing it of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, set up after World War II and the Holocaust.

Israel’s military operation has laid waste to much of the densely populated enclave and killed more than 25,000 Palestinians in nearly four months, according to Gaza health authorities.

After the ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the fact that the court was willing to discuss the genocide charges was a “mark of shame that will not be erased for generations,” news agency AP reported.

“We will continue to do what is necessary to defend our country and defend our people,” he said, adding “Like every country, Israel has the basic right to defend itself. The court in the Hague rightfully rejected the outrageous request to take that away from us,” AP reported.

Israel unleashed its assault after a cross-border rampage on October 7 by Hamas militants. Israeli officials said 1,200 people were killed, mostly civilians, and 240 taken hostage.

The court did not rule at this stage on the core of the case brought by South Africa – whether genocide has occurred in Gaza. But it recognised the right of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide, reported Reuters.

The 1948 Genocide Convention, enacted in the wake of the mass murder of Jews in the Nazi Holocaust, defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

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