Why International Law Matters even if Israel Refuses to Comply with ICJ Provisional Measures Ruling


Richard Falk | Global Justice in the 21st Century - TRANSCEND Media Service

17 Jan 2024 – The post below is a much modified set of responses to questions posed by Mohamed Elmenshawy a journalist working at Al Jazeera Arabic from Washington 10 Jan 2024. Question 9 below has been added to deal with Western media bias as illustrated by three opinion pieces published on 17 Jan 2024.

1. How should we interpret the South Africa allegation that Israel’s military operations in Gaza violate the country’s obligations under the United Nations Genocide Convention and that its actions constitute genocide?

Israel’s military operations have lasted more than three months, but from almost their very outset objective observers felt confronted by ‘a text book case’ of genocide as the military onslaught was systematically and openly aimed at making Gaza uninhabitable and inflicting severe suffering on innocent civilians in flagrant violation of basic rules of international law. Such a military campaign was proclaimed in these extremist terms by Israel’s top political and military leaders and consistently exhibited in practice by the sadistic tactics relied upon by Israel’s armed forces. Disregarding official language that called for turning Gaza into ‘a parking lot’ or ‘emptying Gaza of all Palestinians’ or posing a choice of ‘leave or die’ disclose a stunning defiance of the criminal prohibition against the crime of genocide. Israel overlooks the fact that it was a party to the Genocide Convention, which pledged respect for this unconditional limitation on state behavior, meaning that neither self-defense nor anti-terrorism could provide a legally credible basis for Israel’s behavior toward Gaza since October 7. In addition, Israel twists the facts and evidence as in its presentation to ICJ, by contending that the Hamas attack was the real occasion of genocide and that it is Israel that is defending itself against a genocidal adversary.

2. What Happens if South Africa Wins at the ICJ?

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