“Third States are now on notice of the existence of a serious risk of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. They must, therefore, also act independently and immediately to prevent genocide by Israel and to ensure that they are not themselves in violation of the Genocide Convention, including by aiding or assisting in the commission of genocide. This necessarily imposes an obligation on all States to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions, which are plausibly genocidal.” – South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation
The National Lawyers Guild International welcomes the provisional measures issued by the International Court of Justice today, January 26, in South Africa’s case against Israel at the ICJ under the Genocide Convention. The ICJ order is a clear rebuke to US officials who deemed the case “baseless and meritless” and their Israeli, Canadian and German counterparts.
“The ICJ order makes clear that South Africa has presented such a plausible case that it must order immediate provisional measures to protect the rights of the Palestinian people from a potential ongoing genocide.” stated NLG President Suzanne Adely “Therefore, we must demand that U.S. officials and the U.S. government immediately end their complicity in this ongoing genocide by imposing sanctions and an arms embargo on the Israeli regime, rather than continuing to facilitate the genocide through arms sales, security coordination, technology transfers and vetoes in the United Nations Security Council.”
The ICJ’s order for provisional measures requires that the Israeli regime must, “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention, in particular: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. The Court recalls that these acts fall within the scope of Article II of the Convention when they are committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part a group as such… The Court further considers that Israel must ensure with immediate effect that its military forces do not commit any of the above-described acts.”
While the Court did not issue an order – as requested by South Africa – for Israel to immediately cease its military aggression, as noted by South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, “in exercising the order there would have to be a ceasefire, without it the order doesn’t actually work.” “It is clear that the Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza – based on the mass killing and displacement of civilians, that has taken over 25,000 lives already and targeted residential homes, schools, hospitals, universities and other centers of civilian life as the primary targets of its carpet bombing – is fundamentally an act of genocide and the only way to implement an order to stop the genocide is to end the bombing and invasion immediately.” stated Charlotte Kates of NLG International
We are also concerned that the Court did not note in its order the right of the Palestinian people to resist, firmly recognized in international law, nor did it note that the Israeli claim of a “right of self-defense” against a people under occupation and colonialism is baseless. These omissions weaken the Court’s own declared mission to uphold international law and promote international justice, seemingly in the interests of appeasing the parties it assesses as requiring provisional measures to alleviate the risk of genocide. We view this as fundamentally reflective of the insufficiency of international legal bodies and institutions in addressing the crimes of imperialist powers and their allies.
Given the overwhelming evidence already provided by South Africa, and the Court’s reference to numerous international reports as well as the genocidal comments of Israeli officials, expressing clear intent to commit genocide, we are certain that any sense of justice will lead South Africa to prevail in the merits phase of the case. However, the people of Palestine cannot wait years for justice and accountability.
For these provisional measures to have meaning, the United States must immediately cease its arms sales and trade with the Israeli occupation, cut off its billions of dollars in financial flows to the genocidal regime, and immediately stop arming the war on the Palestinian people.
We firmly support all efforts in international and domestic law, including Defence for Children International Palestine v. Biden, whose arguments are being heard today in a California federal court regarding U.S. officials’ responsibility for genocide. We urge full support for all such initiatives to hold the U.S. accountable for its participation in genocide in domestic and international courts, and to highlight the legitimate rights of Palestinians to live free in their land.
We also note that legal action, while critically important, is insufficient to achieve Palestinian liberation, and that the people of Palestine, inside Palestine and in exile, particularly in Gaza, and throughout the region, particularly in Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq, are bearing the brunt of taking meaningful action to bring not only the genocide pursued by the occupation since October 7, 2023 to an end, but to bring the ongoing Nakba and colonialism in Palestine for over 75 years to an end.
Here, this means escalating the boycott campaigns against Israel, holding corporations accountable for investing in and profiting from genocide, holding politicians and officials legally and politically accountable for facilitating genocide, defending Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities and the Palestine solidarity movement against repression, and imposing sanctions, including a full arms embargo, on the Israeli regime.
As the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation noted, “Third States are now on notice of the existence of a serious risk of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. They must, therefore, also act independently and immediately to prevent genocide by Israel and to ensure that they are not themselves in violation of the Genocide Convention, including by aiding or assisting in the commission of genocide. This necessarily imposes an obligation on all States to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions, which are plausibly genocidal.”
We also reiterate our condemnation of the US/UK led attack on Yemen that comes in violation of both US and international law. We underline that the actions of the Yemeni people, their armed forces and the AnsarAllah movement are practical measures to implement the provisional measures ordered today and bring the ongoing genocide to an end.
We salute South Africa for its leading role in working to enforce legal accountability on a global level. This important step is raising the bar of international legal action in defense of Palestinian rights and for Palestinian liberation. We look forward to escalating our efforts and doing everything in our power to isolate and sanction Israel, bring the genocide to an end, and hasten the Palestinian people’s achievement of a free Palestine.