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Key parts of ICJ's ruling on Israel genocide case you may have missed

The ruling addresses the emergency measures requested by South Africa

FILE - Israeli soldiers take up positions near the Gaza Strip border, in southern Israel, Friday, Dec. 29, 2023. The army is battling Palestinian militants across Gaza in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)
Israeli soldiers take up positions near the Gaza Strip border, in southern Israel, in December. The ICJ has ruled today on the request for a ceasefire in Gaza. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit,

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians and do more to help civilians in Gaza.

However, it stopped short of ordering a ceasefire requested by South Africa, which had brought the case to The Hague.

While this denied Palestinian hopes of a binding order to halt the war in Gaza, it also represented a legal setback for Israel, which had hoped to throw out the case.

On Friday:

Follow how the day unfolded below:

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER27 updates
  • Mandela 'will be smiling in his grave' at ruling

    Nelson Mandela "will be smiling in his grave" at the World Court order imposing emergency measures against Israel over its war in Gaza, South Africa's justice minister Ronald Lamola said.

    "We believe that former President Mandela will be smiling in his grave as one of the advocates for the Genocide Convention," he told Reuters.

    "It is a victory for the international law that there could be no exceptionalism in any part of the world and Israel cannot be exempt from complying with its international obligations."

  • Who is Julia Sebutinde?

    The case was heard by 17 judges in the ICJ on Friday.

    One of them, Julia Sebutinde, voted against her colleagues in each of the six measures imposed by the court.

    In a "dissenting opinion" issued afterwards, Judge Sebutinde said: “The dispute between the state of Israel and the people of Palestine is essentially and historically a political one, calling for a diplomatic or negotiated settlement, and for the implementation in good faith of all relevant Security Council resolutions by all parties concerned with a view to finding a permanent solution whereby the Israeli and Palestinian peoples can peacefully coexist.”

    She added “South Africa has not demonstrated… that the acts allegedly committed by Israel… were committed with the necessary genocidal intent.”

    Sebutinde has been a member of the ICJ since 2012, when she became the first African woman to sit on the court.

  • The scene in the courtroom earlier today as the ruling was made

    THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - JANUARY 26: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivers an order on South Africa's genocide case against Israel on January 26, 2024 in The Hague, Netherlands. On January 11 and January 12 at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the judicial body of the United Nations, in The Hague, South Africa seized the ICJ, to ask it to rule on possible acts of
    (Getty Images)
  • Oxfam: UK must stop arms sales

    Aleema Shivji, interim CEO of Oxfam GB, said: “The UK government must respect the court ruling and cease its complicity in the crisis, starting by immediately stopping arms sales to Israel given the risk of them being used to commit war crimes, and calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Anything less will be a stain on the UK's reputation as an upholder of international law.

    According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the UK has licensed £489m of military exports to Israel since 2015.

    Shivji continued: “Palestinians should not have to endure another day of this suffering. We urge the UK and all countries to do all in their power to ensure those responsible for violations on both sides are held accountable, to secure the release of all hostages and detainees, and to end Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory.”

  • What's the latest in the conflict?

    On the ground in Gaza, the war has entered a particularly destructive phase, with the heaviest fighting in weeks now taking place in crowded areas.

    On Friday, Israel kept up its bombardment of the main southern city of Khan Younis. It said it was involved in "intensive battles", with forces striking dozens of Hamas fighters and infrastructure from the air and ground.

    Residents said gun battles raged overnight, with Israeli forces blowing up buildings and houses in the western part of the city, in what has become one of its biggest offensives so far - waged among hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians.

    Israel said it had discovered 200 tunnel shafts and destroyed more than 130 militant infrastructure sites in its latest operations, as well as killing "numerous militants".

    Palestinians say Israel has blockaded hospitals, making it impossible for rescuers to reach the dead and wounded. Israel denies blockading hospitals and says Hamas fighters are to blame for fighting near them for operating there.

    Palestinians fleeing Khan Younis, due to the Israeli ground operation, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, move towards Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, January 25, 2024. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
    Palestinians flee Khan Younis on Thursday amid the Israeli ground operation. (Reuters)
  • 'The real issue is the people of Palestine'

    Naledi Pandor, South Africa's minister of international relations and cooperation, told reporters outside the court: "The real issue is the people of Palestine who are being killed every day. The people of Palestine who are sleeping in the cold. The people of Palestine who are denied food, water and energy.

    "That is the critical issue that all of us should focus upon."

  • Security minister says 'Hague shmague' in response to ruling

    Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel's national security minister, posted "Hague shmague" on X (formerly known as Twitter) following the ICJ ruling.

    The Hague is the Dutch city where the ICJ is located.

  • South Africa: 'In exercising the order, there would have to be a ceasefire'

    In its ruling, the ICJ stopped short of calling for an immediate ceasefire.

    But Naledi Pandor, South Africa's minister of international relations and cooperation, told reporters outside the court: "I believe that in exercising the order, there would have to be a ceasefire.

    "Without it, the order doesn't actually work."

    She added: "I would have wanted the word 'cessation' included in the judgement but I am satisfied with the directives that have been given."

  • ICJ 'ruled in favour of humanity'

    Riyadh Maliki, the State of Palestine's minister of foreign affairs, said the ICJ "ruled in favour of humanity and international law".

    "States now have clear legal obligations to stop Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinian people in Gaza and to make sure that they are not complicit.

    "The ICJ order is an important reminder that no state is above the law. It should serve as a wake-up call for Israel and actors who enabled its entrenched impunity."

  • Israel committed to international law, but will defend itself - Netanyahu

    Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was committed to international law after the World Court ordered it to take action to prevent acts of genocide in its war in Gaza.

    But he reiterated that it had a right to defend itself.

    Responding to the case brought by South Africa, Netanhayu said the charge of genocide was "outrageous."

    "Like every country, Israel has a basic right to defend itself," he said in a statement.

    "The World Court in the Hague justly rejected the outrageous demand to deprive us of this right," he said, seemingly referring to the fact that the court stopped short of calling for an immediate ceasefire.

    "But the mere claim that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians is not only false, it's outrageous, and the willingness of the court to even discuss this is a disgrace that will not be erased for generations."

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on October 28, 2023 amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. Netanyahu said on October 28 that fighting inside the Gaza Strip would be
    Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP via Getty Images)
  • Demonstrations outside the ICJ

    Climate activist Greta Thunberg was among the protesters outside the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the judges ruled on emergency measures against Israel.

    Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a protest outside the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as judges rule on emergency measures against Israel following accusations by South Africa that the Israeli military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
    (Reuters)
  • 'Decisive victory for international rule of law' - South Africa

    South Africa has claimed a "decisive victory for the international rule of law" after the International Court of Justice ruled in favour of its request to impose emergency measures against Israel over its military operations in Gaza.

    In a statement, its department of international relations and cooperation added: "South Africa sincerely hopes that Israel will not act to frustrate the application of this order, as it has publicly threatened to do, but that it will instead act to comply with it fully, as it is bound to do."

  • Sitting closes

    The sitting has ended. In summary...

    • the World Court ordered Israel to take all measures in its power to prevent acts of genocide as it wages war against Hamas militants in Gaza

    • it said Israel must take measures to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinians in the enclave

    • the court did not rule 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

    • in bringing the case, South Africa had requested an immediate halt to Israel's military operation. The court did not grant that

  • World Court calls for release of hostages

    Judge Joan Donoghue says the court is "gravely concerned" about the fate of the hostages abducted from Israel during the 7 October attack by Hamas.

    She says the court is calling for "their immediate and unconditional release".

  • World Court: Israel must prevent genocide and improve humanitarian situation

    The World Court has ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

    It said Israel must ensure its forces do not commit genocide and take measures to improve the humanitarian situation.

    Israel must also report to the court within a month on what it's doing to uphold the order.

  • 'Serious risk of deteriorating further'

    Judge Joan Donoghue notes civilians in Gaza are "extremely vulnerable".

    She says the situation is at "serious risk of deteriorating further" before the court issues its final decision.

  • World Court: Palestinians in Gaza have right to be protected from acts of genocide

    Judge Joan Donoghue says the court recognises the right of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide.

  • Palestinians are 'protected group'

    Judge Joan Donoghue has said Palestinians appear to be a "protected group" under the Genocide Convention.

  • World Court will not throw out the case, as Israel has requested

    Judge Joan Donoghue says "the court considers it cannot accede to Israel's request for the case to be removed".

  • World Court 'deeply concerned' about conflict

    Judge Joan Donoghue says 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".

  • Judges arrive in court

    The judges have arrived in court.

    Judge Joan Donoghue, president of the court, says: "The sitting is open."

    She is going through the procedural aspects of the case.

  • Erdogan speaks out ahead of ruling

    Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan has said he expects the World Court to rule Israel has committed genocide crimes in Gaza, as UN judges were set to rule whether to order Israel to halt its assault on the enclave.

    Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Erdogan said Turkey, which has heavily criticised Israel for its attacks on Gaza, was closely following the ruling and expected a "positive outcome."

    ANKARA, TURKIYE - JANUARY 24: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the 8th Meeting of Turkiye-Iran High-Level Cooperation Council at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkiye on January 24, 2024. (Photo by Dogukan Keskinkilic /Anadolu via Getty Images)
    Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan pictured earlier this week. (Getty Images)
  • South Africa's genocide case is a diplomatic win, whatever the verdict

    General Secretary of the Communist Party of China CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, addresses the opening of a study session on boosting the high-quality development of the financial sector, attended by principal officials at the provincial and ministerial levels, at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee National Academy of Governance in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 16, 2024. (Photo by Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty Images)
    China and President Xi Jinping have heavily increased their investment in Africa in recent years. (Getty)

    South Africa's genocide case against Israel may have ruffled feathers in the capitals of vital Western trading partners, but it has boosted the country's standing as a champion of the downtrodden Global South.

    That gamble is likely to pay off, thanks to renewed rivalry for Africa's minerals and UN votes between the West, China and Russia, turbocharged by Russia's war on Ukraine.

    Regardless of what the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules on Friday, the case is clearly embarrassing for Israel and its allies in Washington, Brussels and London.

    And grumble they might, but they can scarcely afford to alienate Africa's industrial and diplomatic heavyweight — especially with the United States' main superpower rival, China, wooing the continent with money, railways and tech transfers.

    For more in-depth analysis from Reuters news agency's Tim Cocks, read more here

  • South Africa 'feeling hopeful' ahead of ruling.

    South Africa is reportedly feeling hopeful ahead of the interim ruling by the ICJ on the emergency measures it requested to cease military action in Gaza.

  • Civilians trapped by fighting in Gaza's south, Hague decision looms

    Concern grew on Friday for civilians trapped by fighting around Khan Yunis in Gaza's south, with the top UN court set to rule in a case against Israel over alleged genocidal acts in its campaign against Hamas.

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague could order Israel to halt its military action in Gaza, launched in retaliation for Hamas's unprecedented attacks on October 7, although it has little power to enforce its rulings.

    Read the full story from AFP.

  • The top UN court is set to issue a preliminary ruling in South Africa's genocide case against Israel

    FILE PHOTO: Pro-Palestinian protesters gather near the International Court of Justice (ICJ), on the day judges hear a request for emergency measures by South Africa to order Israel to stop its military actions in Gaza, in The Hague, Netherlands January 12, 2024. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo
    Pro-Palestinian protesters gather near the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier in January. The court is set to issue an interim ruling today. (Reuters)

    Israel is set to hear Friday whether the United Nations’ top court will order it to end its military offensive in Gaza in a preliminary ruling while the panel hears a case filed by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide.

    The International Court of Justice's president, Joan E. Donoghue, will read out the highly anticipated decision taken by a panel of 17 judges.

    Read the full story from AP.

  • South Africa's genocide case against Israel explained

    The International Court of Justice will hand down a highly anticipated ruling on Friday in South Africa's case against Israel over alleged genocidal acts in Gaza.

    There are some key questions about a case that has drawn global interest, one of which is: Will the court decide whether Israel is committing genocide?

    The answer to that is 'No.. At this stage, the ICJ is only deciding whether to impose emergency orders on Israel ("provisional measures" in the court's jargon).

    A ruling on whether Israel is committing genocide in Gaza will be for a second stage of the procedure and is likely to take years.

    For a full rundown of the key questions, read the full article from AFP.