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UN court sets date for emergency measures ruling on South Africa’s Israel-Gaza genocide case

UN court sets date for emergency measures ruling on South Africa’s Israel-Gaza genocide case

Judges at the International Court of Justice will rule on Friday whether to grant emergency measures that may halt Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

South Africa accuses the Israeli military operation of being state-led genocide.

The United Nations’ top court, an 17-judge panel in The Hague, Netherlands, will hand down its ruling in court at 12pm GMT.

Israel strongly rejects the accusation and has asked the court to throw out the case.

The court announced the timing of the interim ruling on Wednesday.

Israel launched its massive air and ground assault on Gaza soon after a murderous raid by Hamas militants on October 7, killing some 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducting another 250, some of whom are still being held as hostages.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nation often boycotts international tribunals and UN investigations, saying they are unfair and biased.

But Israel’s leaders sent a high-level legal team to two days of hearings earlier this month — a sign of how seriously they regard the case and an indication of likely concerns that any court order to halt operations would be a major blow to their international standing.

If the court grants some or all of South Africa’s eight requests for so-called provisional measures, it is unclear if Israel will comply.

Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with airstrikes until “complete victory” against Hamas.

 (ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
(ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Gaza’s Health Ministry says the offensive has killed at least 25,490 people — the majority women and children — and wounded another 63,354. Its count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

UN officials have expressed fears that even more people could die from disease, with at least one-quarter of the population facing starvation.

Israel’s attacks have driven nearly 85 per cent of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes. Much of northern Gaza, including Gaza City, has been reduced to rubble.

Friday’s ruling will not be on the merits of South Africa’s claims. Israel can still challenge the court’s jurisdiction and the admissibility of the case before any hearings on the legal merits of the case.

For it to order so-called “provisional measures,” the panel must decide that the court appears to have jurisdiction in the case, that there is a dispute between South Africa and Israel about the 1948 Genocide Convention and that there is an urgent need to order emergency measures while the case continues.

At hearings earlier this month, South African lawyers said that acts by Israel’s military and statements by senior officials demonstrated intent to commit genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said: “The scale of destruction in Gaza, the targeting of family homes and civilians, the war being a war on children, all make clear that genocidal intent is both understood and has been put into practice.

“The articulated intent is the destruction of Palestinian life.”