The Court of Justice orders Israel to take measures to address famine in Gaza

In January, the International Court of Justice did not conclude that Israel’s campaign in Gaza constituted “genocide” as demanded by the case brought by South Africa, but the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Strip may prompt the court to do so, according to an analysis from the magazine “Time“American.

The court at that time affirmed the principle of Israel’s right to military engagement, for purposes such as self-defense, pursuing militants, and rescuing hostages.

However, the court concluded that it was “reasonable” that crimes related to genocide had occurred, a conclusion that angered Israel.

In six “provisional measures”, the court issued an effective ultimatum to Israel. The measures mainly urged Israel and its forces to ensure that genocide does not occur while responding to the October 7 attack, guard against incitement to genocide, preserve evidence and submit reports to the court. The court also urged Israel to “address the living conditions faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

The analysis says that the essence of the Genocide Convention, the international treaty that grants the court jurisdiction, is that genocide is not merely a “mass killing” of civilians but rather an attempt to destroy a people.

This is done through four means, in addition to killing, this can occur through: “causing serious physical or mental harm, imposing conditions of life intended to bring about the physical destruction of the group, imposing measures to prevent births and forcibly transferring children from one group to another.

In the weeks following the ICJ’s order, the number of battle casualties declined, but the humanitarian crisis deepened, the part about which the International Crisis Group expressed explicit concern.

The United Nations reports that as of late March, 75% of Gaza’s population has been displaced from their homes. The possibility of an attack on the city of Rafah in southern Gaza is likely to significantly worsen the situation.

An analysis by the Integrated Interim Classification for Food Security, a crisis monitoring coalition of the world’s leading international aid groups, predicts that by mid-summer and assuming an escalation of the conflict including a ground offensive in Rafah, half of the Gaza Strip’s population (1.11 million people) is expected to face Disastrous conditions, the most dangerous of which is famine.

The magazine says that we should ask whether the humanitarian crisis constitutes genocide, and whether the Israeli position can be considered an act or policy of genocide according to the second clause, i.e. “imposing life conditions that aim to cause the physical destruction of the group,” that is, whether The circumstances were “deliberately imposed” in a calculation to “achieve the destruction” of the Palestinian population of Gaza, with the intention to do so.

The magazine concludes in its analysis that the issue is less complex, because the forced displacement of a large portion of the Gaza population from the north of the Strip to shelters and tent cities in the south, in conjunction with the policy of restricting relief in the entire Gaza, made famine practically inevitable.

Any reasonable assessment of the consequences of these policies must reach the conclusion that the population will face the kind of risks they face now, the magazine adds.

Indeed, forecasts made by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network late last year raised precisely these concerns.

The grossly insufficient measures to mitigate the serious famine, such as airdrops and temporary docks, show an awareness of the need for relief on a larger scale, and the fact that Israel cites these measures, even though other countries have taken them, as evidence of its good faith and clean intentions, is not an exoneration of it, according to Analysis.

The analysis finds that political discussions on issues including the status of sovereignty, security guarantees, and accountability for international crimes constitute an essential part of the medium-term solution for Gaza, but they can only begin after the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is addressed.

The magazine concludes that moral responsibility requires action to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe that can be stopped, and not just because this humanitarian crisis could prompt the court to describe what is happening as genocide, although it could do so.

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