4 Countries Join US in Suspending UNRWA Funding: Live Updates on Israel-Hamas War

4 Countries Join US in Suspending UNRWA Funding: Live Updates on Israel-Hamas War

Friday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice regarding accusations of genocide against Israel had profound historical resonance for both Israelis and Palestinians. But this lacked immediate practical consequences.

The World Court has not ordered a halt to the fighting in the Gaza Strip and has not attempted to rule on the merits of South Africa’s case, a process that will take months or even years.

But the court ordered Israel to comply with the Genocide Convention, send more aid to Gaza and inform the court of its efforts to do so – interim measures that appeared to be a rebuke for many Israelis and a moral victory for many Palestinians.

For many Israelis, the fact that a state founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust was accused of genocide was “a hell of a symbol,” said Alon Pinkas, an Israeli political commentator and former ambassador, after the court’s ruling in the The Hague affair.

“The fact that we are mentioned in the same sentence as the concept of genocide – not even an atrocity, not a disproportionate use of force, not a war crime, but genocide – is extremely uncomfortable,” he said. he adds.

For many Palestinians, the court’s intervention offered a brief sense of validation for their cause. Israel is rarely held accountable for its actions, Palestinians and their supporters say, and the move appears to be a welcome exception in the midst of one of the deadliest wars of this century.

“The massacre continues, the carnage continues, the total destruction continues,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a former Palestinian official. But the court’s decision reflects “a serious transformation in the way Israel is perceived and treated globally,” she said.

“Israel is being held accountable for the first time – and by the highest court, and by an almost unanimous decision,” she added.

An Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza, on Friday.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For Gazans, the intervention will bring little immediate relief.

The Israeli campaign in Gaza has killed more than 25,000 Gazans, according to Gazan officials, and damaged most buildings in the territory, according to the United Nations. More than four in five residents have been displaced from their homes, the health system has collapsed and the UN has repeatedly warned of imminent famine.

In ordering compliance with the Genocide Convention, the court pushed Israel to follow an international law written in 1948 that prohibits signatory states from killing members of an ethnic, national or religious group with the intent to destroy, even partially, this particular group. .

For many Israelis, the move appears to be the latest example of bias against Israel in an international forum. They say the world holds Israel to higher standards than most other countries. And for the Israeli mainstream, the war is one of necessity and survival – imposed on Israel by the Hamas attack on October 7, which killed around 1,200 people and led to the kidnapping of 240 others in Gaza, according to Israeli estimates.

Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister whose inflammatory statements about the war were cited by the court in the preamble to its decision, called the court’s decision anti-Semitic.

“The State of Israel does not need to lecture on morality to distinguish between terrorists and the civilian population of Gaza,” Mr. Gallant said.

“Those who seek justice will not find it in the leather chairs of the Hague court,” he added.

Still, the court’s instructions could provide momentum and political cover for Israeli officials who have been pushing internally to moderate military actions in Gaza and ease the humanitarian disaster in the territory, according to Janina Dill, an international law expert at the University of Oxford.

“All dissenting voices within the Israeli government and the Israeli military who disagree with the way the war has been fought thus far now have a very powerful strategic argument to demand a change of direction. cap,” said Professor Dill.

On Friday, Palestinians fled Khan Younis in Gaza to safer areas further south in the Gaza Strip, through the city’s western exit, on the outskirts of its refugee camp.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For Professor Dill, the affair also sparked reflection “on the human condition,” given that Israel was founded in part to prevent genocide against the Jewish people.

“Preventing human beings from turning against each other is a constant battle, and no group in the world is incapable of it,” she added.

It was a subject that seemed to concern the only Israeli judge, Aharon Barak, among the 17 evaluating the case before the World Court.

As a child, Mr Barak, 87, survived the Holocaust after escaping a Jewish ghetto in Lithuania by hiding in a bag.

“The genocide is a shadow over the history of the Jewish people, and it is closely linked to my own personal experience,” Mr. Barak said. wrote. “The idea that Israel is now accused of committing genocide is very difficult for me personally, as a genocide survivor keenly aware of Israel’s commitment to the rule of law as a Jewish and democratic state. »

In this complex context, Mr. Barak chose to vote against several of the measures adopted by the Court. But he joined his colleagues in calling on Israel to allow more aid to Gaza and punish people who incite genocide – surprising observers who expected him to side with Israel on all points.

While many Israelis expressed frustration with the ruling, some found relief in the fact that the court did not order Israel to cease its military operations.

Aharon Barak at his home in Tel Aviv last year. He was among 17 judges evaluating the case before the World Court.Credit…Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for the New York Times

According to Mr. Barak, this approach would have left Israel “defenseless in the face of brutal aggression, incapable of fulfilling its most basic duties towards its citizens.”

“This would have amounted to tying both of Israel’s hands, denying it the ability to fight, even in accordance with international law,” he wrote.

But for some Palestinians, particularly those in Gaza, this same decision constitutes a betrayal. Many hoped the court would ask Israel to stop the war completely – a step that would be almost impossible to enforce but would have constituted a victory in the battle for public opinion.

“He talks like genocide and walks like genocide,” Muhammad Shehada, a Gaza rights activist, wrote on social networks. “But there is no need to stop the genocidal war! All good?”

Six hours after the court’s ruling, Gaza’s health ministry released the latest war casualty figures. An additional 200 Gazans were killed in the past 24 hours, the ministry said Friday evening.

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting from Haifa, Israel and John Reiss from Tel Aviv.

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Eric D. Eilerman

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