Human Rights Watch says world must ensure Israel abides by any UN court ruling
The head of Human Rights Watch has praised South Africa for bringing Israel's brutal military campaign against Gaza to the top UN court and said the international community would be responsible for ensuring that Israel complies with any judicial decision.
South Africa demanded an emergency suspension of Israel's aerial and ground offensive in the Palestinian enclave, telling the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague that Israel was committing genocidal acts.
Over 23,000 people, mostly women and children, have been killed by Israel in Gaza since October 7, most of them women and children. The territory has been completely devastated with nearly all the population forced to flee their homes.
"South Africa is providing important leadership here. It's really using this important opportunity," Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told news agency Reuters.
"If Israel does not comply with the measures or orders of the court, then it is up to the international community to ensure that they are leveraging whatever pressure that they can to encourage Israel to actually implement the measures."
Human Rights Watch, which released its World Report on Thursday outlining abuses around the globe, accused Israel last night of using the starvation of civilians as a means of warfare in the Gaza Strip, which constitutes a war crime. Israel has denied the charge.
"In the throes of this war, what we have seen is consistent, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law," Hassan said. "We were able to document elements of this one crime- the crime of starvation."
Hassan said that since Human Rights Watch had documented starvation in Gaza, there had been no shift in policy to suggest that Israeli authorities had abandoned the method.
Facing mounting international pressure, Israel has lifted its "complete siege" to allow limited quantities of food and medicine into the territory, though aid agencies say it is not enough.
"But we need to talk about total and unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance," which she said included food, fuel and shelter.
"We have not seen that sort of unfettered humanitarian access. That is what Human Rights Watch has been calling for."