ICJ: Palestinians, Arab world react to court's ruling on Israel genocide case in Gaza

ICJ: Palestinians, Arab world react to court's ruling on Israel genocide case in Gaza
Many Arab and EU figures welcomed the ICJ's measures urging Israel not to carry out genocidal acts in Gaza, though expectedly, Israel rejected such orders.
6 min read
27 January, 2024
Pro-Palestinian supporters outside the ICJ in The Hague reacted positively to the court's ruling [Getty/file photo]

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday ruled that Israel must do all it can to prevent genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza, though it failed to call for a ceasefire order.

The World Court also urged that Israel must ensure that much-needed humanitarian aid reaches the territory, which has been under a brutal military onslaught and siege since October 7.

The ruling was hailed by South Africa, as it acknowledges the plausible risk of Israel committing genocide in the Gaza Strip, where over 26,000 Palestinians have been killed over the past three and a half months.

"Today, Israel stands before the international community, its crimes against the Palestinians laid bare," President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.

"We expect Israel as a self-proclaimed democracy and a state that respects the rule of law to abide by the measures handed down."

Ramaphosa, as well as the Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor, both expressed that a ceasefire order should have been issued, following the verdict.

"There should now be a more concerted effort towards a ceasefire and negotiations should commence on a permanent two-state solution, to enable Israel and Palestine to live side by side as independent states."

Here's how the rest of the world reacted.


Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority said it "welcomed the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ”, saying that the top court "ruled in favour of humanity and international law".

In a statement released by Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki, the PA said all states have clear legal obligations to stop Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinian people in Gaza and to make sure they are not complicit.

"The ICJ order is an important reminder that no state is above the law."

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said he hoped the ruling would include an immediate ceasefire.

But the decision "confirms the end of Israel's time with impunity and puts it in the dock as a war criminal", he added.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri called the ruling "an important development: which contributed to "isolating Israel and exposing its crimes".

However, Islamic Jihad, a smaller Palestinian militant group fighting alongside Hamas against Israel in Gaza, denounced what it described as the ICJ’s reluctance to demand an immediate ceasefire.

"The Court’s hesitation to immediately call for a halt to the fighting is evidence of the control of evil global powers over the global legal systems for their interests at the expense of the oppressed," the group said in a statement.

The Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, told the BBC that Israel is "finally" on trial for genocide, following events such as the Nakba - or catastrophe - in 1948, which prompted the ethnic cleansing and forcible displacement of Palestinians to make way for the creation of Israel.

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The top diplomat called Friday’s decision significant "not only for the Palestinian people and South Africa but also for humanity".

Arab states

Qatar, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, welcomed the provisional measures, calling them a "victory for humanity and international justice".

Fellow mediator Egypt also echoed Qatari sentiments on the ruling. The foreign ministry said Cairo "was looking forward to the International Court of Justice demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as the Court ruled in similar cases," stressing the need to respect and implement its decisions.

Saudi Arabia, which has decried Israel’s military onslaught but has been rumoured to seek to normalise relations with Israel for over a year, and called for the international community to "hold Israel accountable" for "violations" of international law.

In a statement, the kingdom's Foreign Ministry also called for "more measures" to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and provide protection for the Palestinian people.

The ruling was well-received by the Arab League, who went on to state that the ICJ's decision "opens the way for intense diplomatic and legal action in the Arab world and globally". Spokesperson Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Israel is "obliged to comply" with the measures imposed by the court.

Europe and beyond

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a staunch critic of Israel’s onslaught in Gaza, said he hoped the ruling ordering Israel to prevent acts of genocide would halt "inhumane" attacks against civilians.

"I find the interim injunction decision taken by the International Court of Justice regarding the inhumane attacks in Gaza valuable and welcome it," Erdogan said in a social media statement.

"We hope that Israel's attacks against women, children and the elderly will come to an end," he said, adding that Turkey would continue trying to "establish a ceasefire and ensure the path to permanent peace".

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf said that the ICJ’s ruling made it clear that "the killing and destruction in Gaza must stop".

"With such death and destruction, we will continue to call for a ceasefire," he stressed.

The former leader of Spanish left-wing party Podemos, said that the Court "sees signs of genocide in Gaza and holds Israel responsible".

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Ione Bellara, a prominent supporter of the plight of Gazans, reiterated the need to support South Africa’s case against Israel, and Spain’s need to sever diplomatic relations with Israel.


The US, Israel’s long-standing ally, maintained its position that charges of genocide against Israel were "unfounded".

A State Department spokesperson said the US recognises the ICJ's "vital role in the peaceful settlement of disputes," claiming that the Biden administration has "consistently made clear that Israel must take all take all possible steps to minimize civilian harm, increase the flow of humanitarian assistance, and address dehumanising rhetoric."

Meanwhile, the British government on Saturday said it had "considerable concerns" over the Court's decision, saying it "respects the role and independence of the ICJ" but labelled the ruling "not helpful in the goal of achieving a sustainable ceasefire".

Much like the US, London claims that Israel's actions in Gaza "cannot be described as genocide, and called South Africa's case "wrong and provocative."

Leading Arab and Palestinian organisations in the UK, including the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), urged the UK to ensure that Israel abides by the ICJ’s measures, despite London's stance.

"The UK has to revise its entire position on Gaza. For over three months, the British political class including the government and the leadership of the Labour Party have totally and utterly failed to call for an immediate ceasefire, which might have prevented or limited the Israeli atrocities including possible genocide against Palestinians," the CAABU said.