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Pro-Palestine NGOs react to ICJ ruling on Gaza genocide

Pro-Palestine civil society groups react to ICJ ruling on Gaza genocide
4 min read
28 January, 2024
Reactions from pro-Palestinian NGOs on ICJ ruling on Israel's genocidal actions in Gaza, where war remains ongoing.
Israel's brutual onslaught on Gaza has killed over 26,000 people - mostly women and children, and injured at least 64,000 others [Getty]

On Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) imposed a series of measures urging Israel to do all it can to stop committing genocidal acts in war-torn Gaza, where Tel Aviv’s military onslaught has been ongoing for almost four months.

Palestine, Arab states and South Africa – who filed the case at the World Court in December – welcomed the ruling, as it acknowledged the plausible risk that Israel is carrying genocidal actions in the enclave, where over 26,000 have been killed. 

Despite the positive response, many leaders – including Palestinian PM Mohammad Shttayeh, expressed disappointment over the lack of a ceasefire order imposed on Israel.

Meanwhile, the outcome of Friday’s hearing also garnered responses from global pro-Palestinian rights groups that echoed similar sentiments.

The UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), called the ruling "seismic" as it imposed orders not to commit genocide, punish those who incite to genocide, and prevent the destruction of evidence, as well as enabling access to humanitarian aid to those in Gaza.

The PSC said it would be difficult to see Israel abiding by the court’s rulings without the implementation of a ceasefire to end the military campaign, despite the ICJ not necessarily issuing a truce order.

Ben Jamal, the organisation’s director, said the UK must also stand by the court’s orders and refrain from enabling genocidal acts carried out by Israel, as London is a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention.

"The UK government must now call for an immediate ceasefire, for Israel to abide by all of the measures imposed by the Court, and must immediately suspend all arms sales to Israel given the clear likelihood that such arms may be used to aid the commission of genocide," he said.

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"We must now ramp up all levers of pressure on our leaders to act, to abide by their moral and legal responsibilities, to demand that Israel ends the genocide of Gaza and lifts the siege to allow in urgent humanitarian aid," Jamal added.

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law, also welcomed the hearing holding Israel accountable for potential acts of genocide, but the lack of a ceasefire order was "regrettable".

However, it pointed out that the order that Israel’s military should not commit any acts of genocide "would most easily be achieved through an immediate ceasefire".

Nevertheless, ICJP director Tayab Ali said: "The carte blanche that Israel has waved carefree as it commits acts of genocide has finally been torn up by the ICJ. Accountability has begun. If Israel continues to behave in the same way, it will fail to meet a single one of the provisional measures set out so far."

The Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) approved of the decision but urged that the UK revise its position on Gaza, in light of the ruling.

The organisation implores that the UK government must insist that Israel abide by the provisional measures, and ensure that the government, its officials and its diplomats end all possible complicity with the Israeli authorities as the war in Gaza continues.

"There must be a full UK ban on all sales of arms and security equipment to Israel with immediate effect, and should deny entry to the UK to all Israeli Ministers, politicians, journalists and others who have made genocidal comments and incited to genocide." It added.

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Brigadier John Deverell CBE, the former Director of Defence Diplomacy at the MoD and Senior British Officer Palestinian Territories, also stressed the UK’s need to suspend arms sales with Israel, as British weapons cannot be deployed when they risk being used to breach international law.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Coordinating Committee (PAACC), comprising the Anti-Apartheid Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Anti-Apartheid Committee of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the BDS movement, the Palestinian Human Rights Organization Council (PHROC) and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), warmly welcomed the ICJ's "historic" decision.

While the Court fell short of explicitly ordering an immediate and permanent ceasefire to stop the genocide, states must now be pressured more than ever to fulfil their legal obligations and to impose on Israel a ceasefire, the statement said.

"The ICJ decision now puts heightened legal – not to mention moral – responsibility on the shoulders of states that respect international law, civil society, and people of conscience worldwide to bring to an end Israel’s ongoing genocide and to help dismantle its underlying system of oppression," the statement added.

"Third States that have knowingly supplied arms, materials and other support to Israel for use in atrocity crimes, including genocide, must be held to account for contributing to internationally wrongful acts and breaches of jus cogens norms of international law."

Israel's brutual onslaught on Gaza has killed over 26,000 people — mostly women and children, and injured at least 64,000 others.