ICJ issues interim ruling in Gaza genocide case

The International Court of Justice ordered Israel on Jan. 26 to "take all measures within its power" to prevent breaches of the Genocide Convention in the Gaza Strip, but declined to order a ceasefire, following proceedings instituted by South Africa. The court also directed Israel to punish calls for genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, to enable the provision of "basic services and humanitarian assistance" to residents of Gaza, to preserve evidence relating to potential Genocide Convention breaches, and to submit a report regarding its compliance with the court's order within one month. In its interim ruling, the court stressed that it is not yet determining whether Israel breached the Genocide Convention but is acting to protect the rights of Palestinians ahead of a final decision.

The court also condemned Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks and called for the release of hostages.

From Jurist, Jan. 26. Used with permission.

See our last reports on genocide accusations against Israel, and the ICJ case.

Israeli jurist dissents from ICJ ruling

Retired Israeli Supreme Court chief justice Aharon Barak, serving as Israel's representative at the International Court of Justice, issued a separate opinion after the court's ruling in the genocide case against his country. Along with Uganda's Julia Sebutinde, Barak was one of only two judges to oppose the court's chief ruling that Israeli actions in Gaza may violate the Genocide Convention.

In his separate opinion, Barak criticizes South Africa for focusing on Israel instead of Hamas, saying it "wrongly sought to impute the crime of Cain to Abel." He also emphasizes his own experience as a Holocaust survivor, saying: "Genocide is more than just a word for me... It is the gravest possible accusation and is deeply intertwined with my personal life experience." (ToI)

UN official: 'mass casualties' in Israel attack on Gaza compound

Thomas White, the Gaza director for UNRWA, said the agency's compound in Khan Yunis, Gaza's second largest city, was the site of "mass casualties" after it was repeatedly hit by tank fire on Jan. 24. The compound displayed the UN flag and served as a refuge for displaced persons. The attacks killed at least 13 people and injured 56 more, 21 of whom critically.

White stressed that the attacks exacerbated an already "intolerable and intense" humanitarian crisis in Gaza:

There are 43,000 internally displaced people registered in this massively overcrowded UNRWA shelter, and all of them now find themselves at the epicentre of the war in the Gaza Strip, with their lives in danger as the fighting is so close. Many have already been displaced multiple times and have nowhere else to go.

UNRWA evacuated 45 people after its ambulances and emergency teams were initially denied access to the site. Although they were rescued, there are few places to take injured people for treatment, due to the "near collapse of the health system."

Article 7 of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel provides protections for UN workers and people who assist them, stating that "United Nations and associated personnel, their equipment and premises shall not be made the object of attack or of any action that prevents them from discharging their mandate." It goes on to mandate that states must take "all appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel." The State of Palestine is party to this Convention; Israel is not.

The US, Israel's biggest supporter and ally, condemned the attacks on the compound. Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said that the US is "gravely concerned" about the loss of life in Khan Yunis. She said the US is still collecting information about the incident. but stressed that Israel must comply with international humanitarian law in its war with Hamas:

The United States is unwavering in our support for Israel’s right to defend itself, consistent with international humanitarian law, against Hamas terrorists who hide among the civilian population and want to annihilate the State of Israel. But Israel retains a responsibility to protect civilians, including humanitarian personnel and sites.

Israel denies responsibility for the attacks. Reuters reported that the Israeli military initially issued a statement describing the compound as a base for Hamas fighters, but released a second statement after the US criticism saying a review of its operational systems showed they did not strike the compound. The second statement also suggested that Israel is investigating Hamas responsibility for the strike.

Israel has long maintained that Hamas operates in civilian areas, and has sparred with the UN over UNRWA activities, accusing the agency of complicity with Hamas. IDF officials say they found Hamas military equipment hidden in UNRWA bags stashed in a medical clinic in Gaza City. The agency this week fired 12 employees after they were accused of being involved in Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks. Israel has also denied visa renewals for UN officials, saying the UN response to the Hamas attacks was "disgraceful." (Jurist)

'Transfer' confab held in Jerusalem

Figures in Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government attended a conference calling for Israeli resettlement of the Gaza Strip and "voluntary migration" of the Palestinian population elsewhere. The Jan. 28 Jerusalem event, called the "Victory of Israel Conference: Settlement Brings Security," hosted speeches by national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich. It was attended by some 1,000 people, including 11 cabinet ministers and 15 members of the Knesset.

In their remarks, both Ben-Gvir and Smotrich called for the re-establishment of Jewish settlements in Gaza. Ben-Gvir said: "We must encourage voluntary migration. Let them leave. Part of correcting the mistake of the sin of the preconception that brought us to 7 October is to return home to Gush Katif [southern Gaza] and to northern Samaria. We have to return home, because that is the Torah, that is morality, that is historic justice, that is logic and that is the right thing." (The Guardian)

This is but the most recent  eruption of genocidal rhetoric from Israel's political elite. 

Israeli jurist steps down from ICJ

Aharon Barak, former chief justice of Israel’s Supreme Court and a judge on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) panel weighing genocide charges against Israel, announced his resignation from the ICJ June 5. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak sai he was resigning from his position as an ad hoc judge due to personal and family reasons. (Jurist)

Moshe Feiglin quotes Adolf Hitler

Former Israeli MK Moshe Feiglin quoted Adolf Hitler while commenting on the war in Gaza saying: "We can't live in this land if one Islamo-Nazi remains in Gaza," while speaking to Channel 12 news. (Haaretz)