Order Israel to Suspend Gaza Attacks – UN Rights Experts Urge the ICJ

Israel has intensified its attacks on the central region of the Gaza Strip. (Photo: via Eye on Palestine)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“We call on all States to cooperate with the Court as it interprets the Genocide Convention and to respect the role of the ICJ as an independent court of law,” they stressed.

UN Human Rights experts have asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to urgently issue provisional measures ordering Israel to immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza and to protect the Palestinians from acts of genocide.

The group of experts, including Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, welcomed the case brought by South Africa against Israel for allegedly breaching the 1948 Genocide Convention in its actions against the civilians of the Gaza Strip.

“We commend South Africa for bringing this case to the ICJ at a time when the rights of Palestinians in Gaza are being violated with impunity,” the more than 30 experts, part of the Special Procedures of Human Rights Council, said in a statement.

“We call on all States to cooperate with the Court as it interprets the Genocide Convention and to respect the role of the ICJ as an independent court of law,” they stressed.

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Broader Implications for all States

The experts also welcomed the statements of support by many States for South Africa’s action in bringing the case to the Court, as well as the principled stand taken by individuals and organizations worldwide that have expressed support for the submission of the case by South Africa.

Both South Africa and Israel have ratified the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as have 151 other States.

“South Africa’s case has broader implications for all States – not only those that have ratified the Convention – as all are obligated both to refrain from committing genocide, and to prevent and punish it wherever it occurs. All States must act together to prevent, halt, and punish genocide,” the experts said.

They explained that “The ICJ has in the past made clear that obligations under the Genocide Convention are of an erga omnes nature, meaning that any and all countries have a stake in preventing genocide wherever it is at risk of occurring,” adding that “This plainly means that uninvolved countries have standing to bring a case like South Africa’s to the ICJ.”

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Statements by UN Experts Cited at ICJ

In its application to the Court, South Africa cited numerous statements by UN Special Procedures mandate holders, including the experts’ repeated calls for international action to prevent genocide in Gaza.

The mandate holders’ statements reference evidence of genocidal incitement by Israeli Government officials, including a stated intent to “destroy the Palestinian people under occupation”, and calls for a “second Nakba” in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.

These comments by Israeli officials, the UN experts said, have been made amidst the extensive use by Israel of powerful, often unguided weaponry in Gaza with inherently indiscriminate impacts, severe restrictions on the entry of lifesaving humanitarian aid, and attacks on health care services.

“All of which have resulted in a devastating death toll, including large numbers of women and children, the forcible transfer of more than half of Gaza’s population, and extensive destruction of life-sustaining infrastructure,” the experts explained.

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Immediate Ceasefire 

Recalling the alarming magnitude and intensity of the bombardments, the experts also reiterated their demand, issued in December 2023 along with other Special Procedure mandate holders, for “an immediate ceasefire and a halt to displacement, domicide, and attacks on health infrastructure.”

The experts further called for immediate action to ensure the unimpeded delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to people in Gaza, especially for the sick or injured, persons with disabilities, older persons, pregnant women, and children.

The experts noted that this is not the first such case brought before the ICJ. In 2019, for example, The Gambia brought a case against Myanmar under the Genocide Convention to the ICJ, and asked for the Court to issue provisional measures calling for a halt to atrocities against the Rohingya people. The Court issued provisional measures in that case, which is still pending determination before the ICJ.

Some of the Special Procedures experts mentioned in the statement are Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. 

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Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 23,708 Palestinians have been killed, and 60,500 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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