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What does the ICJ decision mean for the Gaza war?

Last week has seen unprecedented and significant developments in Israel’s war on Gaza.

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced that he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. Following this, on Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) complied with South Africa’s request for “provisional measures,” ordering Israel to cease its attacks in Gaza.

“Israel must immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in Rafah that may inflict conditions of life on the Palestinian group in Gaza that could lead to their physical destruction in whole or in part,” stated Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the ICJ.

While both the ICC and ICJ deal with human rights violations, their functions differ. The ICC, established by the Rome Statute in 2001, focuses on prosecuting individuals for international crimes, whereas the ICJ, formed in 1945 under the UN, handles disputes between states.

Balkees Jarrah, associate director for international justice at Human Rights Watch, emphasized the severity of the situation in Gaza. “The International Court of Justice’s order underlines the gravity of the situation facing Palestinians in Gaza, who have for months endured the blocking of basic services and humanitarian aid amid continued fighting,” Jarrah said to TRT World. She added, “Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and civilians there are facing famine – yet the Israeli government continues to flout the World Court’s binding orders by obstructing the entry of lifesaving aid and services.”

Over seven months into the Gaza war, nearly 40,000 Palestinians, most of whom are women and children, have been killed by Israeli attacks, and over a million people have been displaced due to Tel Aviv’s actions.

Before the ICJ’s decision, ICC’s Khan accused Israel of “causing extermination” of the Palestinian population by deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza. “The ICJ’s decision opens up the possibility for relief, but only if governments use their leverage, including through arms embargoes and targeted sanctions, to press Israel to urgently enforce the court’s measures,” said Jarrah.

Growing Israeli Isolation

The US, a staunch ally of Israel, disapproved of the court’s arrest warrants, with some American senators threatening both the ICC and its leaders, including Khan and his family. However, other Western countries have expressed their intention to comply with the ICC’s decisions on Netanyahu and Gallant.

Germany, a party to the ICC convention of the Rome Statute and an ally of Israel, stated that Berlin would arrest Netanyahu if the court ordered his arrest. Norway also declared that it is “obligated” to arrest Netanyahu if the ICC issues the warrant. France and Belgium have already pledged their support for the ICC’s final decision.

Experts believe that the ICJ’s historic decision against Israel’s actions in Gaza, along with these recent developments, will further isolate Tel Aviv in the international community.

“No one is above the law,” declared ICC’s Khan in a landmark interview with CNN, indicating that Israel’s conduct in Gaza reflects a “criminal common plan.”

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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