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ICJ Judge Aharon Barak resigns citing ‘personal family reasons’

Retired High Court of Justice President Aharon Barak resigned from his role as an ad hoc judge representing Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday night, citing personal reasons.

Barak was part of the 15-judge panel at the top UN court, which is hearing South Africa’s case accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak mentioned that his resignation was due to “personal family reasons.”

“Thank you for the trust you placed in me,” he wrote.

Under ICJ rules, a state without a judge of its nationality on the bench can choose an ad hoc judge to sit for their case. It is not immediately clear who Israel will appoint to replace Barak.

Unnamed officials in Israel’s legal system told the Ynet news site on Wednesday night that Israel was uncertain about appointing a new judge to replace Barak, with discussions on the matter scheduled for the weekend.

In a statement thanking Barak for his service at The Hague, President Isaac Herzog said Israel would “continue to stand steadfast against the evil, hypocrisy, and libels cast against the State of Israel and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces).”

During his five months as an ad hoc judge, Barak voiced dissenting opinions in four rulings the court made against Israel this year.

Most recently, he was among four judges who argued that the ICJ’s ruling last month ordering Israel to cease operations in Rafah that could cause civilian destruction was not an order to stop all military operations in southern Gaza, but to halt activity “only insofar as is necessary to comply with Israel’s obligations under the Genocide Convention.”

Since December, South Africa has made four appeals to the ICJ, accusing Israel of genocide and requesting the court to order Israel to stop its war with Hamas in Gaza.

The court has refrained from ordering Israel to end the war but has instructed the country to minimize civilian casualties.

South Africa claims that Israel is acting in violation of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, a claim strongly denied by Israel.

The war in Gaza began on October 7 with an unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel, resulting in the murder of approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the taking of 251 hostages.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza with the objectives of dismantling Hamas and rescuing the hostages.

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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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