Has Israel Complied with ICJ Order in Genocide Case? – HRW Answers

The Israeli government has failed to comply with at least one measure in the legally binding order from the ICJ. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The Israeli government has failed to comply with at least one measure in the legally binding order from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in South Africa’s genocide case, Human Rights Watch said on Monday, February 26.

Citing warnings about “catastrophic conditions” in Gaza, the court ordered Israel on January 26, 2024, to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid,” and to report back on its compliance to the specific measures “within one month.”

One Month Later .. 

One month later, however, Israel continues to obstruct the provision of basic services and the entry and distribution within Gaza of fuel and lifesaving aid, acts of collective punishment that amount to war crimes and include the use of starvation of civilians as a weapon of war. 

Fewer trucks have entered Gaza and fewer aid missions have been permitted to reach northern Gaza in the several weeks since the ruling than in the weeks preceding it, according to United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. 

“The Israeli government has simply ignored the court’s ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid,” he added. 

Below are excerpts from the HRW statement: 

“Other countries should use all forms of leverage, including sanctions and embargoes, to press the Israeli government to comply with the court’s binding orders in the genocide case. 

“Human Rights Watch found in December 2023 that Israeli authorities are using starvation as a weapon of war. Pursuant a policy set out by Israeli officials and carried out by Israeli forces, the Israeli authorities are deliberately blocking the delivery of water, food, and fuel, willfully impeding humanitarian assistance, apparently razing agricultural areas, and depriving the civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival.

“Israeli authorities have kept its supply of electricity for Gaza shut off since the October 7 Hamas-led attacks. After initially cutting the entire supply of water that Israel provides to Gaza via three pipelines, Israel resumed piping on two of its three lines. However, due to the cuts and widespread destruction to water infrastructure amid unrelenting Israeli air and ground operations, only one of those lines remained operational at only 47 percent capacity as of February 20. Officials at the Gaza Coastal Municipalities Water Utility told Human Rights Watch on February 20 that Israeli authorities have obstructed efforts to repair the water infrastructure.

“According to data published by OCHA and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the daily average number of trucks entering Gaza with food, aid, and medicine dropped by more than a third in the weeks following the ICJ ruling: 93 trucks between January 27 and February 21, 2024, compared to 147 trucks between January 1 and 26, and only 57 between February 9 and 21. A survey of impediments to the entry of aid faced by 24 humanitarian organizations operating in Gaza between January 26 and February 15 pointed to a lack of transparency around how aid trucks can enter Gaza, delays and denials at Israeli crossings and inspection points, and concerns about safety of trucks.

Israel Files Report Back One Month after ICJ Ruling to Prevent Genocide

“By comparison, an average of 500 trucks of food and goods entered Gaza each day before the escalation in hostilities in October, during which time 1.2 million people in Gaza were estimated to be facing acute food insecurity, and 80 percent of Gaza’s population were reliant on humanitarian aid amid Israel’s more than 16-year-long unlawful closure.

“High-ranking Israeli officials have articulated a policy to deprive civilians of food, water, and fuel, as Human Rights Watch has documented. The Israeli government spokesperson said more recently that there are “no limits” to aid entering Gaza, outside of security. Some Israeli officials blame the UN for distribution delays and accuse Hamas of diverting aid or Gaza police for failing to secure convoys.

“The Israeli government cannot shift blame to evade responsibility, Human Rights Watch said. As the occupying power, Israel is obliged to provide for the welfare of the occupied population and ensure that the humanitarian needs of Gaza’s population are met. The Israeli human rights group Gisha challenged the Israeli government’s claims that it is not obstructing entry or distribution of aid and also found that it is not complying with the ICJ order.

“Israeli authorities have also obstructed the aid that enters Gaza from reaching areas in the north. The survey of humanitarian organizations found that ‘almost no aid is distributed beyond Rafah,’ Gaza’s southernmost governorate. On February 20, the World Food Programme paused deliveries of lifesaving food to the north, citing lack of safety and security. Israeli forces struck a food convoy on February 5, the UN said and CNN documented.”

Since the ICJ order, Israeli authorities have also apparently destroyed the offices of at least two humanitarian organizations in Gaza and taken steps to undermine the work of UNRWA, the largest provider of humanitarian aid in Gaza, which more than half of other humanitarian organizations rely on to facilitate their operations. The head of UNWRA, Philippe Lazarini, said in a February 22 letter to the UN General Assembly president that the agency has reached a “breaking point” due to multiple government suspensions of funding and Israel’s campaign to shut the agency down.

For the full HRW report, click HERE.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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