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- 🌍 The World Court to hand down its interim ruling on Israel-Gaza genocide case tomorrow
🌍 The World Court to hand down its interim ruling on Israel-Gaza genocide case tomorrow
Plus: North Korea takes down reunification landmark
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The World Court to hand down its interim ruling on Israel-Gaza genocide case tomorrow
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced overnight it'll hand down tomorrow (Friday) its highly anticipated interim ruling on South Africa's genocide case against Israel. Here's what you need to know.
South Africa lodged its case on 29 December, alleging Israel's actions in Gaza breach the Genocide Convention. South Africa's ruling party (the African National Congress) has long drawn parallels between its own experiences resisting apartheid, and Palestinian experiences with Israel.
Supporters applauded South Africa's efforts to end a conflict that's seen most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people displaced and more than 25,000 killed.
Critics said the case made a mockery of the ICJ, weakened the very concept of genocide, and reflected hypocrisy by South Africa (which declined to arrest an alleged genocidaire in 2015, and hosted another earlier this month).
Tomorrow's ruling is not on whether Israel is breaching the Genocide Convention (that ruling will take years). Rather, it's on South Africa's request for emergency orders like more aid to Gaza, and a halt to Israel's military operation.
For this, South Africa had to prove its genocide claims were “plausible”. It then had to prove its proposed emergency measures were necessary.
So South Africa argued on 11 January that:
Israeli soldiers have acted on that intent (lawyers referenced videos of soldiers “joyfully detonating entire apartment blocks”), and
Israeli actions have been genocidal in nature, causing destruction, displacement, and death aimed at the "destruction of Palestinian life".
In response, Israel argued the following day that:
Not all public comments reflect official policy, and Netanyahu's ‘Amalek’ speech also said Israel "does everything to avoid harming non-combatants"
Israel is targeting Hamas, not Palestinians, as evidenced in its evacuation orders and warnings to civilians
Palestinian casualties are the result of Hamas booby traps, misfired rockets, and its widespread use of civilian infrastructure, and
Any order for Israel to cease efforts to rescue its hostages and defeat Hamas would violate the country’s basic right to self-defence.
South Africa's foreign minister has announced she's flying to The Hague for tomorrow's interim ruling. Israel hasn't yet commented on the court's announcement.
As ever, this is such a polarising issue in part because it features such opposing yet confident narratives.
The Palestinian people might describe a history of occupation, oppression, and denial of their right to self-determination, culminating in a situation now so dire it’s ended up as a genocide case at the world’s highest court.
The Jewish people might describe their own history of injustice, genocide, and a connection to the land of Israel that stretches back to the Bronze Age, culminating in today’s single Jewish state among neighbours seeking its end.
These competing narratives have paralysed the UN Security Council, which is partly why South Africa felt justified going to the ICJ instead.
The most likely outcome tomorrow is that neither party gets all it wants: e.g., the ICJ might find it's "plausible" the Genocide Convention is being breached, in turn ordering Israel to adjust but not halt its operation.
This type of ruling may not drive immediate change, especially given the ICJ’s lack of enforcement and Israel's vow to still rescue its hostages and defeat Hamas.
But it could put pressure on Israel's allies like the US, on Netanyahu domestically, and on the international order itself as its limits are laid bare.
And we’ll likely see those same opposing narratives play out; whether it's allegations of the West's selective enforcement of international law, or allegations of the world's selective focus on its lone Jewish state.
Also worth noting:
The treaty defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.
Both Israel and South Africa were able to appoint 'ad hoc' ICJ judges for this case, bringing the total bench to 17 judges. ICJ rulings are binding and non-appealable, but also largely unenforceable.
Separately, the ICJ will next month start oral hearings on the “Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.
Unlike the ICJ, the International Criminal Court (ICC) can try individuals. It opened an investigation into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in 2021. Various states (including Israel) don’t recognise it.
🇰🇷 South Korea: President Yoon is in hot water after a video resurfaced of the first lady accepting a $2,200 Dior bag as a gift. The scandal comes just months before South Korea’s National Assembly elections.
🇪🇺 EU: The European Commission has unveiled plans to “strengthen” the bloc’s economic security, likely with China in mind. The proposed measures include toughening the screening of foreign investments and tightening the export rules for dual-use goods (i.e., goods with civilian and military applications).
🇲🇻 Maldives: Local authorities say a visiting Chinese ship won’t be conducting research within Maldivian waters, after news of the ship’s docking triggered concerns in regional media. The XIANG YANG HONG 3 will reportedly dock at Malé “for rotation of personnel and replenishment” only.
🇲🇽 Mexico: A US panel has ruled that a $10B lawsuit filed by Mexico in 2021 against six US gun manufacturers can proceed, overruling a lower court that had dismissed the case. Mexico says the manufacturers are responsible for an influx of illegal guns crossing the border.
🇮🇶 Iraq: The US has hit three military facilities in Iraq used by Iranian-backed militias, in retaliation for attacks that injured US personnel last week. US airstrikes also killed three Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabab members in Somalia over the weekend.
Here’s what people around the world googled yesterday
🇮🇪 The Irish searched for ‘Chinese piano player’ after a viral incident in which Chinese tourists asked not to be filmed by a pianist in London’s St Pancras station.
🇨🇦 Canadian tennis fans googled ‘Medvedev’ to read up on the Russian tennis player’s quarter-final win at the Australian Open (where Russian and Belarusian flags are banned).
🇰🇷 South Koreans read up on ‘일본 미인대회 우크라이나’ (Japanese beauty pageant Ukraine), after a Ukrainian-born naturalised citizen won the Miss Japan pageant.
LANDMARK OF THE DAY
Credits: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen.
The Arch of Reunification was a 30-metre (98 ft) tall arch near North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang. We say “was”, because North Korea just demolished it. The arch was commissioned after a landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000, as a way to capture the hope for peace and reunification across the Korean peninsula. The North’s decision to axe the arch follows a marked deterioration in North-South ties.
Where do you think the ICJ will land in its interim ruling tomorrow?