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Open Society Welcomes the ICJ’s Ruling in South Africa’s Case Against Israel

NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations welcome today’s interim ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering the Israeli government to take urgent measures to protect Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip in response to the genocide case brought against Israel by the government of South Africa.

The court also called for the immediate and unconditional release by Hamas of Israeli hostages seized in early October who are still held in Gaza.

Whatever the final decision on the merits of the case, this interim court order represents a significant step forward in international efforts to end what the court called the “catastrophic” conditions facing Palestinians in Gaza, as detailed in the statements of a series of high-ranking United Nations officials and experts. The court also highlighted the risk of further “irreparable harm” being caused ahead of a final judgment on the complaint of genocide.

The ICJ’s binding orders included instructing Israel to take steps to:

  • ensure access to humanitarian aid for the Palestinian population
  • ensure with immediate effect that its armed forces do not commit acts that fall within the scope of the definition of acts of genocide
  • prevent and punish direct and public incitement to commit genocide
  • take effective measures to prevent destruction of evidence related to allegations of genocide

Israel is also required to report back on the measures it has taken to implement the court’s orders in one month.

Over 25,000 Palestinians have been killed, at least 1.7 million displaced, over 63,000 injured, and 2.2 million rendered food-insecure or at risk of famine by Israel’s military assault on Gaza, a response to Hamas’s killing more than 1,200 Israelis on October 7 and 8.

Open Society continues to urgently call for an immediate ceasefire, release of hostages, provision of humanitarian assistance, accountability for crimes on all sides of the conflict, and a commitment to providing the people of Israel and Palestine with the justice they are owed and the peace they need.

Mark Malloch-Brown, president of the Open Society Foundations, said: “This binding order from the World Court reminds us of the failure of the international community as a whole to respond adequately to the crisis in Gaza—the court’s action is an important step forward that must increase the pressure for political action to end the violence now.”

A final decision on the case from the 17 judges of the ICJ will not be delivered for some years.

The Open Society Foundations, with a longstanding presence in the Middle East and North Africa region since 1999, have been actively involved in promoting the rights of minorities in Israel, advocating for the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza living under Israeli occupation, and supporting efforts toward a peaceful solution. 

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