It has been more than a week since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered provisional measures against Israel after South Africa pointed out the actions of Palestinian genocide in Gaza.
The court’s demands were clear: Israel must take immediate action to prevent genocidal actions in Gaza; prevent and punish incitement to genocide; allow access to humanitarian aid; and prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence of alleged crimes. You must also inform the court within one month about the application of these measures.
There is little evidence that Israel has changed course, despite these clear orders. Indeed, reports from Gaza suggest an escalation of violence and an increase in civilian casualties every day.
Israel has not prevented genocide and has intensified its attacks in Rafah
In the days since the ICJ ruling of January 26, Israel has intensified its military operations. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, more than 27,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 66,000 have been injured since the conflict escalated on October 7, following the Hamas incursion into southern Israel.
Israel has also attacked several medical facilities in Gazaincluding the Nasser hospital, since the ICJ ruling. Instead of stopping acts that could constitute genocide Under article II of the Genocide Convention, the Israel’s military operations have expanded towards Rafah, intensifying the already dire situation in the last refuge for Gaza’s displaced people, despite being labeled as a safe zone for civilians.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called Rafah a “pressure cooker of despair”.
In direct contravention
On February 5, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) posted an image on social media showing his damaged food convoy, waiting to travel to northern Gaza, after he said it was hit by Israeli naval gunfire. Such action would directly contravene the explicit order of the International Court of Justice about what Israel ensures that basic services and the humanitarian aid reaches civilians in Gaza.
Israel continues pumping seawater into tunnels throughout Gaza in their assault on the labyrinth of tunnels attributed to Hamas, which experts warn could make Gaza uninhabitable for 100 years by contaminating fresh groundwater.
These events highlight the severity of conditions in Gaza following the ICJ ruling and highlight the urgent need for Israel to comply with orders.
Despite this, there is hope for a possible pardon, as, according to Qatar, Hamas has received a new ceasefire proposal and is reportedly responding positively to it.
What happens if Israel disobeys a mandatory order to prevent genocide?
The ICJ decision is legally binding and requires Israel to adhere not only to the specific provisional measures, but also to the broader mandates of the Genocide Convention and the Geneva Conventions.
But the ICJ depends on the United Nations Security Council to ensure compliance with their decisions, a process complicated by geopolitical realities, viz. America’s long-standing support for Israel and its possible use of his veto power in the Security Council.
However, the ICJ ruling sends a clear message to the international community, especially the Allied states of Israelreminding them of the collective responsibility to respect and defend international law.
As such, the implications of the decision extend far beyond the immediate parties involved. Raises concerns about Canada’s military exports, especially 21 million dollars in military equipment sent to Israel in 2022.
The legal experts They remind us that, according to the Export and Import Permits Lawsuch transactions must cease if there is a substantial risk that the exported goods could contribute to violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.
After weeks of silence from the Canadian government, Global Affairs Canada says it has authorized, and continues to authorize, new permits for military exports to Israel from October 7.
The ICJ ruling places Canada in a difficult situation. The continuation of military exports under these circumstances would not only violate Canadian law, but would also contravene the country’s commitment to prevent genocide, potentially implicating Canadian officials in these acts.
The Global South rises up against apartheid and genocide in Palestine
In a broader context, the ICJ’s involvement represents an example of the Global South fighting back, as international law expert Heidi Matthews argues. on his podcast. South Africa’s historic struggle against apartheid has made the palestinian cause resonate with South Africans, giving credibility and moral weight to his case against Israel.
However, despite the hope that the Global South can begin to hold powerful nations to account, the international reaction to the ICJ ruling has been notably ambivalent.
A few hours after the ICJ decision, the White House suspended its financing to UNRWA following accusations by Israel that he allegedly 12 of its employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel. Canada was quick to do the same.. Israel has not presented evidence for its statements.
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, recently noted that the total suspended funds amount to more than $440 million, which is half of the agency’s planned funds for 2024. The European Commission has said that Yes, it will maintain support for UNRWA while investigating the Israeli allegations.
Some nations are not following the United States’ lead. Spain has announced an urgent aid package of 3.8 million dollars to UNRWA to ensure that the organization can maintain its activities during this desperate situation.
Australia has also signaled that it will resume its funding to UNRWA to prevent more children from dying of hunger, given the lack of sustainable alternative agencies to deliver aid to Gaza. Belgium has also announced that it will continue to provide funding to UNRWA while overseeing the internal UN investigation.
Canada, for its part, says it will allocate an additional $40 million to support the humanitarian efforts of other organizations. But the details have not been revealed, and there are few other organizations with the expertise and infrastructure to meet the needs of Palestinians in Gaza.
On February 7, Norway transferred 24 million euros to the UN agency that supports the Palestinians. And on February 9, Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, announced that he will make an additional contribution to the agency.
Will Western countries defend international law in the face of the genocide in Gaza?
The ICJ ruling calls for urgent action, not only from Israel, but also from the broader international community, including Canada, to uphold the principles of international law and support humanitarian efforts.
Global Affairs Canada recently stated on social media that “Canada rejects any proposal calling for the forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and the establishment of additional settlements. “This inflammatory rhetoric undermines the prospects for lasting peace.”
Some have called this statement “empty words,” given that Canada has yet to take clear steps following the ICJ decision, such as issuing sanctions against Israel or stopping arms exports.
The Gazans are now eating grass and drinking contaminated water to avoid death. By choosing not to resume its financial support to UNRWA during this crucial time, Canada is stepping up its complicity in possible genocidal acts.
It is time to strengthen, not weaken, UNRWA. He UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged governments to resume fundingotherwise UNRWA will be forced to close its operations at the end of February, not only in Gaza, but throughout the region.
The world is watching, and the actions of Canada and other nations must now show their commitment to justice, human rights and the rule of law.
*To read the note in its original language, Click here.
*Basema Al-Alami, SJD candidate, University of Toronto Faculty of Law.
*The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.