LTE: The ICJ’s ruling on Gaza and its implications for the US

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands issued provisional measures on Jan. 26, 2024 on the case brought before the court by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide. Genocide is defined in Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Provisional measures are issued when conditions warrant before a final determination is made as written in Article 41 of the ICJ Statute: “The Court shall have the power to indicate, if it considers that circumstances so require, any provisional measures which ought to be taken to preserve the respective rights of either party.”  

The court order of Jan. 26 states “….the state of Israel shall in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide in relation to the Palestinians in Gaza take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of the convention.” The court also called on Israel to report back within one month on the measures it has implemented. 

Article I of the genocide convention states, “The contracting parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and punish.” The United States as signatory to the Genocide Convention is obligated under Article I to prevent and punish genocide. In continuing to send military aid to Israel, the U.S. could in fact be abetting genocide as determined by the court.  

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the situation in Gaza and the West Bank, the U.S. could instead become a beacon of moral leadership by predicating further military aid to Israel on immediate and permanent cessation of hostilities in Gaza and the West Bank, a release of all remaining hostages,  and the beginning of negotiations for an independent Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel. 

Devon Hildreth