FACT CHECK: Did ICJ order Israel to stop military campaign in Gaza?

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CLAIM: The International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza.

VERDICT: Misleading

FULL TEXT

Leadership News Nigeria, a popular newspaper in Nigeria, published on its website on Saturday morning, a news report purportedly saying that the ICJ has ordered Israel to ceasefire or, as the report explicitly stated, to stop its military campaign in Gaza.

The first paragraph of the report reads: “The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has delivered a preliminary ruling on Friday in South Africa’s case alleging genocide by Israel in Gaza, ordering Israel to stop its military campaign.”

Israel was dragged to the World court by South Africa who accused the Jewish-dominated country of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank region in the Middle East.

Israel’s military offensive in Gaza has claimed over 26,000 Palestinian lives, mostly civilians, yet the country ignores calls and pleas for a ceasefire. According to the United Nations, humanitarian organizations are unable to access victims in Gaza because of the military bombardment by Israel.

Meanwhile Israel justifies its actions as “self defense” against Hamas a terrorist organization that attacked an Israeli territory on October 7, 2023 in which about 1,200 people were killed.

Late December 2023, South Africa filed a case at the ICJ alleging that Israel was engaging in “genocidal acts” in Gaza, an allegation that was dismissed by Israel as “baseless”.

After weeks of hearing, the ICJ delivered a preliminary ruling on Friday. But did the court ask Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza as reported by the Leadership News Nigeria?

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VERIFICATION

Ripples Nigeria found that this interpretation by Leadership News is misleading. First, the platform did not give any information about the ruling in the body of the report. It only stated this claim in the first paragraph and embellished the remaining parts of the report with background information.

We followed the live reportage of the Court ruling by Aljazeera and below are the rulings of the court:

  1. The court ruled that it has jurisdiction over the case contrary to Israel’s argument.
  2. Israel must take all possible measures to prevent genocide in Gaza. Acts that constitute genocide are outlined in Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention. Such actions include killing members of a particular group (in this case, Palestinians), causing physical or psychological harm to members of the group, inflicting living conditions which are calculated to bring about the end of the existence of a people, and carrying out actions designed to prevent births within that group of people. The ICJ says Israel must ensure its military does not carry out any of the above actions (in its military campaign).
  3. Israel must prevent and punish the “direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip”.
  4. Israel must ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.
  5. Israel must prevent the destruction of evidence of war crimes in Gaza and allow fact-finding missions access.
  6. Israel must submit a report on all steps it has taken to abide by the measures imposed by the court within one month of the judgement.

South Africa’s major prayers to the court which are Israel be ordered to suspend all military operations in and against Gaza and that it does not escalate military operations any further was not addressed in the court’s provisional rulings at all.

CONCLUSION

In summary, the court did not order Israel to stop all military operations in Gaza. Instead, it ordered Israel to take all measures to prevent genocidal acts, punish public incitement to genocide by its citizens, and take immediate and effective steps to ensure that humanitarian assistance gets to civilians in Gaza. Although expert commentators on the war believe that Israel may have to stop the onslaught for it to comply with these rulings, the court did not say it should stop its military onslaught.

By: Oluwatobi Odeyinka.

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