‘Famine is setting in’: International court orders Israel to take ‘effective action’ in Gaza | World News

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In a unanimous decision, the International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to take “all the necessary and effective action” to prevent a further deterioration of the “catastrophic living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip”.

Piling even more pressure on the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the justices observed that “Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine… but that famine is setting in”, as they called for urgent action to prevent mass starvation.

The court told Israel to increase the number of land crossing points into Gaza and work with the United Nations to make sure enough food, water, electricity, fuel, shelter, clothing and other essentials pass into the territory.

The new measures were requested by South Africa as part of an ongoing case which accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.

Israel stringently denies the allegation, stating that it is engaged in military self-defence and it has asked the ICJ not to issue these provisional orders.

While they are considered legally binding, there is no realistic way to enforce them.

South Africa submitted its case at the end of 2023 but proceedings at the ICJ often take years before a judgement is reached. The court made an initial direction on 26 January, ordering Israel to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza and prevent alleged acts of genocide from taking place.

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US: Gaza ceasefire “non-binding”

With the passage of these additional measures, the court said it was acting because the situation had changed, deploying robust language which will worry some Israelis.

“Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” said the justices, “have been subjected [to]… the prolonged and widespread deprivation of food and basic necessities”.

The court’s ruling is another symbol of Israel’s increasing isolation on the international stage. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution this week, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

It came after months of deadlock over the issue.

Fourteen council members, including the UK, voted for the resolution, which also called for the unconditional release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas and an urgent expansion of humanitarian aid.

Israel’s closest ally, the United States, abstained.

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