ICJ’s Genocide Ruling Against Israel Has Little Immediate Effect

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A ruling on Friday by the International Court of Justice on charges of genocide against Israel had deep historical resonance for both Israelis and Palestinians. But it lacked immediate practical consequences.

The World Court did not order a halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip and made no attempt to rule on the merits of the case brought by South Africa, a process that will take months — if not years — to complete.

But the court did order Israel to comply with the Genocide Convention, to send more aid to Gaza and to inform the court of its efforts to do so — interim measures that felt like a rebuke to many Israelis and a moral victory to many Palestinians.

For many Israelis, the fact that a state founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust had been accused of genocide was “one hell of a symbol,” Alon Pinkas, an Israeli political commentator and former ambassador, said after the ruling by the court in The Hague.

“That we’re even mentioned in the same sentence as the concept of genocide — not even atrocity, not disproportionate force, not war crime, but genocide — that is extremely uncomfortable,” he added.

For many Palestinians, the court’s intervention offered a brief sense of validation for their cause. Israel is rarely held to account for its actions, Palestinians and their supporters say, and the ruling felt like a welcome exception amid one of the deadliest wars this century.

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ICJ’s Genocide Ruling Against Israel Has Little Immediate Effect

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