LETTER | It was a much-awaited judgment. And to a large extent, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) did not disappoint.
But many, including me, were disheartened that the UN court stopped short of ordering Israel to put an end to the military onslaught. Although the ICJ cannot enforce its ruling, my heart ached for stronger words.
But the damage is done, even if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded quickly and insisted his country was defending itself and promised to continue abiding by the international humanitarian law: sound bytes that sounded lame.
This judgment would now push states (especially those selling arms to Israel) to stop and think if they would want to be complicit in genocide. The ICJ made that clear: that Israel’s actions have elements of genocide as stipulated under the Genocide Convention of 1948. This, in itself, is a victory.
Secondly, the ruling has now made it even more impossible for Israel to invoke Article 51 of the UN Charter. Israel’s claim of self-defence was ridiculous from the very start, as it is an occupying force.
But the more pertinent question is this: how would ICJ’s ruling work to stop the massacre of the Palestinians in Gaza?
Here are some factors to consider: ICJ’s ruling, although technically binding, cannot be enforced by the court. Therefore, besides comforting ourselves that abiding by Article 2 of the Genocide Convention would entail putting a stop to the military offensive, for now, it only looks good on paper.
And even if the UN Security Council takes up on the judgment, the US and UK would likely exercise their veto powers. US President Joe Biden’s administration, just like Israel, has brushed off the ruling.
Israel’s pledge to respect international humanitarian law is and has always been hollow. The ICJ noted its senior officers’ harsh and demeaning words: calling for a complete siege and fighting human animals, before concluding that the current catastrophic situation for the Palestinians in Gaza would therefore deteriorate even further.
The court also observed that Israel’s countermeasures were insufficient to remove irreparable damage to the people.
But again, the question is whether the Palestinians in Gaza would now be safe and protected. Would there be an adequate supply of food and clean water so that the people don’t die from starvation?
Would they have access to fuel, electricity, and proper heating? Would the killings of children stop? Would surgeries happen in proper hospitals and with anaesthesia?
While I commend the politically historical judgment by the ICJ and the unambiguous tone in which it was delivered, the ruling won’t stop the massacre or ensure proper humanitarian aid into Gaza.
This is shocking and frightening and leads me to ask if we have failed the people of Gaza. If we have failed ourselves.
Is there another tangible solution, UN mechanism, or tool that can put an end to this senseless war? Or should we comfort ourselves as the judgment may offer a new political reality?
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.