update deskIsrael at War

ICJ orders Israel to take ‘immediate’ steps to increase aid to Gaza

In the last five months, Israel has allowed nearly 14,000 trucks with humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. 

A man looks at television screens that are broadcasting a court hearing from the International Court of Justice in The Hague, regarding the lawsuit of South Africa against Israel, at a shop in Jerusalem, Jan. 26, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
A man looks at television screens that are broadcasting a court hearing from the International Court of Justice in The Hague, regarding the lawsuit of South Africa against Israel, at a shop in Jerusalem, Jan. 26, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Thursday granted additional measures against Israel at the request of South Africa, ordering Jerusalem to take “immediate and effective” steps to increase the provision of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

The ruling orders Israel to take “all necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay, in full cooperation with the United Nations, the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians throughout Gaza.”

The fresh ICJ order calls on the Jewish state to ensure that Palestinian civilians in the Strip get access to additional “food, water, fuel, shelter, clothing, hygiene and sanitation requirements, alongside medical assistance, including medical supplies and support.” It also demands “increasing the capacity and number of land crossing points and maintaining them open for as long as necessary” and orders Israel to report on its compliance within a month.

The top U.N. court said it had come to Thursday’s 14-page decision in light of Israel’s “obligations under the Genocide Convention, and in view of the worsening conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza, in particular the spread of famine and starvation.”

Over the last five months, Israel has allowed nearly 14,000 aid trucks into Gaza—an average of about 2,800 a month, 665 a week. Some 126 food trucks currently enter Gaza daily.

COGAT, the body responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s civilian policy in the enclave, has stated that “there is no limit to the amount of aid that can enter Gaza.”

Israel and the United States hold Hamas responsible for the situation. According to the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the terror group diverts at least 60% of the goods entering Gaza for its own purposes.

In its March 6 request, South Africa declared that it was “compelled to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza—particularly the situation of widespread starvation,” according to a statement on the ICJ’s website. Pretoria blamed the alleged starvation on Israel’s “egregious breaches of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” Israel and S.A. are signatories to the convention.

In December, S.A. charged Israel with genocide at the ICJ. Public hearings were held on Jan. 11 and 12. On Jan. 26, the court rejected Pretoria’s request to order a halt to Israel’s war against Hamas.

In its provisional ruling, the high court also dismissed S.A.’s demand that residents of the northern Strip be allowed to return to the area immediately while insisting that the Jewish state take all necessary means to prevent military actions that could possibly lead to genocide.

A final decision from the court could take years. The orders are binding under international law, yet the court lacks enforcement mechanisms.

Israel has been at war with Hamas since the terrorist group invaded the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7, murdering 1,200 people, wounding thousands more and kidnapping 253.

Israel’s stated military goals are to destroy Hamas as a political and military entity in Gaza, free the hostages and ensure that the Strip does not pose a threat to the Jewish state.

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