“A watershed moment” – ICJP welcomes ICJ provisional measures to hold Israel accountable for potential acts of genocide; but immediate ceasefire still needed.

London, 26th January 2024- Today, the International Court of Justice announced its provisional measures in relation to the South Africa vs Israel genocide case. Whilst ICJP believes the ICJ should have issued an order for an immediate ceasefire, we believe that the provisional measures are a significant and positive step in holding Israel accountable for its potential acts of genocide. 

ICJP welcomes the provisional measures imposed on Israel by the ICJ to uphold its Genocide Convention obligations, punish incitement of genocide, ensure basic services and necessities for Palestinians, prevent destruction of evidence and not commit acts of genocide through its military. 

It is regrettable that an order for an immediate ceasefire has not been issued, but ICJP notes that the order that Israel’s military should not commit any acts of genocide would most easily be achieved through an immediate ceasefire. 

The court initially concluded that a dispute does exist between South Africa and Israel and that South Africa does have standing to bring the case forward regarding breaches of the genocide convention. These conclusions allowed the court to implement the provisional measures.

The court also cited several UN sources including United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, who said Gaza has become uninhabitable. The court also referred to the World Health Organization’s statement that an unprecedented 93% of the population in Gaza is facing crisis levels of hunger and the UN Relief and Works Agency’s claim that “sustained bombardment caused massive displacement”.

States now have a clear legal obligation to avoid complicity in Israel’s acts of genocide. This includes the United Kingdom, who decided in December not to suspend arms exports to Israel. On December 8th, ICJP was part of a collection of UK civil society groups that wrote to the UK government to request the halting of arms exports to Israel.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron recommended that the Department for Business and Trade allow arms sales, despite telling MPs he made no formal decision. Following this ICJ ruling, potential UK complicity in Israeli acts of genocide is even more apparent, and arms exports should be immediately halted.

ICJP Director Tayab Ali said:

The carte blanche that Israel has waved carefree as it commits acts of genocide has finally been torn up by the ICJ. Accountability has begun. If Israel continues to behave in the same way, it will fail to meet a single one of the provisional measures set out so far.

What happens next is a true test for the international order and the upholding of a rules-based system of accountability. This truly is a watershed moment, but this flicker of hope must be protected from Israel’s bluff and buster in its desperate attempts to shirk accountability.

South Africa has led the way and it is now up to the international community to not only refuse to be complicit in Israel’s acts, but to actively oppose the inhumane treatment of Palestinian people.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law. 
  2. Martin Griffiths comments can be seen here.
  3. The World Health Organization’s statement on hunger can be viewed here.
  4. UNRWA’s statement on bombardment and displacement can be viewed here.
  5. UK Civil Society Groups letter to UK government regarding arms exports.
  6. For more information, to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected].