Today the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has recognized that it has jurisdiction over South Africa’s charges of genocide against Israel and that Israel’s actions are plausibly genocidal. The court issued an order that calls on Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent actions that violate the Genocide Convention, including killings and deliberately inflicting on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring their physical destruction. Since October 7, Israel has killed over 26,000 Palestinians – 42 percent of them children – and is using starvation and the destruction and obstruction of access to health facilities as tools of war. The Court also called for immediate measures to ensure humanitarian aid is reaching people in Gaza. This is a historic decision that should serve as a call to action for all those who have stayed silent in the face of these atrocities.
The measures demanded by the court cannot be realized without an immediate ceasefire. The Court ruled that Israel must submit a report in one month detailing how it will comply with the provisional order, but we need Israel to act now. Immediate action is urgent to ensure that there are no further violations of the Genocide Convention and lives are preserved.
We call on state parties to the Genocide Convention to fulfill their obligation to prevent genocide by supporting an immediate ceasefire and holding Israel accountable. This means that they must not only speak out but act to stop the continued perpetration of genocide. If states fail to do this, they undermine the legitimacy and purpose of international law and international legal frameworks which humanity relies on to ensure peace and security for all.
The U.S. bears a particular responsibility as the primary funder of Israel’s genocidal actions and a persistent block to international efforts. At the international level, the U.S. must collaborate with other members of the U.N. Security Council to call for and enforce the implementation of an immediate ceasefire. Domestically, the Biden Administration and the U.S. Congress must call for an immediate ceasefire and impose an arms embargo on Israel. If they do not, they are themselves guilty of complicity in genocide and must be held accountable.
We firmly stand in full solidarity and support with South Africa for bringing this case to the ICJ. While this order alone will not bring an end to the suffering and oppression of Palestinians, it is a pivotal step towards justice. We will continue our efforts with people across the world to bring an end to this genocide and freedom for Palestinians.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.