International Court of Justice delivers interim ruling, calls on Israel to take all measures to prevent genocide in Gaza

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Image from BBC video of today’s ICJ ruling.

The Guardian reports:

[International Court of Justice president] Judge [Joan E.] Donoghue says the court has decided that Israel must ‘take all measures within its its power’ to prevent all acts within the scope of the genocide convention.

She says it must ensure ‘with immediate effect’ that its forces do not commit any of the acts covered by the convention.

It must also take immediate measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, she says.

The ICJ ruling can be read in full here.

Implications for Canada under the Genocide Convention

In its response to the provisional ruling, South Africa has highlighted:

“Third States are now on notice of the existence of a serious risk of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. They must, therefore, also act independently and immediately to prevent genocide by Israel and to ensure that they are not themselves in violation of the Genocide Convention, including by aiding or assisting in the commission of genocide. This necessarily imposes an obligation on all States to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions, which are plausibly genocidal.”

The CBC has previously noted: “Canada will abide by all rulings arising from South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), officials at Global Affairs Canada have told CBC News.”

That article explains: “[An ICJ provisional measure on preventing genocide] would greatly complicate the sale of Canadian arms or dual-use technologies to Israeli buyers. Countries like Canada that have signed the international Genocide Convention treaty are expected to take proactive measures to prevent and suppress acts of genocide.”

Following the ICJ ruling, the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute and Just Peace Advocates called on the Trudeau government to ensure Canada is not enabling a genocide by immediately suspending direct Canadian assistance to the Israeli military.

We also take note of this tweet from the UK Director of Human Rights Watch:

The Arms Trade Treaty

Amnesty International has also commented: “Any state that is a party to the [Arms Trade Treaty] must obey strict rules on international arms transfers. The Treaty was designed to stop deadly weapons from getting into the hands of people who will use them to commit human rights violations, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Canada acceded to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty on September 17, 2019.

Rachel Small of World Beyond War Canada has observed: “[The Arms Trade Treaty] would absolutely require Canada to cut off shipping weapons to a state that’s at risk of committing serious war crimes.”

Canadian arms sales to Israel

In 2022, Canadian companies sold a total of $21 million in “military goods” to Israel of which $3.1 million fell under a category that includes “bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, other explosive devices and charges and related equipment and accessories.”

Furthermore, at least 110 Canadian-based suppliers have been awarded contracts valued in excess of $38 billion to develop the F-35 fighter jet, an aircraft the Israeli military is reportedly using to bomb Gaza. A study commissioned by its manufacturer Lockheed Martin says there are US$2.3-million worth of Canadian components in every F-35 jet.

Yesterday, Alex Cosh of The Maple reported: “Peace activists and humanitarian organizations are accusing the Trudeau government of sowing confusion in its responses to questions about whether or not it has allowed Canadian companies to continue exporting military goods to Israel since October 7.”

Canadian groups have called for an arms embargo

Just two days prior to the ICJ ruling, Doctors of the World Canada, Mennonite Central Committee Canada, Humanity & Inclusion Canada, Islamic Relief Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Oxfam Canada, Save the Children Canada called for Canada “to immediately halt the direct or indirect transfer of weapons, parts, and ammunition to Israel and Palestinian armed groups while there is a risk they are used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.”

The Waterloo, Ontario-based peace research institute Project Ploughshares has also previously commented: “The gravity of this situation calls for immediate action to ensure Canada is meeting its domestic and international obligations to mitigate the risk of contributing to violations of international law, for example, violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), including possible war crimes, in Gaza. Given the substantial risk that Canadian military goods could contribute to such abuses in Gaza, Canada must immediately halt all transfers of weapons to Israel.”

The human costs

Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed at least 25,490 people — the majority women and children — and wounded another 63,354 people. The offensive has also displaced nearly 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes.

More than 10 children on average have lost one or both of their legs every day in Gaza since October 7, with many amputations performed without anesthesia.

Peace Brigades International (PBI) supports the call for an immediate ceasefire in Palestine and Israel, respect for international humanitarian law, an end to collective punishment and a process of negotiations leading to a just and lasting peace.

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