The UN's top court on Friday ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and do more to help civilians, although it stopped short of ordering a ceasefire as requested by South Africa.
"The state of Israel shall.... take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of the Genocide convention," the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said.
A large majority of the 17-judge panel of the ICJ voted for urgent measures which covered most of what South African asked for with the notable exception of ordering a halt to Israeli military action in Gaza.
The court said Israel must ensure its forces do not commit genocide and take measures to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinians in the enclave.
However, it did not rule on the core of the case brought by South Africa - whether genocide has occurred in Gaza. But it recognised the right of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide.
In bringing the case to the ICJ, South Africa had requested an immediate halt to Israel's military operation, which has laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip and killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities. The court did not grant that.
Israel had asked the court to reject the case outright, saying it respects international law and has a right to defend itself.
South Africa argued two weeks ago that Israel's aerial and ground offensive was aimed to bring about "the destruction of the population" of Gaza.
READ HERE: the full text of the #ICJ Order indicating provisional measures in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (#SouthAfrica v. #Israel) https://t.co/hK7qZECsaO pic.twitter.com/1eOkfb4lhx— CIJ_ICJ (@CIJ_ICJ) January 26, 2024