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Stockholm: UN human rights experts expressed their support for the commencement of hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding a case initiated by South Africa. The case alleges that Israel is engaged in acts of genocide against the Palestinian people. The experts highlighted the importance of respecting and implementing any provisional measures the Court decides upon, as mandated by the ICJ Statute.

On December 29, 2023, South Africa urgently requested provisional measures from the ICJ, urging Israel to immediately cease military operations in Gaza and protect residents from alleged acts of genocide. The basis for South Africa's claims lies in the perceived violations by Israel of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defining genocide as acts intended to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

Hearings on the request for provisional measures took place on January 11 and 12 at The Hague in The Netherlands. South Africa's submission contends that Israel is inciting genocide and failing to prevent it. The experts stressed the finality, binding nature, and lack of appeal for ICJ decisions, emphasizing the imperative need for compliance to safeguard the rights of Palestinians and uphold international law.

Commending South Africa for bringing the case to the ICJ amid alleged violations of Palestinian rights, the experts called on all states to cooperate with the Court in interpreting the Genocide Convention and respect the ICJ's role as an independent court of law. They welcomed statements of support from various states and individuals for South Africa's actions.

Highlighting precedents, the experts mentioned a similar case in 2019 when The Gambia brought a case against Myanmar to the ICJ under the Genocide Convention. The Court issued provisional measures in that case, which is still pending determination. Both South Africa and Israel, along with 151 other states, have ratified the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The experts underscored the broader implications of South Africa's case, emphasizing that all states, regardless of ratification status, are obligated to prevent, halt, and punish genocide. They explained that the ICJ has previously affirmed the erga omnes nature of obligations under the Genocide Convention, allowing uninvolved countries to bring cases like South Africa's to the ICJ.

South Africa's application to the Court referenced statements by UN Special Procedures mandate holders, including calls for international action to prevent genocide in Gaza. These statements referred to evidence of genocidal incitement by Israeli officials and highlighted the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the use of powerful weaponry, restrictions on humanitarian aid, and attacks on healthcare services.