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An Israeli victory at the ICJ

The ICJ. Wikipedia, Ben Bender

The harshest international hurdle that was put before Israel in this war, in the form of a hearing by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, has passed in “the best manner that Israel could have hoped for,” according to senior jurists. The problem appeared after South Africa sued Israel about a month and a half ago, claiming it was committing ‘genocide’ in Gaza, and Israel was required to defend itself against this modern blood libel. Discussion on such a matter takes years, but the essential concern was that in the meantime the court would issue interim orders demanding the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, orders for which Israel will not be able to comply, in a way that would severely damage its international standing.

Israel prepared well for this trial with a team of jurists led by British Professor Malcolm Shaw, while sending Aharon Barak, the former president and the man at the heart of the “legal revolution,” as it’s representive in the court – a move that expressed Israeli unity. This was evident already at the stage of the discussions two weeks ago, when the Israeli defense team managed to thoughtfully refute South Africa’s claims. In addition, it was recently announced that in order to defend itself in the trial, the Israeli government even approved the disclosure of classified protocols and secret decisions that reveal its true policies and intentions.

On Friday, the court issued a series of interim orders, including several demands from Israel: Avoid genocide and destruction, increase humanitarian aid to the population, prevent and punish public incitement against the population of Gaza, and submit an executive report of the situation and progress within a month. All the orders passed with an absolute majority, and worthy of mention is the Ugandan Justice Julia Sabotinde, who supported Israel in all of them; Justice Barak supported the orders to prevent incitement and increase aid, while at the same time he wrote a judgment with strong legal arguments for Israel. The order from which Israel was afraid – for an immediate halt of the fighting – did not appear, and the Israeli leadership can breathe a sigh of relief. The damage to the Israeli image is great (with all the headlines in the world focusing on the fact that Israel is accused of genocide), and the very existence of the discussion is outrageous and infuriating, but in the meantime, the international legal front is under control.

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