Netanyahu prepares response to ICJ’s genocide verdict

Friday’s ruling is provisional, and a final decision could take years.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with senior legal officials and government ministers on Thursday afternoon ahead of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the Gaza war, according to Army Radio.

The premier will hold a meeting at the Israel Defense Forces’ headquarters in Tel Aviv to prepare for the court’s decision regarding South Africa’s genocide charges against Israel in The Hague. There is a possibility that the justices will issue an emergency ruling to cease or restrict the war against Hamas.

At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. The number of men, women, children, soldiers and foreigners held captive in Gaza by Hamas is now believed to be 136. Other people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.

Israel’s stated military goals are to destroy Hamas as a political and military entity in Gaza, free the hostages, and ensure that Gaza can never again threaten Israel.

The ICJ said that the interim ruling will be announced at on Friday at 2 p.m. Israel time.

Legal adviser to the government Gali Baharav-Miara, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi and others will be in attendance at the Thursday afternoon meeting.

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Several countries, including the United States and Germany, have openly supported Israel during the trial.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Jan. 3 that the submission by Pretoria was “meritless, counterproductive, completely without any basis whatsoever.”

Two hundred and ten members of the U.S. Congress sent an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday condemning South Africa for filing “a grossly unfounded case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

“South Africa’s accusation of genocide against Israel exposes how far Israel’s enemies will go in their attempts to demonize the Jewish state,” the signatories wrote.

The letter notes that while South Africa barely acknowledged the Hamas terrorists “who gleefully massacred, mutilated, raped, and kidnapped innocent civilians” on Oct. 7, it made “grossly unfounded and defamatory charges against Israel on the world stage.”

Friday’s ruling is provisional, and a final decision could take years. Once a ruling is issued, the decision of the court is binding by international law. However, there is no enforcement mechanism.

“The impact of a ruling against Israel is not direct. The ruling will likely bounce over to the [U.N.] Security Council where America still has a veto, but it will make it a lot more difficult for countries to openly support Israel and as a result, it will make it a lot more difficult to prosecute the war,” Avraham Shalev, an adviser and specialist in public law at the Kohelet Policy Forum told the Tazpit Press Service.

“Overall, this trial can go in many directions. The court can directly intervene or uphold the Israeli defense. They can also request that more access to humanitarian aid be given. At this stage it is impossible to know,” he said.