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Avoid like the pl(H)ague

On Friday, the International Court of Justice in The Hague published its decision regarding the war in Gaza. It did not respond to South Africa's demand for an immediate order to stop the fighting. However, it did issue a series of warning orders to Israel - it must prevent violations of the Convention against Genocide, provide humanitarian aid, and preserve evidence that could be used to support allegations of genocide against Israel.

Globe over the icj

The discussion in The Hague was a lose-lose situation for Israel. Despite this, there is prevailing satisfaction in Israel with the decision, seen as an important legal achievement. Although the court determined it had authority to issue an express cease-fire order, it decided such orders were not justified under the circumstances. That is, no orders were issued that would seriously impede the fighting effort, and legitimacy was given for continuing the fight. Nonetheless,The event in The Hague was bad for Israel's image, given the court's humiliating rhetoric.

A key structural issue is that the Hague tribunal lacks understanding of national security considerations. Israel went to war in self-defense to prevent its own genocide. By holding the hearing, the court ignored Hamas’s use of civilians and infrastructure for terrorism in populated areas, and its atrocities against Israel. Israel is waging a complex war. The suffering of the Palestinian population is inevitable and tragic and Israel should continue efforts to minimize it, regardless of any judicial decision. However, Considering this context, Israel's legal achievement provides some consolation.  

The trial also shows how reckless government officials' statements harm the war effort. Meanwhile, the humanitarian aid Israel brought to Gaza that was seen as weakness, was a key factor leading to the reasonable result in The Hague.

Finally, this episode in the Hague shows South Africa acting de-facto as a proxy for Hamas, as part of a “diplomatic axis of resistance”, a “soft power” built by Hamas and allies. Through partnerships with Islamist and progressive groups worldwide, and diplomatic assistance from Qatar, Turkey, Iran and South Africa, Hamas has become a global player, establishing diplomatic relations and partnerships as a quasi-state entity. Fighting this soft power is necessary to  complement military efforts to eradicate Hamas’s terrorist forces in Gaza


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