RIYADH: International Muslim organizations and Arab countries welcomed the International Court of Justice (ICJ) preliminary ruling in which the Hague-based judicial body dealt an overwhelming rebuke of Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
While stopping short of ordering Israel to stop its operation, as sought by the case filed by South Africa, the 17-person ICJ panel demanded that Israel strive to limit deaths and damage caused by its military offensive.
“The International Court of Justice’s verdict is in line with international laws and treaties related to the protection of innocent civilians,” Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Jasem Mohammad Albudaiwi said in a statement.
Albudaiwi said Israel had violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide “by targeting civilian institutions and hospitals, which led to the killing and injury of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip.”
As of Friday, the Israeli offensive has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, destroyed much of Gaza, and driven nearly 85 percent of its 2.3 million people from their homes, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which groups 57 Muslim states worldwide, stressed that the ruling seeks “to prevent more genocidal acts and statements against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.”
In a statement, the OIC called on all parties concerned “to ensure Israel’s complete and immediate abidance by the ICJ ruling.”
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It also urged the international community “to shoulder its responsibilities and provide protection for the Palestinian people.”
In a separate statement, the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) also stressed the need for continued efforts by the international community to stop the war and destruction, ensure the protection of innocent civilians in Gaza, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance into the enclave.
The ICJ ruling is only an interim one and analysts say it could take years for the full case brought by South Africa to be considered.
Israel rejects the genocide accusation. Its legal team told the ICJ panel that the offensive was only meant to go after Hamas militants and not the Palestinian people as a whole.
The Israeli offensive was in response to the so-called “Al-Aqsa Flood” of October 27, in which some 3,000 Hamas commandoes breached the Gaza–Israel barrier and attacked Israeli communities and military bases along the border.
Israeli authorities have placed the total number of casualties in that attack at 1,139 Israelis and foreign nationals killed, including 766 civilians and 373 security forces.
Hamas attackers also took some 250 civilian and military hostages, some of them foreigners who came to attend a music festival in southern Israel and the rest contract workers.