International Court of Justice Hears Arguments on Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian Territories

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has commenced a six-session court procedure to examine the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. The hearings, initiated by South Africa’s request on December 29, 2023, focus on whether Israel’s actions breach its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The court proceedings, held at The Hague, involve arguments from various countries, including South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Belgium.

The ICJ is assessing whether Israel’s occupation since 1967, encompassing the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, has resulted in systemic racial discrimination and apartheid. Although the ruling will not be legally binding, experts suggest it will convey a significant message globally.

Palestinian representatives urged the court to end the “illegal occupation,” emphasizing the need for an immediate, unconditional, and total halt. The hearings coincide with Israel’s ongoing offensive in Gaza, responding to an October 7 attack by Hamas.

The UN released a document citing “credible allegations” of Israeli soldiers mistreating women in Gaza, adding to the criticism against Israel. Despite the non-binding nature of the ICJ’s opinion, it is expected to carry moral and legal weight.

The ICJ, responding to a 2022 UN General Assembly request, will consider the legal consequences of Israel’s violation of the right to Palestinian self-determination and its prolonged occupation, settlement, and annexation since 1967. The court will also examine the impact of Israel’s actions on the legal status of the occupation.

Israel, not participating in the hearings, previously reacted strongly to the UN request, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemning it. The ICJ’s advisory opinion, expected in the coming months, may influence international perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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