Amnesty International accuses Israel of ‘defying’ ICJ ruling over genocide

Across the Gaza Strip, the engineered humanitarian disaster
Across the Gaza Strip, the Israeli engineered humanitarian disaster "grows more horrifying each day". Image: Amnesty International screenshot APR

Asia Pacific Report

Amnesty International has accused Israel of defying last month’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling to prevent genocide by failing to allow adequate humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.

The global human rights group said Israel had failed to even take the “bare minimum steps” to comply.

A month after the ICJ had ordered “immediate and effective measures” to protect Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip from the risk of genocide by ensuring sufficient humanitarian assistance and enabling basic services, Amnesty issued a statement condemning Israel’s lack of response.

The order to provide aid was one of six provisional measures ordered by the court on January 26 and Israel was given one month to report back on its compliance with the measures.

“Over that period Israel has continued to disregard its obligation as the occupying power to ensure the basic needs of Palestinians in Gaza are met,” Amnesty International said.

“Israeli authorities have failed to ensure sufficient life-saving goods and services are reaching a population at risk of genocide and on the brink of famine due to Israel’s relentless bombardment and the tightening of its 16-year-long illegal blockade.

“They have also failed to lift restrictions on the entry of life-saving goods, or open additional aid access points and crossings or put in place an effective system to protect humanitarians from attack.”

‘Callous indifference’
Not only had Israel created “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world”, it had also displayed a “callous indifference” to the fate of Gaza’s population by creating conditions which the ICJ had said placed them at imminent risk of genocide.

“Time and time again, Israel has failed to take the bare minimum steps humanitarians have desperately pleaded for that are clearly within its power to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” said Amnesty’s Heba Morayef, regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“As the occupying power, under international law, Israel has a clear obligation to ensure the basic needs of Gaza’s population are met.

“Israel has not only woefully failed to provide for Gazans’ basic needs, but it has also been blocking and impeding the passage of sufficient aid into the Gaza Strip, in particular to the north which is virtually inaccessible, in a clear show of contempt for the ICJ ruling and in flagrant violation of its obligation to prevent genocide.”

Amnesty said the scale and gravity of the “humanitarian catastrophe” caused by Israel’s relentless bombardment, destruction and “suffocating siege” put more than two million Palestinians of Gaza at risk of irreparable harm.

The supplies entering Gaza before the ICJ order had been a drop in the ocean compared to the needs for the last 16 years.

The sharp decline in aid for the besieged Palestinians in Gaza
The sharp decline in aid for the besieged Palestinians in Gaza since the ICJ ruling last month. Image: Al Jazeera (CC)

Trucks entering Gaza reduced by third
“Yet, in the three weeks following the ICJ order, the number of trucks entering Gaza decreased by about a third, from an average of 146 a day in the three weeks prior, to an average of 105 a day over the subsequent three weeks.”

Across the Gaza Strip, said the Amnesty International statement, Israel’s “engineered humanitarian disaster grows more horrifying each day”.

By February 19, acute malnutrition was surging in Gaza and threatening children’s lives, with 15.6 percent of children under two years acutely malnourished in northern Gaza and 5 percent of children under two years in Rafah in the south.

The speed and severity of the decline in the population’s nutritional status within just three months was “unprecedented globally”.

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