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Israel must comply with ‘profoundly serious’ ICJ ruling in full, Lammy says

Labour has urged Israel to comply fully with the orders of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the war in Gaza as the country’s prime minister branded the genocide case “outrageous”.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy called for an “end to extremist rhetoric” and Israel’s adherence to the “urgent provisional measures” set out in the interim decision.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) stopped short on Friday of ordering a ceasefire in Gaza in a genocide case filed by South Africa.

But it demanded that Israel tries to contain death and damage in its military offensive.

World Court Israel Genocide Case
Pro-Palestinian activists wave flags during session of the International Court of Justice (Patrick Post/AP)

Mr Lammy said: “The International Court of Justice’s interim ruling under the Genocide Convention on the situation in Gaza is a profoundly serious moment. Labour has been clear throughout the conflict that international law must be upheld, that the independence of international courts must be respected, and that all sides must be accountable for their actions.

“The ICJ’s interim ruling does not give a verdict on this case, but it sets out urgent provisional measures that must be followed. Israel must now comply with the orders in this ruling in full.

“The ICJ’s measures align closely with Labour’s longstanding calls for the protection of civilians, urgent humanitarian relief in Gaza and an end to extremist rhetoric. We will press for these orders to be implemented, alongside an immediate humanitarian truce and a sustainable ceasefire.”

It comes as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the ruling by saying the country will “continue to do what is necessary” to defend itself.

He said the fact that the court was willing to discuss the genocide charges was a “mark of shame that will not be erased for generations”, and he vowed to press ahead with the war.

“Like every country, Israel has the basic right to defend itself. The court in the Hague rightfully rejected the outrageous request to take that away from us.”

“We will continue to do what is necessary to defend our country and defend our people,” he said.

The case goes to the core of one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, and a final decision on the merits of South Africa’s genocide claim could take many years.

But in Friday’s interim ruling, a panel of 17 judges decided not to throw out the case and ordered six provisional measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza.

Palestinians arrive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after fleeing an Israeli ground and air offensive in the nearby city of Khan Younis
Palestinians arrive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after fleeing an Israeli ground and air offensive in the nearby city of Khan Younis (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Israel must do all it can to prevent genocide, including refraining from killing Palestinians or causing harm to them and urgently needs to get basic aid in to the territory, it said.

Israel rejects the genocide accusation as “baseless” and had asked the court to throw the charges out.

Labour has hardened its tone towards the Israeli PM in recent weeks, with leader Sir Keir Starmer describing Mr Netanyahu’s opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state when the war ends as “unacceptable”.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron has pushed the Israeli government on a two-state solution and called for urgent humanitarian pauses during a visit to the Middle East this week.

Israel launched its massive assault on Gaza after Hamas crossed the border on October 7 and killed some 1,200 people, mainly civilians, abducting another 250.

The offensive has become one of the deadliest and most destructive in recent history, having decimated vast swathes of the territory and driven nearly 85% of its population from their homes.

More than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said on Friday.

The ministry does not differentiate between combatants and civilians in its death toll, but has said about two-thirds of those killed were women and children.

The Israeli military says at least 9,000 of those killed in the nearly four-month conflict are Hamas militants.