Turbulent year for Israel on the global stage

(Reuters) - From international court hearings to sanctions against Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and strains in relations with the United States, it has been one of the most turbulent years so far for Israel since its birth in 1948.

Here are some of the moments:

JAN 12

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) opens hearings in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza war.

South Africa accuses Israel of failing to uphold its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Israel rejects the accusation, arguing it is acting to defend itself and fighting Hamas - designated as a terrorist organisation by the U.S. and other Western countries - after the Palestinian militant group's cross-border attack on Oct. 7.

The United States says the South African case is meritless.

JAN 26

The ICJ orders Israel to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians and do more to help civilians in Gaza, though it stops short of ordering a ceasefire as requested by South Africa.

The ICJ finds there is a case to be heard about whether Palestinian rights are being denied in a war it says is causing grievous humanitarian harm. It also calls for Palestinian armed groups to release hostages captured in the Oct. 7 assault on Israel that precipitated the conflict.


The Biden administration imposes sanctions on four Israeli men it accuses of being involved in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, signalling rising U.S. displeasure with the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


European Union foreign ministers agree in principle to impose sanctions on Israeli settlers for attacking Palestinians in the West Bank, and to add further sanctions on members of Hamas.


The U.N. Security Council adopts a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Islamist Hamas after the United States abstains from the vote.

Netanyahu says the failure of the U.S. to veto the resolution is a "clear retreat" from its previous position and will damage Israel's war efforts and bid to secure the release of more than 130 hostages still held by Hamas.


The United States imposes sanctions on an ally of Israel's far-right national security minister and two entities that raised money for Israeli men accused of settler violence.


The United States finds five units of Israel's security forces responsible for gross violations of human rights, the first time Washington has reached such a conclusion about Israeli forces, the State Department says, though it does not bar any of the units from receiving U.S. military assistance.


President Joe Biden publicly warns Israel for the first time that the U.S. will stop supplying it with weapons if Israeli forces carry out a full-blown invasion of Rafah, a refugee-packed city in southern Gaza.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says Biden decided to hold back delivery of high payload munitions to Israel because Washington believes a possible Israeli offensive into Rafah could endanger civilian lives.

But the United States, Israel's biggest arms supplier, says its commitment to Israel's defense remains "ironclad".

MAY 10

The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly backs a Palestinian bid to become a full U.N. member by recognising it as qualified to join and recommending the U.N. Security Council "reconsider the matter favourably", after a U.S. veto thwarted an attempt by the Palestinians to become a full U.N. member in April.

The assembly adopts a resolution with 143 votes in favour and nine against - including the U.S. and Israel - while 25 countries abstain. It does not give the Palestinians full U.N. membership, but simply recognises them as qualified to join.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan accuses the assembly of shredding the U.N. Charter, illustrating his point by using a shredder to destroy a copy of the Charter while at the lectern.

MAY 20

The International Criminal Court prosecutor's office requests arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defence minister, and also for three Hamas leaders, for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Netanyahu calls the move a "complete distortion of reality", adding: "I reject with disgust the comparison of the prosecutor in The Hague between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas."

The United States stands by Israel, with Biden calling the legal step against Israeli officials "outrageous". France says it supports the ICC and the "fight against impunity".

MAY 22

Ireland, Spain and Norway announce they will recognise a Palestinian state. About 144 of the 193 member states of the United Nations already recognise Palestine as a state, including most of the global south, Russia, China and India. But only a handful of the 27 European Union members do so.

Israel says this amounts to a "reward for terrorism" and recalls its ambassadors from the three capitals.

The United States says it believes a Palestinian state should be achieved through negotiations, not unilateral recognition.

MAY 24

Judges at the top United Nations court order Israel to imemdiately halt its military assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, in a landmark emergency ruling on South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide.

Reading out the ruling by the International Court of Justice, the ICJ's president Nawaf Salam said the situation in the besieged Palestinian enclave had deteriorated since the court last ordered Israel to take steps to improve it. Conditions had been met for a new emergency order.

(Compiled by Tom Perry; editing by Mark Heinrich)