Case Analysis 12 March, 2024

The Consequences of Israel’s Failure to Implement Provisional Measures to Prevent Genocide in Gaza

Nizar Ayoub

Lawyer active in defending human rights, specializing in IHL and international human rights law. He earned his PhD in International Law from the Institute of State and Law, Moscow (1998) and a Master’s degree in Conflict Management and Mediation from Tel Aviv University (2019). He worked as a lawyer and legal researcher at rights group Al-Haq in Ramallah from 2000-2013 and has written many studies on the system of settler colonialism and apartheid in historic Palestine and the legal status of the Arab territories occupied since 1967 (Palestine and the Golan), particularly Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and the legal status of the city and its Palestinian residents. He has also published many studies on the conflict in Syria, including: “The Armed Conflict in Syria and Ways to Hold Perpetrators of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Accountable” (al-Nizāʿ al-musallaḥ fī Sūriyā wa subul muḥāsabat murtakibī jaraʾim al-ḥarb wa-l-jaraʾim ḍidd al-insāniyyah), “International Humanitarian Interventions in Syria and the Responsibility to Protect” (al-Tadākhkhul al-duwalī al-insānī fī Sūriyā wa-masʾūlīyat al-ḥimāyah) and “Transitional Justice or Transitional Policy? Foundations of Fransitional Justice in Syria” (ʿAdāla intiqālīyah am sīyasah intiqālīyah? Usūs al-ʿadālah al-intiqālīyah fī Sūriyā).


acrobat Icon On 12 February, the Republic of South Africa submitted an urgent request to the International Court of Justice, asking it to impose additional interim measures against Israel to prevent further atrocities against Palestinians in Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023. This request came in response to Israel’s failure to implement the interim measures the ICJ had already ordered on 26 January, following a previous South African request to oblige Israel to respect its obligations under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, and to prevent Israel committing acts of genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

However, the court refrained from indicating additional measures, instead reaffirming Israel’s immediate obligation to implement the temporary measures the court had already indicated on 26 January. It also emphasised that these measures apply to the entire Gaza Strip, including the Rafah area. The court noted the grave developments taking place on the ground and said that Israel must fully carry out its obligations in accordance with the Genocide Convention, to ensure the safety and security of the Palestinian population in Gaza.

Despite all of this, the Israeli government appears to remain determined to storm the Rafah area of southern Gaza, ignoring international demands to refrain from doing so due to the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe it would entail. Rafah is currently host to some 1.5 million Palestinians, the majority of whom have been forcibly displaced by occupation forces from other areas in the Gaza Strip.

Yet despite the grim conditions facing Gazans and stark international warnings over the war, the United States went through with threats to veto a new resolution, presented by Algeria in the United Nations Security Council, calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. This was the third time that Washington had used its veto power to block any UNSC resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, on the pretext that such a resolution could disrupt negotiations over hostages in Gaza. Algeria’s permanent representative to the Security Council said that Washington’s move amounted to consent to the use of starvation as a means of war against the Palestinians.

This paper analyses the consequences of the court’s rejection of South Africa’s request to order additional provisional measures in light of Israel’s failure to implement those already indicated in its 26 January ruling to prevent the crime of genocide. It also examines the grave repercussions of Israel’s continued war of revenge on the Gaza Strip and its determination to invade the Rafah area, threatening to further exacerbate the suffering of the Palestinians.