LONDON: The British government on Saturday said it had “considerable concerns” about a ruling by the United Nation’s top court that Israel should do everything it can to prevent any acts of genocide in Gaza.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Friday handed down its first judgement in a landmark case brought by South Africa that also ordered Israel to allow humanitarian access to the Palestinian territory.
“We respect the role and independence of the ICJ. However… we have considerable concerns about this case, which is not helpful in the goal of achieving a sustainable ceasefire,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.
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“Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas in line with IHL (international humanitarian law),” the spokesperson added.
“Our view is that Israel’s actions in Gaza cannot be described as genocide, which is why we thought South Africa’s decision to bring the case was wrong and provocative.”
South Africa has accused Israel of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention – set up in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust – during its military campaign in Gaza, sparked by the October 7 attacks by Hamas.
The Foreign Office, however, added that it welcomed the ICJ’s call for the immediate release of hostages and to get more aid into Gaza.
“We are clear that an immediate pause is necessary to get aid in and hostages out, and then we want to build towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, without a return to the fighting.”
The October 7 Hamas attack resulted in the death of around 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
At least 26,083 Palestinians, around 70 percent of them women, young children and adolescents, have been killed in the Gaza Strip in Israeli bombardments and ground offensive since then, according to the Hamas government’s health ministry.