Geneva – Forty-eight hours after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to take action to stop the crime of genocide against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor stressed that the Israeli army has maintained its rate of killing civilians. The rights group added that Israel has also ramped up its efforts to starve them as well as forcibly displace them from their homes in the Strip.
Euro-Med Monitor reported that the Israeli army has killed over 373 Palestinians—including 345 civilians—and injured over 643 more since the Court’s ruling. In defiance of the ruling of the world’s highest court and in violation of its own international obligations, including to international law and principles, Israel persists in committing egregious violations that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide against the Palestinian people.
Euro-Med Monitor explained that in addition to the non-stop Israeli bombing operations, which have resulted in the destruction of residential homes over the heads of their residents and the killing of forcibly displaced people despite their meeting the illegal Israeli evacuation orders, Israel is also continuing its attack on what is left of Gaza’s health system. The Israeli military is besieging the hospitals in Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, and directly targeting the health facilities there, to the point where both the government-run Nasser Hospital and Red Crescent-affiliated Al-Amal Hospital are on the verge of shutting down due to the ongoing siege and frequent targeting.
Shrapnel and Israeli drone fire have caused damage to the water tanks in the Nasser Medical Complex, said the rights group, rendering repairs impossible due to the siege and targeting. Furthermore, the complex’s countdown to turn off its generators in three days has begun, while the oxygen supply in Al-Amal Hospital has run out due to the ongoing Israeli attacks and siege.
The ICJ, which was considering a lawsuit brought by the Republic of South Africa against Israel for breaching its duties under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide during its military operations against the Gaza Strip and its Palestinian residents, which started on 7 October 2023, issued a ruling on Friday—the day before yesterday—obliging Israel to take several immediate and temporary steps to prevent the commission of any acts of genocide.
The Court ordered Israel to take prompt and decisive action to address the horrific living conditions that the Palestinian people in Gaza are being subjected to, and to act to ensure that evidence pertaining to South African claims of Israeli genocide is preserved and not destroyed. Euro-Med Monitor confirmed, however, that Israeli army forces have shown no commitment to carrying out any of these measures, and have instead continued to kill and target civilians on a massive scale, without military necessity or proportionality.
In keeping with their policy of erasing any evidence that the crime of genocide was committed, Israeli forces have also carried out systematic and extensive destruction of civilian property, such as houses, residential communities, entire neighbourhoods, and specific areas that had seen horrifying crimes.
More dead bodies have been buried in the Nasser Hospital courtyard in Khan Yunis over the past two days, stated Euro-Med Monitor, which also documented at least four other mass and random burial sites in Khan Yunis’ squares, schools, and streets.
Israel, according to Euro-Med Monitor, is still purposefully blocking the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, in general and in the northern Gaza Valley in particular—where the famine is increasing in severity, 114 days since the start of Israel’s genocidal war on the Strip. The Geneva-based organisation further said that, in accordance with reports from Israeli media, Israeli settlers have blocked the entry of humanitarian aid through the Kerem Abu Salem crossing, east of Rafah, with the approval of the Israeli police and on orders from Israel’s Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir. This has undoubtedly worsened the humanitarian crisis in the Strip.
Euro-Med Monitor said that the number of aid trucks has dropped from an average of 100 trucks per day (just a few days ago)—which were only providing for less than 10% of the population’s needs—to just 87 in the past two days alone. This illustrates Israel’s determination to disregard the ICJ ruling, the rights group said.
The Israeli army continues to target hundreds of Palestinians gathered on Salah al-Din Street in southern Gaza waiting for aid trucks, Euro-Med Monitor added. Yesterday, Israeli forces killed three civilians and injured others; this crime was repeated today, with many more civilian casualties.
Dozens of displaced people were also injured in a shelter centre set up in a school in the neighbourhood of Al-Amal after tents caught fire due to heavy Israeli bombing. Rescue teams and ambulances are still being prevented from reaching the location.
All of this is happening at a time when the Euro-Med Monitor team has been documenting the extreme suffering that thousands of people have endured as a result of being forcibly relocated from the Khan Yunis refugee camp and several other governorate areas to the western coastal areas of the Strip, amid freezing, rainy weather and lack of access to safe havens.
Palestinians in several newly-established Khan Yunis neighbourhoods, which total more than four square kilometres, received fresh Israeli evacuation orders via social media, the rights organisation revealed, despite the ongoing outage of electricity, communications, and Internet services in the Strip.
An estimated 90,000 people live in the targeted areas, plus an additional 400,000 internally displaced people who are being housed in 24 schools and shelter centres, including three hospitals: the Nasser Complex (475 beds), Al-Amal (100 beds), and the Jordanian Hospital (50 beds), which, in addition to three health clinics, make up about 20% of the Gaza Strip’s remaining hospitals—all of which are only partially operational.
Thousands more displaced people have evacuated to the city of Rafah in the far south of the Strip, said Euro-Med Monitor, as a result of recent evacuation orders from Israel’s military as well as heavy Israeli bombing on Khan Yunis and the central Gaza Strip.
In addition to demolishing all structures in the eastern Gaza Strip that were situated between 1,000 and 1,500 metres away from the border fence, the Israeli army has levelled entire residential squares to create a buffer zone that would enclose over 15% of the wider Gaza Strip.
The Euro-Med Monitor team also documented the establishment of an Israeli security checkpoint on Al-Bahr Street, west of the Khan Yunis refugee camp, after Israeli forces closed all of the side streets that residents had been using to evacuate the area over the past few days.
Additionally, the human rights organisation drew attention to Israeli statements that persistently express a desire to carry out genocide. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday, on Saturday 27 January, that “the International Court of Justice’s decision did not grant the order for Israel to declare an immediate ceasefire” and that “Israel will act according to what is required for our security.”
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, continued the rights group, has even said that, “A military government will be formed in Gaza and will be responsible for civilian issues.”
The International Community must act swiftly to impose a binding executive decision on the International Court of Justice’s ruling, establish an immediate ceasefire, guarantee the safety of civilians and their return to their homes, and step up efforts by international organisations to monitor, record, and document Israel’s breathtaking violations of the Court’s ruling. These violations must be reported and widely disseminated in order for the Republic of South Africa and other countries involved in the lawsuit to submit a comprehensive report backed by evidence regarding the grave and pervasive violations happening to Palestinian civilians.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor emphasised that in light of the ICJ’s just-issued ruling regarding the existence of "reasonable doubt" that Israel is in breach of its obligations as a State party to the Genocide Convention, plus the actual practices occurring on the ground, there is an urgent need for strong international pressure to be applied immediately to end the ongoing crimes against Palestinian civilians and to safeguard them from further genocidal crimes.