Geneva - Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and Youth for the SGDs convened a crucial event at the United NationsHuman Rights Council last week, titled “Examining Israel’s non-compliance with the ICJ provisional measures”. The event brought together experts and advocates to shed light on the ongoing Israeli violations of international law and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Balakrishnan Rajagopal, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, highlighted the shortcomings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, particularly regarding Israel’s claims of self-defense and the threshold for defining genocide. He expressed disappointment in the vagueness of the provisional measures and emphasised the urgent need for concrete actions to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“They are not specific in terms of remedies; that’s one reason they have been largely ignored,” Rajagopal said. “[W]orse,” he continued, “it’s harder to make the case that the provisional measures are not being complied with because they are so vague and general that a plausible case can be put forward by Israel if it comes up for another hearing that it is in fact complying…as best as it can.”

Muhammad Shehada, Euro-Med Monitor’s Chief of Programmes and Communications, provided firsthand insights into the dire situation in Gaza, describing the unprecedented scale of suffering and cruelty inflicted upon its residents. He underscored the deliberate tactics employed by Israeli forces to perpetuate starvation and mass destruction, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe of alarming proportions and rendering Gaza uninhabitable for years to come.

“There is an engineered, systematic, deliberate, targeted, and surgical destruction that can be [seen as] paramount to a calculated strategy that would bring about the total or partial collapse of the targeted population, in whole or in part,” he added. Shehada detailed how, after the ICJ ruling, Israel escalated its deliberate starvation of northern Gaza instead of alleviating it by targeting staving Gazans seeking aid and killing hundreds of them. Israel has also targeted key personnel, i.e. individuals responsible for securing aid convoys and preventing looting as well as ensuring the fair distribution of aid. This targeting is in addition to Israel’s restricting the amount of aid trucks allowed in to well below the bare minimum.

“We are seeing a deliberate Israeli effort to sustain the chaos and starvation in northern Gaza and it points at two directions,” Shehada explained. “Number one is that Israel, up until now, is trying to kick people [up and] out of the north, although the Israeli defense minister said all the way back in January that the intensive fighting in the north of Gaza is over.”

Stated Shehada, “And number two, it is part of this calculated bringing about of a societal collapse in whole or in part in the immediate and long term, even if the war stops today.”

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, focused on Israel’s flagrant non-compliance with the ICJ’s binding provisional measures. He detailed the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and basic services, which constitutes a war crime under international law. Shakir urged the international community to hold Israel accountable and take decisive measures to halt further violations. “The Israeli government is using the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, which is a war crime,” he said. “The number of trucks that were entering Gaza in the three weeks after the Court’s late January ruling were decreased in comparison to the three weeks before [the ruling].”

“The Israeli government has no problem having its troops and its bombs reaching all parts of Gaza; it has the capacity but it lacks the will to ensure that aid reaches all parts of Gaza,” Shakir concluded.

Renowned Palestinian-French human rights activist Rima Hassan addressed the contradictions in the European Union’s position on Gaza since 7 October 2023. She addressed the particular contradiction between the EU’s proclaimed notions of peace, freedom, democracy, sovereignty of law, and human rights, and its idleness on Gaza or even active support of Israel when its assault on the Strip started as collective punishment of Palestinians. This includes, for instance, the EU announcing its suspension of funding to Palestinian civil society groups and UNRWA; EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen rushing to visit Israel to voice her absolute support; and the French president proposing an international coalition against Hamas styled after the coalition against ISIS. Hassan also addressed the EU’s inability to move beyond its economic role into a more active political role.

Last week’s event served as a crucial platform for raising awareness and mobilising action to address Israel’s grave violations of human rights and international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor remains committed to advocating for justice, accountability, and the rights of all Palestinians.