WATCH: CN Live! — ICJ Rules on Israel

Craig Murrray, Alexander Mercouris, Ray McGovern and Francis Boyle discuss the meaning of the World Court’s ruling on Israel.

Hosts: Elizabeth Vos, Joe Lauria. Producer: Cathy Vogan

By Joe Lauria
in The Hague, Netherlands
Special to Consortium News

The International Court of Justice on Friday issued its interim ruling in the case of South Africa vs. Israel. South Africa has accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza and asked the Court for provisional measure including ordering Israel to halt its military operation while Israel is put on trial for genocide.

The Court found that there was a dispute between South Africa and Israel and had jurisdiction in the case. Israel had argued that no formal dispute between the parties exists. The Court also rejected Israel’s argument to dismiss the case, ruling that there is prima facie evidence that Israel is committing the crime of genocide in contravention of the Genocide Convention.

That means Israel will indeed be put on trial for genocide, a momentous decision that few people ever thought would be possible. Based on that preliminary finding, the Court ordered the following provisional measures:

  1. Israel must immediately ensure that its military does not commit acts within the scope of GC.2
  2. Direct and punish all members of the public who engage in the incitement of genocide against Palestinians
  3. Ensure provision of urgently needed basic services, humanitarian aid
  4. Prevent the destruction of and ensure the preservation of evidence to allegation of acts of GC.2
  5. Israel will submit report as to how they’re adhering to these orders to the ICJ within 1 month

From South Africa’s point of view and from those who want to see Israel’s genocidal massacres stopped, these were positive orders.

However, it is a ruling that has engendered various interpretations in a sort of Rorschach test, some which might exaggerate what the court has actually ruled.

For instance, the court did not order Israel to “stop genocidal acts” as many people are saying. It said it must “prevent” genocidal acts that the court hasn’t yet ruled are actually taking place. Calling on Israel to stop such acts would mean the court had already determined that genocide is occurring.

The court requires Israel to follow its orders, including not to kill civilians, but only “within the scope of Article 2” of the Genocide Convention, allowing Israeli lawyers to argue that Palestinian civilian deaths are occurring outside that scope. An army can kill civilians, even in a war crime, without committing genocide. Is the court just telling Israel that when killing civilians please be careful not to violate Article 2 of the Genocide Convention because we are going to try you on a charge of violating it?

If that is the case, then the Court’s ruling doesn’t seem radically different from what the United States has been telling Israel: be careful how you defend yourself.

International humanitarian law on the obligations of an occupying power are complex on when it can use force in self-defense. Certainly on Israeli territory Israel has a right under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter to self-defense. But is it lawful to take offensive measures on a territory it occupies, on which it has an obligation under the Geneva Convention to care for the occupied people? Would the occupying Germans have had the right to defend themselves against attacks by the Resistance on French territory? The court never discussed that issue at all.

Some argue that an order for a ceasefire would have prejudged the case on merits before the trial begins. But could the court not have ordered Israel to suspend its military operation while the trial proceeds to determine if genocide is taking place? This would rob Israel of arguing its killing of civilians is outside the scope of the Convention.

There is a video of South Africans dancing in celebration of the court’s decision. But the people who count here are not the South Africans or anyone else, but the people of Gaza. And reporting from there indicates bitter disappointment by the people, who were reported to be crushed by the ruling. Only a suspension of Israel’s assault it seems would have served them.

Perhaps the world had gotten so used to Israel’s ironclad impunity that a court saying Israel is plausibly committing genocide and should prevent their soldiers from doing so is such a shocking departure from the past that it is inviting celebration.

Perhaps the most important question is whether the court’s order will alter Israel’s behavior to substantially reduce civilian casualties and substantially increase humanitarian services. We should know in one month when Israel is supposed to report back to the Court.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe

22 comments for “WATCH: CN Live! — ICJ Rules on Israel

  1. CaseyG
    January 28, 2024 at 22:20

    I think America is acting a lot like Andrew Jackson when he told the native people they would always be treated fairly and justly…” As long as grass grows and rivers run..”.

    Biden and Blinken are no different—–murderers all, and even more ironic is that rivers all over the planet are going dry.

  2. Paula Murphy Fortin
    January 28, 2024 at 21:55

    Hold the faith. When evil moves to prove itself it acts as it is. The humans are not
    the biggest actor in this, I fully believe. Think of it like a flower that has been cut
    and a bloom unraveling over a period of time. So people can be clear and, I don’t know,
    maybe so some can change. That’s the best I understand,
    I imagine angels holding long arms to receive the children and others. This is what I believe
    about this, but it doesn’t stop the grief.

  3. January 28, 2024 at 14:05

    I hope this event was widely viewed. Professor Boyle provided explanation and relevant historical data on the issue of”genocide’ that deepened my understanding of legal as well as geopolitical aspects of this critical debate. I am thankful to everyone who made this event possible. Arlene Hickory

  4. Janet
    January 28, 2024 at 11:04

    The Court essentially said that Israel, as an illegal occupier, has no right to self-defense, so the Israelis will have to twist and whine to use that argument in the future. As for the failure to order a ceasefire, that was never going to happen because the Court only has the ability to do that in disputes between countries, and since Hamas isn’t a “country,” ordering a ceasefire would appear to be stacking the deck against Israel and would only fuel its propaganda machine and victim paranoia. But as the SA lawyers stated, the provisions imposed by the Court would require a ceasefire in order to be implemented. Understandably, the people in Gaza are disappointed, but there are legal restrictions the ICJ had to abide by. Unfortunately, the US under the Biden administration is hurtling at warp speed right into the gutter. Never in the history of this country has there been a more inept, incompetent, corrupt and debased administration. It is now supporting a state that has been internationally recognized as committing the crime of crimes. What sick, degenerate people are Biden, Blinken, Nuland, Kirby, Sullivan and Austin, as well as all the congressclowns supporting this genocide.

  5. Susan Leslie
    January 28, 2024 at 09:58

    One month just gives the Zionists more time to commit mass murder!!

  6. Jonathan Mills
    January 28, 2024 at 04:16

    but if the court HAD ordered a ceasfire that would have had an effect on the sponsors of the genocide, USA, UK etc?

    • anaisanesse
      January 29, 2024 at 11:15

      NO, and Hamas is not a state so would not have been bound by such an order. What did happen is better!

      However, I am sad that Francis Boyle is so pleased with his verdict against Yugoslavia. Check out what happened when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia tried to have a case against all the NATO attackers in 1999. NATO is too important to be able to answer such charges! Read the book “The Politics of Genocide by Edward S Herman and David Peterson. (2010 Monthly Review Press).

  7. Paul Edgar Merrell
    January 28, 2024 at 02:31

    I’ve been asked a few times to explain why Israel, as a belligerent occupier of foreign territory has no right of self-defense .

    A belligerent occupier has invaded a foreign country. It is analogous to a burglar who has broken into a home. The home owner wakes up, realizes there’s an intruder, and gets out his pistol. Proceeding down the stairs, the owner sees and takes a shot at the intruder but misses. The burglar shoots back, killing the home owner.

    In court, the intruder tries to defend, claiming the right of self-defense. Are we as a society going to protect that right in this context?

    The answer is no and it is just so with international law. The right of self-defense is an exception to the prohibition of murder. And the courts have answered no, that we are not going to stretch that exception in this context. There is no right of self defense that can be invoked by the burglar/belligerent occupier.

  8. January 27, 2024 at 22:40

    This ruling is merely a finger wagging to placate the public and allows the genocide to continue…Israel will just continue to spin their reports…Very sad, too little, too late…Thank You, CN…

    • Rubicon
      January 28, 2024 at 14:26

      What’s all the uproar over what the ICJ surmised?

      There’s an iron-core fact: the US has NEVER, nor will it EVER recognize the ICJ, nor any of its ruling.
      End of story.
      Of all people who should have known, or knows that fact, it would have been Ray McGovern.

  9. Carolyn L Zaremba
    January 27, 2024 at 19:01

    This was an excellent discussion of the legal aspects of the Court’s finding and the various political ramifications. Brilliant commentators. Thank you all.

  10. will moon
    January 27, 2024 at 16:52

    Much enjoyed this-my first CN live and will watch again.

    Have been aware of Mr McGovern for a good while without seeing or hearing enough of him to form an opinion but for some reason, here,I realised that he has a lot to offer. This despite my strong prejudice against former intelligence staff. I remember Phil Agee calling the Agency “Capitalism’s secret army” and finding myself agreeing after lots of reading and thinking. Yet Mr McGovern breached this prejudice easily when I heard the nuance in his words Particularly fascinating story about Bob Parry to conclude the broadcast

    Strong contributions from the other guests, it was a pleasure listening to their accumulated experience in this informal setting, thanks

    • Larry McGovern
      January 28, 2024 at 10:04

      If interested to learn more about Ray, his website is A pretty good bio there, too, though a bit out of date.

      A great program, Joe! And Francis Boyle is a treasure. Hope to hear/see more of him on CN. Also suggest something on the genocide complicity case brought by CCR in Federal Court in San Fran.

      Larry McGovern

    • anaisanesse
      January 29, 2024 at 11:19

      Ray McGovern features every day if you look! Sites like Dialogue works, Judging Freedom and these lead to others. Always worthwhile.

  11. Joy
    January 27, 2024 at 16:12

    There must be a permanent ceasefire in Gaza in order to comply with the ICJ ruling. Not with Palestinians suffering under oppressive conditions, but as a place where all live with peace and equality. It is time for Pope Francis to do more than talk. He must go to Gaza and make a stand for peace and freedom.

    Please sign the petition and share widely.


    More petitions:


    Ceasefire Now
    These are a few small things we can do. If we can do more, let us do more. Foe example, let us pressure the IOC to ban Israel from competing in the Olympics this year.

  12. Les Stein
    January 27, 2024 at 16:03

    It amazes me who these evil psychos lie so easily. These people will NEVER admit they are wrong or apologize. I won’t hold my breadth!

  13. hetro
    January 27, 2024 at 15:16

    Unfortunately, the Court cannot find for the mental stability or imbalance of the defendants in this case as represented by its leaders. Hence calling on Israel to prevent genocidal acts has already produced familiar behavior and denial, the onslaught continuing and the leadership as smug as usual.

    Israel’s defense minister states the Court is “antisemitic,” the blanket response to any critical view of what Israel is doing. Its President claims Palestinians could have “risen up,” without discriminating on the vulnerability of children. Netanyahu Official Israeli View, backed by the US echo chamber, offers self-righteous “defense” rationalizations for military horrors meant to punish and eliminate the Palestinians.

    In short, there is no provision indicated by the Court to prevent Israel from repeating what it has been doing, and justifying itself as responding to “human shields,” and in the name of “self-defense” against an enemy that is “monstrous” and has “genocidal intent” against Israel itself.

    Instead the ambulances should scream up to these Israeli leaders’ doors, and they should be put away in padded cells as soon as possible.

    • anaisanesse
      January 29, 2024 at 11:21

      The inappropriate word antisemitic should be banned. Israel as a Zionist State is hated NOT because the inhabitants are Jews, but because they are liars, thieves and murderers.

  14. Dinos Constantinou
    January 27, 2024 at 15:03

    Israel will take measures to hide the continued genocidal process and the media will collude by showing Israel to have moderated its attacks on the Palestinians. Will they allow humanitarian aid to the Palestinians? It is unlikely that this would provide opportunities for revelations about the genocide taking place.

  15. Em
    January 27, 2024 at 08:35

    It appears, according to the Guardian ‘news’ paper, that Israel has launched a major psyop (propaganda) counteroffensive against the ICJ ruling by ‘temporarily’ ceasing its financial contributions to UNRWA, in conjunction with its usual psych-pathetic national partners, the US, Canada and Australia!

    • anaisanesse
      January 29, 2024 at 11:23

      France too. This is complicity to genocide, as UNRWA provides most of the services allowed in Gaza.

  16. hetro
    January 27, 2024 at 08:22

    Court action is also underway in the US at Berkeley.

    Started last year in November, it states Biden, Blinken and Austin “have not only been failing to uphold the country’s obligation to prevent a genocide but have enabled the conditions for its development by providing unconditional military and diplomatic support [to Israel]”.


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