Hreleased today, the request to the UN’s highest judicial body argues that Israel’s ongoing military operation in that Palestinian territory is “part of a systematic effort to erase Palestinian society from the map” and is signed by the deputy minister of Foreign Affairs for Palestinian Authority Multilateral Affairs, Ammar Hijazi.

South Africa presented its case to the ICJ late last year, accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention in its military offensive that destroyed large areas of Gaza. Israel denies committing genocide in its operation to eliminate the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, triggered by that group’s unprecedented attack on Israeli territory on October 7, 2023.

The court issued three preliminary orders in the case, urging Israel to do everything in its power to prevent civilian casualties in the enclave, allow humanitarian aid to enter and, most recently, end its offensive on the city of Rafah, where they found concentrated more than 1.4 million Palestinians (more than half of the population of Gaza) displaced by the war.

It is unknown how long it will take the ICJ judges to rule on the Palestinian request. If accepted, Palestinian officials will be able to address the court in writing and during public hearings.

In their request, the Palestinians invoke the fact that they are directly affected by the case.

“The Israeli offensive destroyed and damaged, beyond recognition, hospitals, mosques, churches, universities, schools, homes, shops and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, as part of a systematic effort to erase Palestinian society and its culture from the map and social institutions”, the document reads.

The request adds that Israel is violating ICJ orders and continuing “its genocidal acts, including the deliberate and systematic impediment of access to humanitarian aid, which results in a situation of intentionally created famine that is increasingly approaching worsening and generalization”.

Palestinians have been to the ICJ before: in 2018, the Palestinian Authority filed a complaint asking the judges to order Washington to remove the recently moved US embassy from Jerusalem.

The case followed the decision of the government of the then US President, Donald Trump, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the United States embassy, ​​previously located in Tel Aviv, there.

This case remains under analysis at the ICJ, which could take years to rule on the cases that come before it.

On October 7 last year, Israel declared a war in the Gaza Strip to “eradicate” Hamas after it, hours earlier, carried out an attack in the south of Israeli territory that resulted in 1,189 deaths, most of them civilians.

The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) — in power in Gaza since 2007 and classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel — also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in captivity and 37 have died in the meantime, according to the latest assessment of the Israeli Army.

The war, which today entered its 241st day and continues to threaten to spread throughout the entire Middle East region, has so far left more than 36,000 dead in the Gaza Strip, more than 83,000 injured and around 10,000 missing, presumably buried in the rubble , mostly civilians, according to updated figures from local authorities.

The conflict has also caused nearly two million people to be displaced, plunging the overpopulated and poor Palestinian enclave into a serious humanitarian crisis, with more than 1.1 million people in a “situation of catastrophic hunger” that is claiming victims – “the highest number ever recorded” by the UN in studies on food security in the world.

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