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UN high court again orders Israel to alleviate crisis in Gaza

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday ordered Israel to take more steps to protect civilians in Gaza and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the coastal strip where Israeli troops are fighting against Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The court ordered Israel to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza, noting there is no substitute for land crossings for supplies. The court also said Israel must “not commit acts which constitute a violation of any of the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza.”

The United Nations high court’s Thursday order comes after a plea from South Africa for the ICJ to take further action after the court’s initial January ruling has not alleviated the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The ICJ noted in the Thursday order that the situation has worsened since January.

“The Court observes with regret that, since then, the catastrophic living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have deteriorated further,” it wrote in the order, “in particular in view of the prolonged and widespread deprivation of food and other basic necessities to which the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been subjected.”

The state of Palestine at the U.N. said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that “Israel has to fully cooperate” with the order, noting that it was binding.

South Africa filed a case at the ICJ at the end of 2023, accusing Israel of genocide in the war against Hamas in Gaza. More than 32,000 people have died in Gaza, and the coastal strip is facing a hunger crisis.

Israel has rejected those accusations and maintains it has a right to defend itself after Hamas invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking another 250 hostages. Around 100 hostages are still left alive in Gaza.

The ICJ case could take years to resolve on the question of whether Israel is committing genocide, but the court decided to take preliminary action in January after a request from South Africa.

Those preliminary orders include taking measures to prevent the killing of civilians, facilitate humanitarian aid and punish those calling for genocide.

Israel submitted a report in February detailing the measures it has taken to follow those court orders.

The ICJ has also called for the release of hostages held by Hamas.

The U.N. Security Council has separately called for a cease-fire in Gaza for the rest of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which lasts for another two weeks, and for the release of hostages.

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