The UN Supreme Court orders Israel to allow food and medical aid into Gaza

  • Written by Christy Cooney
  • BBC News

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Children carrying empty containers wait as aid workers distribute food in Gaza City earlier this month

The UN Supreme Court unanimously ordered Israel to allow unimpeded aid to flow into Gaza in order to avoid famine.

The International Court of Justice said Israel must act “without delay” to allow “the provision of… urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

This comes after warnings that famine could hit Gaza within weeks.

Israel described the allegations that it was withholding aid as “completely unfounded.”

It also denied allegations of genocide made by South Africa to the International Court of Justice and blamed the United Nations for problems with aid distribution.

Although orders issued by the ICJ are legally binding, the court lacks the authority to enforce them.

She said all of Gaza's 2.2 million residents “face high levels of acute food insecurity” and famine is expected to hit the north of the Strip before the end of May.

In its ruling, the International Court of Justice said that Gaza “no longer faces the threat of famine” but that “famine has begun” and that, according to UN monitors, 31 people, including 27 children, have died from malnutrition and dehydration.

She also pointed to comments by Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who said last week that the “situation of hunger and famine” was “the result of extensive Israeli restrictions on the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid and commercial goods.” “The displacement of most of the population, as well as the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure.”

The court said Israel must “take all necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay, in full cooperation with the United Nations, the widespread and unimpeded provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

She added that the most needed aid includes food, water, electricity, fuel, shelter and clothing, in addition to hygiene products and medical supplies.

The ruling also stated that Israel must ensure that “its army does not commit acts that constitute a violation of any of the rights of Palestinians in Gaza” under the Genocide Convention.

In recent months, long queues of aid trucks have frequently formed while waiting to enter Gaza from Egypt, and Israel has been accused of subjecting deliveries to complex and arbitrary checks.

In a filing last week, Israel asked the International Court of Justice not to issue the latest order, saying South Africa's allegations were “completely baseless in fact and law” and “morally repugnant.”

It also dismissed the broader case against her under the Genocide Convention as “baseless.”

Israel also said that Hamas takes most of the aid entering Gaza and accused the United Nations of failing to distribute what remains to the civilian population.

The current conflict began after the October 7 attack, which saw Hamas-led militants storm the border into Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostage.

Of those kidnapped, about 130 are still missing, and at least 34 of them are presumed dead.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says the Israeli retaliation campaign has killed at least 32,552 people. Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that among the dead were more than 25,000 women and children.

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