World Court orders Israel to address Gaza food crisis; calls for ceasefire grow

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Court of Justice on Thursday unanimously directed Israel to take immediate and effective measures to ensure the provision of essential food supplies to the Palestinian population in Gaza, amid accusations of a spreading famine.

The ruling, prompted by South African allegations of genocide by Israel in Gaza, comes as Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters engage in intensified combat near Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital. According to reports, the conflict zone has seen the use of rockets and mortar fire against Israeli soldiers and tanks.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas faction stressed the necessity of a ceasefire to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. The court highlighted the dire conditions in the coastal enclave, stating that Gaza is transitioning from the risk of famine to actual famine conditions.

South Africa’s request for intervention formed part of its broader case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza. Basem Naim, a senior Hamas official, expressed that while the court’s decision was a step forward, it fell short of demanding a cessation of Israel’s military actions, which, in his view, are essential to ending the suffering.

The United Nations Security Council, earlier this week, called for an immediate ceasefire and the unconditional release of all hostages, with the United States abstaining from the vote.

Israel’s response to the court’s directive was not immediately available. However, Israeli officials have previously stated efforts to facilitate humanitarian access to Gaza through various means. The Israeli military asserts its operations around Al Shifa Hospital are conducted with care to avoid civilian and medical staff casualties, claiming significant progress in neutralizing threats while safeguarding non-combatants.

In a statement, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a senior Israeli military spokesperson, noted the operation’s success in eliminating a key Hamas figure, described as one of the organization’s top operatives.