World Court orders Israel to halt Gaza famine; Hamas says ceasefire needed

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The World Court on Thursday ordered Israel to end spreading famine in Gaza, demanding it take all necessary and effective action to ensure basic food supplies to the Palestinians there.

The unanimous ruling from the International Court of Justice came as aid agencies say only about a fifth of needed supplies are entering the war-shattered enclave.

The World Court judges said in their order:

“The court observes that Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine… but that famine is setting in.”

The judges said this could be done “by increasing the capacity and number of land crossing points and maintaining them open for as long as necessary”.

The court ordered Israel to submit a report in a month to detail how it had given effect to the ruling.

The new measures were requested by South Africa as part of its case that accuses Israel of state-led genocide in Gaza.

A senior Hamas official said the ruling did not go far enough and Israel must be ordered to end its military offensive to halt the suffering, saying:

“We welcome any new demands to end this humanitarian tragedy in Gaza and especially in the northern Gaza Strip, but we hoped the court would order a ceasefire as an absolute solution to all the miseries our people in Gaza are living through.”

The UN Security Council voted on Tuesday to demand an immediate ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

In a change from its previous stance, the United States abstained from – but did not veto the vote.

There was no immediate comment from Israel’s foreign ministry on Thursday’s World Court ruling.

Israel has said it is making efforts to expand access for humanitarian groups to Gaza over land, through air drops and by ship.

But aid agencies say it’s not nearly enough, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described the number of trucks blocked at the border as “a moral outrage.”

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