Armed Conflict Foreign Relations & International Law

ICJ Issues Provisional Measures in South Africa v. Israel

Hyemin Han
Friday, January 26, 2024, 10:43 AM
The court ordered Israel to take all measures to prevent genocide in Gaza, but stopped short of calling on Israel to suspend its military operations.

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On Jan. 26, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued provisional measures in a case brought by South Africa against Israel for its alleged breaches of the Genocide Convention in its actions in Gaza. The ICJ found that it had prima facie jurisdiction under Article IX of the Genocide Convention to entertain the case and agreed that South Africa has standing to bring the case under the common interests of upholding the Convention—a matter that Israel did not challenge.  

The ICJ ordered the following provisional measures under Article 41:

  • Israel must take all measures possible to prevent the commission of all acts under Article II of the Genocide Convention in relation to Palestinians in Gaza. This includes “(a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” The ICJ specified that Israel must ensure “with immediate effect” that its military does not commit any of the aforementioned acts.

  • Israel must prevent and punish “the direct and public incitement to commit genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza.

  • Israel must allow humanitarian assistance into the Gaza Strip. 

  • Israel must ensure the preservation of, and prevent the destruction of, evidence related to acts under the scope of Article II and Article III of the Genocide Convention against Palestinians in Gaza.

  • Israel must submit a report to the ICJ on all measures taken to uphold the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ within one month. 

The ICJ did not call on Israel to suspend its military operations in Gaza, which was one of the provisional measures South Africa had called for. 

You can read the ICJ’s Order here or below. Find also: 


Hyemin Han is an associate editor of Lawfare and is based in Washington, D.C. Previously, she worked in eviction defense and has interned on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College, where she was editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth independent daily.

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