The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations' highest judicial body, is due to decide on Friday whether to issue interim measures against Israel over allegations of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
Representatives of South Africa, which filed a lawsuit against Israel earlier this month, are demanding that the International Court of Justice order a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The International Court of Justice's ruling this week is expected to touch on emergency measures against Israel but is unlikely to decide on the broader issue of genocide. If the case continues, it could take years, according to the AP.
Genocide is the destruction of a group of people with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Genocide can also include cases in which a party imposes living conditions on a group that, according to the Genocide Convention, are designed to bring about the group's destruction.
Legal authorities, including the International Court of Justice, have previously classified events as genocide, including the 1995 killing of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica.
According to the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry, Israel has killed 25,700 Palestinians since the war began in Gaza following Hamas' attack on Israel in October.
The ICJ development comes as Israel enters a new phase of the war, in which the country has said it wants to more specifically target its operations on “terror hotspots” in the Gaza Strip. Despite claiming that it only wants to target Hamas, the Israeli military has failed to limit civilian casualties and in some cases has attacked zones that it had previously deemed safe for civilians.
Israel has also imposed an air, land and sea blockade on Gaza since 2007.
The Biden administration has gone to great lengths to acknowledge that Israel could do better at not killing innocent civilians, while maintaining that Israel's war in Gaza does not constitute genocide.
The accusation is “baseless, counterproductive and has no factual basis,” John Kirby, coordinator of the White House National Security Council, said previously.
“The allegation that Israel is committing genocide — we believe the allegation is baseless,” State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters earlier this week.
“Israel has a moral and strategic imperative to take additional steps to ensure that the impact on civilians is minimized,” Patel added. “We have made it very clear that further steps must be taken and that the toll on Palestinian civilians and the lives already lost is far too high.”