The UN’s top court ruled on Friday that Israel must take measures to prevent genocide in its conflict with Hamas and facilitate aid into Gaza. However, the court did not explicitly call for an end to the fighting.

The UN’s top court on Friday said Israel must prevent genocide in its war with Hamas and allow aid into Gaza, but stopped short of calling for an end to the fighting.

The International Court of Justice also said Israel must facilitate “urgently needed” humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been under relentless bombardment and siege since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the case as “outrageous” while Gaza’s Hamas rulers hailed the ICJ ruling, saying it “contributes to isolating Israel and exposing its crimes in Gaza”.

Soon after, the Islamist movement released a video showing three Israeli women held hostage in Gaza, two of whom said they were Israeli soldiers.

The United Nations court based in The Hague — while refraining from ordering an immediate halt to the almost four-month-old Gaza war — said Israel must do everything to “prevent the commission of all acts within the scope” of the Genocide Convention.

South Africa brought the case against Israel, accusing it of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, set up after World War II and the Holocaust.

Speaking after the ruling, Netanyahu said the charge “is not only false, it’s outrageous, and decent people everywhere should reject it”.

Israel “does not need to be lectured on morality,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

For the Palestinian Authority, the ruling showed that “no state is above the law”, and the European Union said it wanted immediate implementation of the court’s decision.

‘Heavy Gunfire’

Israeli flag carrier El Al said ahead of the ruling that it would scrap direct flights to South Africa following “a significant fall in demand by Israeli travelers.”

On the ground, AFPTV images from Gaza City on Friday showed hundreds of Palestinians crowding around a truck delivering aid, after the UN World Food Programme this week warned of an increasing risk of famine in Gaza.

Footage from Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, showed scores of decomposing bodies amid the rubble.

UN Employees Fired

The health ministry accused Israeli forces of killing 20 people waiting for aid to be distributed on Gaza City’s outskirts on Friday.

AFP was unable to verify those claims, and Israel had yet to respond to a request for comment.

It was the second such attack in two days, after the UN said tanks had shelled one of its shelters in Khan Younes, killing 13 people.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said the Israeli army had ordered people to leave the site by 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Friday, although the military denied issuing a specific evacuation request.

UNRWA said it had sacked “several” employees whom Israel had accused of involvement in the October 7 attack.

The United States in response said it had suspended funding to the agency.

Human Toll

About 1,140 deaths in Israel were reported, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

According to the Health Ministry in Gaza Israel has killed at least 26,083 people, about 70 percent of them women and children.

Khalil Wakim, with AFP