Canada will continue to closely monitor the case against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Friday following an interim ruling ordering Israel to do everything possible to prevent the death, destruction and any act of genocide in Gaza. .
The decision did not order a ceasefire. It also called on Hamas to release hostages taken during its deadly October 7 attack on Israel and represents a closely watched step in a legal process that could take years to fully unfold.
“Canada supports the ICJ’s essential role in the peaceful resolution of disputes and its work to uphold the rules-based international order,” Joly said in a statement. “Our support for the ICJ does not mean that we accept the premises of the case brought by South Africa. It is up to the ICJ to make a final decision on this case, which it did not do today. We continue to follow the matter very closely.
Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not take the time to answer journalists’ questions about the decision rendered on Parliament Hill.
Joly’s statement, released hours after the ruling, repeated language previously used by the federal government that its critics called “incomprehensible” in response to South Africa’s complaint accusing Israel of a genocide against the Palestinians.
A federal government source previously told Global News that these statements should not be interpreted to mean that Canada is taking a definitive position on whether it supports or rejects South Africa’s cause.
The United Nations’ highest court on Friday ordered six measures aimed at limiting the number of casualties in the Gaza Strip and ensuring the preservation of evidence, as the court continues its deeper investigation into allegations of genocide against Palestinians. The final decision is expected to take years.
The court’s judges ruled against Israel’s request to completely dismiss the case brought by South Africa.
Israel must take all measures to prevent genocide in Gaza, says ICJ in interim ruling
The decision amounts to a rebuke of Israel’s conduct in Gaza and adds to growing international pressure to end the nearly four-month-old military offensive. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the affair “scandalous,” vowed to continue the campaign against Hamas.
Israel’s ambassador to Canada said Friday that the country had tried to limit the number of casualties but could not stop its fight against Hamas.
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“Hamas has inflicted the worst massacre on the Jewish people since World War II,” Iddo Moed told Global News.
“Hamas has sworn to do this again and again. So we must fight this war. We do not have the choice. However, we are doing everything we can to improve the conditions of those suffering in this war.“
Trudeau says Canada doesn’t necessarily support ‘premises’ of South Africa’s lawsuit against Israel
Mona Abuamara, chief representative of the Palestinian general delegation to Canada, said the decision does not mark the end of their efforts.
“We would have liked to see the court explicitly demand that Israel end its hostilities against the defenseless population of Gaza. But it was the second best option,” Abuamara said Friday.
Before Joly issued his statement and after the ICJ ruling, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East called on the government to clearly state Ottawa’s position.
“CJPME insists that Canada must now take a stand in support of the Court’s decision, after weeks of confusing and contradictory statements,” the pro-Palestinian group said in a statement.
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The group later called Joly’s statement “shameful and inadequate.”
Human rights groups Amnesty International and Oxfam also urged Canada to take a tougher stance on Friday, with Oxfam calling on Joly to suspend all arms transfers to Israel in response to the ICJ ruling.
Liberal MPs are divided on how Canada should respond.
Liberal MP Salma Zahid said in Ottawa on Friday that she would first read the ICJ’s interim ruling, but said Canada must comply with all orders from the international court and bring other countries together to help respond to the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
His colleague Anthony Housefather called South Africa’s case at the ICJ “baseless and insulting” and said he believed the international court was setting the bar very low in deciding whether there was a possible case of genocide.
“Israel respects international law and Israel will continue to respect it,” the Montreal MP told reporters on Friday.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, whose party has dismissed South Africa’s case as baseless, called the language used by Joly and Trudeau in the ICJ case “incomprehensible.”
“It would take a linguist with a doctorate and a magnifying glass to understand the nonsense of the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister on this issue, because they are deliberately giving answers that no one can understand,” he told reporters. in West Vancouver earlier this month.
Canada ‘carefully’ examines South Africa’s ICJ case accusing Israel of ‘genocidal intent’
Many of Canada’s allies, including the United States, have also rejected South Africa’s allegations of genocide in Gaza.
Israel’s military offensive in Gaza has destroyed large parts of the Palestinian enclave and killed more than 26,000 people, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between Hamas fighters and civilians. .
The offensive came in response to Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, which Israel said killed around 1,200 people.
South Africa said that while it condemned Hamas for its attacks, there was no justification for the scale of the Israeli response in Gaza.
— With files from the Canadian Press
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