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ICJ’s new ruling bolsters legal efforts to stop Israeli killing machine: Attorney

By Alireza Hashemi

The recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has given fresh impetus to the legal battle against Israel’s lack of accountability for genocidal war crimes in the besieged Gaza Strip, says a French attorney.

In an exclusive interview with the Press TV website, Gilles Devers, a well-known French academic and lawyer known for advocating Palestinian rights at the top UN court commended the recent ICJ ruling.

He said the ICJ's fresh provisional measures issued on March 28 help prevent the obstruction of humanitarian aid to Gaza and further isolate the Israeli regime internationally.

The ICJ’s order came in response to a genocide case against Israel filed by South Africa, which led to the World Court issuing an initial emergency order in January demanding Israel avoid genocidal acts in Gaza.

Devers, who has represented Palestine at the ICC since 2009, praised the ICJ's swift response to South Africa's case, labeling it a "profound victory" for Palestinians in the history of their legal struggle to restore the rights that have already forced the Western states to distance themselves from Israel.

The attorney noted that the ruling, which came within a month of the case submission of the genocide case, reflects the court's sensitivity to global public opinion.

Addressing critiques regarding the absence of a ceasefire directive in the ICJ's emergency ruling, Devers clarified that Palestine's non-membership in the Hague-based court precluded such an order.

“Palestine is not a member of ICJ and a party to the genocide case so the World Court couldn’t issue a ceasefire order,” he told the Press TV website.

ICC arrest warrant against Netanyahu anticipated

Devers said the ICJ rulings help boost a collective complaint he filed to the ICC prosecutor in November, which accuses Israel of genocide and demands arrest warrants to be issued against top Israeli regime officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When asked about the ICC's potential role in aiding Palestinians, Devers highlighted the court's unique recognition of Palestine as a state.

Despite Israel's non-recognition of the ICC, Devers believes the court remains influential, citing a 2021 jurisdictional ruling that it has jurisdiction over grave crimes committed in occupied Palestinian territories, including potential war crimes on the ground.

Devers said with mounting evidence of serious war crimes being committed in Gaza, he hopes the ICC can soon issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and other Israeli regime officials.

The lawyer explained that threatening the existence of a community, cutting access to basic needs including electricity, water, food, and health services, bombing hospitals and civilians, and forcing people into displacement, amount to genocide.

However, he acknowledged the complexity of the ICC's processes, emphasizing the prosecutor's pivotal role.

He stressed the importance of videos and testimonies, calling for increased international pressure and legal support to persuade the ICC prosecutor to act, asserting that the court's credibility is at stake.

“The prosecutor should be presented with proof and legal arguments and other evidence convincing him. If presented with concrete proof, It's challenging for him not to do anything so the international pressure should increase there. Lawyers and civil society will tell the prosecutor that you’re obliged to do something because the credibility of ICC will be tarnished,” the French lawyer asserted.

Global legal coalition to support Palestinians

Devers said lawyers can also throw their weight behind the case, further pushing it, and that’s why he has initiated a network of attorneys dedicated to defending the Palestinian cause, particularly at the ICC.

"If the prosecutor works alone and feels pressured by Israel and its powerful supporters, he can hardly do anything. But if the prosecutor feels supported and controlled by hundreds of thousands of lawyers worldwide, he will obtain a result,” he said.

“Lawyers can tell the prosecutor that ‘we know it's difficult for you to open a case due to Israel’s pressure. We can help you. Provide analysis of case and law.’ Genocide is the most important and highest level of crime. We can’t do nothing about genocide.”

Devers is actively rallying a global coalition of lawyers to exert legal pressure on Israel. He recounted the rapid support from over 650 lawyers worldwide for their ICC lawsuit and the subsequent formation of a collaborative network, which is now backed by over 100,000 lawyers.

“In November when we wanted to submit our ICC lawsuit, in less than a week we had 650 lawyers on board coming from all over the world, from Pakistan, to Chile, to European countries to Africa,” he said.

“That's when we decided to take a different route. We started working together, going from country to country with the help of bar associations. At the moment, I believe that more than 100,000 lawyers are supporting our case. That is mainly because in some vast countries, national bar associations have endorsed our efforts, and this has greatly empowered us. For example Algeria and Morocco.”

Asked if the regime will heed the call of the ICC if a ruling is eventually issued, Devers said "in the world, a political regime has no future if it does not respect the decisions of the International Court of Justice, otherwise you become an international thug.”

The French lawyer slammed the West’s silence on Israeli genocidal atrocities in Gaza, saying their refusal to condemn the ongoing genocide committed by Israel will further tarnish their reputation worldwide.

He expressed optimism about the Global South's future role, noting its active stance against the ongoing atrocities and its efforts to bring the atrocities to a halt.

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