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UN Urges Israel to Comply with ICJ Ruling on Gaza Amidst Allegations and Humanitarian Concerns

In a significant development, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed hope that Israel would “duly comply” with the recent ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The court ordered Israel to take immediate action to prevent acts of genocide in war-torn Gaza, following a landmark case initiated by South Africa.

Guterres, through spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, emphasized the legally binding nature of ICJ decisions and urged all parties to comply with the court’s order. Despite the ICJ’s decision being binding, Israel had previously indicated its unwillingness to abide by the ruling.

The ICJ’s ruling, issued on Friday, called for Israel to “take all measures” to limit the death and destruction caused by its campaign in Gaza, but stopped short of explicitly calling for a ceasefire. This decision comes amidst the UN chief’s repeated calls for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza due to concerns about the unprecedented number of civilian casualties and the catastrophic humanitarian situation.

Meanwhile, Australia has decided to “temporarily pause” the disbursement of recent funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) following allegations that some of its staff were involved in the October 7 terror attacks on Israel. Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong stated that the allegations are deeply concerning, and while Australia welcomes UNRWA’s swift response, it will temporarily halt funding as investigations proceed.

The main UN agency operating in Gaza, UNRWA, revealed on Friday that Israel had accused some of its staff of involvement in the October 7 attacks, leading to the immediate termination of their contracts. The United States has also announced a pause in funding in response to these allegations.

Additionally, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has raised alarms about declining humanitarian access in parts of Gaza. Israeli protesters, organized by families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, blocked aid trucks from entering through the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Thursday and Friday. OCHA warned that the inability to deliver food, water, and medical aid would worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The protests at Kerem Shalom have disrupted aid deliveries, with families demanding the return of all abductees before allowing aid to reach Gaza. OCHA reported that only about 15 percent of planned humanitarian aid missions in northern Gaza between January 1-25 were facilitated, with 29 being denied.

The situation in Rafah, a southern governorate with 1.3 million Palestinians, has been highlighted by the head of the UN Human Rights Office, Ajith Sunghay. He expressed deep concern about deteriorating conditions, with displaced people living on the streets amid sewage and conditions conducive to a complete breakdown in order. Sunghay emphasized the urgent need for unimpeded humanitarian aid delivery to all those in need.