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Cambridge pro-Palestine groups vow to continue protests after ICJ ruling





The Cambridge protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza at the weekend praised the ICJ (International Court of Justice) ruling on January 26 requiring Israel to do everything within its power to prevent genocidal acts against Palestinians.

The ICJ consists of a panel of 17 judges elected for nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The top United Nations court for handling disputes between states was ruling in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide in pursuit of its war against Hamas.

Pro-Palestine march sets off from King's Parade, 27 January, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Pro-Palestine march sets off from King's Parade, 27 January, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

The number of Palestinians killed since Israel began its assault on Gaza following the 7 October Hamas atrocities has now passed 25,000 - the majority women and children, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

On Friday, the regular weekly vigil for health workers killed in Gaza - 337 killed in Gaza since the conflict began - took place on Addenbrooke’s roundabout.

Pro-Palestinian activists wave flags during session of the International Court of Justice. Picture: Patrick Post/AP
Pro-Palestinian activists wave flags during session of the International Court of Justice. Picture: Patrick Post/AP

A Cambridge Stop the War speaker told the protesters that she commended the ICJ ruling for being “very strongly worded that Israel has to stop the killing”.

She added: “It is very sad that even now people are being pulled out of the rubble and we’re being forced to watch which is why we’re out here.”

On Saturday, protesters including from Cambridge Stop the War and Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Society gathered outside Great St Mary’s Church at 12.30pm for a march around the centre of Cambridge, as has occurred since the war started. Before setting off, speakers spoke of hope that, following the interim ICJ ruling - the full report will take two years - there will be a ceasefire.

Pro-Palestine vigil for health workers, Addenbrooke's Hospital on Friday evening, 26 January 2024. Picture: Kashif Darr
Pro-Palestine vigil for health workers, Addenbrooke's Hospital on Friday evening, 26 January 2024. Picture: Kashif Darr

The speaker listed the rulings in full:

- The state of Israel will, ”with immediate effect”, “take all measures within its power to prevent (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

- Israel must “take all measures within its power to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip”;

- Israel must “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip”;

Pro-Palestine speaker on King's Parade, 27 January, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Pro-Palestine speaker on King's Parade, 27 January, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

- The state of Israel must “prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence” related to possible acts covered by the Genocide Convention;

- “Israel shall submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this Order within one month”.

“So that basically means Israel has to allow in water, food, medical care and power so that people can survive,” the speaker concluded. “They didn’t say a ceasefire but I can’t imagine that Israel can implement those orders without actually having a ceasefire.”

Next up to address the crowd of around 250 on King’s Parade at 1pm on Saturday was Omar Shabana, a PhD student.

Pro-Palestine speaker Omar Shabana on King's Parade, 27 January, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Pro-Palestine speaker Omar Shabana on King's Parade, 27 January, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

“What is the point of protesting?” he said in the bright sunshine with King’s College in the background. “Does it change what’s happening? People are still being killed. My friends in Gaza tell me they eat every other day, the children are fed first, and they are using animal feed to make bread.

“Our objective is multifold - an immediate change in the situation in Gaza yes, but your protesting persistently, insistently and consistently has long-term consequences for how Palestine is run in the future, so when we march today I want you to raise your voice as loud as possible.

Pro-Palestine march begins on King's Parade, 27 January, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Pro-Palestine march begins on King's Parade, 27 January, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

“We need to keep protesting until Palestine is liberated and people are finally free.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the charge of genocide levelled against Israel was “outrageous” and said it would do whatever is necessary to defend itself. Israel had an “unwavering commitment” to international law, he said. Its military response followed Hamas’ October 7 attacks in southern Israel , which left 1,400 dead.

In the UK, a Foreign Office statement said: “Our view is that Israel’s actions in Gaza cannot be described as a genocide, which is why we thought South Africa’s decision to bring the case was wrong and provocative.”

Pro-Palestine vigil for health workers, Addenbrooke's Hospital on Friday evening, 26 January 2024. Picture: Kashif Darr
Pro-Palestine vigil for health workers, Addenbrooke's Hospital on Friday evening, 26 January 2024. Picture: Kashif Darr

Gaza’s Health Ministry reported 174 Palestinians were killed and 310 wounded in the enclave in last 24 hours. Oxfam is also warning of the massive threat to life, beyond direct casualties, from hunger and disease.

Amnesty International has called the ICJ order an “important step” that could help protect Palestinians from “further suffering and irreparable harm”.



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