Holly Cairns TD

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns has welcomed today’s decision by the International Court of Justice, calling it a landmark ruling that must be a turning point to end the violence.

“Today’s landmark ruling by the ICJ is a clear win for South Africa and must be a turning point in this horrific conflict.

“Significantly, the court recognised the right of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide – and for Israel to do much more to ensure that humanitarian aid and basic services reach people in Gaza.

“I also welcome the fact that the court called for the unconditional release of Israeli hostages by Hamas, and other armed Palestinian groups – something that should happen immediately.

“While the court did not order a complete cessation of Israel’s miliary operation in Gaza, it is difficult to see how Israel can comply with the court’s order in the absence of a ceasefire. Gaza is the most densely populated place on the planet. Missile strikes and its ground invasion will inevitably lead to civilian casualties.

“The fact that the ICJ has found that Israel, a Western democratic State, has a case to answer for alleged genocide is itself very significant.

“Genocide is the worst human rights crime and the fact that Israel must now defend itself against allegations it engaged in genocide is a dark stain that will forever be attached to that State’s government.

“There are also questions to answer for Israel’s cheerleaders in the international community – particularly the United States, the UK and Germany – who have watched the wholesale slaughter in Gaza and endorsed Israel’s right to engage in this massacre.

“There is overwhelming evidence to support a genocide case against Israel. Since October 7, 100,000 Palestinians have been killed, reported missing or wounded, with the death toll now almost at 26,000. Separately, senior Israeli officials have engaged in genocidal rhetoric.

“With South Africa’s genocide case set to proceed to a full hearing, the international community, including Ireland, can no longer sit on the fence.

“The Irish Government’s stance on South Africa’s ICJ case has been extremely inconsistent. While the Taoiseach initially said Ireland would not get involved, his position has shifted considerably in recent weeks due to political pressure and ongoing public revulsion at Israel’s massacre of innocent civilians in Gaza.

“This week, after voting down a Social Democrats’ motion calling on Ireland to support the ICJ case, the Government said it would consider intervening ‘as a matter of urgency’ after the court makes its order on preliminary measures and after South Africa submits its substantive case.

“This delay is unconscionable. The Government must indicate its intention to support South Africa – and begin the considerable legal analysis that will be involved in intervening in the case.

“Earlier this week, the Tánaiste stated that ‘Israel must be held to account’. Despite these strong words, the Government has failed at every opportunity to do exactly this.

“Now that the ICJ has rejected Israel’s contention that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the case, and found there is a possibility that a genocide is being inflicted on the Palestinian people, the Irish Government must stop dithering and immediately signal its intention to support South Africa.”

January 26, 2024

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