Thursday, June 20, 2024

Louisiana will face lawsuit over Ten Commandments school displays

By Greg LaRose

Four civil liberties groups will sue the state of Louisiana after Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed a law Wednesday that calls for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in school classrooms. The new rule applies to any school that accepts state money, including colleges and universities.

The American Civil Liberties Union, its Louisiana chapter, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation announced they intend to file a lawsuit to block enforcement of House Bill 71. The measure, authored by Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, requires the Ten Commandments be displayed in each classroom. The poster or framed document dimensions must be at least 11 inches by 14 inches.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Secretary of State Frank LaRose could purge more than 150,000 Ohio inactive voters before election

More than 150,000 Ohio voters could potentially not be eligible to vote in the upcoming Presidential election. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose recently published a list of 158,857 inactive voter registrations who are eligible to be removed from the Statewide Voter Registration Database — meaning they would be purged from voter rolls. 

“These registrations are eligible for removal under the law because records show they’re no longer residing or active at the registered address for at least the last four consecutive years,” LaRose said in a statement. 

Why are voters inactive?

A registered voter could be on the list if they filled out a change-of-address form with the U.S. Postal Service signaling they have moved or they have not voted at their registered address in the past four years after being marked for removal by a county’s voter registration system. 

All 88 county boards of elections were required to collect and submit this data to LaRose’s office earlier this year. The voter purge is part of Ohio’s process of updating its rolls and removing voters who have moved out-of-state or died. 

County boards of elections must complete their voter purge by July 22, so people on the inactive voter list have until then to take action. 

What can inactive voters do to get off the list? 

In order to not be removed from the rolls and still be able to vote in the November election, an inactive voter can —

  • Confirm or update their voter registration at, by mail or in-person at their local county board of elections.
  • Update or confirm their address with their county board of elections. 
  • Submit an absentee ballot application.
  • Sign a candidate or issue petition that is verified by a board of elections. 

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 5 election is Oct. 7. 

A voter whose registration has been purged can regain their ability to vote by reregistering on the Secretary’s registration website or by visiting their county board of elections.

This article originally appeared in Ohio Capital Journal on June 7th, 2024

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Report: nearly half of Tennessee households don’t earn enough to meet basic expenses

By Anita Wadhwani

Nearly half of all Tennessee working families cannot afford the basic cost of living in their counties, according to new analyses of Census and federal economic data by the United Way of Tennessee.

The report examined the challenges facing households that earned more than the federal poverty level but, nevertheless, struggle to make ends meet.

While the number of households living in poverty decreased by nearly 5,000 across the state between 2021 and 2022, more than 34,214 households were added to the category of Tennesseans unable to pay for basic needs despite earnings that put them above the poverty level. In total, the report found that 1.2 million Tennessee households fall into this category.

The report concluded that the “survival budget” necessary for a family of four increased to $75,600 between 2021 and 2022. The budget includes the cost of housing, food, childcare, transportation and healthcare — all of which grew more expensive. In 33 Tennessee counties, more than half of all households failed to earn enough to meet their survival budgets.

While wages have increased in that time period, the 20 most common occupations in Tennessee still pay less than $20 per hour, the report found. These include jobs like sales, truck driving, administrative assistants and elementary school teachers.

Although poverty levels for Tennessee kids have shrunk, the report found that 38% of working Tennessee families with children at home did not earn enough to keep up with basic expenses.

This article originally appeared in Tennessee Lookout on June 7th, 2024

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Monday, June 10, 2024

Thousands Protest Gaza Genocide in 'Red Line' White House Rally

 By Jessica Corbett

"We as the people are drawing the red line today to say enough is enough," said a protester from the Palestinian Youth Movement. "It's time for an arms embargo, and it's time to end this."

As the Israel Defense Forces on Saturday killed over 200 more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip while rescuing four hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, thousands of anti-war protesters descended on the White House in Washington, D.C. 

The rally marked not only eight months of the war but also called out U.S. President Joe Biden for his seemingly empty threat to cut off American arms and diplomatic support for the Israeli military campaign, which has killed more than 36,800 people and wounded over 83,600 in Hamas-governed Gaza since October.  

Biden threatened to end U.S. support for Israel's war—which has led to a genocide case before the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant—if the IDF attacked Rafah, calling it a "red line." 

However, when Israeli forces began assaulting the southern Gaza city to which over a million Palestinians had fled and seized the border crossing with Egypt, further limiting the flow of desperately needed humanitarian aid, the White House claimed the actions didn't amount to crossing what critics called "the Biden administration's ever-shifting red lines."

Protesters in D.C. on Saturday held signs that said, "Genocide is our red line" and "Israel bombs, your taxes pay," The Washington Post reported. According to the newspaper:

Aiya, a George Washington University student and a leader of GW Students for Justice in Palestine, said the student activism has "really lit a fire under the Free Palestine movement, because it has pushed the bounds of what we here in the United States and the diaspora are willing to sacrifice." Before police shut it down last month, hundreds of GWU students set up a pro-Palestinian encampment—one of numerous throughout the country.

Aiya, who did not share a last name for privacy reasons, said students wanted Gazans to know they are "not alone."

"We say at campus protests, 'We will not rest till you divest,' and we mean that. We have been out here tirelessly," Aiya said. "I mean, how could we tire when we see the people of Gaza endure through literally hell on Earth?"
The protesters chanted, "From D.C. to Palestine, we are the red line," and held a red banner around the White House as a symbol of Biden's claims, which some referenced directly when detailing their reasons for joining the demonstration. 

"The intention is to draw a red line where Biden won't draw one when it comes to Israel's genocide in Gaza, and say we as the people are drawing the red line today to say enough is enough," Nas Issa of the Palestinian Youth Movement told NBC News. "It's time for an arms embargo, and it's time to end this."

Agence France-Presse also spoke with participants critical of the Biden administration for supporting the Israeli war effort as it mediates cease-fire negotiations alongside Egypt and Qatar.

"I no longer believe any of the words that Joe Biden says," explained Zaid Mahdawi, a 25-year-old protester from Virginia whose parents are Palestinian. "This 'red line' in his rhetoric is rubbish... It shows his hypocrisy and his cowardice."

Multiple protesters—including some who voted for Biden in 2020—told AFP and NBC that they won't cast ballots for the Democrat in November. None of them signaled support for former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, but some said they may vote for third-party or Independent candidates, who lack the support needed to beat the two major party contenders.

Polling and the "uncommitted" campaigns during state primaries have shown that Biden backing Israel's war is costing him votes. Bend the Arc: Jewish Action and the NAACP delivered similar warnings this week, with the former's CEO writing that "U.S. support for continued violence in Gaza is putting American safety and U.S. democracy in danger."

In response to the Saturday protest, Biden campaign spokesperson Seth Schuster said that the president "believes making your voice heard and participating in our democracy is fundamental to who we are as Americans."

"He shares the goal for an end to the violence and a just, lasting peace in the Middle East," Schuster added. "He's working tirelessly to that end."

While Biden was in France on Saturday for a state visit with French President Emmanuel Macron and the D-Day anniversary, a Secret Service spokesperson toldThe Hill that in anticipation of protests, "additional public safety measures including anti-scale fencing have been put in place near the White House complex."

Biden said in France that "I want to echo President Macron's comments welcoming the safe rescue of four hostages that were returned to their families in Israel. We won't stop working until all the hostages come home and a cease-fire is reached."

The White House put out a statement along the same lines—which, as the anti-war group CodePink highlighted, also did not recognize the hundreds of Palestinians killed and injured in the IDF operation at Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp.

Speaking at the D.C. rally, CodePink East Coast organizer Krys Cerisier said that "we stand side by side with struggles across the globe to tell everybody in the White House that we can see them. We can see them for what they are, and that is war criminals, war criminals who deserve to be held accountable for the countless genocides, the countless wars, and the countless crimes they have committed against Black and brown people across the globe."

"We say no to war. We say no to bombs. We say no to mines, to planes, to tanks! We say no!" Cerisier declared. "We say yes to education! We say yes to food—to care for the community! But we say no to being led by people who only care about funding war."

This article originally appeared in Common Dreams on June 9th, 2024

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Thursday, June 6, 2024

$15 minimum wage proposal won’t make 2024 ballot, as Michigan Supreme Court denies appeal

By Jon King

A ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court will prevent a petition effort to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $15 an hour from appearing on the 2024 ballot. 

In an order released Friday, the court said it was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief” to set aside a deadlocked decision by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans and requires a majority vote for passage. 

In a concurring opinion, Justice Brian Zahra said the court would not “second guess” the state canvassing process.

 Justice Brian Zahra

“I take no position on whether the Board’s decision was advisable or superior to potential alternatives. Nor do I comment on whether the Board ultimately came to a ‘correct’ conclusion, as if this Court possessed the administrative authority over elections or the authority to weigh policy merits,” write Zahra.

At a meeting in October, board members disagreed along party lines over a language change to the petition during the 2022 election cycle which altered the requirements for employers imposed by the proposed law which would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2027. Currently, state law requires the rate increase to $12 an hour by 2030. 

The initial draft of the petition applied to any employer with at least two employees. While that was later changed to include employers with at least one employee, and the two crossed out of the official text, at some point in the process of circulating the petition for approval in 2022, the text was altered to appear as though the petition would only require employers with at least 21 employees to raise wages, exempting approximately 90% of Michigan employers from the law.

Mark Brewer, an attorney representing Raise the Wage who’s also a former Michigan Democratic Party chair, has said that the change was intentional, but didn’t explain why the petition had been changed to only subject a small minority of businesses to the law. 

Jayaraman told The Detroit News in October that with Democrats now in control in Lansing, she hoped the Legislature would adopt the measure and amend it so as to address businesses with fewer than 20 employees. 

Despite the change, the Bureau of Elections staff recommended certification. Republican Member Tony Daunt, however, argued the language change was misleading to the voters who signed in support. His GOP colleague, Richard Housekamp, agreed, and both voted against certification. 

The court’s decision not to overrule the deadlock was welcomed by the group Michigan Opportunity, a coalition of business owners and organizations that was opposed to the initiative.

“Michigan Opportunity applauds the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling because it correctly said that the Board of Canvassers holds the power to decide if One Fair Wage’s fatally flawed ballot initiative would be placed before voters this fall,” said spokesman John Sellek.

Sellek also thanked the court, saying the ruling and written order included data which he said indicated the “significant negative impacts” the proposal would have on the economy.

Zahra’s opinion noted that the petition would have eliminated “any recognized difference” between tipped workers and those who did not receive tips and that over the course of time, tipping as a primary source of income would be eliminated for many workers. Zahra also referenced polling by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association in September of 2022 in which 61% of restaurant operators in Michigan “estimated that they would lay off more than 25% of their tipped employees if the minimum-wage offset is substantially reduced or eliminated.”

The offset Sellek referred to is the lower rate that tipped employees can receive in Michigan, which is currently $3.93 per hour.

The group that sponsored the initiative, One Fair Wage, expressed “deep disappointment in the ongoing influence by Republicans and the National Restaurant Association on the Board of Canvassers,” which the group says has repeatedly thwarted the will of Michigan voters.

“We continue to call on the MI Legislature to listen to 610,000 Michigan voters who signed petitions for a $15 minimum wage, and raise the wage to $15 an hour through legislation following the MI Supreme Court’s decision on the ‘Adopt and Amend’ case,” said Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage.

A lawsuit filed by the group is currently pending before the state’s highest court following oral arguments in December, during which its attorneys argued that the legislative tactic known as “adopt and amend” was unconstitutional.

Under that measure, the Legislature can adopt a ballot measure into law before it goes to the voters and then amend the proposal’s language later that same legislative session. 

In the case of One Fair Wage, the Republican-led Michigan Legislature adopted it in 2018, along with another proposal to set rates for sick leave, and then passed new laws that watered down the intent of both measures. Those changes were later rejected by a Michigan Court of Claims ruling in 2022, which was then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

“[We] remain optimistic that the State Supreme Court will overrule the unconstitutional Adopt and Amend Tactics of the 2018 Republican legislature, raising wages for nearly a million Michiganders and protecting the sacred right of citizen referendums,” said Jayaraman.

“Michigan workers deserve a raise, and hundreds of thousands of Raise the Wage petition signers agree: Michigan voters and Michigan workers deserve to have their voices heard, and we will continue pursuing all avenues to deliver the raise they’ve been asking for year after year,” added Jayaraman.

Michigan Opportunity, however, said it was hypocritical for One Fair Wage to both argue against “adopt and amend” and hope the legislature would use that tactic to fix their petition language.

“Based on One Fair Wage’s requests for the current legislature to adopt and amend the now-failed 2024 ballot initiative, One Fair Wage should withdraw its 2018 lawsuit attempting to kill the legislature’s 2018 adopt and amend procedure,” said Sellek.

This article originally appeared in Michigan Advance on June 3rd, 2024

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Monday, June 3, 2024

Greater focus on crime sparks another wave of juvenile justice bills

By Amanda Hernandez 

Nearly every state considered changes in juvenile age limits, detention or education programs.

For decades, state legislators and criminal justice advocates have worked to change the juvenile legal system, striving to expand access to rehabilitation and keep young people from returning to crime.

During this year’s legislative session, nearly every state has considered some form of juvenile justice legislation, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures database.

These efforts across at least 43 states plus Washington, D.C., have seen varied levels of success and come from a diversity of viewpoints. Some legislatures considered policies that would create alternatives to incarcerating teens, while others debated bills that would toughen potential penalties for kids as young as 10 years old. Criminal justice advocates warn that strict new policies could roll back previous overhauls of the system.

This year, states including Connecticut, Kansas, KentuckyLouisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee have examined ways to tackle crimes committed by children. Some of these bills would establish independent oversight of juvenile corrections agencies, create new avenues for youth to access diversion programs, or automatically transfer juveniles convicted of certain crimes into the adult legal system.

The efforts go beyond prospective new laws.

State officials in Connecticut, for example, plan to release data in July to measure racial disparities among juveniles offered access to diversion programs. In Louisiana, legislative leaders are looking to redirect $700 million from a state savings account and use it for construction projects, including prisons and juvenile detention centers.

The wave of juvenile justice legislation and policy changes comes amid a heightened public perception that crime, including youth crime, is rising. Political rhetoric and sensational media coverage, rather than statistics, are driving that perception.

Violent crime across the United States decreased in 2022 — dropping to about the same level as before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the FBI’s annual crime report. Property crimes, however, rose during the same period. Crime data compiled by the Council on Criminal Justice think tank also suggests that most types of crime are reverting toward pre-pandemic levels.

The juvenile arrest rate for all offenses peaked in 1996, and has since declined, according to available data from the federal Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Those levels track with the nation’s overall crime rate, which reached its peak in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, policymakers in some states are paying more attention to the teens themselves and their treatment while in detention. In New York, a state comptroller’s report, released in April, found that staffing shortages and lack of staff training have contributed to an increase in self-harm and drug use among the youth held in the state’s juvenile justice facilities.

And lawsuits filed earlier this year in Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York allege sexual abuse within juvenile facilities in those states.

Diversion and workforce programs

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, signed a bill into law earlier this year that will allow teens held in the state’s only juvenile corrections facility to attend outside educational and vocational programs or training.

“It’s very important that we pass laws and create systems that give those cycling out the system the best possible opportunity for a good outcome,” Kansas Republican state Rep. Stephen Owens said in an interview with Stateline. Owens chairs the Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice.

After the law goes into effect in July, the secretary of corrections can develop a work-release program for juveniles. The Department of Corrections is still working on outlining who will be eligible and what kinds of programs will be available, according to Megan Milner, the department’s deputy secretary of juvenile and adult community-based services.

It’s very important that we pass laws and create systems that give those cycling out the system the best possible opportunity for a good outcome.

– Kansas Republican state Rep. Stephen Owens

The new law, Milner said, will allow teens to explore other vocational programs that align with their career interests and connect them with employment opportunities.

“This is a good opportunity for them, but it’s also a good opportunity for our communities,” Milner said.

The Kansas legislature also allocated $2.5 million to Mirror Inc., a private corporation that provides behavioral health care, prevention programs and residential reentry services, to build a new inpatient juvenile substance use treatment center in south central Kansas. The facility would have at least 40 beds.

Focus on preteens

The Maryland legislature also tackled a controversial juvenile justice bill this session, which was recently signed into law by Democratic Gov. Wes Moore. The law will extend state oversight to younger juveniles between 10 and 12 years old who have been arrested for serious offenses, including those involving a firearm, motor vehicle theft, animal abuse or a third-degree sexual offense.

It will go into effect in November.

Minors also could be sent to a diversion program operated by a local state’s attorney’s office or a community-based organization.

The law will establish a commission to review the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services’ education and diversionary programs, research evidence-based programs and investigate deaths involving children under state supervision.

It also will allow state’s attorneys to review complaints and case files of children under state supervision.

“Those structural changes, I would argue, needed to be made, particularly as the juvenile system evolved after the pandemic and the services that were and weren’t available,” said Maryland Del. Luke Clippinger, a Democrat and chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who sponsored the legislation.

Some of the measure’s opponents argue that the policy changes won’t sufficiently support young people and would likely lead to greater racial disparities in the juvenile justice system.

“The data and the research is very, very clear that if we have 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds that we are concerned about, those are kids who need and will benefit the most from services — not from detention,” said Alice Wilkerson, the executive director of Advance Maryland, a statewide progressive advocacy group. She testified against the bill and is a member of the Maryland Youth Justice Coalition.

“[The law] opens up more paths to arrest and detention for those very young kids,” Wilkerson said in an interview.

The legislation was introduced following an increase in the number of total juvenile complaints, which includes violent crimes, nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors, in fiscal year 2023.

State data from the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services shows that since fiscal year 2014, the number of juvenile complaints has consistently decreased. While the number of complaints rose to 12,388 in fiscal year 2023, compared with 7,100 in fiscal year 2021, the number remains lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Complaints for youth under age 13 decreased from 1,083 in fiscal year 2022 to 299 in the last fiscal year, according to the same state data. Black children are disproportionately represented as the subjects of the complaints — about 63%, despite making up about 30% of the state’s youth population.

Some proponents say the numbers are misleading because they don’t account for staff shortages in many law enforcement agencies across the state, which lead to fewer misdemeanor cases being handled by police and, consequently, fewer juvenile arrests being recorded.

“I’d love to say juvenile crime is down. I think that would be a lie. I think that would be being dishonest with the community,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, a Democrat, who supported the measure.

‘Raise the Age’ laws

Both Massachusetts and North Carolina are considering bills related to “Raise the Age” laws, which increase the age of criminal responsibility to at least 18.

Such laws keep 16- and 17-year-olds from being automatically charged as adults. In some states, plans are in place to gradually raise the age over several years, up to at least 21 or 25.

A growing body of research shows that the prefrontal cortex, the decision-making part of the brain, isn’t fully developed until around age 25. Criminal justice advocates also have pointed to research showing that teens who have been arrested are less likely to commit additional crimes if they are prosecuted as minors rather than adults, and to the fact that young people incarcerated in adult prisons are at a much greater risk of sexual assault.

The bill under consideration in Massachusetts would raise the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 20 by 2028. Massachusetts first raised its age of juvenile jurisdiction in 2013, moving 17-year-olds out of the adult court system.

The bill is still in committee, and the legislature has until July 31 to pass the measure, according to its sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Brendan Crighton.

“To make a decision that then impacts the rest of their life — their ability to graduate high school, to get a job, start a family, buy a home — all these things that are pretty important milestones in everyone’s lives are greatly delayed and sometimes never picked back up again because they get stuck in a system,” Crighton said.

The North Carolina bill would modify the state’s definition of a delinquent juvenile to exclude 16- and 17-year-olds who commit Class A-E felonies, which include serious offenses such as armed robbery and homicide, meaning they’d be treated as adults in Superior Court. The bill passed the Senate and remains under consideration in the House.

Some critics of the proposed changes said they would roll back the state’s “Raise the Age” law, which was enacted in 2017 and implemented in 2019.

The bill also would change the frequency of secure custody hearings. Instead of every 10 days, as currently required by law, these hearings, which determine whether continued detention is necessary, would be held every 30 days.

North Carolina state Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed, a Democrat who voted for the measure, said he nonetheless worried about “trauma associated with incarceration.” Ultimately, legislators amended the bill to allow any party — including the juvenile’s attorney, the judge or the court counselor — to request an additional hearing. Prosecutors and the juvenile’s attorney also could agree to send the case back to juvenile court if necessary.

“What we tried to do is just make it more of a streamlined process,” Mohammed said.

This article originally appeared in Stateline on May 31st, 2024

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Gaza: World court orders Israel to halt military operations in Rafah

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday issued new provisional measures that order Israel to immediately end military operations in Rafah in southern Gaza and to open the governate’s border crossing for urgent aid deliveries.

This follows a request from South Africa in a pending case accusing Israel of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

Reading the new provisional measures in an open session at the court in The Hague, ICJ Justice Nawaf Salam announced that Israel must abide by its obligations under the Genocide Convention to “immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah governate which may inflict upon the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that would bring about its physical destruction in whole and in part”.

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The court issued that decision by 13 votes in favour to two against.

The new provisional measures came in response to South Africa’s request made on 10 May related to its initial accusations in December that Israel is violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention during the war in Gaza, which broke out after Hamas-led attacks on Israel in October that killed more than 1,200 people and left another 250 taken hostage. 

Israel’s military response has, to date, killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians and caused widespread destruction and a looming famine in the besieged and bombarded enclave.

Court orders opening of Rafah border crossing

Given the worsening conditions on the ground since Israel’s incursion into Rafah on 7 May, the court decided, also by votes of 13 in favour to two against, the new provisional measures shall require Israel to open the Rafah crossing for the unhindered delivery of urgent humanitarian aid and ensure unimpeded access for fact-finding missions to investigate allegations of genocide.

The Rafah border crossing, which has been the main entry point for aid to the enclave, has been closed since 7 May.

“The court is not convinced that evacuation efforts and related measures that Israel has affirmed to have undertaken to enhance the security of civilians in the Gaza Strip, and in particular those recently displaced from the Rafah governate, are sufficient to alleviate immense risks to which the Palestinian population is exposed as a result of the military offensive in Rafah,” Mr. Salam said.

In addition, the ICJ ordered Israel to submit a report within one month on steps taken to implement these provisional measures.

Deteriorating conditions

Mr. Salam said the ICJ had noted that the situation in Gaza has deteriorated since it last issued provisional measures in March, adding that since Israel’s incursion into Rafah, the Najjar Hospital was no longer functioning and aid efforts have been impacted.

The court also noted that Israel’s evacuation orders for Rafah residents had led more than 800,000 people to flee to places like the coastal area of Al Mawasi, which lacked the basic essentials and services to accommodate them.

Since taking up South Africa’s case in January, the ICJ had already issued provisional measures in January and March by which Israel must, among other things, take all steps to ensure sufficient humanitarian aid enters Gaza.

However, UN agencies are reporting that scant aid is currently entering Gaza.

Court reiterates call to release hostages

On Friday, Mr. Salam recalled that in the two previous orders for provisional measures “the court expressed its grave concern over the fate of the hostages abducted during the attack in Israel on 7 October 2023 and held since then by Hamas and other armed groups, and called for their immediate and unconditional release.”

He said “the court finds it deeply troubling that many of these hostages remain in captivity and reiterates its call for their immediate and unconditional release.”

The people of Gaza continue to be forcibly displaced since the military offensive on Rafah started in early May.
The people of Gaza continue to be forcibly displaced since the military offensive on Rafah started in early May.

What’s the difference between the ICJ and the ICC?

There is frequent confusion between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Both courts have open cases against Israel related to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The simplest way to explain the difference is that ICJ cases involve countries, and the ICC is a criminal court, which brings cases against individuals for war crimes or crimes against humanity. While the ICJ is an organ of the United Nations, the ICC is legally independent of the UN, although it is endorsed by the General Assembly.

The ICJ is currently considering South Africa’s accusations that Israel is violating the Genocide Convention.

On Monday, the ICC sought arrest warrants related to possible war crimes against three Hamas leaders and Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. The request for the warrants are now being considered by the court’s judges.

Read more about the courts in our explainers on the ICJ and the ICC.

Watch Friday’s announcement at the ICJ in The Hague below: