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U.N.'s top court considering legality of Israel's occupation of West Bank

U.N.'s top court considering legality of Israel's occupation of West Bank
U.N.'s top court considering legality of Israel's occupation of West Bank 02:44

THE HAGUE -- The International Court of Justice is weighing whether Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem has led to systemic racial discrimination and apartheid, and while its ruling isn't legally binding, experts say it will send a message across the globe.

At The Hague on Monday morning, Palestinian representatives pleaded with the court.

"The only solution consistent with international law is for this illegal occupation to come to an immediate, unconditional and total end," spokesman Riyad Al-Maliki said.

A panel of 15 international judges is weighing the legality of Israel's 57-year occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state.

Palestinians argue that Israel's occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem violates international law.

"The genocide underway in Gaza is the result of decades of impunity and inaction. Ending Israel's impunity is a moral, political and legal imperative," spokesman Riyad Mansour said.

The hearings come amid Israel's ongoing invasion of Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that left more than 1,200 people dead, according to Israel's Foreign Ministry.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry says roughly 29,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed in the aftermath.

Just Monday, the U.N. released a document, citing what it calls "credible allegations" of Israeli soldiers abusing and mistreating women in Gaza, including reports of sexual assault and physical abuse.

READ MOREU.N. slams Israel for deadly strike on Gaza shelter as war with Hamas leaves hospitals under siege

Outside The Hague, signs and voices aligned with a united message: "End the occupation."

"We need, first of all, a ceasefire to just stop further killing, further atrocities, and then clear steps towards justice and an end to the occupation," demonstrator Karlo Welch said.

"Even though the opinion won't be binding, it's going to weigh heavily when it comes to jurisdiction and also morally," human rights activist Carolien Nieuweboer added.

Israeli representatives are not expected to speak at the hearings, but may submit a written response.

Despite growing criticism from world leaders over Palestinian civilian casualties, Israel maintains it will continue its offensive until Hamas is completely destroyed.

In all, 51 countries are expected to attend the six-day hearings.

An opinion from the judges could take months.

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