This week the International Court of Justice in the Hague, established by the UN, will hear a case brought by South Africa, accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention through its war on Gaza. Genocide means actions intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of a particular national, racial, or ethnical group. All states are required to prevent genocide. Both South Africa and Israel have signed the Convention, adopted at the end of World War 2 in response to the Holocaust. Israel has already killed over 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza.
In late December, South Africa sent the Court an 84 page document detailing acts of genocide and incitement to genocide. A full hearing could take years. But South Africa also asked the court to instruct Israel to stop military activity in Gaza immediately. On Thursday and Friday, the court will consider this, and they could decide quickly.
South Africa highlighted hundreds of Israeli genocidal acts. In Gaza City at least 11 male members of the Annan extended family were separated out and shot in front of their family – before the women and children were attacked. Unarmed people – including Israeli hostages – were shot dead on sight, despite posing no threat, even while waving white flags. Hundreds of multigenerational Palestinian families were wiped out, with no survivors.The UN organisation in Gaza is called UNRWA. More than 130 UNRWA staff were killed in bombardments, most with their families. The head of UNRWA told the UN “In my 35 years working in complex emergencies, I have never written such a letter – predicting the killing of my staff and the collapse of the mandate I am expected to fulfil.”
Israel has killed over 311 doctors, nurses and other health workers, including doctors and ambulance drivers while on duty. Before he was killed in a hospital strike, Dr Mahmoud Abu Nujaila wrote on a Gaza hospital whiteboard, “We did what we could. Remember us.”
Only 13 out of 36 hospitals and 18 out of 72 healthcare centres are still functioning. Shortage of medicines has meant amputations without anaesthesia, often by flashlight.
Over 7,729 children were killed by 11 December. Two mothers are killed every hour in Gaza. Pregnant women are being killed, even while trying to access healthcare. Those that reach hospital may undergo caesarean sections without anaesthetic. Newborn babies have died due to the lack of fuel to supply hospital generators.
Genocide is more than war crimes. It involves the intent to destroy part of a population. Prominent Israelis have incited genocide through public statements. Prime Minister Netanyahu invoked the Biblical story of the total destruction of Amalek by the Israelites, killing all the men, women, children and infants. President Herzog said there is no distnction between militants and civilians, as “It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible.” When Israel imposed a complete siege on Gaza, Defense Minister Gallant declared “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.” He told troops he had “released all the restraints”. His advisor declared “The people should be told that they have two choices; to stay and to starve, or to leave severe epidemics in the south of the Gaza Strip will bring victory closer.” The Deputy Speaker of the Knesset tweeted “we all have one common goal – erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth”. The rhetoric has continued unchecked throughout the war.
South Africa calls
South Africa asks the Court to recognise that at least some of these acts could break the Genocide Convention, and to take immediate protective action before a full hearing. The Court did this during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the genocide of the Rohinga people in Myanmar. South Africa calls on the Court to adopt 9 measures, starting with:
Israel shall immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza, and ensure that any military or irregular armed units or persons under its control take no steps in furtherance of the military operations.
Why does it matter?
We don’t know what the Court will do, or whether Israel would obey any of its rulings. But they will turn up for the hearing. Whatever happens, South Africa has brought Israel’s genocidal acts and incitements into full public view. This strengthens the argument for an immediate ceasefire, and may inspire solidarity actions.
We can welcome this with the global twitter storm on Thursday and Friday for 2 hours starting 8am UK time, using the hashtag #EndIsraelsGenocide.
South Africa also accuses Israel of complicity with genocide, a charge which could be levelled at the UK. Britain helped the US stop the UN Security Council calling for a full ceasefire in early December, which allowed the genocidal rampage to continue. The UK arms Israel and supplies military intelligence and surveillance. UK politicians gave Israel a green light for the bombardment, invasion, and collective punishment of Gaza. The problems are not somewhere else. They’re right here, at home.
Source >> Labournet
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