‘Enough Is Enough’: South Africa Urges ICJ to Halt Israeli Assault on Rafah

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Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

South African legal adviser Cornelius Scholtz (L) and South African Ambassador to the Netherlands Vusi Madonsela attend a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israel’s incursion in Rafah, Gaza, in The Hague on May 16, 2024. (Photo: Lina Selg/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel’s assault on Rafah provides “evidence of the crime of genocide,” one legal expert said. “This attack is the final blow that is intended to destroy the Palestinian group in Gaza.”

South African officials on Thursday made their case before the International Court of Justice to stop Israel’s brutal invasion of Rafah, warning once again that Israeli officials have displayed clear “genocidal intent” and “genocidal conduct” in their military campaign in Gaza.

The case for the ICJ to stop the attack on Rafah was made by a number of lawyers, legal experts, and ambassadors, with the South African representatives outlining the bare facts of Israel’s military campaign, blocking of humanitarian aid, and statements of intent, just as they did when the court heard South Africa’s original claim that Israel is committing genocide.

That case, argued in January, resulted in a preliminary ruling in which the court said South Africa had made a “plausible” case and ordered Israel to prevent genocidal acts by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

On Thursday, South Africa urged the ICJ to see that Israel has not followed that order.

“It is difficult to imagine that the situation could get worse” than it was in January, international law professor John Dugard told the court. “But unfortunately, it has… Israel has now commenced its long-threatened assault on Rafah. It has ordered the evacuation of Palestinians in Rafah to the barren sand dunes of Al-Mawasi. It has closed critical border crossings to humanitarian aid, medical supplies, goods, and fuel, upon which the population depends.”

“Israel’s actions are in violation of fundamental international humanitarian law, but in addition, they provide evidence of the crime of genocide,” Dugard continued. “This attack is the final blow that is intended to destroy the Palestinian group in Gaza.”

Watch the livestream of the ICJ hearing below:

The South Africans made their case as the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said Thursday that an estimated 600,000 people have now been forcibly displaced from Rafah by Israel.

Despite tepid warnings from the U.S.—the biggest international funder of the IDF—for Israel to avoid attacking “population centers,” the IDF this week has moved into dense residential neighborhoods in central Rafah.

The U.S. has also called for Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, but the IDF’s seizure of the Rafah crossing between the enclave and Egypt last week led the World Food Program (WFP) on Thursday to warn that food and fuel rations “will run out in a matter of days.” Dozens of Palestinians have been starved to death so far by Israel’s blocking of relief shipments.

“The threat of famine in Gaza never loomed larger,” said the WFP as South Africa made its case in The Hague.

Three months after giving a 22-minute speech detailing the numerous statements of genocidal intent made by top Israeli officials since the Gaza assault began in October, South African lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi during Thursday’s hearing, used the more recent words of Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who publicly described the aim of the Rafah invasion as “total annihilation.”

In his presentation before the court, Ngcukaitobi invoked Smotrich’s language by arguing that the Rafah incursion “is the last stage of ‘total annihilation’ of Palestinian life.”

“For Palestinians to be able to continue to exist as a protected group under the Genocide Convention, they need a place from which to rebuild,” he continued. “Rafah is that place, the last stand… Without Rafah, the possibility to rebuild will be lost forever.”

In her speech, Irish lawyer Blinne Ni Ghralaigh outlined other developments in Gaza since the ICJ issued its preliminary ruling that illustrate the need for the court’s “invaluable intervention.”

Ni Ghralaigh detailed the destruction of hospitals like Al-Shifa, where mass graves have been found with the remains of women, children, and medical workers, and warned that “the same fate now awaits Rafah’s remaining hospitals, doctors, and medics.”

She also pointed to evidence that the IDF is treating evacuated areas as “extermination zones,” where soldiers are ordered to kill any remaining people, and its use of an error-prone AI system to target Palestinians.

The South African legal team said the court must order Israel “to immediately take all effective measures to ensure the access of persons able to investigate ongoing atrocities,” and called on the ICJ to “at least modify its provisional measures” from March, when it demanded that Israel allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

“The court has the power to modify or make an explicit order for Israel to cease its military operations in Rafah, Gaza, and to withdraw from the Gaza Strip,” said Ni Ghralaigh, pointing out that the provisional measure from March could only take full effect if a cease-fire agreement was reached.

“No such resolution is in place. The court must itself, therefore, create the circumstances necessary for its provisional measures to take full effect. It must order Israel to cease its military operations system finally,” she said. “Enough is enough.”

Israel is expected to address the ICJ at a second day of hearings on Friday.

Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue Reading‘Enough Is Enough’: South Africa Urges ICJ to Halt Israeli Assault on Rafah

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‘Most Thorough Legal Analysis’ Yet Concludes Israel Committing Genocide in Gaza

World Leaders Blasted Over ‘Grave’ Violations of International Law by Israel

It’s important that news on Gaza is heard – BBC has drastically cut back on it’s coverage over the last few days in UK and it is genocidal. My webhost is coming from Frankfurt so wondering whether it’s the German government extending it’s Fascism for Israel to censorship.

Resolved now. I’m posting anyway.

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World Leaders Blasted Over ‘Grave’ Violations of International Law by Israel

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Original article by JON QUEALLY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Palestinian who fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip ride with their belongings in the back of a truck, as they arrive to take shelter in Deir el-Balah in the central part of the Palestinian territory on May 12, 2024.  (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

“The first step for Third States in upholding their own legal obligations to ensure [international humanitarian law] is respected is to stop the Rafah invasion, open all land crossings and lift internal barriers for humanitarian access,” said an international coalition.

While ordinary citizens from across the globe have expressed their condemnation of the ongoing carnage and suffering in Gaza, a coalition of 20 international human rights groups on Wednesday excoriated world leaders for standing idly by as Israel carries out “a grave violation of international humanitarian law” with its military assault on Rafah.

With the United Nations agencies reporting that as many as 450,000 people have already attempted to flee the encircled southern city where more than 1.4 million had sought refuge, a joint statement by the groups—including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Médecins du Monde International Network, and Mercy Corps—rebuked Israel’s evacuation orders as “unlawful” and chided third-party countries for violating their own obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) by refusing to intervene.

“Third States have the responsibility to urgently act in bringing to an end, and pursue accountability for, the Grave Breaches of IHL taking place in Gaza,” said the groups. “The first step for Third States in upholding their own legal obligations to ensure IHL is respected is to stop the Rafah invasion, open all land crossings and lift internal barriers for humanitarian access.”

According to the statement, Israel’s ongoing violations are clear and obvious:

The Israeli military’s “evacuation orders” are unlawful and amount to forcible transfer, a grave violation of international humanitarian law (IHL). Israel has ordered hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee, without providing civilians and humanitarian actors clear information nor timeframe. IHL sets clear conditions for an evacuation to be lawful: the occupying power must ensure that these displacements are temporary and that displaced persons are provided with satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and members of the same family must not be separated. Israeli authorities have failed to meet any of these requirements.

With Wednesday marking the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, when Palestinians were forced to leave their homes en masse following the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, a new wave of forced displacement is now upon the people of Gaza only served to heighten the harsh reality for those with nowhere safe to go.

Ilan Pappe, a scholar of Palestinian history at the University of Exeter, explained to Al-Jazeera that while some comparisons with the original Nakba make sense, what is happening now to the people of Gaza is “even worse” in many ways.

“What we see now are massacres which are part of the genocidal impulse, namely to kill people in order to downsize the number of people living in Gaza,” Pappe said. On Tuesday, a group of ultra-nationalist Israelis, including members of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet, marched in the city of Sderot near the Gaza border as they called for resettlement of the enclave.

“Ethnic cleansing is a terrible crime against humanity but genocide is even worse,” said Pappe. “So I think we are seeing a transition from using ethnic cleansing as the main method of taking as much of Palestine as possible, with as few Palestinians in it as possible—we are moving into a far more lethal method, that of genocide.”

According to the joint declaration by rights groups on Wednesday, Israel’s military assault in Rafah is “disrupting the humanitarian response” of relief organizations and the United Nations, amounting to a “breach of the U.N. Security Council resolutions 2720 and 2728 as well as the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures ordering Israel to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

In remarks Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Israel’s escalating military operations and evacuation orders in Rafah “are further impeding humanitarian access and worsening an already dire situation.”

“For people in Gaza,” said Guterres, “nowhere is safe now.”

Despite the concerns from U.N. agencies and international relief groups, the U.S. government under President Joe Biden on Tuesday said it was preparing a $1 billion weapons shipment for Israel to bolster its military capabilities.

Because of such military support, the human rights coalition argued in its Wednesday declaration that the U.S. “bears a significant responsibility” for Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law. “In addition to halting the transfer of high payload bombs, the U.S. should also use all its leverage to halt the ongoing military operation in Rafah,” the groups said.

Those in the human rights coalition said it is the Palestinian people paying the price for the failure of world leaders to meet their obligations to put a stop to the forced displacement of civilians in Gaza.

“We have been warning for months that Israel must be stopped from entering Rafah or Gaza would face an even greater humanitarian catastrophe” than it already has, said Florence Rigal, president of Médecins du Monde France. “The inaction of third countries is seen as a lack of concern for the consequences for the exhausted civilian population. It is unacceptable and immediate action must be taken to prevent further suffering.”

Original article by JON QUEALLY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingWorld Leaders Blasted Over ‘Grave’ Violations of International Law by Israel

‘Most Thorough Legal Analysis’ Yet Concludes Israel Committing Genocide in Gaza

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Original article by JESSICA CORBETT republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

A Palestinian boy observes the site of an Israeli strike on a school sheltering displaced people in the central Gaza Strip on May 14, 2024.
 (Photo” Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The University Network for Human Rights report also stresses that other nations are legally obligated to “refrain from recognizing Israel’s breaches as legal or taking any actions that may amount to complicity.”

The University Network for Human Rights on Wednesday released and sent to United Nations offices a 105-page report that it called “the most thorough legal analysis” yet to find “Israel is committing genocide” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The network partnered with the International Human Rights Clinic at Boston University School of Law, the International Human Rights Clinic at Cornell Law School, the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, and the Lowenstein Human Rights Project at Yale Law School for the analysis, which draws from “a diverse range of credible sources” and the territory’s history.

“After reviewing the facts established by independent human rights monitors, journalists, and United Nations agencies, we conclude that Israel’s actions in and regarding Gaza since October 7, 2023, violate the Genocide Convention,” the report states. “Israel has committed genocidal acts of killing, causing serious harm to, and inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians in Gaza, a protected group that forms a substantial part of the Palestinian people.”

As of May 1, Israel’s assault had killed “more than 5% of Gaza’s population, with over 2% of Gaza’s children killed or injured,” the analysis notes. In recent days, Israeli forces have ramped up their attack on Rafah—where over a million people from other parts of the besieged enclave sought refuge—and the total death toll has risen to 35,233, according to Gaza health officials, with another 79,141 Palestinians injured.

“Israel’s military operation has destroyed up to 70% of homes in Gaza, and has decimated civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, universities, U.N. facilities, and cultural and religious heritage sites,” the document says, noting the “staggering” number of forced displacements. “Civilians in Gaza face catastrophic levels of hunger and deprivation due to Israel’s restriction on, and failure to ensure adequate access to, basic essentials of life, including food, water, medicine, and fuel.”

“Israel’s genocidal acts in Gaza have been motivated by the requisite genocidal intent, as evidenced in this report by the statements of Israeli leaders, the character of the state and its military forces’ conduct against and relating to Palestinians in Gaza, and the direct nexus between them,” the publication continues, pointing to comments from “officials at all levels of Israeli government, up to and including” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel has faced mounting allegations of genocide since launching its retaliation for the Hamas-led October 7 attack—including an ongoing South Africa-led case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which found in January that the country is “plausibly” committing genocide.

Bolstering the ICJ’s conclusion, the Wednesday report declares that “Israel’s violations of the international legal prohibition of genocide amount to grave breaches of peremptory norms of international law that must cease immediately.”

“These violations give rise to obligations by all other states: to refrain from recognizing Israel’s breaches as legal or taking any actions that may amount to complicity in these breaches; and to take positive steps to suppress, prevent, and punish the commission by Israel of further genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” the document adds.

The United States has long provided Israel with billions of dollars in military aid and diplomatic support—which have soared since October 7, despite growing pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden to cut off such assistance. The Democrat has incrementally increased his criticism of the Israeli assault in recent weeks, angering far-right leaders in both countries.

The new legal analysis—which was sent to the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel—came on the same day that 20 human rights groups issued a joint statement.

The rights organizations—including Amnesty International, Mercy Corps, and Oxfam—called on world leaders “to urgently act in bringing to an end, and pursue accountability for,” Israel’s grave breaches of international humanitarian law in Gaza.

Both documents were released on Nakba Day, which commemorates the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Some experts and campaigners contend that the Nakba—Arabic for catastrophe—continues today.

Original article by JESSICA CORBETT republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue Reading‘Most Thorough Legal Analysis’ Yet Concludes Israel Committing Genocide in Gaza

Biden Moves Forward With ‘Immoral’ $1 Billion Arms Shipment to Israel

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Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium at the White House on February 16, 2023 in Washington, DC.
 (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The new shipment was announced “right after the State Department admits Israel has ‘likely’ used U.S.-supplied weapons in violation of humanitarian law,” said one journalist.

Less than a week after U.S. President Joe Biden said he was pausing a shipment of thousands of bombs to Israel, citing concerns over the safety of civilians in Rafah and other “population centers” in Gaza, the White House informed Congress Tuesday that it will soon send over $1 billion more in arms and ammunition to the Israel Defense Forces.

The package includes about $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds, congressional aides told TheAssociated Press.

Despite the Biden administration’s repeated claims that it believes U.S. bombs should not “be dropped in densely populated cities,” Intercept reporter Prem Thakker pointed out that the arms shipment was announced days after the State Department admitted in a report that it was “reasonable” to conclude Israel has used U.S. weapons to violate international humanitarian law in its relentless bombing of Gaza.

It was unclear whether the $1 billion shipment was part of an existing arms sale or a new transaction with Israel. The weapons are not among those included in the $17 billion in military aid for the IDF included in a foreign aid package passed last month.

At Al Jazeera, Shihab Rattansi reported that the weapons shipment is “being presented as the long-term U.S. commitment to supplying Israel with weaponry” and “has been under consideration since mid-spring,” with some of the weapons potentially not reaching the IDF for months or even up to three years.

But foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal suggested that regardless of whether the weapons are used in Rafah, where Israel is currently expanding its assault, the shipment goes “against U.S. national security interest and global standing” and will aid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “on his lawless path of colonization.”

The shipment was announced ahead of a statement released by Amnesty International and other humanitarian groups condemning international governments—including that of the U.S.—for standing by as Israel has killed at least 35,173 Palestinians in Gaza since October while also blocking nearly all humanitarian aid, pushing part of the enclave into famine that is expected to spread.

The U.S. and other suppliers of weapons to Israel must respect last month’s United Nations Human Rights Council resolution demanding an end to weapons sales to the IDF, said the groups.

“As the main weapon provider for Israel’s military effort, the United States bears a significant responsibility for Israel’s international humanitarian law violations. In addition to halting the transfer of high payload bombs, the U.S. should also use all its leverage to halt the ongoing military operation in Rafah,” said the organizations, including Relief International and Oxfam. “All states must act now to ensure an immediate and sustained cease-fire.”

Amnesty released an analysis late last month showing that U.S. bombs were used in attacks on Gaza that likely fit the definition of war crimes.

Al Jazeera‘s Tareq Abu Azzoum reported Wednesday from Deir el-Balah, Gaza that Israel has intensified its attacks on Rafah as well as in cities in northern Gaza.

“Over the past couple of hours, we have recorded more victims in central areas of Gaza City,” reported Abu Azzoum. “Ten Palestinians have been killed in the city’s Sabra neighborhood after a U.N.-run clinic was targeted by Israeli jets.”

The IDF said Tuesday that it had hit more than 100 targets across the Gaza Strip in a 24-hour period and was continuing to carry out attacks in Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced since October.

Nearly 450,000 people have now been forced to flee the southern city once again, and Al Jazeerareported Tuesday that at least one family that escaped Israel’s Rafah incursion was killed days later in an attack on a refugee camp.

Moving forward with another weapons shipment to Israel, said U.S. economic justice group Debt Collective, was “murderous” and “immoral.”

Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue ReadingBiden Moves Forward With ‘Immoral’ $1 Billion Arms Shipment to Israel