It May be Genocide, But It Won’t be Stopped

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by Chris Hedges, The Unz Review:

The ruling by the International Court of Justice was a legal victory for South Africa and the Palestinians, but it will not halt the slaughter.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) refused to implement the most crucial demand made by South African jurists: “the State of Israel shall immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.” But at the same time, it delivered a devastating blow to the foundational myth of Israel. Israel, which paints itself as eternally persecuted, has been credibly accused of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Palestinians are the victims, not the perpetrators, of the “crime of crimes.” A people, once in need of protection from genocide, are now potentially committing it. The court’s ruling questions the very raison d’être of the “Jewish State” and challenges the impunity Israel has enjoyed since its founding 75 years ago.

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The ICJ ordered Israel to take six provisional measures to prevent acts of genocide, measures that will be very difficult if not impossible to fulfill if Israel continues its saturation bombing of Gaza and wholesale targeting of vital infrastructure.

The court called on Israel “to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” It demanded Israel “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.” It ordered Israel to protect Palestinian civilians. It called on Israel to protect the some 50,000 women giving birth in Gaza. It ordered Israel to take “effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article II and Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide against members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.”

The court ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent the crimes which amount to genocide such as “killing, causing serious bodily and mental harm, inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”

Israel was ordered to report back in one month to explain what it had done to implement the provisional measures.

Gaza was pounded with bombs, missiles and artillery shells as the ruling was read in The Hague — at least 183 Palestinians have been killed in the last 24 hours. Since Oct. 7, more than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed. Almost 65,000 have been wounded, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Thousands more are missing. The carnage continues. This is the cold reality.

Translated into the vernacular, the court is saying Israel must feed and provide medical care for the victims, cease public statements advocating genocide, preserve evidence of genocide and stop killing Palestinian civilians. Come back and report in a month.

It is hard to see how these provisional measures can be achieved if the carnage in Gaza continues.

“Without a ceasefire, the order doesn’t actually work,” Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations, stated bluntly after the ruling.

Time is not on the side of the Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinians will die within a month. Palestinians in Gaza make up 80 percent of all the people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide, according to the United Nations. The entire population of Gaza by early February is projected to lack sufficient food, with half a million people suffering from starvation, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, drawing on data from U.N. agencies and NGOs. The famine is engineered by Israel.

At best, the court — while it will not rule for a few years on whether Israel is committing genocide — has given legal license to use the word “genocide” to describe what Israel is doing in Gaza. This is very significant, but it is not enough, given the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Israel has dropped almost 30,000 bombs and shells on Gaza — eight times more bombs than the U.S. dropped on Iraq during six years of war. It has used hundreds of 2,000-pound bombs to obliterate densely populated areas, including refugee camps. These “bunker buster” bombs have a kill radius of a thousand feet. The Israeli aerial assault is unlike anything seen since Vietnam. Gaza, only 20 miles long and five miles wide, is rapidly becoming, by design, uninhabitable.

Israel will no doubt continue its assault arguing that it is not in violation of the court’s directives. In addition, the Biden administration will undoubtedly veto the resolution at the Security Council demanding Israel implement the provisional measures. The General Assembly, if the Security Council does not endorse the measures, can vote again calling for a ceasefire, but has no power to enforce it.

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