A Devastating Indictment of Israel’s War on Gaza

“Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”
– Nelson Mandela, 1997

Back in October, over eight hundred scholars of international law and genocide studies issued a public statement raising the prospect of an unfolding genocide in Gaza. I was ridiculed at the time for calling it just that. But now the moves to ‘know’ and have recorded what is going on has moved from the academic to the legal.

Today South Africa has told the International Court of Justice in the Hague that Israel’s actions “are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group,” and that it’s “killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction”.

South African lawyer Adila Hassim presents the opening argument to the #ICJ, outlining the four genocidal acts committed by Israel:

There are some critics or cynics who say that this doesn’t matter, that this is a performance and nothing will come of it. “Nothing is really to come out of this exercise. Like Russia ignored its rulings in 2022, Israel will just cold shoulder it” one such said.

It’s true that the Western countries will continue to back Israel, but it really does matter. As the genocide researcher Arnesa Buljušmić-Kustura has put it: “It’s a matter of historical record. It’s the first time there’s ever been an attempt to hold Israel at all accountable for its decades and decades of crimes against humanity. The fact that the entirety of the South African case is clearly laid out within historical context. The fact they mentioned the Nakba. The fact its case is so well-thought out, detailed, and clearly historically contextualised matters. It’s just the first step towards justice.”

The point that is being made is that even though, in the terrible words of the Irish lawyer Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh we are Livestreaming Genocide“, this still has to be ‘known’ and still has to be ‘proven’. Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh (who was inspired to become a lawyer after learning about Majella O’Hare, a 12 year old child from Armagh who was shot in the back and killed by a British soldier in 1976) laid out the scale of the violence:

One of the things that needs to be established – as well as the sheer scale of the violence – is the historical context. As is repeatedly countered – this did not start in October 2023 – and starting the analysis at that moment is an act of displacement and distortion. As Avi Shlaim author of “The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World” writes (All That Remains): “On 7th January 2009, while Operation Cast Lead was in full swing, I wrote an article in the Guardian. “How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe”. This was Israel’s first major assault on the Gaza Strip after its unilateral withdrawal in 2005. Further major military offensives followed in 2012, 2014, 2021 and 2022, not counting minor flare-ups and nearly 200 dead during the border protests in 2018 known as the March of Return. By my count, the current war is the sixth serious Israeli assault on Gaza since, and by far the most lethal and destructive. And it also raises the ominous spectre of a second Palestinian Nakba.”

A picture of a Palestinian girl from Gaza looks at the destruction of her home and neighborhood during the last Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in May 2021.

Does the ICJ case matter?

Noura Erakat and John Reynolds have pointed out that the court has also issued rulings against imperial western powers in the past, from condemning the counterrevolutionary US intervention in Nicaragua during the 1980s to rebuking Britain’s continued colonial rule in the Chagos Islands today as unlawful. They have argued that:

“Although the ICJ has no coercive authority of its own to compel states to comply with its decisions, its judgments can nonetheless be a powerful resource for states and activists alike to use tactically in their political agitation and education.”

They also point out – and this has been repeated by many others that the usual difficulty with proving ‘genocide’ is the high bar of intent. To prove genocide you must have proof of intent and verifiable statements from senior figures with agency and command control authority eg senior military and political figures.

Erakat and Reynolds write:

“The thirty pages of South Africa’s eighty-four-page submission that set out these genocidal acts make for a devastating read. They are followed by a further eight chilling pages of quotes and statements of genocidal intent by Israeli state representatives that “indicate in and of themselves a clear intent to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as a group.” South Africa also asserts that genocidal intent is “to be inferred from the nature and conduct of Israel’s military operation in Gaza.”

“The intent to destroy a group is often seen as the most difficult element of genocide to prove and is often the distinction between a brutal war and a campaign of genocide. South Africa’s submission shows how the genocidal rhetoric that has accompanied Israel’s campaign in Gaza has been overt and omnipresent from the outset. The running database of Israeli statements of genocidal intent and incitement compiled by the legal group Law for Palestine has now passed five hundred entries.”

What will the Israeli defence be? Probably to smear the South African’s as antisemites (this has started already) and to frame the lawyers as being in defence of Hamas. They will attempt to deny intentionality and repeat the stock phrases about ‘safe zones’. But the world is watching and South Africa’s actions are an antidote to the feeling of helplessness in the face of such atrocity. Baring witness is important and there is an irony that South Africa, whose own apartheid system was brought to world attention should be the protagonist in evidence that should accelerate the international boycott movement.

Comments (69)

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  1. SteveH says:

    How many of you were indignant, and protested at the vile barbaric behaviour of Hamas who raped, mutilated, murdered and kidnapped innocent people. The carried it out with glee and pride.

    Of you woman out there imagine you were the young Israeli woman who was raped, had her breasts cut off which brave Palestinian Hamas terrorists then threw like a plaything between them. The rapist then shot her in the head before withdrawing his “manhood”. They used rape and murder of woman as a weapon of war.

    The Palestinian people voted in an supported this bunch of Iranian backed animals. They are now counting the cost.

    The Israelis were traumatised as a people by the events of that day. What do you expect them to do?

    There are crowds on the streetsin London, Glasgow etc., protesting against them, some openly antisemitic. These same people didn’t give a damn when Iranian backed Houthis caused the death of 100’000’s of Yemenis. Hypocrisy and simple Jew hating!

    1. Drew Anderson says:

      “…The Palestinian people voted in an [sic] supported this bunch of Iranian backed animals. They are now counting the cost…”

      If you’re referring to Gaza; yes, albeit 18 years ago; the Palestinians in the West Bank aren’t part of that particular equation though, are they?

      Not a great indictment of the situation, but the fact is that ½, or more, of Gaza’s population are too young to have voted for Hamas; doesn’t stop them getting blown to bits, or have what’s left of their lives compromised by missing vital parts; you know, mundane stuff like a full compliment of limbs, two functioning eyes or ears (if they’re lucky).

      The Palestinians have been traumatised “as a people” since 1947; something that seems to have passed you by, or you’re determined to miss?

      Disclosure: I’m an atheist, have been for a considerable time, over 50 of my 60 yeas. Blame liberal parenting, no religion in the household. They were massively aspirational, on my and my brother’s behalf; they sweated blood to get the pair of us into FE; no doubt you’ll have e problem with that (given past comments).

      Anyhu, the point is that I (and I’m fairly certain my co-irreligionists) don’t give a flying fornication about whose flavour of Abrahamic religion is worth dying, or killing, for; we’d prefer they took themselves off to somewhere beyond our orbit for a quiet word amongst themselves.

    2. John says:

      Two wrongs do not make a right.
      At the moment about 14,000 (& counting) innocent women & children have died in Gaza whereas 1400 innocent Israeli’s died on 7th October.
      In this case 10 wrongs don’t make a right unless you think some people’s lives are worth more than others.
      All human life counts- even you Stevie H!

      1. SteveH says:

        Yes. Abrahamic religion is trouble. But then today’s critical social justice and identity ideology is itself little more than a belief system or religion..

        Yes. All life does count. But, the fact remains we live in a very dangerous world, getting more dangerous all the time.

        My own father spoke Arabic, and his life was actually saved in a Palestinian hospital. That was a different time, a different world.. I am not without sympathy for the people there.

        However, supporting the actions of Iranian sponsored Hamas doesn’t help. They are prepared to fight to the last palestinian civilian life.

        The situation there affects also.

        Its only because we’ve been well equipped, prepared and resolute that we haven’t seen devastating war being visited upon us in these Islands in nearly 80 years.

        I get tired of the luxury beliefs of those like the SNP , Greens etc., who want to get the UK to take its nuclear deterrent from Scottish soil. The joke is that an independent Scotland would still rely on UK nukes – or American or French nukes. Also a indy Scotland would still want to build warships for the UK. The hand wringing of the pacifist spouting of the left wing is either naiveté or dishonesty. Do you think an eradicated Israel would be the end of it? Iran’s ambitions would be boosted. War would come to Europe from that direction.

        1. John Wood says:

          SteveH, I’d just like to say that I disagree with you. On just about every point you make. Scotland’s future will safety and prosperity will be much better assured once we can free ourselves from colonialism and Empire, and send our nuclear weapons back to London. Let’s be like our other, non nuclear neighbours Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland who threaten no-one and whose foreign policy does not make them targets.

        2. John says:

          Steve H – let’s just look at facts of situation as opposed to your illogical prejudices.
          What Hamas did on 7th October was an international crime and horrific. Israeli people are entitled to justice for this crime but what we are seeing is revenge being inflicted on many innocent women, children & some men as a form of collective punishment.
          The action by Hamas, horrific as it was, does have a long historical context.
          The lack of calls for accountability for Israeli response primarily from US and blocking of UN resolutions appears to be the western nation’s application of double standards to Israel as opposed to other nations. This will have consequences for democratic nations being able to influence events in world as we already saw after invasion of Iraq.
          The longer the one sided war in Gaza goes on the more support Hamas will gain amongst Palestinians as will other militant movements sponsored by Itan in Middle East as Arab citizens see the double standard being applied.
          So rather than making the world more secure, and those of us in the west safer the excessive actions of Israel against Palestinian people and lack of condemnation of western democracies especially US will in longer term make peace for Israel less likely, destabilise Middle East, embolden support for terrorists and undemocratic leaders and thereby make the world and ourselves in Scotland and rest of UK less safe.

        3. SleepingDog says:

          @SteveH, what is a ‘luxury belief’? You mean, like patriotism? I guess a lot of these are mere baggage for a mercenary.

    3. Tom Ultuous says:

      “the young Israeli woman who was raped, had her breasts cut off which brave Palestinian Hamas terrorists then threw like a plaything between them. The rapist then shot her in the head before withdrawing his “manhood”. They used rape and murder of woman as a weapon of war.”

      What evidence do you have of this?
      According to Israel (designated a legitimate state by many in the west including the UK gov), the 1500 Hamas soldiers killed 1400 Israelis. I’ve read that 75% of the 1400 were IDF (again, I don’t know if that’s true) but the figures don’t back up this idea of Palestinians hacking their way through Israeli settlers Rwandan style. Either way, killing those 1500 Hamas operatives and bombing the sites that were sending rockets into Israel would have been a proportionate response. The rest is just genocide.

      1. Niemand says:

        The evidence was presented in actual video and documented form from witnesses, to journalists who then reported it. This was widely disseminated by trusted and reliable journalists. Of course you could claim it was all a hoax or a journo-conspiracy but for reasoning people, I don’t think there is any doubt that such atrocities were carried out. The idea that very obviously highly traumatised people would make up what they saw, or that videos were faked, or that journalists made up testimony, is untenable.

        I make no apologies for Israeli actions, condemn them in fact, but we need to deal in truths.

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Niemand, there were apparently other militias involved in, or tagging along during, what Wikipedia calls the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel:
          At this point, I doubt that witnesses and victims would definitively be able to identify which group committed which part of the attack or atrocity, and in some cases the IDF has already admitted causing several deaths by ‘friendly fire’, while many of the perpetrators (maybe even planners) appear to have been killed during the attack. It is a complex crime scene and no doubt will test investigators in various ways. In many ways Israel’s attacks on Gaza are better documented because those on the receiving end were prepared and international witnesses (and victims) were on the ground.

          Nevertheless, the actual Hamas planners would presumably face overall responsibility even for crimes committed by militias they invited, under joint enterprise liability.

          I hope that these stirring calls to end gender-based violence apply equally when British or Israeli troops face their accusers. The idea that the appropriate response is mass murder of women and children, and sexualised humiliation of Palestinians (which has been going on for a very long time in the Israeli prison-torture complex), is of course vile and depraved.

          Of course, the minionisation that produces all these corrupted, partisan and slavishly loyal henchpersons has roots in sexual abuse as well, the psychology of which is perhaps less appreciated by the public than by the hierarchical and violent institutions that condition these servants.

    4. BSA says:

      Angry posturing, accusing whataboutery, as usual.

  2. Daniel Raphael says:

    Your best-ever piece, judged my timeliness and urgency of its publication. As ever, there will be the auto-apologists for any & every atrocity & lie produced by the zionist monstrosity, but for the preponderance of humanity–and those who still possess the quality of humanity–today is historic. Now most urgent is to translate this case into action effectively ending the ongoing genocide against Palestinians.

  3. John Wood says:

    I am very happy that South Africa has brought this case. They are probably the only country who could do so.
    There is no possible justification for this genocide. The state of Israel is the most truly anti-semitic entity on Earth,

    1. SteveH says:

      What stands out is the hypocrisy. I’ve travelled to South Africa many times. I’ve been in SA when black migrants were murdered using burning “necklaces”. When white farmers have been systematically attacked and murdered. Then there’s Julius Malema and the EFF rallies with chants of killing white. Just are SA taking this action? Its distraction from the many issues that country has. All caused by corruption.

  4. 240112 says:

    Why on Earth would Hamas accept a ceasefire?

    1. John Wood says:

      Why indeed. Hamas is the elected government of Gaza. It is at least as entitled to defend itself and its territory as Israel. Hamas runs a civilian administration. It is a legitimate, civilian organisation, not a ‘terrorist group’. There is no conscription in Gaza, unlike in Israel where every citizen is militarised and could be regarded according to Israel’s own definition as a ‘legitimate’ target.

      This is why destroying Hamas means genocide. And the more innocent Palestinians Israel murders, the more it creates enemies and destroys itself.

      Also, a ‘ceasefire’ does not apparently extend to the cognitive warfare, the vicious lies and propaganda that Israel is so practised at. This too is becoming increasingly counterproductive.

      I cannot see how the racist, apartheid state of Israel can survive this.

      1. 240112 says:

        I don’t see what any of this has to do with anything. The bottom line is that, however loudly each side in the conflict claims the high moral ground, neither is interested in a ceasefire: Israel won’t cease until it has removed Hamas as a threat to its security; Hamas won’t cease until it has driven the Jews out of Palestine.

        1. John Wood says:

          I disagree. The Israelis cannot destroy Hamas – an entity they themselves created – without destroying every Palestinian because Hamas represents the struggle of the dispossessed.
          Hamas certainly want to see an end to settler colonialism but that does not mean they want to drive out all Jews. There are Jewish Palestinians too.

          1. Derek Williams says:

            There has not been an election in Gaza since 2006: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Palestinian_legislative_election so it is to say the least, debatable whether Hamas are legitimately representative of Gaza.

    2. John Learmonth says:

      That goes to the heart of the matter.
      Hamas would like to see every Jew in the region dead or expelled and once they’ve finished with the Jews who will they then come after?…….The Sunday people.
      It’s difficult to negotiate with people who love death more than life.

      1. 240113 says:

        “Hamas would like to see every Jew in the region dead or expelled…”

        Or, at least, the 700,000 Jewish settlers who illegally occupy land in the West Bank and are blocking the route to a two-state solution. In 2005, Israel succeeded in forceably dismantling the 21 illegal Jewish settlements that had sprung up in the Gaza Strip and relocating their 8,000 settlers. Any attempt to do the same in the West Bank would probably lead to civil war.

      2. John Wood says:

        You accuse Hamas, with no evidence, of exactly the attitude of the Israeli government who have been quite open in their wish to kill or drive out all non Jews from Palestine. It’s Lebensraum. Strange how Zionism holds a mirror to Nazism.

        There is no possible excuse or justification for the actions of the Israeli government since 1948 or its terrorist predecessors.

        It is time to revoke the Balfour Declaration.

        1. 240113 says:

          The evidence is Hamas’s own Charter, the document which sets out the movement’s ideology as it was formulated and honed by its founders.

          That ideology brings in its wake the refusal to recognise the State of Israel’s right to exist as an independent, sovereign nation, the waging of a ceaseless holy war against it, and total opposition to any agreement or arrangement that would recognise its right to exist. Such overt and vicious antisemitism, which is of both Islamic and Christian-European origins, is expressed extensively throughout the document.

          The all-out holy war against the Jewish people is legitimised by demonising the entire Jewish people and presenting them as wanting to take over not only Palestine but the entire world. The Jews are presented as worthy of only humiliation and lives of misery. That is because, according to the charter, they angered Allah, rejected the Qur’an, and killed the prophets. The document also includes antisemitic myths taken from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (mentioned in Article 32) with regard to regard Jewish control of the media, the film industry, and – through the spread of Critical Theory – education (Articles 17 and 22). The Charter represent the Jews as responsible for the French and Russian revolutions and for all world and local wars (Article 22). In Article 29, the Charter denies the Holocaust and likens the Jews to the Nazis.

          The Charter stresses the importance of solidarity in accordance to the commands of the Qur’an and Sunnah. One of the expressions of that solidarity is aid to the needy; hence the network of various charitable societies set up by Hamas, which integrate social activities and the holy war. Notwithstanding this demand for Muslim solidarity, the charter emphasises the ideological difference between Hamas, with its fundamentalist worldview, and the secularly-oriented Palestine Liberation Organisation and the idea of a secular Palestinian state. Hamas is irreconcilably opposed to a two-state solution; nothing short of the annihilation of the state of Israel will suffice.

          1. Derek Williams says:

            Comports with my understanding. From its founding charter, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_Hamas_charter, Hamas has committed itself to the eradication of Israel and everyone Jewish, Christian or Atheist living in it. Moreover, under Hamas’ strict interpretation of Islamic jihad, women’s rights are severely curtained, and LGBT+ people subject to violent discrimination, flogging and hanging or stoning to death. However the conduct of Israel in the prosecution of its current retaliatory war and widespread killing of innocent civilians is another matter. There hasn’t been an election in Gaza since 2006, so it’s highly questionable whether Hamas even properly represents the population there, so bombing them hasn’t engendered public sympathy.

      3. John Wood says:

        This is not true, John. On the contrary it is the Israeli government that is carrying out genocide against Palestinians – who are predomiantly Muslim but also Christian and Jewish too. The problem is with Zionism.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    On the question of Israel’s defence of the genocide indictment, there seems to be a problem in that by disrespecting South Africa’s submission their representatives are only one step away from disrespecting the Court. Apparently setting up courts of justice was one of seven injunctions on the sons of Noah (interpreted as all later humans), so that would be one step from impiety. The problem for the Israeli government is that they so clearly want to appeal to (Orthodox etc?) Jewish exceptionalism in prosecuting their (to-be-proven) genocide that they are inevitably positioning themselves underminers of a rules-based International order they are exceptionally supposed to be in favour of.

    While I was skimming through Wikipedia’s summaries of Judaic legal thought, I found this condemnation by the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League from 2016 strongly condemning Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, for stating that “non-Jews shouldn’t live in the land of Israel.”

    I think the dangers of self-indictment have been well-known long before this database was compiled, and the Court will no doubt have to take premeditation into account.

  6. John says:

    There are a few inconvenient facts that some commentators here like to overlook:
    1.Many Arab countries have since its creation not recognised and wished to destroy Israel but it is still here.
    2. Israel has the most powerful military resources and is backed by USA the most powerful military country on planet. Israel has shown it has the resources to effectively destroy Palestine.
    3.Hamas may say they want to destroy Israel but patently do not have resources to do so. They can only inflict terrorist atrocities and fire rockets which Israel’s iron dome can repel.
    4.Hamas is not only a military organisation but also a political entity in Gaza.
    5.The longer this conflict persists the more Israel may degrade Hamas militarily but the more political support Hamas will garner from citizens of Palestine due to Israel’s offensive actions.
    Anyone who has more than a cursory knowledge of history can identify conflicts where the two sides do not recognise the other sides right to exist and yet in quite a few cases they do manage to reach a compromise of sorts. In other words, despite all the threats and bombast from both sides, this conflict is not unique.
    I would refer all commentators on here to read the recent article in Guardian by Peter Hain who has far more experience and knowledge about conflict resolution than anyone commenting here myself very much included.
    Peter Hain stressed that October 7th was a pogrom, that the quicker the violence stopped the easier a resolution would be and whether we liked it or not the reality of 2024 is that any sustainable solution with Palestinians will require some form of Hamas political involvement.
    In the end the fighting has to stop and the talking has to start. The sooner the various parties backing each side start putting pressure on the warring parties to cease hostilities and start talking the better for innocent hostages and civilians on both sides.

    1. 240113 says:

      “The sooner the various parties backing each side start putting pressure on the warring parties to cease hostilities and start talking the better for innocent hostages and civilians on both sides.”

      Nae argument there, John. But I cannae see it happening. The Arab-Israeli conflict is one of those irresolvable geopolitical complexes that will rumble on indefinitely.

      1. John Wood says:

        It’s no more ‘irresolvable than was apartheid South Africa.

        The only reason this is happening is Zionism. It has very little to do with real Judaism, and a great deal to do with America. Exactly like America it is a state created and sustained entirely by hypocrisy, violence, and ethnic cleansing. Ask any native American.

        The only possible solution is a single, secular state in which all religions and ethnic identities co-exist in peace and justice.

        1. 240113 says:

          ‘The only possible solution is a single, secular state in which all religions and ethnic identities co-exist in peace and justice.’

          And how possible is that solution when none of the parties in the conflict want it?

          1. Derek Williams says:

            Maybe they just don’t know it yet, and won’t until a century of warfare has displaced the current population. Had Palestine not been carved up to create Israel, that may have very well been the outcome under a different https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration

        2. John says:

          John – I like to think of myself as an optimist but even I realise that a peaceful one state solution is not a realistic solution in the foreseeable future, even more so after current hostilities.
          A two state solution is the only feasible way forward at present because a one state solution will lead to either:
          1.expulsion of Palestinians by Israelis from Gaza & West Bank which is arguably the aim of current Israeli government.
          2.Expulsion of Jews from a Palestinian state
          Scenario 1 is far more likely outcome at present due to military power but will only lead to further conflict in Middle East as citizens in other Arab countries will not accept it.
          Scenario two is equally unlikely as USA will not accept it and Israel is an internationally recognised nation.
          The promotion of two state solution is only show in town but this is increasingly unlikely due to Hamas being increasingly politically powerful in Palestine and Israel having an expansionist, radicalised government.
          The best way to move forward on a two state solution is for outside countries to persuade the two protagonists of need for compromise. This means supporters of Palestinians getting Hamas to compromise and supporters of Israel getting them to compromise. Though several Arab countries appear willing to encourage compromise the two main supporters USA of Israel and Iran of Hamas have hunkered down supporting their side which effectively exacerbates current situation and makes longer term peace a more distant prospect.
          With Israel being far more powerful militarily and with casualties now being so unevenly balanced the only feasible first step is for Israel to cease hostilities which requires USA to apply maximum pressure on them. This can be used as a means to get Arab nations to apply pressure on Hamas to release hostages and cease their, far less deadly, hostilities in return.
          There is absolutely no other option I can see other than increasing hostilities, the further spread of this conflict (already happening) and further reduction of influence of USA and western democracies in Middle East.

      2. John says:

        Dateman – your post is just repeating what you have posted before. I can read you know! Your post adds nothing to debate.
        Where is Nicholas Parsons when you need him?

        1. 240114 says:

          Indeed, I do keep returning to the question: wherefore all our moral huffing and puffing, stamping our feet and demanding a ceasefire ad nauseam, when neither side in the conflict has any intention of or interest in desisting? Has our moral outrage and virtue-signalling not become merely ritualistic and part of the political spectacle itself, our protests a ‘grand day out’?

          1. John says:

            Not only are your posts just repeating the same thing and adding nothing to debate they are committing the worst sin of all they are becoming boring,
            Either engage with other’s comments and add to your ‘it’s all too difficult and we are wasting our time talking about it’ council of despair or just leave it.

          2. 240114 says:

            But we’re not wasting our time talking about it, John; we’re ‘putting the world to rights’ at our leisure from the comfort of our own firesides on a lazy Sunday afternoon, signalling our good character or social conscience or the moral correctness of our position on a particular issue.

            I’d like to see an immediate ceasefire in Gaza too; so what?

          3. John Wood says:

            Are you seriously suggesting that any objection or protest us futile. Are we cautioned to surrender? And if we have to try to make our voices heard from a cosy fireside because any public protest is banned and criminalised, does that make them invalid in some way?

            Sorry, I will not remain silent. I don’t claim any virtue to signal, only basic humanity. The horror under way in Palestine has got to stop. Permanently. And that requires immediate action by Israel.

            I will go on demanding that until it happens. And so will most of the world. Sooner or later it will come to an end because sooner or later, everything does. Then Israel will face a reckoning -not least from the millions of Jews whose trust it has betrayed

          4. 240115 says:

            No, I’m suggesting that jumping on one’s moral high-horse and demanding that Hamas and Israel should immediately desist from their hostlities is futile.

            Such moral protest serves several purposes – it’s cathartic, creates a sense of moral community among its participants, connects people to the larger cultural tradition of moral protest they have inherited from their history, asserts a moral identity, attributes ‘blame’ and victimhood, etc. (and all these psychological and sociological benefits are worth pursuing) – but it won’t bring about peace in the Middle East.

  7. Ellis Simpson says:

    It’s telling that the word ‘Hamas’ doesn’t appear in this piece until the last paragraph, and even then there is no mention of them being the root cause of the terrible situation currently facing the innocent civilians in Gaza. In short, the missing context damns the content as lying by omission.

    There is no genocide in Gaza. (If Israel truly wanted to wipe out the population of Gaza, it could have done that in minutes.) What there actually is in Gaza is a war against Hamas, the perpetrators of the terrible atrocities of October 7th, the worst single day loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. Hamas uses its population as a human shield. Hamas fighters pretend to be civilians. Urban warfare takes a terrible toll and war is not a video game; innocents die and every such loss is terrible. The way to stop the deaths is well known: get Hamas to surrender and release the hostages. But, for some strange reason, that doesn’t seem to be an option for many. It’s almost as if they want the rapist terrorists to survive so they can, as the rapists themselves proudly declare, repeat October 7th again and again and again. No thanks.

    As for the proceedings at the Hague, it’s important to know that a large chunk are based on UN documents and reports, pieced together from NGO claims with no independent verification. Much simply repeats propaganda from terror groups. To put it another way, that “devastating indictment” was riddled with outright lies and omissions. Look online for Tal Becker’s address to the court and then try to make an honest assessment.

    Of course, the court may well rule against Israel, the judges being likely to follow their own national line on whether they support Israel or not and the odds are stacked against the Jewish State. Well, as Golda Meir said, “If we have to have a choice between being dead and pitied, and being alive with a bad image, we’d rather be alive and have the bad image.” So, we’ll let the IDF get on with the job and ignore the background noise from the haters.

    Two related points to finish.

    It’s a good thing in the world at large to be concerned about the fate of the Palestinians. They have been betrayed by their leadership time after time. They could have had their state – God help them – several times, but never failed to fail to grasp the opportunity. But much of the concern for Palestinian lives seems to apply in only certain limited circumstances. Assad can slaughter them – a real genocide – and not a peep is heard. But when Palestinians die in a war they started, suddenly the streets are full of people calling for a ceasefire. (There was a ceasefire on October 7th. Who broke it? It will be the last time they get that chance.)

    As for the leftist-liberals of the world, your support for the Palestinians is a real puzzle. Take Gaza for example. It is precisely what you say you despise and denounce: it’s a cesspool of racist, sexist, homophobic, religious oppression. If you truly support the Palestinians and aren’t just Israel haters, shouldn’t you be campaigning to free them from Hamas, to give them real human rights? That would make a real difference. Now the Houthis have popped onto the scene, they seem to be the new darlings of the left. Really? Is there any terror group you won’t endorse? Have you all lost your minds? Don’t bother answering. Your actions speak louder than words and by those alone you have condemned yourselves.

    1. John Wood says:

      Just to say, Ellis Simpson, that I disagree so strongly with every word of your comment I find it difficult to understand how you could possibly hold such views. There seems no possibility of mutual understanding at all.
      So I suppose I have to accept that conceptually at least we appear to inhabit different planets.
      As far as I am concerned, it is ludicrous to suggest there is no genocide, or that the current situation was caused by Hamas, or that the destruction of Hamas is even possible. When the IDF murder their own people and spread vicious lies about their opponents they appear to me to have gone completely mad.
      I cannot see how the state of Israel has any possible future anymore. It cannot provide a safe haven for Jews by racism, fascism and violence.

      1. Ellis Simpson says:

        Oh I understand you well enough. You stand with the people who are trying to kill me and my people.

        1. John Wood says:

          Are you sure? I have never tried or even wanted to kill anyone. And your people are my people.

    2. John says:

      Ellis – there is much to unpick on your response to the article.
      Firstly to state that if you don’t agree with your post then don’t reply shows a complete lack of tolerance or ability to listen to of anyone with a different viewpoint.
      Your assertion that the Palestinians problems started on 7th October is historically incorrect.
      To get an even handed view and understanding of history of Palestine and Israel I would recommend watching BBC series on I player ‘Israel and the Arabs A 50 year history.’ I found it very informative and it presents both points of view which is always valuable.

      1. Ellis Simpson says:

        To paraphrase an earlier reply of mine, I absolutely have no tolerance or ability to listen to anyone who sides with the people who want to kill me and my people. And, for the avoidance of doubt, that’s what the article does and that’s what you are doing if you agree with it.

        I did not say the Palestinians’ problems started on 7th October. That might have been wishful thinking on your part. I’ll let the Palestinians’ decide when their problems started. Ask them, not me. It’s also worth asking them why there were no calls for a Palestinian state in Gaza and Judea and Samaria between 1948 and 1967 when they were subject to Egyptian and Jordanian rule.

        For what it’s worth, you’ll have to take it on trust that I am well read on the subject matter and as I adhere to the maxim ‘Know your enemy” much of that reading has been of material with a completely different mindset and perspective than mine. As for the BBC, I cannot fault you for giving me a laugh.

        1. John says:

          Ellis – your responses are dogmatic and one eyed. You obviously have nothing but contempt for anyone with a slightly different point of view from yourself. This is not intellectual discussion it is mere arrogance.

          As you seem to favour the eye for an eye approach you may not even have your one eye left if you fail to compromise your hard line beliefs.

          1. Ellis Simpson says:

            “…your responses are dogmatic and one eyed.”

            You say dogmatic, I say truthful.

            “You obviously have nothing but contempt for anyone with a slightly different point of view from yourself.”

            Bollocks. I have contempt for those who want to kill me and those who support them.

            “This is not intellectual discussion it is mere arrogance.”

            If it comes across as arrogance, maybe it’s because you don’t like your cult-following views being so forcefully challenged.

            “As you seem to favour the eye for an eye approach you may not even have your one eye left if you fail to compromise your hard line beliefs.”

            Hamas want to kill us all. How do you suggest I compromise? Meet them half-way?

    3. SleepingDog says:

      @Ellis Simpson, in your extremely partisan and unreasonable comment, you imply that the Israeli government could have just nuked Gaza with the weapons of mass destruction the British secretly helped arm them with, but Israeli pro-genocide voices have made it clear that they want to extend their settler colonial project across the region, joking (or not) about building beach houses in the cleared Gaza strip, something not feasible in a nuclear wasteland.

      I’m sure other commenters can pick up on other points, but as well as genocide, the Israeli authorities, military and its allies are conducting immense environmental damage.
      “The planet-warming emissions generated during the first two months of the war in Gaza were greater than the annual carbon footprint of more than 20 of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations, new research reveals.”

      In this ongoing NATO-Zionist War on Nature (Russia and other militarised nations have opened their own fronts, of course) the object may well be to bring about Armageddon or a Hell Planet; at least, other reasonable explanations remain elusive. So what exactly have you got against Nature? Is Nature full of ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, religious oppression’ like Orthodox Judaism and other Abrahamic fundamentalists, some of whom are supporting this genocide?

      1. Ellis Simpson says:

        Are you serious? Did you think before you posted?

        First, there’s no need for conventional weapons to wipe out Gaza if that were the intention. And if that were the intention, why would Israel take such extensive steps to limit casualties: phone calls, leaflet drops, and specified safe zones? The whole genocide thing is nonsense.

        Second, we absolutely do have some extremists in Israel. Which country doesn’t? But cherry picking our worst still doesn’t get your argument off the ground. Israel is not a settler colonial enterprise; it’s the redemption of the Jewish people in their homeland.

        Third, that Guardian blood-libel article about global warming is a hoot. Did you do the maths? Half of this supposedly huge amount comes from US cargo planes flying to Israel. Think about it. Every flight emits CO2. Across the globe, aviation generates around a billion tons of CO2 per year. So, around 3 million tons from aviation per day. What are the charges? Israel is directly and indirectly responsible for less than 5,000 metric tons of CO2 a day – about 0.17% of all airplane use per day. I make that a tiny amount. Let’s put it into even more perspective. Aviation is allegedly responsible for around 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions. By that measure, the war against Hamas in Gaza might be adding 0.0034%! Wow! What a killer! The Guardian article juggles the numbers to make Israel to look bad. And you fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Rather telling.

        What’s offensive beyond belief about the article is that Israeli technology is at the forefront of environmental developments with many of our innovations being used throughout the world – including by many who pretend to be boycotting us. Israel contributes more to helping the environment on a per capita basis than probably any other country in the world.

        “Now, why would people spend so much time calculating Israel’s, and only Israel’s, carbon footprint – and vastly exaggerating it – during a war for its survival?”

        I suggest you reflect. You are being blinded by hate.

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Ellis Simpson, the South African submission will include evidence that the Israeli authorities are indeed using more means than just conventional weapons to kill large numbers of Palestinians in Gaza, such as starvation, exposure, cutting off water supplies, destroying hospitals, encouraging the spread of disease and so forth.

          You miss out one of the greatest emissions costs, the rebuilding required in Gaza if people are once more to be housed there along with infrastructure and non-residential buildings. Industrialised warfare wreaks terrible damage to the environment in many ways, and indeed Israeli settlers have been documented as destroying herds and olive trees, and poisoning wells, to drive out Palestianians using a form of environmental warfare.

          I’m not sure that your boosting of the Israeli export industry stands up to scrutiny, but then you could equally say that Israel was a premier armer of boycott-era South Africa, and contributes hugely to the surveillance powers of autocratic regimes.

          Yes, I imagine all countries will have extremists, but not all elect them into government (not just a problem for Israel and Gaza, of course). If you are going by the same origin story as the Christian Old Testament, Israel was founded by a campaign of genocide, including on people who actually helped the Hebrews. I’m not sure what kind of person worships a God of Genocide, or justifies a right to a ‘homeland’ created by killing those humans already living there, but the first is a sign of extremely dangerous religious zealotry and the second a classic feature of settler colonialism.

          You haven’t said whether you are looking forward to Armageddon, something that the Christian evangelical supremacists in the USA seem to be motivated by when backing Israel’s genocidal (to be proved) campaign. Although they apparently also profess that Jews will have to convert to Christianity or be cast into hell, or something similar. Lovely allies that the Israeli premier has been kissing up to.

          Anyway, the environmental warfare has been going on long before this recent escalation, and I notice that there is a new book coming out on the subject which promises to cover more angles than I was aware of.

          1. Ellis Simpson says:

            War is hell. You don’t want to suffer? Don’t start one. My heart goes out to the innocents of Gaza, but they should direct their complaints to Hamas, for it is Hamas who are 100% responsible for their suffering.

            The rest of your post would take a book to answer and I’m not investing that time because it won’t change your mind. You’re locked in a cage of your own hate.

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Ellis Simpson, what Book are you thinking of? I reread my post and could find no hate. So here’s a simple question for you. Are you looking forward to the Jewish version of the End of Days? I’m not familiar with the eschatology, but it seems to include war as a prelude, so in some sense this war must be welcomed by the faithful (as in other branches of Abrahamic religion which look forward to an end-of-days scenario):
            As for starting wars, that is surely the point of my biblical reference about the genocidal campaign of the Old Testament Hebrews. Indeed, I have watched a programme where bible scholars have interpreted this as the needful aspect of an aggressive military campaign: don’t leave even friendlies in your wake in case they turn against you. Just like those drum-beaters for the British Empire forever fearing what the Empire did to others will be done to them, you might just be suffering a little from karmaphobia, exacerbated by a worldview which places you at the centre of human history. And incidentally, there are many occasions on which the British Empire could have been hauled before the ICJ on similar charges throughout its long history, with some Scots in the dock.

        2. 240115 says:

          Yep, I’m with Ellis here: Hamas’s mission is to kill his people. That’s pretty indefensible.

          1. John Wood says:

            Nonsense. It’s Genocide, by the Israelis. And Hamas are not a terrorist organisation, whatever the Zionists claim. Face the truth.

          2. Ellis Simpson says:

            “Nonsense. It’s Genocide, by the Israelis. And Hamas are not a terrorist organisation, whatever the Zionists claim. Face the truth.”

            So mass rape, slaughtering civilians, executing prisoners, the taking of hostages (and torturing and killing them), and other assorted atrocities are the acts of a mature, sophisticated, civilized political movement?

            You are beyond saving at this point.

          3. 240115 says:

            As you wish, John. But your use of the word ‘genocide’ flies in the face of the legal definition contained in the UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, while Hamas owns terrorism in its own Charter as a legitimate means of prosecuting its holy war against the Jewish people.

          4. On 15 October 2023, over 800 scholars and practitioners of international law, conflict studies and genocide studies signed a public statement warning of the possibility of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Signatories include prominent Holocaust and genocide studies scholars, as well as many international law and TWAIL scholars. The text of the statement and list of signatures (updated on 20 October 2023) is below, and a pdf version can be accessed here.

            Public Statement: Scholars Warn of Potential Genocide in Gaza

            15 October 2023

            As scholars and practitioners of international law, conflict studies and genocide studies, we are compelled to sound the alarm about the possibility of the crime of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. We do not do so lightly, recognising the weight of this crime, but the gravity of the current situation demands it.

            The pre-existing conditions in the Gaza Strip had already prompted discussions of genocide prior to the current escalation – such as by the National Lawyers Guild in 2014, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in 2014, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2016. Scholars have warned over the years that the siege of Gaza may amount to a “prelude to genocide” or a “slow-motion genocide”. The prevalence of racist and dehumanising language and hate speech in social media was also noted in a warning issued in July 2014 by the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, in response to Israel’s conduct against the protected Palestinian population. The Special Advisers noted that individual Israelis had disseminated messages that could be dehumanising to the Palestinians and that had called for the killing of members of this group, and reiterated that incitement to commit atrocity crimes is prohibited under international law.

            Israel’s current military offensive on the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023, however, is unprecedented in scale and severity, and consequently in its ramifications for the population of Gaza. Following the incursion by Palestinian armed groups on 7 October 2023, including criminal attacks against Israeli civilians, the Gaza Strip has been subjected to incessant and indiscriminate bombardment by Israeli forces. Between 7 October and 9:00 a.m. on 15 October, there have been 2,329 Palestinians killed and 9,042 Palestinians injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza, including over 724 children, huge swathes of neighbourhoods and entire families across Gaza have been obliterated. Israel’s Defence Minister ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip prohibiting the supply of fuel, electricity, water and other essential necessities. This terminology itself indicates an intensification of an already illegal, potentially genocidal siege to an outright destructive assault.

            Late on 12 October, the Israeli authorities issued an order for more than 1.1million Palestinians in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip to leave their homes and flee to the south of Gaza within 24 hours, knowing that this would be practically impossible for many. Palestinians who did start to evacuate south reported that civilians and ambulances were targeted and hit by Israeli airstrikes on the designated “safe route”, killing at least 70 Palestinians who were fleeing to seek refuge. The ICRC stated that “the evacuation orders, coupled with the complete siege” are incompatible with international humanitarian law. Almost half a million Palestinians have already been displaced, and Israeli forces have bombed the only possible exit route that Israel does not control, the Rafah crossing to Egypt multiple times. The World Health Organisation published a warning that “[f]orcing more than 2000 patients to relocate to southern Gaza, where health facilities are already running at maximum capacity and unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number patients, could be tantamount to a death sentence”.

            Read the full statement here: https://twailr.com/public-statement-scholars-warn-of-potential-genocide-in-gaza/

          5. John Wood says:

            As you wish 240115, but I define the word ‘genocide’ in a similar way to South Africa in its courageous approach to the ICJ, and in that I follow the legal definition contained in the UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Pronouncements by Israeli political and military leaders merely confirm the charge. I dispute that Hamas ‘owns terrorism’ in its own Charter, or that it prosecutes a holy war against the Jewish people. Hamas represents a people who have at least as much of a right to self defence as Israel does. It is Israel that is pursuing a racist Holy War against all non-Jews and even some Jews themselves. Israel was founded and built entirely on terrorism.

          6. Ellis Simpson says:

            “It is Israel that is pursuing a racist Holy War against all non-Jews and even some Jews themselves.”

            What planet are you living on?

          7. 240115 says:

            There’s no denying that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian Arabs is also indefensible. I just find it absurd that the righteous should ‘demand’ a ceasefire while using such inflammatory language? Why on earth would or should either side in a conflict agree to cease its armed struggle when it’s being threatened with ‘genocide’?

            The can dispute it all you like; I quoted chapter and verse of the Hamas Charter in which it owns terrorism as a legitimate means of pursuing its holy war against the Jewish people.

            And Hamas doesn’t represent the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people as such are represented by the PLO, which is the umbrella organisation of groups that represents the diversity of the Palestinian people before the international community. Hamas is a Sunni islamist party, which has governed Gaza in opposition to the Palestinian National Authority since 2007, when it seized power from Fatah, the secular Palestinian nationalist and social democratic party and largest party in the confederated multi-party PLO, following the collapse of the National Unity Government and the Battle for Gaza in 2007.

          8. John Wood says:

            There seems little point in an endless and pointless correspondence.

            Whatever words may be used, I think ‘Holy War’ describes Israel’s behaviour since its foundation far more accurately than that of Hamas, who (though I don’t approve violence in any side) are simply fighting for survival – and not just for Muslims but also for Christians and all other religions, including Jews who do not identify with Zionism.

            It’s my view. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this.

          9. Ellis Simpson says:

            “Whatever words may be used, I think ‘Holy War’ describes Israel’s behaviour since its foundation far more accurately than that of Hamas, who (though I don’t approve violence in any side) are simply fighting for survival – and not just for Muslims but also for Christians and all other religions, including Jews who do not identify with Zionism.”

            The trouble with your view is that it is based on fantasy.

            On October 7th, a young Israeli soldier called Adir Tahar was killed defending the border. Hamas beheaded him and took the head as a trophy to Gaza. There, one of the terrorists tried to sell it for $10,000. That’s the type of behavior and type of people you are defending. (The indefensible.) And that is a mere microcosm of the atrocities committed by Hamas.

            [Thankfully, the IDF recovered the head from a freezer in Gaza.]

            He says, “For nearly two-and-a-half months I turned over the world, trying to understand where the head was. I demanded that the army allow me to see the body.”

          10. John Wood says:

            Ellis, I don’t defend violence whoever perpetrates it. Whether or not your story about a young Israeli soldier being beheaded is true or hasbara, which the Israelis are experts at, nothing justifies the cold blooded murder of thousands of women and children, the denial of food, water, medical aid, the utter destruction of their lives and homes within what has been effectively a concentration camp for already dispossessed people over many years. Nothing can justify the apartheid separation wall, the endless settler attacks on innocent people, the atrocities committed by the IDF, including the imprisonment and torture of thousands of Palestinians and murdering their own people. That’s the type of behaviour and type of people you are defending. (That really is indefensible.) And that is a mere microcosm of the atrocities committed by Israel, with the full backing of the UK and US.
            ‘Fantasy’? Yours or mine?

          11. 240116 says:

            It may well be your view, John; but that view keeps ignoring Hamas’s own Charter, in which it characterises its own behaviour as a ‘holy war’.

            Hamas’s Charter is all over the internet; at least check it out.

            The bottom line is that, for all our moral huffing and puffing, Hamas is incapable of entering into a sustainable ceasefire with Israel without being disloyal to its understanding of Islamic law and God’s Word, while Israel is incapable of entering into a sustainable ceasefire with Hamas so long as the latter remains existentially committed to wiping out the Jews. It just ain’t gonna happen.

          12. John Wood says:

            That’s as may be but the bottom line is that, for all our moral huffing and puffing, ISRAEL is incapable of entering into a sustainable ceasefire with any Palestinians without being disloyal to its understanding of Jewish law and God’s Word, while Palestine is incapable of entering into a sustainable ceasefire with Israel so long as the latter remains existentially committed to wiping out the Palestinians (and anyone who sympathises with their plight)
            At least we can agree that it just ain’t gonna happen.
            The only possible future for the region is a single, non-sectarian, non-racist state where people of all religions and ethnicities can co-exist in peace and justice. And that is entirely up to Israel, and of course its funders and backers, the UK and US governments, to implement.

          13. Derek Williams says:

            In its Manifesto, Hamas declared commitment to wiping out Israel, and presumably everyone in it, so its an internecine war committed to mutual destruction. They haven’t held an election since 2006, so one cannot be sure they still represent everyone in Gaza.

          14. John Wood says:

            Israel has declared itself to be a racist state from the outset, and its entire existence has been based on ethnic cleansing of the non-Jewish (and even some Jewish) population. To try to equate that horror with Hamas’s attempts to defend the Palestinian people is well, let’s just say, ‘absurd’.

          15. 240117 says:

            I’m not trying to defend Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinian Arabs, John; a plague on both their houses, as far as I’m concerned. But I’m glad that we both at last agree that climbing onto our moral high horses to call for a ceasefire is empty posturing, sheer self-righteous and self-indulgent vanity.

  8. SleepingDog says:

    Medialens’ recent post on the evidence for ‘Western values’:
    contains a summary of recent work by the Glasgow Media Group.

    1. 240119 says:

      I’d disagree with the conclusion of David Cornwell’s editorial. We shouldn’t reject the output of ‘the powerful opinion-forming corporations’. We should treat that output, alongside that of ‘those internet oases of real journalism’, with scepticism, play their various voices off against one another and themselves, in order to moderate the influence they have over our behaviour. understand the world and to radically change it for the better.

      David’s journalism suffers from the ‘curst conceit o bein richt that damns the vast majority o men’. It assumes that the truth is ‘out there’ somewhere, just waiting to be discovered, and that he, through his superior journalistic practice, has discovered it.

      The truth is nothing of the sort. The truth is just the disposition of our conflicting outputs at any given time, not some fixed, timeless supernatural ‘given’ that transcends those disputes.

      Practically, what this means is that, to arrive at the truth, we should gather conflicting news and comment from as wide a range of sources as possible and evaluate that material critically, in much the same way that you’d conduct a literature review on a specific topic. The trouble is that people are generally lazy and would rather buy their truth pre-processed, off the shelf, from self-styled vendors of ‘real journalism’, whereas truth is something you’ve got to work at.

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