The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced that it will give a ruling on Friday on South Africa’s call for measures to blunt genocide by Israel in Gaza.
Millions of people across the world will rightly watch in the hope that the court condemns Israel and takes some effective action. The case has pitted huge swathes of the world, particularly ordinary people in the Global South, against Israel, Britain, the US, Germany and their hangers-on.
The South African case was utterly damning, putting together in a very powerful way the crimes of the Zionist state.
And, even though it wasn’t highlighted, it simultaneously laid bare that Israel’s allies aren’t just ignoring the Gaza killings. They have cheered on the bloodshed, provided diplomatic cover and supplied the weaponry.
This week won’t be the full judgement. It could take years for the ICJ to reach a definitive verdict. If Israel carries on with its slaughter and ethnic cleansing, there will be very few Palestinians in Gaza left as the decision emerges.
South Africa therefore requested an interim order effectively requiring Israel to stop its attack. The ICJ could wholly reject the case, or set it aside on a technicality. But most analysts think that’s unlikely.
The evidence was just too strong for that. Instead, it may call on Israel to rein back its killing and the racist, genocidal statements of its leaders.
That would enrage Israel and its backers. It would confirm that it’s right to back the Palestinian struggle—and encourage more action. Although no mainstream body will say it, this would also underline that it’s right for the Palestinian resistance to fight.
British MPs on Wednesday went into pretended shock after Labour MP Tahir Ali said Rishi Sunak had “the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands” over Gaza. Labour leaders, who spurn calls for a ceasefire and back Israel, disowned this wholly reasonable comment.
Shortly afterwards Tahir Ali apologised for what he said about Sunak after being asked to do so by Labour’s chief whip.
But the ICJ could show that Sunak and all who back Israel are indeed complicit in mass murder.
Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu has already vowed to ignore the court’s ruling if it condemns Israel. “Nobody will stop us—not The Hague, not the axis of evil, and not anybody else,” he said.
Between 2015 and 2022, the United Nations general assembly—where all the states have a vote—passed at least 140 resolutions condemning Israel.
But the UN did nothing significant to enforce them. The reality is that whatever the ICJ verdict, Western imperialism will make sure its calls are ineffective.
The US will veto any call for an interim ceasefire at the United Nations Security Council—as it has done before. And Britain won’t back such a measure either.
Israel will spray around unfounded calls of antisemitism against the court, the judges and anyone who opposes it.
Whatever the court decides, the key struggle will be to raise the level of support for Palestine on the streets and in the workplaces.
And the fight for Palestinian freedom goes beyond a ceasefire. It needs to address the very existence of a state founded on murder and dispossession that acts as an imperialist outpost in a crucial part of the world for capitalism.
Some of the South African charges
“Israel has reduced and is continuing to reduce Gaza to rubble, killing, harming and destroying its people, and creating conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction as a group,” says South Africa.
“Israel has laid waste to vast areas of Gaza, including entire neighbourhoods”. It has led to “the evacuation of 1.9 million people or 85 percent of the population of Gaza from their homes.”
The Israeli military is pushing these displaced people “into ever smaller areas, without adequate shelter, in which they continue to be attacked, killed and harmed.”
Israel obstructs “essential food, water, medicine, fuel, shelter and other humanitarian assistance for the besieged and blockaded Palestinian people”. It presides over “silent, slow deaths caused by hunger and thirst risk surpassing those violent deaths already caused by Israeli bombs and missiles.”
“Most of the Palestinian people in Gaza are now starving, with levels of starvation rising daily.”
The complaint cites the vile comments from Israeli leaders. On 7 October, Nissim Vaturi, deputy speaker of the Knesset and member of the foreign affairs and security committee, wrote, “Now we all have one common goal—erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth.”
On 9 October, defence minister Yoav Gallant stated that Israel was “imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel.”
On 28 October Netanyahu said “You must remember what Amalek has done to you,” referring to a biblical passage that states, “go, attack Amalek … Spare no one, but kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings.”
On 11 November, Israel’s minister of agriculture declared, “We are now actually rolling out the Gaza Nakba,” referring to the Nakba of 1948, in which Zionists forced over 80 percent of the Palestinian population from their homes.
On 6 November 6, Giora Eiland, an Israeli Army Reservist major general, wrote that Israel “needs to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.” He went on to declare that “severe epidemics in the south of the Gaza Strip will bring victory closer.”
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