Gaza Genocide is ‘Plausible’ and ‘Prima Facie’, Admits Bourgeois ICJ
Joint Statement of the LRCI and ClassConscious.Org
In the current mass slaughter in Gaza, Israel has already killed 30 thousand Palestinians, approximately, the same number of people as the Argentine dictatorship of 1976-82, the most bloodthirsty in South America. The provisional judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), based in The Hague, Netherlands, delivered on 26th January, is the judicial expression of the massive protest movement against the monstrous slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza since early October 2023. It is the product of the pressure of the worldwide mass movement refracted through a bourgeois court.
The judges, who are primarily accountable to the UN General Assembly, were confronted with a detailed indictment by South Africa of Israel’s systematic attempt to destroy Gaza Palestinians since October, and a call for them to demand provisional measures to stop the slaughter before the court determined in detail if genocide was involved.
The ICJ did not dare directly confront the imperialists by agreeing to South Africa’s initial two demands that Israel ‘immediately suspend’ its military operations ‘in and around Gaza’. That obviously means a total ceasefire by Israel. But they did demand that Israel stop virtually everything they are doing to destroy the Gazans.
That was the influence of the global mass movement and the heroic resistance, of Palestinian fighters in Gaza, of the Houthi and others in West Asia, as well as political pressure led by South Africa. The judgement was emphatic: the votes among the 17 judges were publicly announced as is customary. Only an ad-hoc Israeli judge and one obvious foul-maverick Ugandan voted against the most damning elements of the judgement.
These concretely accepted that ‘plausible’evidence, and therefore ‘prima facie’ jurisdiction under the Genocide Convention exists, of genocidal Israeli actions against the substantial part of the Palestinian people that live in Gaza, as a human group, killing members of the group, causing serious bodily and mental harm to them, deliberately inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, and preventing Gaza Palestinians giving birth. As formulated in the Genocide Convention. They also noted that the overwhelming majority of Gazans have been driven from their homes, and forced to flee from one supposed refuge to another, where they can be and are attacked with deadly weapons both where they flee from, and where they flee to, and on the march between…
Instead of the demand for a cessation, the court demanded that that Israel ensure that these be prevented, that direct and public incitement to genocide by prevented and punished, that basic services and humanitarian assistance be provided, that evidence of genocide be preserved and protected from destruction (by Israel), and that Israel must report to the court on the progress of all these things in one month. (see https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-south-africa-icj-provisional-ruling-read-gaza-genocide for the full text of the judgement).
A Symbolic Humiliation for Zionism and Imperialism
At one level this could be dismissed as cowardly and a betrayal. Evidently the court simply did not have the basic principle and political courage to defy not only Israel, but also its imperialist protectors, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and many of their other smaller imperialist partners, who attempted to dismiss South Africa’s indictment and rubbish its basis in fact. Not to mention the usual, psychotic smears of Israel itself, which attributed the South African indictment, and after the judgement, the position of the court itself, to ‘anti-Semitism’. Such obscene racialised abuse from Zionists is itself a factor of intimidation that is often effective in warping even bourgeois politics, and may also have been a factor in intimidating these high bourgeois judges, from a variety of countries, some imperialist, some not, from outright confrontation with Israel, and thus diluting their judgement.
However, the categories of evidence that they conceded were plausible and ‘prima facie’ evidence, are irrefutable. If anything, the numerous summary murders by IDF troops in Gaza were less than fully depicted in the indictment, but it was only a first tranche of what could be documented and no doubt will be. And given that Israel’s response to the court judgement has been to continue exactly the same massive murder of the civilian population in Gaza as before, and in fact to escalate the killing, it is inconceivable that the court could credibly decide in the future, that somehow that evidence could be discounted or refuted. Particularly as Israel continued to attack the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, one of the few hospitals still (just about) functioning in Gaza, immediately after the judgement, having previously rendered the vast majority of Gaza’s healthcare facilities unusable though savage military attack. Continuing the attack on Nasser hospital immediately after the judgement was a big FUCK YOU to the ICJ, predictable, but another savage, genocidal attack nevertheless, clearly calculated to destroy the conditions of life of Gaza Palestinians.
Even more so is the threat to the population, now that at least three quarters of the Gaza population have been compacted through Israeli mass terrorism into the area of Rafah, on the Southern tip of the strip. Netanyahu is talking of a mass ‘evacuation’ of this population as a ‘solution’ to the Gaza ‘problem’, which ought to remind the world that Hitler’s ‘first draft’ of the ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘problem’ of European Jewry was a plan to deport them all to Madagascar. When that failed the Nazis turned to mass murder. Netanyahu’s problem is that an attempt to drive nearly two million people over the Egyptian border has already been ruled out by Egypt, and may result in an armed clash that could destroy the Begin-Sadat ‘peace agreement’ of 1979. Jordan has also publicly given a similar warning (both have no choice, because of popular rage against the Zionist genocide). He is trying to bribe various African and other countries to be the recipients of mass deportees, but that would also lay them open to possible consequences from the ICJ etc. down the line.
He could launch his own ‘Final Solution’ with an all-out extermination of the displaced in Rafah by bombs and summary murder by the IDF, but that is at the front of world politics and the popular backlash internationally could sweep away the Israel lobby in a tide of popular rage. In this context, Hamas’ proposal for an extended truce in three 45-day phases, a large-scale exchange of prisoners, etc. massive aid and a phased rebuilding of Gaza with international guarantors (including Egypt, Turkey and Russia) dovetails well with the demands of the ICJ, and though it has been rejected for now, may well be a factor later. Such a deal may well finally bring down Netanyahu in Israel, which is itself in deep trouble economically and has just been downgraded by the credit agency Moody. Its tourist industry, particularly hotels, are now being used to put up Israelis evacuated from the wide areas close to both Gaza and Lebanon.
The court’s judgement, though it is a bourgeois judicial organisation and the questions involved are refracted through that, is a serious political defeat for Zionist imperialism and its allies/partners in the older imperialist countries, who scratch Israel’s back (and vice-versa). Over the last several decades since the 1970s at least, they have protected Israel from serious condemnation in any bourgeois international forum. Being credibly accused of genocide by an authoritative bourgeois international court, with all the ‘provisional’ caveats, is serious criticism, as serious as it gets. Of course, the court cannot enforce its judgements – it depends on the UN Security Council to do so, and the US habitually protects Israel from all manner of critical and particularly binding, Chapter 7, votes. But the court has considerably greater soft-power than mere votes in the UNSC or even the General Assembly – its judgements potentially have legal force in those countries that have ratified the Genocide Convention. For a state that the Western powers promote as a fellow ‘democracy’ to be credibly accused of genocide by such a body is a major ideological reverse for imperialism.
Imperialism’s Counterthrust – Starve Gaza Even More!
Israel’s imperialist backers, centrally the Biden administration in the US, the British Tory government of Sunak (echoed by the Tory second eleven in the imperialist Labour Party, led by Zionist ‘without qualification’ Keir Starmer), Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Netherlands, Italy, Australia and Finland struck back directly against the judgement of the court within a day of its judgement being announced. They did so by cutting off aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), the main organisation that has distributed aid to the victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing since 1948. Its job is to keep millions of effectively stateless Palestinian refugees, who have virtually no rights, from starvation. Since the Israelis began their outright extermination of the Gaza population, over 100 of their staff have been murdered by the Israeli state while trying to deliver aid to Gazans in conditions of ferocious Israeli bombardment of the entire strip. But because Israel has now accused some staff of UNRWA, on the basis of ‘evidence’ and ‘concessions’ extracted under torture (which is simply normal for Zionist state forces) of being involved in the Hamas-led prison breakout on 7th October, aid has been cut off to UNRWA, which millions of Palestinians depend on to survive.
This is a genocidal act, and a punishment of UNRWA, not for any supposed dereliction over the 7 October, but in reality, for providing considerable evidence to the ICJ of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians. So, this attack on UNRWA is clearly, by proxy, an attack on the ICJ by Israel and its partners in this crime of genocide, and it is now clear, by this action, that the US, UK, Germany etc., are not merely accessories and accomplices in the extermination of the Gaza Palestinians, but actual, direct participants in the extermination through carpet bombing, starvation and deliberately created epidemic disease.
In this context, as the genocidal proclivities of the imperialists become clearer, their attacks on democratic rights at home escalate. In Britain, there have been a number of outrageous arrests of left-wing opponents of the genocide, of leading figures in Palestine solidarity movements in England and Scotland.
Cowardly IDF Killers Suffer Reverses
In different ways, the main imperialists are in a cleft stick, because Israel has bitten off more than it can chew with this Gaza genocidal attack. They are not winning the war against Hamas and are taking heavy casualties in Gaza. The IDF is a cowardly army that can massacre civilians at the drop of a hat but flinches in the face of determined, capable and courageous opposition. Many Hamas videos have been released showing intrepid resistance fighters using a mixture of daring and guile to blow up Israelis troops in their tanks, etc.
News of such reverses has been supressed from the Israeli population to a considerable extent, but it is now leaking out. They were unable to suppress news of the deaths of between 21 and 28 (the full toll is not completely clear) on 22 Jan when a building the IDF were mining to try to destroy was instead detonated by Palestinian fighters with IDFers inside it. But other accounts in part of the Israeli media say that up to 11,000 IDF troops have been injured since they tried occupying Gaza in late October.
It is normal for such injuries in armed conflict to be around 3 and 4 times the number of deaths. But the Israelis have only admitted so far to around 500 deaths. This strongly suggests that the real IDF death toll is between 3000 to 4000, which probably explains why Israel has pulled out a number of quite elite troops, such as the Golani Brigade, from Gaza over the last month or so. They need to preserve their troops for other things. This is not a sign of strength.
Earlier on in Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza, the US moved its newest aircraft carrier, the Gerald R Ford into the Eastern Mediterranean to threaten Hizbullah, and deter any solidarity action against Israel for the Palestinians in Gaza. But at the end of the year, it was withdrawn back to the US as the more likely scenario became an Israeli attack on Hizbullah, as they indulged in threats of expanding the destruction of Gaza to Lebanon seemingly to divert attention from their difficulties in Gaza. The US did not appear too keen on being drawn into an Israeli invasion of Lebanon, no doubt being acutely aware of what happened the last time this happened – the destruction of 241 US marines at the hands of proto-Hizbullah in October 1983. Hizbullah is far stronger now, and has the evident capacity to devastate much of the North of Israel, which is why large sections of the Israeli population have been evacuated from that region.
A Wider Conflict Threatens US Domination in West Asia
The drone attack on US troops on the Jordan-Syrian border on 28th January, which killed three US troops and injured several others, caused the US Ziocons to go into apoplexy, demanding a US attack on Iran in response. Netanyahu and his Kahanist cohorts undoubtedly are licking their lips at the prospect of a US attack on Iran. But Biden flinched from that and instead engaged in a series of 85 bombings on 2 February against local militant anti-US/Israel militia groups in Iraq and Syria. This itself is escalatory, is destabilising Iraq, which has a Shi’a government which is friendly to Iran, and has popular legitimacy for its demands for the US to leave Iraq. In attacking ‘pro-Iran’ forces in Iraq, they are effectively and implicitly attacking Iraq’s government itself.
Attacking Iran would be a huge step for the US, which really would send the whole region up in flames. The US has repeatedly made deals with Iran, fearing a war with a much more powerful and populous country than either Iraq or Syria, and such things as the deal over Iran’s potential nuclear capacity are an expression of that fear. Junked by the arch-Zionist Trump, Biden did attempt to reinstate it, at least partially. The mendacity and fear-mongering among Ziocons about Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions is belied by Iran’s firm denial of any such aspirations, which the clerical Iranian government says are contrary to its religious ideology in any case. But by playing a role in support of Russia in the Ukraine war, supplying Russia with improved drones, etc, Iran may have solved the problem of the repeated bilious Israeli threats of attack, which imply a nuclear threat. Such a Zionist nuclear threat (which is not even controlled by the USA, and is solely at the mercy of the contingencies of Netanyahu) is a possibility of this Nazi-like government, which cornered is doubling down on the regional expansion of the war and Palestinian extermination. As a result of its admission to BRICS, and this military collaboration with Russia, the imperialists – including Israel – now have reason to consider the real possibility that Iran might be covered by the Russian, and maybe even Chinese, nuclear umbrellas, as the Brazilian geopolitical commentator Pepe Escobar recently noted. In any case, it will be remembered that Trump flinched and cancelled a US attack on Iran that he had driven when he was in office. Because he feared the consequences.
In Syria, the Assad government never had any say over the US troops that sneaked into the East of the country under the cover of Syria’s imperialist sponsored civil war. Trump as President openly boasted that they were there to steal Syrian oil. The result may be the eruption of major guerilla conflicts with Kataib Hizbullah and other Shia radical forces in both Iraq and Syria, which is highly likely to develop into an anti-imperialist war of national liberation in both. On top of having declared war on the Houthis in Yemen, even without an actual attack on Iran, this looks set to develop into a conflict on a scale that the US will likely find impossible to handle.
Both Iraq and Eastern Syria were invaded and occupied by the US as part of the neo-con project of supposedly ‘liberating’ the Arab world from ‘anti-imperialist’ supposed despots, to replace them with pro-imperialist despots in the guise of exporting ‘democracy’ through ‘humanitarian intervention’. Even though the US claimed to be fighting Islamic State/Daesh, which in fact it sometimes supported (when it was useful to it to do so to destabilise Assad). But the whole of the world can see in the Gaza holocaust, which is also spreading and accelerating on the West Bank, what the real content of such ‘humanitarian intervention’ really is. Israeli barbarism in Gaza, and that growing in the West Bank, far exceeds IS/Daesh in its ferocity.
Defeat Imperialism. For a World-Revolutionary Movement!
The imperialists are losing in Ukraine militarily, but in terms of the population of the imperialist countries themselves, the visibility of this is still relatively small. This is not however true of Gaza where the huge discredit of the genocide is causing what looks like a revolutionary change of consciousness among major sections of the population. It is part of the decline and discredit of Western imperialism both ‘at home’ and abroad which is mushrooming, and is one of the preconditions for revolutionary developments in the imperialist countries. A global movement has grown up which is bigger than the mass movement against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s, let alone the less radical movement against the war in Iraq. These varying understandings of the different conflicts, in West Asia and Ukraine, need to merge, and it is a key task of revolutionaries to make understood their essential interdependence as part of one struggle against US imperialism, its Zionist partner and other imperialist allies and clients. Such a unitary anti-imperialist movement is key for developing the kind of international working-class revolutionary movement this dangerous situation requires for a progressive resolution of the developing crises of US hegemony and Zionism.