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Israel clearly committing three of five acts defined as genocide: Palestinian-American lawyer

December 5, 2023 at 2:06 pm

Palestinians begin to migrate to areas in the southern part of the city due to Israeli attacks in Khan Yunis, Gaza on December 04, 2023 [Mustafa Hassona – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip fall under the definition of genocide as it is “clearly committing three of the five genocidal acts under the international treaties,” according to Palestinian-American lawyer, Lara Elborno, Anadolu Agency reports.

In an interview with Anadolu, Elborno asserted that Israel must be held responsible “for its crimes this time.”

“If it is not held responsible for its crimes … then what does that say about not only the entire framework of international law, which was developed post World War II for the purpose of preventing and sanctioning genocide, but also the international institutions which have been established for the purpose of promoting accountability,” she said.

Failure to act now would mean that international law and institutions are “essentially obsolete, completely ineffective and should be dismantled,” she added.

On the current situation in the Gaza Strip, Elborno said Israel had expressed its intent to resume its attacks and concentrate on the southern parts of Gaza after the end of “the so-called humanitarian pause.”

VIEW: Fiery belts surround Khan Yunis as the war enters day 60

She said attacks are now increasing in the southern part of Gaza, where some 1.7 million Palestinians from the north were previously forced to flee.

The number of Palestinians killed in Israel’s relentless air and ground attacks since 7 October is now nearly 15,900, with more than 42,000 others injured.

The Israeli death toll stands at 1,200, according to official figures.

What I fear is that what we have seen in the past six weeks is going to be far superseded in this moment – in brutality, in destruction, in killing – because of the fact that Israel is focusing its mammoth airstrikes, its brutality, its destruction on the very areas where the families are sheltering

said Elborno.

‘This genocide is latest aspect of colonial violence’

She stressed that it is essential for the world to realise “what Israel is doing right now is genocide.”

“This genocide is the latest aspect of its colonial violence and domination of the Palestinian people in a 75-year-long ethnic cleansing campaign to ethnically cleanse all of Palestine from Palestinians for the benefit of the settler colony,” said Elborno.

“We must strongly condemn this, we must strongly reject this, and support freedom for all people, from the river to the sea, regardless of background.”

She said Israel’s actions fit the legal definition of genocide under the Rome Statute and also the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, also known as the Genocide Convention.

“Genocide requires intent and action. Not only have there been over 100 statements of genocidal intent expressed at the highest levels of Israeli military and governments since 7 October, but they are also clearly committing three of the five genocidal acts under the international treaties,” said Elborno.

The convention defines genocide as five acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” according to the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.

READ: ICRC president describes human suffering in Gaza as ‘intolerable’

As Elborno explained, Israel is guilty of three of the five acts:

“Killing members of the group”, “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” and “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

“This is not my opinion. This is the opinion of over 800 genocide scholars, over 47 state crime scholars and numerous scholars of genocide who have come out in this moment and said that Israel is committing genocide. Not only that, but the annihilation phase of genocide,” she said.

‘They will not be able to hide’

Elborno said there is now “a sustained campaign” of efforts aimed at holding Israel and its allies accountable.

“We have seen a sustained campaign of international actions right before the International Criminal Court, attempts to organise now and lobby for a state to invoke the Genocide Convention before the International Court of Justice, attempts brought in the US to sue the Biden administration for violating their obligations under the Genocide Convention,” she said.

“We are seeing actions and we will continue to see legal actions brought, because this is genocide and they will not be able to hide in these courts of law, where they will have to respond to the substance of allegations.”

So far, when the US government has been asked “the question of genocide, they evade the question, they distract, they avoid answering it, but they will be required to respond,” she said.

“In fact, a judge has already ordered that they respond in the action in the US by 15 January. So, we’ll be following that closely to see if there will be any avenues for accountability before the legal system,” Elborno added.

Elborno, who is also an activist living in Paris, said organising pro-Palestine demonstrations is not easy in France, with authorities banning such protests and authorising violent tactics, like the use of tear gas.

“The situation in France is not easy, but despite this, the French people have come out in solidarity with Palestinians during this genocide, and they continue to show up for us at demonstrations every week,” she said.

“Everybody is doing what they can, despite the repression of the state,” she added.

VIEW: Urgent call for accountability: Palestinian representative challenges EU’s stance on Gaza genocide