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Israel is conducting its own ‘Final Solution’ in Gaza

December 19, 2023 at 5:05 pm

Residents and civil defense teams conduct search and rescue operation around the rubble of the building following an Israeli attack on house belonging to Kistan family at the Nuseirat refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on December 18, 2023 [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

The unfathomable scope of Israel’s actions in Gaza against Palestinian civilians amounts to war crimes devoid of any humanity. We bear a moral responsibility to demand an immediate end to these atrocities, and accountability and justice for these crimes. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and other Israeli leaders must be charged with genocide at the International Criminal Court. US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and other US leaders must be charged for their complicity in this genocide.

From the outset, Israel has been involved in a genocidal war in Gaza. Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council — comparable to the CIA in the US — asserted, “Israel needs to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.” Eiland expanded on this, stating, “Severe epidemic in the south of the Gaza strip will bring victory closer and reduce casualties among [Israel Defence Forces] soldiers.” The orders from the outset were to deny food, water, electricity and fuel to the entire civilian population; to turn Gaza into a place that is not able to sustain human life; the battle is between “the sons of light and the sons of darkness”. From the outset, Israel has been waging a war of genocide in Gaza.

The UN-mandated Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) held a panel at UN headquarters in New York City on 12 December, preceding the General Assembly vote on the resolution for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” Tasked with examining the legal implications of Israel’s military offensive against Gaza since 7 October and shedding light on the applicability of key legal frameworks, including those defining genocide, the panel concluded that it is evident that genocide is already occurring, prompting the urgent need to stop it.

“Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people constitute an unfolding genocide”

Simultaneously, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) adopted a resolution recognising that “Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people constitute an unfolding genocide.” Hannah Bruinsma, a legal advisor at Law for Palestine, argued that the intent has been made explicit in statements by top Israeli officials, including the prime minister, the president, senior cabinet members, and military leaders. Such statements, numbering 500 so far, have demonstrated the genocidal intent, forming an integral part of the crime of genocide.

The Israeli army’s spokesperson Daniel Hagari’s admission about dropping “thousands of tons of munitions” on Gaza, with a focus on causing maximum damage rather than accuracy, is one example. Gallant’s reference to Palestinians as “human animals” and his declaration of having “released all the restraints” on the military, stating “we will eliminate everything” in Gaza, are further instances.

READ: Gaza: 71% of population suffering from acute hunger

Furthermore, Israel is deliberately subjecting the desperate Palestinian population in Gaza to starvation by severely restricting the entry of essential supplies such as food, fuel, cooking gas, medicine and water into the besieged territory. Israel also targets healthcare facilities, ambulances and first aid stations. A senior UN official reports that “half of Gaza’s population is starving.”

More than 55 scholars in Holocaust and Genocide Studies emphasised the importance of understanding expressions of intent within the context of widespread incitement to genocide in Israeli media since 7 October, according to a statement on 9 December. The media has featured calls to turn Gaza “into a slaughterhouse” and “violate all norms on the way to victory,” along with statements like “let there be a million bodies” of deceased Palestinians. Signatories of the statement pointed out that the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide saw journalists on trial and convicted of incitement to genocide, a distinct crime under Article 3 of the UN Genocide Convention.

The US is implicated in genocide, and complicity in genocide is a separate crime. The Centre for Constitutional Rights has filed a legal complaint against Biden, Blinken and Austin in a California District Court. The complaint accuses them of complicity in Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza. It asserts that the ongoing genocide has been made possible due to the unconditional support provided by the US to Israel, violating its responsibilities under customary international law. The complaint emphasises the US role as Israel’s largest provider of military, economic and political aid, accusing the nation of using its influence to further, rather than prevent, the unfolding genocide. Instead of taking measures to stop Israel’s actions, the US has consistently pledged support, providing military aid, ammunition, precision-guided munitions, bunker bombs and military advisers in war cabinet sessions.

READ: US poll: most Americans disapprove of Biden’s management of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza

Israel’s actions extend beyond killing, wounding and starving Palestinians; it systematically destroys homes and critical infrastructure. As of 1 December, the Israel Occupation Forces (IOF) have damaged or destroyed almost 100,000 buildings, displacing 90 per cent of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians. Israel’s deliberate targeting includes bombing mosques, schools, heritage sites, libraries, key government buildings and hospitals. The cultural heritage of Gaza faces intentional destruction, with over 100 heritage sites damaged or destroyed by Israeli attacks, according to NPR reports.

Israel also engages in the public humiliation of Palestinian men during routine searches. IOF soldiers strip them down to their underwear, blindfold them and display them publicly in their neighbourhoods, sitting them in large groups in the middle of the street or parading them through the streets. The Israeli soldiers are killing, mocking and abusing with utter impunity.

Simultaneously, in the West Bank, Israeli settlers in close collaboration with the IOF are going on murderous rampages against Palestinians and seizing their land. The intensified military operations in the West Bank, particularly in Jenin, have resulted in over 280 Palestinian fatalities since 7 October, including 69 children, with at least 4,400 detained. The destruction of homes and denial of access to healthcare mirror the brutal tactics employed in Gaza. The military campaign is expanding beyond Jenin, reaching local villages and other cities like Ramallah, Qalqilya, Nablus, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron. Similar to Gaza, the destruction of healthcare infrastructure in the West Bank poses a grave risk of disease spreading.

READ: Doctors Without Borders says humanitarian situation in occupied West Bank is ‘extreme’

Despite the UN General Assembly’s call for a ceasefire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told military commanders that the war would “continue until the end, until the victory, until the elimination of Hamas”, and that “nothing will stop us.” What Israel is preparing is a permanent state of war against the entire Palestinian population of the Occupied Territories and within Israel itself in pursuit of their total expulsion. In parallel with its genocidal assault, Israel and its allies are engaging provocatively with Lebanon, Syria and Iran, indicating a desire for a broader conflict.

Israel, and the Biden administration, must face charges and be held accountable for their crimes against humanity. The ongoing genocide in Gaza is part of the Nakba (Catastrophe), a process that began in 1948 with the establishment of Israel. The Nakba refers to the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their land within a year of the establishment of this settler colonial state on 78 per cent of Palestine. The Nakba has never ended. Raz Segal, a prominent Jewish Israeli scholar of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, has said: “It took the Nazis two and a half years… of experimenting with various schemes of forced displacement of Jews” before implementing the “Final Solution”. How long, I wonder, until Israel is done with its own “Final Solution”?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.