Creating new perspectives since 2009

The ICJ and the dichotomy between the genocide victims and the perpetrators

January 29, 2024 at 9:10 pm

People hold Palestinian flags in front of the International Court of Justice as hundreds of journalists outside waiting for the ICJ to give interim ruling in Gaza genocide case against Israel made by South Africa in the Hague, the Netherlands on January 26, 2024.[Nikos Oikonomou – Anadolu Agency]

The interim findings of the International Court of Justice agrees with South Africa while rejecting the Israeli motion, on the World Court’s jurisdiction to investigate charges against Israeli actions that fall “within the provisions of the [Genocide] Convention.” The significance of the provisional Court’s ruling is putting on notice countries arming and enabling Israel to carry out acts under “the UN convention on genocide.”

In order to execute the application on the ground, the six provisional orders, essentially, taken individually and collectively, require Israel to end its military actions. It was, however, disappointing that the Court did not make an unambiguous call for the cessation of Israeli hostilities and the immediate return of displaced individuals to their homes.

The juxtaposition of the two parties before the Court is, nevertheless, revealing. On one side, South Africa is supported by formerly colonised nations. On the other side, Israel is backed by past colonisers. The plaintiff supported by nations like Namibia, a genocide victim, while the defender shares a bench with countries like Germany, a historical perpetrator of genocides. This stark dichotomy vividly highlights the divide between the two camps. The oppressed, confronting past and current oppressors, in a clear illustration of the intrinsic Western bigotry toward non-Western societies.

OPINION: The ICJ and Israel’s military offensive against Gaza

For more than three months, Western leaders, the US, the UK and the EU, normalised and rationalised Israel’s writ large war of genocide on Gaza. The toll has been devastating, with over 34,000 people either killed or missing beneath the rubble of their imploded homes. Additionally, around 500,000 individuals in northern Gaza face imminent starvation due to the lack of access to basic nourishments and clean water. The forced displacement of 1.9 million individuals, along with the systematic destruction of essential health facilities, power sources, water supplies, communication networks, universities and education centres. These actions collectively rendered life unliveable for the 2.3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

So far, the Israeli genocidal war has resulted in “100,000 Palestinians killed, missing or wounded”, and imposed a complete blockade on food, medicine, water and fuel. A war that could not have unfolded without the direct Western complicity evident by the US and European supply of weapons to the Israeli army. Preceding this, Gaza was under 18 years of an Israeli-managed “starvation diet,” including blocking international shipping to Gaza’s only seaport— all this was long before the revolt of 7 October, 2023. Still, these murders, and the brewing famine threatening millions of Palestinians were not enough to leaven Western morality.

However, when Yemen blocked shipping of containers destined to only one of several Israeli seaports, the dormant conscience of America and Europe was suddenly awakened. In a matter of days, Western powers and at least one vassal regional entity, deployed a large flotilla of warships, declaring war against one of the most economically devastated countries in the world. This has eventually led to the halting of all international shipping lanes through the Red Sea.

Yemeni officials have consistently affirmed that the Red Sea remains open to international maritime shipping. They have also reiterated Yemen’s unwavering stance that the Red Sea is off-limits for Israeli ships until Israel ensures the unfettered delivery of essential aid to Gaza. If the US and the EU harboured genuine concerns about international shipping, they could have directly engaged the Yemeni authorities to ensure secure navigation, while redirecting the ships bound for Israel to the other six Israeli seaports outside the Red Sea.

Today, the Yemeni reasonable measures have been validated in light of the fourth provision of the ICJ, ordering Israel to permit the entry of “… humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza.” However, rather than diplomatically resolving this dispute by exerting pressure on Israel to facilitate the delivery of food and medicine to the desperate people in Gaza, the US chose to transform the Red Sea and Arabian Sea into a combat zone, effectively shutting the Red Sea for all international shipping. Ironically, the US which has been admonishing nations against the escalation of tension in the region, is leading the new made-up coalition to wage a new, crafted for Israel, war in the Middle East.

OPINION: South Africa’s ICJ success has ushered in a new era of international law in pursuit of justice for Palestine

This is just one example of Western racism where a benign blockade on Israel is more important than obstructing critical food and medical supply to reach the “children of a lesser god” in Gaza. The UN Security Council (UNSC) swiftly condemned Yemen’s limited blockade, while for three months the Biden Administration continues to deny UNSC to pass a resolution ordering the delivery of the badly needed supply to the 2.3 million humans in Gaza.

This has been further exacerbated by the lack of open discourse in the managed “free” Western mainstream media to prod politicians for potential non-military solutions. This absence provided Western governments with an unchallenged platform to falsely blame Yemen for obstructing international shipping and, hence, justify a new foreign war.

The US’s willingness to engage in a proxy war to safeguard Israeli shipping reveals the true motives underlying its appeals for restraint. By attempting to contain the war, the US is virtually doing Israeli bidding to prevent exposing Israel to new war fronts. The goal of avoiding escalation appears to be predicated on enabling Israel to fight its wars one at a time. This is demonstrated in the non-stop US air and sea military shipments to replenish Israeli military stockpiles.

Led by the current US administration, the condescending West is not only complicit in the war of genocide in Gaza, but in actuality share with the Israeli Prime Minister, and et al., the inherent racism that shaped Israel for the last 75 years. It took the moral courage of a victim of past apartheid to bring the World Court to compel Israel to “… take all measures within its power to prevent … all acts within the scope of Article II of the Genocide convention,” where UNSC was inept by the shadow of the US veto.

The current ICJ’s decision will present a challenge for Israel’s Western enablers as the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, introduces the court’s six provisional measures to the Security Council in the days ahead. The West faces two options: either compel Israeli compliance or make a mockery of international law, thereby deepening the rift between the genocide victims and the perpetrators.

OPINION: Israel’s heinous targeted killing programme

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