Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel attempting to exact revenge on UNRWA for genocide case

January 31, 2024 at 2:50 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on December 10, 2023 [RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The “Al-Aqsa Storm Operation” by Gaza Resistance groups on 7 October, 2023, which brought Israel’s expanding occupation in Palestinian Territories and increasing attacks on holy sites in Jerusalem back to the world agenda, dropped the mask on the international relations stage. The legal process under way serves as a litmus test, distinguishing between those sincerely supporting a two-state solution in the Middle East and those merely paying lip service. One of the turning points in the process occurs not on the battlefield but in the arena of law.

On 26 January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced provisional measures in the case filed by the Republic of South Africa under the 1948 Genocide Convention. The most significant of the announced decisions was, perhaps, the demand for steps to be taken to prevent and punish those advocating for subjecting Palestinians in Gaza to genocide. What the Western world and the United Nations Security Council should do next is to promptly remove Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his accompanying government members from the international political stage, who justify the legitimacy of “subjecting Palestinians to genocide” by labelling them as “half animals”.

OPINION: Evidence given to ICC enough to prove Israel genocide in Gaza – member of legal team

The end of impunity for Israel

The crucial point that the heads of state and government of the G7 countries who went to Tel Aviv to pat Netanyahu on the back and gave him the green light for the massacre he was preparing immediately after 7 October, need to understand is that Israel’s era of institutional impunity has come to an end. The ICJ’s decision also proved that the developments in the Middle East after World War II are not a “Palestinian issue” but an “Israeli issue”. The decision announced on 26 January not only reversed the course of history against Israel. The same decision also signalled that, in the advancing stages of the legal process, the administrations of the US and the UK, which supply weapons and ammunition to Israel for massacres in Gaza, will not go unpunished.

Israel and the US’s new disinformation move: Target UNRWA

Did any statement come from the G7 countries, including the US, in support of Israel’s violent actions following the ICJ’s decision? No, it did not. Instead of taking the necessary legal steps, or forcing Israel to implement these decisions, they once again entangle themselves in Israel’s lies. The day after the ICJ decision, Israel attacked UNRWA to prevent this issue from dominating the international public opinion. Israel’s claim, this time, was that some Palestinian UNRWA employees participated in the 7 October attack, rejoiced when Israelis were killed, hid Israeli captives in their homes brought to Gaza and allowed the buildings of UNRWA to be used as weapons depots by Resistance groups.

The UN also does not know what evidence exists regarding the identities and crimes committed by the 12 UNRWA employees for whom the UN announced the opening of an investigation. After 48 hours of the allegations, there seems to be nothing beyond Israel’s unilateral claims. Despite hours of video recordings and photographs provided to the UN by international media organisations, including Anadolu, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House, John Kirby, has not been convinced of genocide and massacres, even today. Israel’s allegations, based on unknown evidence, will halt all of UNRWA’s operations in the region by the end of February. Thus, rather than imposing sanctions on Israel for 115 days, countries supplying weapons and ammunition will, once again, swiftly implement another collective punishment against Palestinians.

They are taking revenge on UNRWA for the truth

The US, the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, Austria, Scotland, Australia, France, Iceland, Romania, and Estonia declared that they have cut off their financial support to UNRWA. This sanction does not only mean that the 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are condemned to conditions worse than hunger, thirst and lack of medicine they are currently in. UNRWA is an organisation that provides assistance to 5.9 million Palestinians who have taken refuge in various countries in the Middle East. These people, who currently live in countries such as Lebanon and Syria where instability prevails, will face even harsher living conditions. It is also necessary to remind that the countries that cut off aid to this organisation have not made any inquiries about the 152 UNRWA employees killed in Israeli attacks since 7 October.  While the countries mentioned have delivered another blow to the already-abysmal reputation of the UN, the hypocrisy of those who claim to support a two-state solution in the Middle East has also been exposed.

OPINION: Genocide is the result of the international community’s waiting game

West turns a blind eye to those preparing to plunder Gaza again

Seemingly unaffected by the decision against them in the ICJ, 12 ministers of the Israeli government attended the “Return to Gaza Conference” held in Jerusalem, two days after the decision, dancing and celebrating with their supporters in front of maps outlining the illegal settlements to be rebuilt in the Gaza Strip. Israeli National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, perhaps relying on the protection provided by the US, declared that the best solution for Gaza was the exile of all Palestinians from there, regardless of any possible repercussions in the ICJ’s judicial process against them. According to the plan celebrated by Ben-Gvir and his supporters, Israel will return to the Gaza Strip from which it withdrew in 2004, and the populations of the 15 evacuated illegal settlements will be increased, while six new settlements will be added. So, did the US, a party to the Oslo Accords involving Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, react to Ben-Gvir and his partners’ show? The answer to this question is “No.”

Under these circumstances, when the measures taken by the ICJ to stop the massacre in Gaza come to the UN Security Council, they will again be vetoed by the US. Then, the process in the UN General Assembly will further nail another coffin in the process of isolation of the US with Israel, while also determining the distinction between those who genuinely advocate for a two-state solution in the Middle East and the hypocrites hiding behind US vetoes in the UN Security Council.

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

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