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Seven months of bloodshed and destruction

May 15, 2024 at 9:30 am

The lifeless body of one person is pulled out from under the rubble as civil defence team and residents carry out a search and rescue operation in the rubble of the building that collapsed after the Israeli army’s attacks on the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on May 14, 2024 [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli occupation’s invasion of the Rafah Crossing and its seizure of the area as  Egypt and the world watch on are dangerous turning points in the Israeli extermination of the people of the Gaza Strip.

Although many denounced Israel’s actions and warned against a total invasion of an area inhabited by more than 1.5 million Palestinian, most of whom have already been displaced numerous times, the Egyptian regime did not take any practical steps to prevent Tel Aviv’s actions. Rather, media reports revealed coordination between the two sides.

After Israel took control of the Rafah Crossing, the Egyptian regime issued a weak statement, in which it did not emphasise that this attack is a violation of the Camp David Accords, nor did it say that it would take the matter to the UN Security Council to demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces from the crossing.

Since the beginning of the war, the Egyptian president stated that the current events do not concern Egypt at all, what really matters is not having refugees flowing into Egypt. The regime tightened the siege on the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the war and even prevented the entry of water, leaving people to suffer unbearable levels of hunger and thirst, and only after pressure was applied did it allow the entry of limited aid under Israeli supervision.

The Egyptian regime is playing a double role in the Israeli extermination war on Gaza. On the one hand, it coordinates efforts with the occupation and does not stand against the killing and destruction of Gaza, in the hope of crushing the resistance, thus pleasing Israel and its allies, and ending the resistance which gives people in the region hope for the possibility of change. On the other hand, it leads negotiations to conclude a prisoner exchange deal and a ceasefire, and issues empty statements denouncing Israeli crimes to calm the popular uproar, hoping to have a share in the reconstruction and governance of the Gaza Strip.

READ: Israel claims military takeover of Rafah Crossing ‘no violation’ of peace treaty with Egypt

The attacks on Rafah have not just started, Israel has repeatedly targeted the area since 7 October 2023, which led to the destruction of hundreds of homes and the killing and injury of thousands. What actually happened is the occupation forces deployed their ground forces to achieve gains on the ground, most notably taking control of the Rafah crossing and slowly displacing the population and turning the area into ashes.

The international community stood silently by and watched as Israel committed crimes in the north and south of Gaza. Israel has committed daily massacres against the innocent civilians with no deterrence and has been given the greenlight to do whatever it wishes with the support of a Western colonial alliance led by the USA, and the silence, failure or treachery of 54 Arab and Islamic countries.

The daily massacres committed by Israel and the starvation of civilians have not triggered feelings of shame in the UAE, which normalised ties with the occupation in 2020. It continued supporting Israel and maintained diplomatic relations with it. It utilised its media to promote the Israeli narrative and established a land route to supply Israel with goods during the Red Sea crisis. It also criminalised any activities that denounce the Israeli crimes in Gaza.

Only South Africa’s prominent and serious action angered Israel and its allies, when it filed a lawsuit before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of committing genocide and demanding the application of measures to protect the civilian population, most notably a ceasefire.

In the court session on 26 January 2024, the court issued an interim ruling and approved six precautionary measures, but did not call for a ceasefire. But, it is not possible to protect people from getting killed and starved without a ceasefire.

Though the court said there was plausible grounds to believe a genocide was being committed, it did not call for military operations to cease as a precautionary measure, as happened in the case of Ukraine against Russia.

Israel has, however, disregarded the court’s decisions, forcing South Africa to submit a request on 12 February for additional measures to be put in place to protect civilians. Days later the court said it was satisfied with only requesting Israel comply with its previous decision and abide by the provisions of the Genocide Convention.

Nevertheless, Israel continued to ignore the court’s decision, as evidenced in the increasing numbers of victims, prompting South Africa to submit yet another request to impose additional measures on 6 March.

A quick glance at the ICJ’s decisions shows that the court has not comprehended the disastrous situation being documented in numerous UN reports. The number of victims in January when it issued its interim ruling was 20,000, today it is almost double that. Is it not time for the World Court to order an end to all military operations?

Israel’s failure to comply with the court’s decisions, occupying the Rafah crossing, launching new attacks, and closing the crossings, prompted South Africa to submit a new request for provisional measures last week. The hearing into this will be held later this week.

Israel’s indifference to the lives of the people in Gaza is crystal clear and evident in its continued bombing of homes and killing of children and women. It also continues to starve Gaza’s civilian population; closing the crossings and leaving the Strip on the brink of disaster. The court’s decision must be for Israel to stop its military operations and withdraw to its pre-7 October positions.

READ: Oxford University faculty and staff endorse Gaza solidarity encampment

It is essential that all Arab and Islamic countries  join South Africa’s lawsuit. It is a shame to leave Pretoria standing alone, supported only by Colombia, Nicaragua and Libya, which joined only very recently according to a statement of the court. The question is, what is stopping the countries which ratified the Genocide Convention from joining the lawsuit?

The case brought by Ukraine against Russia was joined by more than 32 countries within a few days. It did not take these countries long to join Ukraine’s lawsuit. This is a significant reaction in supporting the case and convincing the judges to take the necessary measures, as judges are human beings who are subject to threats and blackmailing, and this is a matter of life and death for Israel.

Perhaps all the countries who voted in favour of Palestine being accepted as a full member state at the UN should join South Africa’s lawsuit, this may well provide the necessary pressure on Israel and its allies to finally stop this genocide.

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