Apartheid Israel Has Destroyed the Global System That Ensured ‘Never Again’

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Apartheid Israel

After eight months of perpetrating the most barbaric large-scale killing spree the globe has ever collectively witnessed, the Israeli state continues to reach new depths of depravity that are usually reserved for sermons of the Abrahamic traditions, warning of just how hellish the afterlife can be.

Israel achieved this again on Tuesday, as it rained down huge bombs on displaced civilians sheltering in tents in a camp in al-Mawasi: a town close to Rafah. And the refugees attacked were already starving, sick, deprived of sanitation and traumatised. Twenty-one were killed and 64 were wounded.

Netanyahu quipped that it was a mistake, like the time he took out an Australian aid worker and her colleagues. Although, the Israeli PM timed this accident to occur just five days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive” on Rafah.

And the reason this appears coordinated is that after the ICJ ordered Israel to immediately restore humanitarian aid into Gaza in January, Tel Aviv issued unsubstantiated claims that UNRWA, the main aid provider, harboured Hamas fighters, which caused allies to cut funding, effectively reducing aid.

And if one came across a graffiti representation of this scenario in a laneway in Sydney’s inner west, it would likely depict Netanyahu on a throne of skulls, smirking as he gives the finger to the globe, flanked by allies, like Biden and Albanese, who look a tad awkward in order to mask their complicity.

No power to enforce

The former apartheid nation of South Africa raised the genocide claim against apartheid Israel last December, which was significant as Israel and South Africa had been firm allies, with a military alliance and nuclear weapon collaborations, prior to the toppling of the African apartheid regime.

In its January findings, the ICJ explained that South Africa sought to protect the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza, including the right to be protected from acts of genocide, attempted genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

South Africa also sought to protect its own rights under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which makes it incumbent upon all state parties to take action to prevent the atrocity crime.

The court found that based on the evidence, it’s plausible a genocide is taking place in Gaza, and therefore provisional measures were called for. And these included stopping genocidal acts, ending incitement of genocide and prosecuting those who partake in it, and the urgent provision of aid.

But Israel ignored the ruling of the ICJ: the highest court on the planet, which is a United Nations institution. And Tel Aviv did this after it had put its case to the court, and a member of its own judiciary sat on the bench amongst the 17 judges involved in deliberations.

So, as the genocidal acts continued, including the forced starvation of the entire 2.3 million Palestinians of Gaza, South Africa sought further court orders in March, which consisted of the immediate provision of aid to an emerging famine and, again, to stop committing genocidal acts.

But in keeping to form, Israel ignored these further orders and continued its genocide, which led South Africa to last month request additional orders, as Israel was commencing its offensive upon the city of Rafah, where 1.5 million refugees are stranded and being starved to death.

And when the ICJ last week ordered Israel to stop what amounts to an open slaughter of unarmed people, that nation’s government escalated its attacks.

There’s nothing to see here

As South Africa has been attempting to prevent the Gaza genocide and see Israel eventually condemned by the ICJ over committing the atrocity crime, Australia has done it’s best to shirk any responsibility it has under the Genocide Convention, which it ratified on 8 July 1949.

Article 1 of the convention stipulates that contracting parties “confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish”.

So, the Albanese government should be doing all that it can to prevent the genocide occurring in Gaza, but as human rights lawyer Kellie Tranter set out recently in Declassified Australia, federal Labor appears to have been doing its best to skirt around the mass killing of Palestinians.

Tranter followed a freedom of information trail she’d obtained from the government, which reveals key departments contemplating expert opinions on Gaza in terms of genocide and war crimes and then deliberating on talking points for the press that do their best to avoid the atrocities unfolding.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade document dated 16 November states at one point, “We need to be very careful about using the term genocide”, and elsewhere it says, “We need to be careful when using the term ‘war crimes’”.

So, rather than considering whether Palestinian civilians were being slaughtered in a manner constituting genocide, DFAT officials were advising that the topic should be avoided, as it’s a pretty harsh charge to a lay against an ally like Israel.

Gaza never again

The convention defines the genocide as comprising acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a particular group, whether that be constituted by nationality or ethnicity or race or religion. And Israel is plausibly perpetrating four of the five acts that are regarded as genocide.

The ICJ ruling was significant because it did identify Israel as likely perpetrating a genocide. However, Tel Aviv’s refusal to take heed of the initial ruling and simply continuing these actions has revealed these international mechanisms are not working.

And each new ICJ order issued and then being refused reinforces this understanding.

However, that the international system is at risk of collapsing at present is not the sole responsibility of Israel.

The Biden administration has provided the bulk of funding and weaponry that has permitted Israel to murder tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, even post the ICJ plausible genocide ruling.

While the Albanese government has continued to supply arms and ammunition to Israel even after the ICJ findings and it’s even entered into a new contract with Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems.

So, Israel, the US, Australia and other western allies are not only complicit in the mass slaughter in Gaza, but they’re actively playing a part in dissolving the institutions established post-World War II to ensure that another genocide like that perpetrated by the Nazis on the Jews never happens again.

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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