Misrepresenting the ICJ and muzzling our press – the Empire strikes back

Feb 24, 2024
THE HAGUE - President Donoghue and other judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) before the hearing of the genocide case against Israel, brought by South Africa. According to the South Africans, Israel is currently committing genocidal acts against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Image: ANP / Alamy Stock Photo/ REMKO DE WAAL

On 26 January, the World spoke to Israel and its supporters – on the issue of Gaza. The World spoke through the International Court of Justice (ICJ). There can be no doubt about that. A number of provisional orders were made. Israel, and its primary accomplice, the United States – hereinafter “the Empire” – did not like what the World said. The Empire has struck back. Let us consider what it has done.

The first thing that it has done is to make absolutely clear that its minions must toe the line. That includes Australia. How should it toe the line? The first thing to do was to limit publicity of the ICJ’s judgement. That has definitely happened here in Australia. Such public announcements as there were from the Empire, and the Australian government, were to present the ICJ’s ruling effectively as a defeat for South Africa. No ceasefire was ordered. Such presentation was grossly misleading.

Then the press was to all intents and purposes muzzled. Four weeks have passed and the ICJ ruling is all but forgotten. Moreover, when Israel threatened to take the war to Rafah, and South Africa saw the need to seek a further provisional order to prohibit same, which it did on 12 February, our press did not even report on the application.

But the Empire saw the need to do more than simply go on the defensive, i.e. in respect of the original ruling; it had to go on the offensive. It was necessary to do so by ignoring the provisional orders and blatantly breaching them. Alternatively, it might be said that they simply redefined the orders so that the killings could continue.

In this respect the first provisional order to be set at naught was the fourth, that there had to be humanitarian assistance pending the full determination of the case. What is the best way to deny humanitarian assistance? Clearly, to inhibit the entity best placed to give it, viz. UNWRA. Israel claimed that a dozen UNWRA employees (out of 13,000) aided Hamas on October 7. The US immediately ceased funding UNWRA. Australia immediately fell into line and suspended its aid, as did some 14 other nations.

The next provisional order to be set at naught was the first. Readers may recall that it was set out in an earlier article: The decision of the International Court of Justice, Feb.2 2024. I restate it:

The State of Israel shall, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention, in particular:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b)Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and

(d) Imposing measure intended to prevent births within the group.

Have no doubt; ‘the group’ means ‘Palestinians in Gaza’ – refer the preamble. Anyone who has followed the slaughter since 26 January knows that this order has been totally disregarded. The death toll of Palestinians has increased from approximately 24,000 on 26 January to something approaching 30,000 today. And there is no need to consider sub-clauses (b) to (d). They can be assumed to have been breached as well.

So, what else has the Empire and its minions been up to?

Well, first up, one part of the Empire, the US, has maintained its massive support of tribute, cash and arms to Israel. It has ramped up military attacks on what it maintains are Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. And it has blocked moves for a permanent ceasefire at the United Nations.

Israel and its supporters throughout the Empire have screamed “antisemite!” whenever someone has had the temerity to be supportive of Palestine.

Israel is apparently creating a ‘buffer zone’ in areas of Gaza adjoining the Israeli border, resulting in forcible displacement of Palestinians from their homes. Such reduction of the territory of Gaza clearly impacts on the sovereignty of a Palestinian state, and raises the possibility of Israel’s Jewish resettlement of the Strip.

The only other matter that I shall mention is the continued misrepresentation of the ICJ. I return to the 12 February application by South Africa seeking an additional provisional measure to prevent genocide occurring, in the context of an anticipated imminent attack on Rafah.

The Court noted, by a ruling on 16 February, that such a development

“…would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare…This perilous situation demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated by the Court in its Order of 26 January 2024, which are applicable throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, and does not demand the indication of additional provisional measures. The Court emphasises that the State of Israel remains bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and with the said Order, including by ensuring the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

In other words – read the Court’s earlier orders – they make any additional order unnecessary. South Africa welcomed the affirmation. Again, the Empire and its minions are misleading the world by suggesting that the Court “rejected” South Africa’s application. The only rejection that there was, was of the assertion by Israel that the initial provisional measures had no application to its conduct, either prospectively, in Rafah, or hitherto, in the rest of Gaza. This was a substantial victory for South Africa, and the World.

Nevertheless, the Empire continues to strike back. Israel has made it absolutely clear that it does not consider itself restrained in any way by the ICJ’s rulings. The rest of the Empire seems to be content to accept Israel’s position.

In conclusion, we, Australia, must understand the ICJ’s orders and act accordingly. We must oppose the Empire. And we must publicise the message: “Palestine has the right to exist – and therefore the right to resist”.

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