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Ambassador Naghmana A. Hashmi (R)

The writer has served as an Ambassador to China, the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourd and Ireland. She has also authored and edited several books including Magnificent Pakistan, Pakistan-China All Weather Friendship, and Lost Cities of Indus.E-mail: [email protected]

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Hilal English

Gaza: A Tragedy Beyond Words

April 2024

The Palestine issue has drawn global attention due to Israel's prolonged occupation and severe human rights violations against Palestinians. South Africa brought a case of genocide by Israel to the International Court of Justice, which ordered Israel to comply with the Genocide Convention.



Over the last seven decades and more, the Palestine issue has become widely known, drawing global attention and concern. Israel, as an occupier, has seized land belonging to its rightful inhabitants—the Palestinians. The people of this region have endured prolonged and oppressive occupations characterized by systematic and severe violations of international human rights. However, the atrocities committed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) under the fallacious claim of the right of self-defense and combating terrorism can only be characterized as genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Israeli nationalists have drawn inspiration from Zionist ideology and have turned Gaza into a living hell. Israel's policy of forcefully terrorizing, killing, and starving the population through brute force and systematically altering demographics reflects a sadistic mindset and Zionist fanaticism. Disproportionate and indiscriminate bombing, targeted killings, and the use of forbidden weapons on unarmed civilian targets, including refugee camps, hospitals, and schools, cannot be justified under any pretext.
As Palestinians continue to resist an occupation that is encouraged by the world's silence and has persisted with impunity due to a false equivalence made between the two sides, where a national security narrative has played too well in a world obsessed with terrorism, the apparent transgressions are met with yet more arms sales. As Israel engages in actions that are ironically reminiscent of those punished at Nuremberg, there remains only one option that international law must facilitate: the right of forcefully resisting occupation by the oppressed people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, like his predecessors, can be named the "Butcher of Palestinians" as he presided over the brutal bombing of Gaza in 2014, killing thousands of Palestinians. And again, since October 2023, he has been committing relentless barbarism in which more than 32,000 Palestinians have perished–overwhelming majority of those killed being children. Food supplies were blocked, fuel, electricity, and water were cut off, aid convoys were attacked, ambulances were bombed, and heritage sites, including mosques and churches, were destroyed. This constitutes a deliberate effort to push the Palestinian population out and occupy their territory. What is even worse is their plan to eradicate the Palestinian gene pool entirely, resulting in the ruthless and heartless killing of children. Equally unfathomable is the repeated veto by the U.S. at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against all resolutions aimed at achieving a ceasefire and allowing humanitarian aid to reach the sick and starving children, many of whom have lost all relatives and both parents, leaving them alone, scared, and vulnerable.
After months of deadlock and failure of the world body, on march 25, 2024, amidst mounting international pressure, a UN resolution for Gaza ceasefire passed, prompting Isreal to cancel a planned visit. Francesca Albanesel, the UN special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, on March 27, told the UN rights body in Geneve that she believed that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza since October 7 amounted to genocide and called on countries to immediately impose sanctions and an arms emkargo. This episode exposes deep-seated tensions and highlights the pressing need for the international community to confront Israel’s actions critically, advocating for a just resolution in Palestine.
It is horrific to witness the rise of state-sponsored crime and terrorism in our era, with these perpetrator states being cheered on by bloodthirsty majoritarian citizens and escaping accountability, as is evident in the current onslaught by Israel on unarmed civilians. Human rights regimes appear powerless in the face of such brazen barbarism. People worldwide, regardless of their faith—be they Muslims, Jews, Christians, or others—have been protesting in the tens of millions since October 2023, yet this seems to have little impact on the powerful supporters of Israel. What's even more distressing is the apathy of the Muslim Ummah and the glaring ineffectiveness of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Unfortunately, the political and economic interests of the Muslim world have abandoned the plight of the Palestinians.


Food supplies were blocked, fuel, electricity, and water were cut off, aid convoys were attacked, ambulances were bombed, and heritage sites, including mosques and churches, were destroyed. This constitutes a deliberate effort to push the Palestinian population out and occupy their territory. What is even worse is their plan to eradicate the Palestinian gene pool entirely, resulting in the ruthless and heartless killing of children.


Death and devastation are not the only consequences of the failure of the community of nations of the world to resolve the question of the self-determination of the Palestinian people. These unresolved national questions result from stunted economic growth and lack of economic development. In Palestine, the economy of the West Bank has stagnated over the past three decades as the Israeli government has fenced in the Palestinians with the infamous and illegal Apartheid Wall and a system of Jewish-only settlements and roads, choking the participation of West Bank Palestinians in the Israeli and other Middle Eastern economies. Unemployment in the West Bank is well over 20 percent, but unofficially, it is much higher when women and youth's lack of participation is considered.
Palestinian children face chokeholds, stun grenades, and forced confessions at the hands of Israeli colonization enforcers and soldiers. In Gaza, which has suffered under an illegal Israeli blockade for the past ten years, unemployment (before the current genocide began) was at an incredible 63 percent, the highest official rate in the world. It is no wonder then that the Palestinians resist so fiercely their illegal occupations. According to international law, they have every right to oppose their foreign oppressors. Now Gaza, unfortunately, is a picture of death and devastation devoid of any hope of revival. 
President Nelson Mandela stated that the independence of South Africa was incomplete without the independence of Palestine. In line with the statement, the Republic of South Africa filed a case of genocide by Israel in Gaza. During proceedings before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), South Africa stated that Israel is responsible for violations of the Genocide Convention in respect of its actions taken in Gaza, allegations which Israel rejects.
As we all know, cases brought to the ICJ take years to come to judgment. In the meantime, it is open to the parties to seek interim relief–provisional measures. South Africa asked the Court to order nine such measures, including the cessation of military operations, and the Court has now responded to that request. In its Order of January 26, 2024, the Court recalled the attack of October 7, 2023 on Israel with hostage-taking and loss of life, as well as the human suffering, loss of life, displacement of civilians, and damage to the infrastructure in Gaza caused by Israel and ordered that Israel must fulfil its obligations under the Genocide Convention and about Palestinians in Gaza:
▪ Take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of acts prohibited in the Convention, in particular killings, causing severe physical or mental harm, the deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the population in whole or in part, and the imposition of measures intended to prevent births;
▪  Ensure that Israeli military forces do not commit any of the acts mentioned in point 1;
▪  Take all measures within its power to prevent and punish direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
▪  Take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of humanitarian relief to Gaza;
▪  Take adequate measures to prevent the destruction of evidence relating to allegations of acts contrary to the Genocide Convention;
▪  Submit a report to the Court within one month regarding the measures it has taken to give effect to the Order.
The Court also noted that all parties are bound by international humanitarian law (IHL); it stated that it was gravely concerned by the fate of the hostages and called for their immediate release. It is important to note that the Court did not decide on whether or not genocide has been committed. Nor did the Court determine if it even has jurisdiction to hear the case.
For the provisional measures order, the ICJ only needed to determine whether it had prima facie jurisdiction, meaning whether there was a plausible connection between the measures requested and the rights covered by the case. Additionally, the court needed to assess whether the underlying case was at least plausible, whether there would be irreparable prejudice to the case if measures were not ordered, and whether the matter was urgent.
In its decision on January 26, the Court determined that all these conditions were met. Additionally, the Court ruled that South Africa prima facie has "standing" to bring the case, meaning it has the right to do so under the Genocide Convention, recognizing that obligations under the Convention are erga omnes, meaning they concern the international community as a whole. It's important to note that the provisional measures issued by the Court are legally binding on Israel, and there is no right of appeal. However, there is no international police force to enforce rulings of the ICJ.
Although South Africa had requested the Court to order a ceasefire, the Court did not do so. Furthermore, the Court did not adopt the language or, in some instances, the content of the other requests made by South Africa.
While the ICJ judgment may be seen as a positive step, for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza the UNSC resolution brings little relief to the Palestinians who continue to suffer at the hands of Israel without repercussions.


The author has served as an Ambassador to China, the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourg. and Ireland. She has also authored and edited several books including Magnificent Pakistan, Pakistan-China All Weather Friendship, and Lost Cities of Indus
E-mail: [email protected]
 

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Ambassador Naghmana A. Hashmi (R)

The writer has served as an Ambassador to China, the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourd and Ireland. She has also authored and edited several books including Magnificent Pakistan, Pakistan-China All Weather Friendship, and Lost Cities of Indus.E-mail: [email protected]

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