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Why accusing Israel of genocide is a sham

19 February 2024 Expertises   341  

Martine Gozlan

“Words have meaning”: this reminder from the Quai d’Orsay on the announcement of the first conclusions of the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the case brought by South Africa against Israel, accused of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. Words have a meaning and, in this case, the word “genocide”, coined in the aftermath of the Holocaust by the jurist Raphaël Lemkin, a survivor of Nazi extermination, has been distorted by the accusing country, a friend of Iran, and by the judges in The Hague. Admittedly, the Court has not yet delivered a final opinion. But it ordered the Hebrew State “to prevent any act of genocide and to prevent and punish its incitement”. Hamas immediately applauded this news, trumpeting the need to “force the occupiers to implement the Court’s decisions”.

The “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948, inspired by the murder of six million European Jews. So here we have a people made up largely of survivors and descendants of genocide survivors accused of committing the same crime against the Palestinians of Gaza. The enormity of the symbol has in no way discouraged a whole series of countries – the much-maligned Global South, in reality a conglomerate of rival dictatorships – from supporting Pretoria’s complaint.

Israel has not shied away from the issue, having signed the convention it is accused of betraying. Aharon Barak, the judge appointed to represent the Jewish State at the tribunal, is himself a survivor of the Kaunas ghetto in Lithuania. When he was 5 years old in 1944, he escaped the liquidation of the Jewish population by the Nazis and their collaborators by hiding in a sack at the bottom of a cart. If we add to this tragic childhood the background of the judge – a former president of the Supreme Court, Aharon Barak opposes Netanyahu to ensure that Israel remains a democracy with checks and balances guaranteeing the rights of all citizens, Jews and Arabs alike – the context and the protagonists of the trial in The Hague are a sinister theatre of the absurd.

South Africa did not bother with the facts. The indictment makes no mention of the massacres perpetrated by Hamas terrorists. To listen to the lawyers of the “rainbow nation”, it seems that Israel decided to attack Gaza because it wanted to. But however much the South African lawyers twist reality, they come up against the very definition of the concept in the name of which they are fighting, i.e. the “intentionality” of the crime. The concept of genocide, according to the text of the Convention, implies “the deliberate infliction on a group of persons of conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part”.

On the one hand, this is exactly what happened to the Israelis who were massacred, tortured, mutilated, raped and kidnapped during the attack on 7 October 2023. The instructions given to the terrorists – who filmed their barbaric acts – to liquidate the population of the kibbutz and towns bordering Gaza (a pacifist population living on internationally recognised Israeli territory) were atrociously clear. Moreover, the Hamas charter provides for the elimination of the Jewish presence on the land which the organisation, in the name of Islam, claims as its own in place of Israel. As for the Hebrew State’s “intention” to put an end to the Palestinians, this is not supported by any concrete data. The offensive carried out the Israeli army, in response to the aggression of 7 October, began in the early hours with an information campaign aimed at Gazans, asking them to leave for the south to escape the bombardments.

The high number of victims – 23,000 according to Hamas, 9,000 of whom Israel considers to be terrorists – was explained by the organisation itself. “The tunnels are reserved for our fighters, and it is the UN that must protect civilians”, Hamas officials proclaimed. The diversion by the terrorists of the humanitarian and medical aid supplied by Israel – a curious policy for “genocidaires” – was filmed by the Gazans themselves. Witnesses managed to show the scenes that unfolded on the road to the south: Hamas checkpoints designed to prevent the population from fleeing the combat zones, and shootings of recalcitrants. Tucked away in his luxury hotel in Qatar, Ismaïl Haniyeh, the organisation’s leader, extolled “the blood of women, the elderly and children, which strengthens the enthusiasm of the resistance”.

To bolster its incoherent arguments, Pretoria is trying to rely on statements made by several extremists in the Israeli government. These allies of Benyamin Netanyahu in his coalition had spoken of the reoccupation of Gaza and the transfer of its inhabitants. The irresponsible Amihaï Eliyahu, Minister for Heritage, had ranted about a possible atomic bomb to be dropped on Gaza. He was immediately called to order by the Prime Minister, who would have done better to sack him. But these incendiaries have no right to speak in the war cabinet set up the day after 7 October. Netanyahu took care to disassociate himself from them, saying: “Israel has no intention of occupying Gaza or displacing its population”.

On the contrary, the genocidal aims of the 7 October massacres are attested to by the rigorous planning of the murders and the “defilement” – the rapes – to be inflicted on the Israelis according to the plans found on the terrorists and the testimony of those who were taken prisoner.

Unfortunately, the masquerade of the trial in The Hague only serves to feed Islamism, its propagandists and its executioners…