The US government could be complicit in Israel’s ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people under international law, a group of legal scholars warned the Biden administration and the International Criminal Court prosecutor.
Lawyers with the Center for Constitutional Rights issued a dire warning to President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a 44-page emergency letter Wednesday following Biden’s trip to the Middle East. There, Biden reaffirmed his administration’s unwavering support for Israel — even as the Israeli government wages an unprecedented bombing campaign on the occupied Gaza Strip in retaliation for a horrific Hamas attack that killed more than 1,400 Israeli citizens.
“Israel’s mass bombings and denial of food, water and electricity are aimed at destroying the Palestinian population in Gaza,” Katherine Gallagher, senior attorney at CCR and legal representative for the victims in the ongoing ICC investigation in Palestine, told The Intercept. “US officials can be held accountable for their failure to prevent the unfolding genocide against Israel and for their complicity in encouraging and providing material support to it.”
“We recognize that we are making serious allegations in this document – but these are not unfounded,” she added. “There is a credible basis for these claims.”
A State Department spokesman declined to comment, saying, “As a general rule, we do not offer public reviews of reports or briefs from outside groups.” The White House and Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Wednesday, the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning all violence against civilians and calling for humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. The US rejected the resolution because it did not address Israel’s right to self-defense.
Israel invoked this right in its attack on Gaza, which has killed more than 4,200 Palestinians and displaced more than a million. But collective punishment – including measures such as Israel’s blockade of fuel, food and electricity in the occupied territories – and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians constitute war crimes under international law. Several legal experts have argued that the acts also amount to crimes against humanity and genocide of the 1948 Genocide Convention. On Thursday, a UN panel of experts issued a separate statement condemning the bombings of schools and hospitals in Gaza as crimes against humanity and warning that there was a risk of the crimes escalating to genocide.
“We sound the alarm: there is an ongoing campaign by Israel leading to crimes against humanity in Gaza,” the experts wrote. “Given the statements of Israeli political leaders and their allies, accompanied by military actions in Gaza and the escalation of arrests and killings in the West Bank, there is also a risk of genocide against them.” [Palestinian] People.”
While warnings of possible genocide have increased in recent days, some international law experts believe this is the case warned that the war crimes and crimes against humanity – including the crime of apartheid – of which Israel has long been accused are no less serious. As an international legal scholar Put it: “[T]There is no hierarchy of international crimes here.” The problem is that Israel has not been held accountable for any of its past crimes, making accountability for its ongoing offensive unlikely.
Under international law, the crime of genocide affects not only those who carry out the crime, but also those who participate in it, including through “aiding and abetting”.
“Instead of continuing to enable Israeli crimes, the US should pressure Israel to end its military operations and ensure a ceasefire.”
According to the CCR brief, Israel is attempting to commit the crime of genocide, if it has not already committed it, particularly against the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip. The US government is not fulfilling its obligation to prevent genocide, the document continues. Furthermore, there is a “plausible and credible argument” that continued and unconditional U.S. military, diplomatic and political support for Israel’s military intervention against the people of Gaza potentially makes the country complicit in genocide under international law. (The US has its own version of the law, which makes it a crime for any US citizen – including the president – to commit, attempt or incite genocide.)
“Rather than continuing to enable Israeli crimes, the United States should pressure Israel to end its military operations and ensure a ceasefire, as well as ensuring the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance and essential supplies to Palestinians in Gaza,” Gallagher said.
The CCR briefing also calls on the government to address the causes of recent violence, including Israel’s 16-year siege of Gaza, its 56-year illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and “the apartheid regime throughout historic Palestine.” .”
Photo: Belal Khaled/Anadolu via Getty Images
As Israel continues to plan a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, the US sent it a shipment of armored vehicles on Thursday, following deliveries of US-made advanced weapons earlier this month. Biden is expected to advocate for greater military support for Israel in a speech on Thursday evening.
Israel has historically been the largest recipient of American military aid – amounting to $158 billion since the country’s founding in 1948. This funding has come under increasing scrutiny in the US, including after Israeli forces killed several US citizens had. On Wednesday, a senior State Department official resigned from his post, citing the U.S. government’s continued supply of lethal weapons to Israel.
“I cannot advocate for a number of important policy decisions, including providing more weapons to one side of the conflict, which I believe is short-sighted, destructive, unjust and contrary to the values we publicly espouse,” said Josh Paul , the former director of congressional and public affairs in the State Department’s Office of Political-Military Affairs, wrote in a letter. “If we want a world shaped by our values, we can only achieve it by making strategic imperatives conditioned by moral ones, by holding our partners and, above all, ourselves to these values.”
Asked about the resignation on Thursday, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said: “We have made it very clear that we strongly support Israel’s right to self-defense. We will continue to provide the security assistance needed for self-defense.”
This week, legal experts also testified before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, specifically calling on the international body’s members to urgently address the emerging crimes and, in particular, to hold the United States accountable for its role in them.
“If such a body fails to reaffirm its commitment to the right to life in this particular genocidal moment, our collective humanity will be significantly weakened,” said Ahmad Abuznaid, a human rights lawyer and director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, the committee.
He also warned of the far-reaching impact of U.S. support for Israel and the dehumanization of Palestinians, citing the killing of a six-year-old in Chicago last week. “As U.S. politicians and mainstream media beat the war drums for genocide and repeat dehumanizing rhetoric and misinformation about our people, this has not only emboldened Israel’s genocidal actions but has also had alarming consequences in the United States.”
Source : theintercept.com