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Ending Impunity for the Crimes Against Palestinian and Israeli Civilians, A to Z


Starvation and forced displacement are among the numerous crimes being committed in the Israeli war on Gaza since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. The essayist writes: “While the list of crimes by Hamas is long,” the tally of crimes by Israel and its armed forces and armed settlers “is much longer.” UNRWA/INSTAGRAM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasts that he single-handedly blocked a Palestinian State from becoming a reality even though it is recognized by more than 130 countries and enjoys the status of an Observer State in the United Nations.

In his 16 years in power, Netanyahu has ramped up illegal settlements, effectively annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem; funneled millions of dollars to prop up Hamas and undermine the Palestinian Authority; and concluded the Abraham Accords with four Arab governments willing to sideline the Palestinian cause: Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and United Arab Emirates.

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas launched a bloody attack in southern Israel, which disrupted the status quo — one that was acceptable to Israelis but agonizing for Palestinians. According to Israel’s latest count, 685 Israeli civilians, 373 members of the Israeli security forces and 71 foreigners were killed as a result of that attack and the Israeli security forces’ delayed response to it.

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Since then, Netanyahu and his extremist government have waged a vengeful war on Gaza and a possibly genocidal war against its entire population.

Israel’s American, European and Arab allies are seeking to resurrect the two-state solution as a path to peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Netanyahu objects to such proposals, saying that a Palestinian State “would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism.”

One can equally say — if not more so — that the Arab states and Muslim world’s renewed offer to recognize and to make peace with Israel along the 1967 green line would also give “a huge reward” to Israel’s unprecedented barbarism.

While the list of crimes by Hamas is long, including the deliberate killing of civilians, indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and the taking of men, women and child hostages, the list of crimes by Israel and its armed forces and armed settlers is much longer. From A to Z, they include:

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Acts of plausible genocide, according to the International Court of Justice and a United States federal court

Blockading Gaza for 17 years and denying food, water and medicine since Oct. 7

Collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza

Dropping hundreds of 2,000-pound bombs on densely populated areas

Extrajudicially executing detainees as evidenced by mass graves of blindfolded zip-tied victims

Forcibly displacing nearly two million Palestinians from their homes

Giving arms to militant Israeli settlers to attack Palestinians and confiscate their homes

Harming Palestinians by deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to destroy them

Incessantly and disproportionately bombing Gaza for 152 days

Jailing thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of children, without charge

Killing more than 30,000 Palestinians: mostly women and children in 152 days

Leveling 70 percent of Gaza’s homes

Murdering more than 12,000 children, making Gaza a “graveyard of children”

Not allowing convoys of humanitarian aid to reach the starving people of Gaza

Occupying, annexing and constructing settlements on Palestinian territory

Parading seminaked men in a degrading and humiliating manner

Quoting biblical references to Amalek for revenge against Palestinian “men, women and infants”

Refusing to take the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice

Spreading debunked lies of beheaded babies and other lies

Taking the lives of 162 UN staff and nearly 100 journalists

Using starvation as a weapon of war with half a million Gazans facing a looming famine

Vowing to “erase Gaza” and other genocide-inciting statements by Israeli officials

Willfully destroying Gaza’s hospitals, schools, universities, mosques and churches

Xenophobic and racial discrimination amounting to apartheid

Yelling with joy at destruction of civilian infrastructure

Zealous use of “anti-semitism” label to silence journalists and human rights defenders

During the tenure of the former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, it opened an ongoing investigation into alleged crimes by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups as well by the Israeli armed forces and armed Israeli settlers. The current ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, has vowed to continue that investigation, including into the events of Oct. 7 and its aftermath.

The International Court of Justice has two ongoing proceedings directly involving Israel and Palestine. The first is a December 2022 request by the UN General Assembly for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

The second is a December 2023 case brought by South Africa against Israel alleging violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The world court has recently concluded that genocide allegations are plausible and ordered provisional measures to protect the Palestinian people in Gaza.

In December 2023, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2720 demanding the immediate, unconditional release of all hostages and calling on all parties to protect civilians and enable the immediate humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza. In the resolution, the Council also reiterated its “unwavering commitment to the vision of the two-State solution.”

Also in December 2023, the 10th emergency special session of the UN General Assembly adopted its second resolution since the current crisis began. With 153 member states voting in favor, the Assembly called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire; reiterated its demand that all parties comply with their obligations regarding the protection of civilians and humanitarian assistance; and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

There are increasing calls for the deployment of a civilian protection force in Gaza and the West Bank as well as recommendations to impose diplomatic, financial or other measures, including an arms embargo on Israel. A resumed meeting of the 10th emergency special session could recommend such measures under the “Uniting for Peace” resolution.

The world is watching and waiting for the UN to fulfill its responsibility to protect the civilians in Gaza. We are looking to the UN’s principal organs and the international courts to hold the perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable — whether they be Palestinian militants or Israeli soldiers and armed settlers.

By holding the perpetrators and their leaders individually accountable, we can ensure that the peace and security that most Israelis and Palestinians yearn for can be pursued and achieved without rewarding the crimes of Hamas or the crimes of Israel.

This is an opinion essay.

We welcome your comments on this article.  What are your thoughts on the list of international crimes?

Mona Ali Khalil is an internationally recognized public international lawyer with 25 years of UN and other experience, including as a former senior legal officer in the UN and in the IAEA, with expertise in peacekeeping, peace enforcement, disarmament and counterterrorism. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in international relations from Harvard University and a master’s in foreign service and a J.D. from Georgetown University. She is an affiliate of the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict. She is the founder and director of MAK LAW INTERNATIONAL, an advisory and strategic consulting service assisting governments and intergovernmental organizations in the service of “We the Peoples.”



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Ending Impunity for the Crimes Against Palestinian and Israeli Civilians, A to Z
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Dr Bilali Camara
Dr Bilali Camara
3 months ago

We do not need an injust UN of the 5 ‘powerful’ but a real multipolar world where social justice, human rights, equity, common sense and equality will prevail. The USA is pushing its weapon industry to grow by using Israel to kill Palestinians, keeping them as half-humans and stealing their lands. But at the end of the day only the 2 states solution will prevail, because there is no space on the moon for the Palestinians to migrate to!

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