ICJ: Israel can continue the slaughter, but carefully

Victor de Currea-Lugo | January 26, 2024

On the morning of July 9, 2004, we cried in The Hague, following the announcement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The wall that surrounds Palestinians, creating ghettos was described as illegal.

Two months later, at a UN meeting, we discussed the 8 measures that Israel should comply with, and we concluded, looking somewhat ahead of others, that the ICJ document was a dead letter. Now, almost 20 years later, we repeat our conclusion. So, this column is written from a place of pessimism, with the fervent desire to be wrong.

Systematicity of Israel

Israel was accepted by the UN under the premise that it accepted two resolutions: that of the Partition Plan (181 of 1947) which gave it 54% of the land and, therefore, it should withdraw beyond the armistice lines, which gave it control of 78% of the land.

And the second resolution (194 of 1948) was the one that guaranteed the right of return of Palestinian refugees, expelled from their lands in 1948, especially to nearby countries where they settled in refugee camps and where their children and grandchildren remain.

In other words, Israel was born in violation of international law. And continued to do the same, despite hundreds of resolutions on the acquisition of territory by force, on the legal status of Jerusalem, on the illegality of all Israeli settlements in the occupied territory, and the right of return of refugees.

Furthermore, I dare say that there is not a single convention related to human rights and international humanitarian law that has not been violated by Israel, systematically and against the Palestinians.

The ICJ, in 2024

Let’s go back to 2024, Israel is accused of committing genocide, before the ICJ, by South Africa and with the support of a group of countries. The ICJ says it is competent. We already knew that, and we couldn’t expect anything different. It would be suicidal to declare yourself disabled. Of course, this formality had to be complied with.

The problem is that the ICJ has issued cosmetic provisional measures: Israel must prevent its military actions from affecting civilians. But Israel does not always carry out military actions, they are not hostilities against another armed actor, but rather deliberate and systematic attacks against civilians and civilian sites.

We already have too much evidence of the level of deliberate attacks against refugee and displaced person camps, hospitals, and health centers, against journalists, against UNRWA and UN headquarters. The ICJ recognizes that.

There are measures to cut off the supply of water, food, and all types of humanitarian aid. More than 10 minors are amputated every day due to Israel’s attacks. These are not acts of war, these are war crimes.

If Israel was born violating UN resolutions, if in 75 years it has not complied with anything mandated by the international community, what can we expect? If the same ICJ today cited part of the instigations of genocide made by Israeli authorities, why could we assume that Israel’s intention is not genocidal?

In the Darfur genocide, the international community abandoned the people. UN troops did the same, leaving civilians to their fate in the Rwandan genocide and, even worse, their behavior in the Bosnian genocide.

We are faced with criminal acts, an Israeli State systematically violating international law, numbers that clearly show the Israeli intention to devastate civilians, and a Court with the capacity – at least in theory – to stop a genocide, but it wins, again, legal formality. Explain that to the Gazans.

Let us remember that the International Tribunal of Rwanda failed because more than a year later it had only examined just over 60 cases. It was a failure full of formalities, bureaucracy, and political calculations.

Now, the ICJ decides that Israel can continue the war, but that it cannot “attack civilians.” Israel has known that since 1948, the Geneva Conventions have required that since 1949, and all international law agreements repeat that. What the Court asks of Israel cannot be implemented without an immediate ceasefire. The ICJ has raised its hand to state the obvious.

The ICJ reflects in its statement the full level of evil that Israel has reached but limits itself to asking Israel to be more careful. I can’t help but think of a letter from an imaginary international court which, in 1944, said:

“Messrs. Adolf Hilter, Rudolf Hess, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, Josef Mengele: please remember that concentration camps must not affect civilians, that gas chambers must be used with caution, that in one month we are going to visit them to see how the implementation of regulations is going, that the civilians from this month forward do not count either as long as the genocide is not noticed; You can continue the war, but more gently.»

PS: Israel has already said that the war will continue and that the ICJ is