Israel and the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza

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By PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO*

As Brazil, among several other governments, described the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza as genocide, it is to be expected that we will support South Africa's management

The South African government presented, on December 29, a petition to the UN International Court of Justice, in The Hague, a body with 15 judges that judge disputes between States. The petition accuses the State of Israel of violating the 1951 convention for the prevention and protection of genocide. This petition has so far been supported by Malaysia, Turkey, Jordan and the 57 countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

As Brazil, among several other governments, has described the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza as genocide, it is to be expected that we will support South Africa's management. The first hearings will take place in court on the mornings of January 11th and 12th.

The 80-page petition is a rigorous and detailed description of the genocide in Gaza. The facts invoked by South Africa are situated in a context of apartheid, expulsion, ethnic cleansing, annexation, occupation, discrimination and continuous denial of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination.

In particular after October 7, Israel failed to prevent genocide and failed to prevent direct and public incitement to genocide by Israeli representatives at the highest political level.

Even more serious, Israel risks becoming even more involved in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza. These acts include killing them, causing grievous mental and bodily harm, and deliberately inflicting upon them living conditions calculated to bring about their physical destruction as a national and ethnic group.

This intention must be undermined by the nature and conduct of Israel's military operation in Gaza, considering the failure to provide or guarantee essential food, water, medicine, fuel, shelter and other humanitarian assistance services to the besieged and blockaded Palestinian people, on the verge of starvation.

This purpose is also clear from the nature, scope and extent of Israel's military attacks on Gaza, with a continuous bombardment for more than 11 weeks in one of the most densely populated regions in the world, forcing the evacuation of 1,9 million people (85 % of Gaza's population) from their homes. They are moved to increasingly cramped areas, without adequate shelter, where they continue to be bombed, killed and injured. Israel has killed more than 21.110 Palestinians, including more than 7.729 children.

Israel has devastated vast areas of Gaza, including entire neighborhoods, damaged or destroyed more than 355 Palestinian homes, farmland, bakeries, schools, universities, businesses, places of worship, cemeteries, cultural sites and devastated, municipal services and water facilities and sanitation and electricity networks. And a relentless attack on the Palestinian medical and healthcare system continues. Israel has prevented and continues to reduce Gaza to rubble, killing, injuring and destroying its population and creating living conditions calculated for its physical destruction as a national group.

South Africa, as a result of these facts, calls for this court to indicate provisional measures to “protect against further, serious and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention”. As the petition does not ask for a definitive decision on the merits of the accusations against Israel, if we take into account recent court judgments, provisional measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza could be issued within weeks.

If these provisional measures determine a ceasefire in military operations and Israel does not comply with them, the damage to the country's international concession will be irreparable. Perhaps for this very reason, Israel, contrary to the systematic contempt and disrespect for the decisions of international organizations and the UN, decided to appear in The Hague to defend itself.

In Brazil

It is regrettable and pathetic that the São Paulo judicial system and the Federal Police accept being used to silence journalist Breno Altman. The entities behind this sound want to shove it down the throat of Brazilian democracy or the hoax that criticizing the State of Israel is anti-Semitism. Total solidarity with Breno Altman.

*Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is Emeritus of FFLCH (USP) and Unicamp; former Minister of Human Rights. Author, among other books, of Strategies of illusion: the world revolution and Brazil, 1922-1935 (Company of Letters). [https://amzn.to/3TVJQdF]

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.


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