A deep dive into claims of genocide perpetrated by both sides in the Israel-Hamas war

Gerry ChidiacAccording to the United Nations Genocide Convention of 1948, “genocide means any of the following acts (five possible acts are listed) committed with INTENT to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Intent means that your words clearly state what you want to accomplish.

In the case of the current crisis in Gaza, charges of genocide are now being brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Conveniently, neither the United States nor Israel has signed onto the agreement that established this court, though the vast majority of other countries, including Canada, have done so. It should also be noted that not only is genocide a crime under international law, but complicity in genocide is as well.

Hamas has demonstrated clear genocidal intent. It has also committed obvious war crimes. There is little doubt that its leaders will be convicted before the ICC, especially since Palestine is a signatory and Hamas has been the de facto governing body in the Gaza Strip since 2007.

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Craig Mokhiber, the former director of the New York office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, had this to say regarding Israel’s intent: “Usually the most difficult part of proving genocide is intent because there has to be an intention to destroy in whole, or in part, a particular group. In this case, the intent by Israeli leaders has been so explicitly stated and publicly stated – by the prime minister, by senior cabinet ministers, by military leaders – that that is an easy case to make. It’s on the public record.”

Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman has stated, “I am very puzzled by the constant concern which the world is showing for the Palestinian people … these horrible inhuman animals.”

Israeli Defense Force general Giora Eiland remarked, “Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieve the goal. Gaza will become a place where no human can exist.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the current situation with Palestinians to the biblical story of Amalek. “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them … put to death men and women, children and infants.”

This is, unfortunately, only a partial list of statements made by Israeli officials, but these attitudes seem quite pervasive.

It is indeed disturbing how socially acceptable it is to voice genocidal intent toward Palestinians. When a Florida state representative asked in her legislature, “We are at 10,000 dead Palestinians. How many will be enough?” Representative Michelle Salzman shouted out, “All of them!” American federal legislators Tom Cotton and Max Miller have made similar comments.

We live in a world turned upside down. While those who call for Gaza to be eviscerated face no sanctions, members of American and Canadian legislatures are officially censured for speaking up for innocent Palestinian civilians. While very diverse and peaceful protest marches, where Jews have a very strong presence, are called “hate marches” and “antisemitic,” a very white-looking (especially considering the ethnic diversity of the country) crowd at a pro-Israel rally in Washington DC shouts down an African-American speaker calling for peace with chants of “No ceasefire!”

To find sanity, many are now turning to the legal system. In Canada, for example, the left-leaning Canadian Foreign Policy Institute has served notice that Justin Trudeau and several members of his government will be pursued for aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes in the ICC.

While Hamas leaders will certainly face justice, it is questionable whether any Israeli, American, or Canadian officials will ever be put on trial.

We need to remember why we have the Genocide Convention and international humanitarian law. After the death and tyranny of the Second World War era, decent people came together and put structures in place to guarantee a better future. Without respect for the international courts, let alone for human beings, we are at serious risk of destroying their efforts and falling into the same chaos.

Gerry Chidiac specializes in languages, genocide studies and works with at-risk students. He is the recipient of an award from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre for excellence in teaching about the Holocaust.

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Editor’s note: The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute (CFPI) advocates for progressive foreign policy positions and often focuses on issues such as peace, disarmament, social justice, and human rights.


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