I asked the UK Government if it would back the case brought against Israel at the International Court of Justice by South Africa. Other countries have been expressing support but, more importantly, the tragedy in Gaza’s worsening. Some 25,000 are now reckoned to have died, 70 per cent women and kids, children are suffering amputations without anaesthesia, and there’s little sign of the situation improving.
Yet the answer from the Tory minister was lamentable. As with its failure to support a ceasefire at the UN Security Council, the UK has been found wanting with the minister stating: “The development is unhelpful, and we do not support it. We recognise that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas in accordance with international humanitarian law. We don’t believe that calling this genocide is the right approach. It is wrong to say that the Israeli leadership and Israel as a country have the intention to commit genocide.”
Of course, Israel has the right to defend itself and the Hamas attacks and hostage-taking have to be condemned. But what’s being done by Israel has long since gone way beyond that. If the return of the hostages was their aim, it would be negotiation they would be pursuing, as has thankfully been successful in the return of some.
Instead, we’re seeing military strikes that are killing journalists reporting on the situation. Many seem targeted. Likewise, healthcare staff, doctors and medical facilities are being hit, the excuse of Hamas tunnels either exposed as false or, at minimum, certainly unable to apply to most.
It’s not Hamas fighters who are dying by the score but children and innocents. On January 15, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres stated that 152 of his staff had been killed, the largest single loss of life in the organisation’s history. It’ll be more by now.
There’s not even any attempt to describe some instances with that weasel phrase, “collateral damage”. It’s just being done whether attacks from the ground or the air or through the squeezing of the lifeblood out of Gaza by the denial of humanitarian aid. Gaza’s being flattened and made uninhabitable. Over 1.1 per cent of the population have already died. If that were the UK, it would be approaching 750,000.
I also asked the Tory minister what assessment they’d made of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on October 28 last year, in which he referenced Hamas and committed “to completely eliminating this evil from the world”. The speech has become infamous because of Netanyahu’s reference to the people of “Amalek”. In the Old Testament, God told King Saul to “punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel”, going on to state: “Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants.” The UK minister’s response was to repeat the line that the Israeli leadership had no intention of committing genocide.
Maybe not, but Netanyahu’s statement certainly alluded to it. Also, it was scripted and not just a throwaway line. More importantly, if it’s not genocide that’s happening, then what is it? Whatever it’s called, it needs called out and must be stopped. Hopefully, the International Court will do that and humanity, not just international law, can prevail.