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Will this massacre of the innocent ever stop?

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By Dr Upul Wijayawardhana

Whilst THE USA and its allies continue to hound Sri Lanka for defeating terrorism, finding flimsy excuses for their warped actions, they seem to be turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed by their ally, Israel which continues to massacre the innocent breaking all rules with impunity. Their hypocrisy seems to have no bounds! There have been many developments since I wrote my last piece on the subject “Massacre of innocents and hypocrisy of West” (The Island, 11 April); not very much for the better, unfortunately.

Children and women continue to be massacred in the thousands and Israel gives fanciful explanations each time, which are readily accepted by this bunch of nations who seem to have lost all sight of morality. SoutSh Africa, to its credit, took Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s highest court, in December, on charges of genocide and requesting a number of interim relief measures for the protection of the population of Gaza, while the case for genocide is being investigated.

In March, ICJ issued a ruling that Israel should ensure supply of food and relief to residents of Gaza. Whilst the Israel government took no tangible action, extremist Jewish organisations in Israel took action to target lorries carrying food to Gaza. The situation became so bad that the UN stopped food distribution in Rafah, the only strip left in Gaza for displaced Palestinians to survive, around 2ist of May. One of the most sickening sights was seeing children jumping on the food lorries stopped and ransacked by the extremists. Obviously, they want the people in Gaza to be starved to death and looks as if the Israeli government too is doing this, covertly.

In view of the worsening situation ICJ ordered, on 24th May, Israel to stop Rafah offensive and this is how it was reported on the BBC website:

“The UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), has issued a dramatic ruling, ordering Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah”. It acted in support of a South African application last week which sought a number of measures against Israel, accusing it of stepping up what it says is a genocide.

Presiding judge Nawaf Salam said the situation in Gaza had deteriorated since the court last ordered Israel to take steps to improve it. Reading the court’s ruling on Friday, Nawaf Salam said “Israel must immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate” which could bring about “the physical destruction” of the Palestinians – alluding to what constitutes genocide under international law. Israel, he added, must also allow unimpeded access to Gaza to any UN body investigating allegations of genocide. The ruling also reiterated a requirement for Israel to enable “unhindered provision at scale” of basic services and humanitarian aid for Gaza. “The humanitarian situation [in Gaza] is now to be characterised as disastrous,” the ruling said.”

The news item also reported on Israel’s response: “Israel has vehemently denied the allegation and signalled it would ignore any order to halt its operation. Israel rejected the court’s ruling and said its military offensive in Gaza was in line with international law.”

In fact, within minutes of delivering the judgement Israeli warplanes carried a series of strikes on a camp in the centre of Rafah! Making use of the futile Hamas missile attack on Tel Aviv, Israel launched another attack on Sunday 25th which set alight a refugee camp in Rafah killing many innocents. Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu characterised it as ‘a tragic mishap’! Israel always says it is investigating, as whenever any atrocity is committed, USA is happy to leave Israel to investigate itself. Not only that, it is happy to endorse whatever flimsy excuse Israel makes.

However, tide seems to be turning at last! There seems to be widespread condemnation, EU too joining in the condemnation and insisting that Israel should respect the ruling by the ICJ. In addition to eight EU countries that have already recognised the Palestinian state, last week Ireland, Spain and Norway announced that they too would recognise Palestine as a state. Netanyahu’s reaction: “It is a reward for terrorism and Palestine will be a terrorist state”. It is a pity he completely disregarded what the Spanish Prime minister Pedro Sanchez told the Spanish parliament: “Prime Minister Netanyahu is still turning a blind eye and bombing hospitals, schools and homes. He is still using hunger, cold and terror to punish more than a million innocent boys and girls – and things have gone so far that prosecutors at the international criminal court have this week sought his arrest for war crimes.”

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Kaim Khan has moved for arrest warrants on Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for operations in Gaza after 7 October aa well as on Hamas leaders for the terror attack that killed 1200 Israelis. He did not mix his words when he told CNN “Netanyahu and Gallant would be charged with ‘starvation of civilians as a method of warfare as a war crime’ and ‘extermination and/or murder… including in the context of deaths caused by starvation, as a crime against humanity’ in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.”

What is interesting is the reaction of USA for this. Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State has stated that he will work with Congress to impose sanctions on the ICC for issuing warrants on Israeli officials! It is the same the USA that endorsed the arrest warrant on Putin issued by the ICC at the start of the War in Ukraine. What hypocrisy!

The USA seems to be getting isolated owing to its support for Israel, as Israel continues to commit atrocities amounting to genocide and other allies cannot keep looking the other way. There may be some hope, therefore, that Israel may agree to a ceasefire but a long-term solution is badly needed. It is incumbent on UK to take the lead to ensure the two-state solution as the train of events leading to this catastrophe started with the Balfour declaration, a public statement issued by the British government in 1917, during the First World War, announcing its support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. I greatly doubt it as the only country supporting Israel, as fervently as USA seems to be UK. Arrest warrants on Netanyahu was not front-page news in any of the major British dailies!

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