Vanessa Frazier, Permanent Representative of Malta and President of the Security Council for April 2024, briefs the Press on the Programme of Work. Credit: United Nations - Photo: 2024

Israel’s Gaza Genocidal Tragedy: Accountability and Accomplices

By P.I Gomes

The writer is a Former Cooperative Republic of Guyana Ambassador to the European Union and ACP Group of States, Brussels (2005 -2015) and Secretary-General of the ACP Group of States (2015-2020).

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago | 11 April 2024 (IDN) — As Malta presides over the United Nations Security Council (UN SC) in the month of April 2024, a renewed sense of urgency is expected from accelerated, thorough and systematic investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Those investigations are to determine whether, and the extent to which, war crimes have been committed in the Palestinian occupied territories, particularly Gaza.

P. I. Gomes

The expectations that Malta would prioritise the charges of war crimes by Israel were explicitly stated by Malta’s permanent representative to the UN on the eve of assuming presidency of the UNSC for the month of April.

As Ambassador Vanessa Frazier stated: “Malta is a great supporter of the judicial institutions of the United Nations as a founding member of both ICJ (International Court of Justice) and the ICC”, (see interview in by Damilola Banjo, April 1, 2024). And the Ambassador further urged Prosecutor Karim Khan to conduct the investigations properly, and where he finds war crimes, he should prosecute.”

This plea by Malta must also take account of the prior pleas in November 2023 by Bangladesh, Bolivia Comoros, Djibouti and South Africa to the ICC’s Prosecutor’s Office on possible war crimes being committed in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

These concerted demands for accountability of the Israeli government and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that are relentlessly executing the war on Hamas cannot any longer be ignored.

Report of the UN Special Rapporteur

Extremely pertinent, in this regard is the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur about human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. It is strongly supportive of the forceful pleas on UN member states and almost simultaneously, the Special Rapporteur’s Report was presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Additionally, the Report coincided with the UN SC resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and “urgent need” to expand the flow of aid to Gaza.

Valuable and highly significant as the UNSC resolution is, in substance and as the first to not be vetoed by any permanent member of the Council, the Special Rapporteur’s Report (SRR) is outstanding as a critically pertinent advance on the understanding and practice of international humanitarian law (IHL). The SRR provides extensive historical documentation and compelling evidence on the issues of accountability and accomplices that remain fundamental, even though at times overlooked by many.

Inescapable Accountability & Accomplices

With the title, “Anatomy of a Genocide” in Gaza, the Report by Francesca Albanese was presented to the Human Rights Council, 55th session in lucid language and vivid descriptive accounts of the constitutive elements of genocide (A/HRC/55/73, para 17-19). The Summary of the Report states:

“By analysing the patterns of violence and Israel’s policies in its onslaught on Gaza, this report concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met.”

The Summary goes on to state: “One of the key findings is that Israel’s executive and military leadership and soldiers have intentionally distorted jus in bello principles, subverting their protective functions, in an attempt to legitimize genocidal violence against the Palestinian people.”

The SRR has provided extensive historical documentation and compelling evidence on the issues of accountability and accomplices, recommending that UN member states:

— immediately implement an arms embargo on Israel, as it appears to have failed to comply with the binding measures ordered by the ICJ on 26 January 2024, as well as other economic and political measures necessary to ensure an immediate and lasting ceasefire and to restore respect for international law, including sanctions.

Other recommendations urge UN member states to:

— “act to ensure a thorough, independent and transparent investigation of all violations of international law committed by all actors, including those amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide … (para 97)

By these and related recommendations, the SRR has presented an additional appeal for the international community to genuinely and systematically address Israel’s Gaza War against Hamas in its legal, ethical and political implications.

In this regard, the defiance by Israel of the verdict by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 26 January 2024, to take “immediate and effective measures” to protect Palestinians from the risk of genocide is the strong ruling for legal and ethical accountability. But Israel’s disregard and failure to report back to the Court was reprimanded by the updating of the provisional measures on 27 March 2024. These demanded complete cessation of all atrocities and military activity by the IDF noting the use of starvation and famine as a weapon of war.

Protected by the unconditional immunity granted to Israel by the USA, as Foreign Minister Pandor of South Africa so unequivocally asked: “how can we pretend there is some just cause behind the murderous onslaught” that continues in Gaza, where, as this is written, more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza mainly women and children.

According to Professor Geoffrey Nice, KC and former lead prosecutor at Slobodan Milosevic’s trial, Israel’s war in Gaza lacks “proportionality” one of the major customary rules of IHL. In such circumstances, lack of proportionality would constitute criminality and as Professor Nice further indicated, to continue supplying weapons for execution of the atrocities of that war establishes complicity (, 3 April 2024).

Inevitably therefore, those countries, such as the USA, Germany and UK, that are major suppliers of arms and military equipment to Israel must acknowledge the risk they bear as accomplices in Israel’s genocidal war against the Palestinian nation and peoples.

These tragic circumstances heighten the appeal for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the occupied Palestinian territories and for the ICC to urgently conclude comprehensive investigations of the accusations of genocide by Israel.

Irrespective of the promising possibilities to deepen and ensure a mature partnership of the OACPS and EU for a rightful place of joint action in a changing global order, the EU must take serious and consistent action to reset its acclaimed “soft power”. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Vanessa Frazier, Permanent Representative of Malta and President of the Security Council for April 2024, briefs the Press on the Programme of Work. Credit: United Nations

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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