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A cold wind blows as ‘israel’ justifies genocide at the ICJ

Alameen Templeton

Gilad Noam, “israel’s” deputy attorney general for international law, is probably not used to having to work for his money.

So, the panic must have been rising in his throat on Friday as he found himself bereft of support, before the highest court in the world, tasked with an impossible job – explaining away “israel’s” bloody genocide in Gaza.

He hadn’t been given enough time to prepare, he whined, while implying the court was unfairly favouring South Africa by allowing the hearing to go ahead instead of delaying for a week as Noam had requested.

It appeared South Africa had ambushed him and the court seemed fine with that as well. In its application on May 10 for the court to accept a new application for additional measures to be submitted in writing, South Africa had told the court it would ask it to order “israel” to withdraw its troops from Rafah city.

But last Monday, it asked for oral arguments to be heard instead of mere written submissions. Then, on Thursday, it dropped the clanger – it wanted the court to order “israel” to vacate its stormtroopers from the whole of the Gaza ghetto.

Noam was at a loss. The UN and its vassal organisations had been leaning over for 75 years as it strained to head off regular international opprobrium as a result of “israel’s” regular bouts of murder at home and in neighbouring countries.

Now, nothing was working as it should – the judges were allowing all SA’s requests for oral hearings, for delays, for changes to heads of argument, and Noam couldn’t find top-echelon lawyers to represent the Nazi state at short notice.

Despite the massive publicity and career-boosting opportunities that go with an ICJ appearance, not one lawyer of calibre – anywhere in the world – was willing to step up to defend “israel’s” genocide at short notice.

Noam’s sense of abandonment seemed total as he outlined his problems in the face of judges who appeared wholly unsympathetic to his dilemma.

“Israel received notification of this hearing on Monday, less than four days ago, while it was observing a particularly painful national remembrance day,” he began.

That “day” was May 14, the day the Nazi state was established in 1948. Noam seemed oblivious to the fact that May 15 for Palestinians was the remembrance day of the Nakba. He seemed more oblivious to the irony of whining about having his holiday disrupted while the same Palestinians were enduring another genocide and ethnic cleansing by the Nazi state.

South Africa’s request for submissions to be made orally actually have Noam an extra 48 hours to prepare. Instead of submitting his argument in writing on Wednesday as scheduled, he was able to make it orally on Friday.

“Israel was preparing its written observations when the court suddenly announced that it would hold an oral hearing instead,” Noam complained.

He said it “proved impossible” for Israel to be adequately represented by its chosen legal counsel, as several members were “unable to come to The Hague on such short notice”.

“The date of this hearing remained that which South Africa had expressly requested. The regrettable result is that Israel is not represented today by its chosen team of counsel and advocates,” Noam said, gesturing to the largely empty Israeli side of the courtroom.

The South African side was packed full. No “israelis” were in court to support their team – the “Genocide’s Okay” argument seemed to have found as much fertile ground for support among the public as it had among the world’s top-file lawyers.

The judges’ palpable coldness may have been motivated by the many disparaging remarks “israel’s” politicians have made about the court since it issued its first provisional orders in January after finding genocide was quite plausibly unfolding in Gaza.

This new reality flew over Noam’s head who apparently believed “israel” still occupied a “special place” as a victim of a genocide that happened 79 years ago.

“This case, even by its very name, the Application of the Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip, suggests an inversion of reality. It has given rise to South Africa’s egregious and repeated efforts to bring Israel before this court through the most obscene exploitation of the most sacred convention,” Noam said. 

“Calling something a genocide again and again does not make it genocide. Repeating a lie does not make it true,” he added. 

Of course, repeating a lie that a genocide witnessed across the world is not happening also does not make it true.

Noam dusted off a “tried-and-tested” argument, Israel right to self-defence: “the reality is that any state put in Israel’s difficult position, would do the same”.

That’s after every country at the UN bar the US and Israel recently voted for an immediate ceasefire, showing that no other country was willing to make the claim and stood opposed to “israel’s” murderous assault that has continued relentlessly for over seven months.

Noam probably did not endear himself or his argument to the judges by arguing South Africa’s figures could not be trusted as they were based on data from the UN, which he said could not be trusted. Given that the ICJ is the UN’s judicial arm, that was also a backhanded insult to the court itself.

Arguing about the measures Israel has taken to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s patently starving residents, Tamar Kaplan Tourgeman, the principal deputy legal adviser to the Israeli home affairs ministry, also seemed to fail to appreciate the wider picture.

She blamed Hamas for the “humanitarian suffering on both sides”, as though Hamas rockets had destroyed or damaged 80% of Gaza’s buildings or had killed the 35 800 casualties so far.

She claimed the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed only between 5 and 8 May, “after Hamas fired” at the border crossing. She said Israel was trying to reopen the Rafah crossing. 

But she was making the argument on May 17 – nine days later and the crossing was still closed. She said “israel” was “trying” to reopen the Rafah crossing, as though it was a complicated operation that needed more than “israel” just getting out of the way.

UN officials confirmed no aid had been coming through the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings since May 6.

Tourgeman claimed many land border crossings, particularly in the north of the Gaza Strip remained open, but failed to add they were only open to invading military vehicles.

She said “israel” was “doing what it could” feed civilians.

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