Once again in the recently concluded two-day hearing brought by South Africa before the International Court of Justice, not on our behalf, but that of international law and justice, Israel spent its entire defense relying on rampant hearsay, a fabric of lies and an obvious strategy of deflection. Before responding to this symphony of distortion let us make clear certain fundamental undeniable points:
Hamas was elected by Palestinians in Gaza more than fifteen years ago in a process described by then international monitor former President Jimmy Carter as the fullest and fairest he had ever observed. All these years later we still serve in that capacity not because we have refused or prevented our Palestinian families and community from holding new elections, but because Israel has done everything in its power to ensure that full and free elections will not happen, fearing that Hamas would not only once again win in Gaza, but throughout the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. Our candidates have been detained, essentially indefinitely, without formal charge or trial in a military system; universities have been raided and closed and students arrested whenever they dared to hold political rallies or debates let alone elections to see who would speak on their behalf; and, finally, our political leaders, activists and candidates have often been executed by Israeli military and security forces, or by so-called settlers. So please, spare us the indictment that we are a despotic movement interested in maintaining power at all costs rather than one which seeks to participate in full, fair and free elections across all of Palestine and which will abide by those results whatever they may be.
Israel’s defense against the action brought before the ICJ by South Africa, is likewise filled with convenient distortion, deflection and, at times, outright lies. Moreover, our lawyers advise that its various defenses are not valid under the Genocide Convention but simply another in the lifetime Israeli scream that it is the eternal victim, all the while victimizing millions of Palestinians. As a civil proceeding, the ICJ arguments were not a trial with live in-person witnesses’ to events they observed or participated in and who could be subject to examination and cross examination for the Judges to decide their credibility and whether to credit their narrative. Israel spent most of its defense telling the Judges and the world what Hamas did or did not do on the basis of second, at times third hand reports very much like a novel for sale. None of the sources for these accusations or so-called observations appeared in court and many were not even identified. Israel simply said this is what happened and why … trust us.
Israel used the same dodge before the ICJ in defending what it claims to have done in Gaza these past three months, using second and third hand self-serving information, anonymous sources and manipulation of fact. There is a simple way to resolve this stream of hearsay claims and manipulation — it’s called a trial. Since 2015 Hamas has accepted the jurisdiction of and cooperated with the on-going investigation by the International Criminal Court into Israel and Palestinian resistance movements, including our own. Israel has not. Since 2015 Hamas has repeatedly expressed its interest in appearing before and being judged by the ICC not on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations and screams but evidence and facts. Israel has not.
This could be resolved quickly and easily. Hamas stands ready to appear before the ICC with witnesses and live testimony and bear the burden of any judicial finding against it or its members after a full and fair trial with rules of evidence; with examination and cross examination into we have done or not over the many years of our leadership as a national liberation movement. Is Israel?
Israel has gone to great pains these past three months of its unprecedented onslaught against our people to justify their rampant violation of international law on the basis of what they say happened and by whom on October 7th. In an ever-changing stream of allegations, it accuses the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, of a host of crimes and violations of international law. Putting aside the fact that what Israel alleges on a given Monday changes on Tuesday and what is stated with forensic or scientific certainty by Israel on Wednesday changes on Thursday there is a simple way to establish what did or did not happen on October 7th. A trial. We categorically deny the allegations lodged in the media by Israel and its supporters against us with regard to the events of that day and stand ready to defend ourselves at such a trial. Is Israel willing to proceed from rhetoric to evidence and to pursue justice in such a proceeding and to bear the consequences, whatever they may be? We are.
Ultimately in the broadest sense given Israel’s unprecedented onslaught upon our communities in Gaza and the West Bank these past three months, that is the question of our time. And while Israel has tried before the ICJ to rebut overwhelming independent first-hand evidence of the crimes it has committed most recently against our community of two plus million in Gaza, it has once again proven to be little more than coverup. Quite simply, under international law what did or did not happen on October 7th bears no legal relationship to or defense against what Israel has done to our people in the months since, as little more than not just brazen revenge, but clear violation of the Convention against Genocide.
Fact. Over these months Israel has dropped more bombs on Gaza than the allied forces on Germany during a two-year period of WWII. It’s fired some 30,000 air-to-ground munitions, 50 per cent of them unguided and launched more than 15,000 tank shells into our residences, hospitals, schools, shelters, and refugee camps.
Fact. These months of incessant Israeli attacks have killed more than 25,000 civilians with almost 13,000 children slaughtered, and another 60,000 wounded. Some 10,000 Palestinians are missing buried under the rubble of their homes and offices.
Fact. Hundreds of medical staff and teachers have been killed along with more than a hundred journalists and a like number of UN workers, all identified as such. More than 80 % of Gaza has been leveled including most hospitals, mosques and churches, schools and essential infrastructure. Like an earlier Nakba, more than 90% of our people have been forcibly dispossessed from their homes.
Fact. Half a million Gazans are starving. Denied food, water, medicine and medical support, hundreds of thousands of our people are sick with the likelihood of out-of-control infectious diseases to claim countless numbers of other civilian lives in the days to come.
More than seventy-five years ago the world watched in horror as the Nuremberg Tribunals put Nazi war criminals on trial, holding them accountable for horrific crimes they carried out against millions of defenseless Jews. From that nightmare came the Convention against Genocide under which, in relevant part, it is defined as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
We ask nothing now but that the Genocide Convention used against those that committed appalling crimes against Jews a lifetime ago be applied equally here and now for other no less fiendish crimes carried out by Israel against millions of defenseless Palestinians.
Law for one is law for all.
⏩Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior member of Hamas is one of the original founders of Hamas, he was the first head of its political wing, imprisoned in the US for some two years because of it, and is now a leader of its international efforts.