UN’s international court targets Israel again

The International Court of Justice held yet another hearing on Tuesday focused on Israel’s self-defense in Gaza, this time brought by Nicaragua against Germany. Nicaragua is asking the international court to order Germany to stop supplying Israel with weapons, as yet another “provisional measure” targeting the Jewish state under the Genocide Convention

The world court has already twice ordered provisional measures against Israel, most recently on March 28, on the absurd pretense that it is plausible Israel is committing genocide. Perhaps the shocking perversion of international law should not be surprising given the international court is the “court” of the United Nations, for which Zionism still equals racism, its 1991 revocation notwithstanding.

The world court’s lawfare harms the international law principles and humanitarian objectives it claims to champion by encouraging the Hamas strategy of using human shields, abusing hospitals and ambulances for combat, and taking humanitarian aid for itself in order to increase Gazan civilian harms and enlisting foreign pressure against Israel.  This perfidy makes accidents such as the bombing of aid workers last week inevitable.

Aharon Barak, Israel’s ad hoc judge on the panel, revealed the decision’s complete lawlessness by identifying two fundamental flaws in the international court’s measures.

First, the world court may only impose provisional measures if it is “plausible” that Israel intends to commit genocide. This is completely preposterous. Israel is not the perpetrator of genocide, but defending itself from a genocidal campaign waged by Iran and its Hamas and Hezbollah allies.

Second, the humanitarian aid ordered by the international court is not covered by the Genocide Convention, which is the court’s sole basis for jurisdiction over Israel. Israel’s signature to the Geneva Convention includes granting jurisdiction to the world court, but only for issues covered by the Convention. Other international law addresses humanitarian aid, but does not give the court jurisdiction.

Barak joined the world court’s measure ordering Israel to increase aid to Gaza, despite conceding he had no legal grounds for doing so, citing his feelings about Gazan suffering. Barak claimed Israel has this obligation under Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, while also admitting the court has no jurisdiction. 

But Article 23 only requires Israel to allow “free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases.” And even this limited aid is only required in cases in which ”there are no serious reasons for fearing that the consignments may be diverted from their destination” or would help the enemy. Given Hamas is taking much of the aid, as Barak stated, Israel has no obligation to supply Gaza.

Many Israelis believe Israel should not supply Gaza while Hamas holds hostages in dire conditions, subject to atrocious abuse and near starvation, and refuses to allow humanitarian access or even identify living hostages. Nonetheless, Israel is doing all it can to maximize the shipment of aid to Gaza.  The major obstacles are U.N. disorganization in distributing the aid and Hamas hoarding it. Whether to aid Gaza under such circumstances is a policy decision for Israel’s government, not a legal question for foreign courts.

The entire case is political, not legal, and part of the international pressure campaign, including the Biden administration, against Israel to stop its military campaign before entering Rafah on Gaza’s southern border to rescue the hostages and destroy Hamas. The world court blames Israel for Gazan casualties, as claimed by Hamas, in a war started by Hamas ending the prior ceasefire by invading Israel. The campaign is animated by hostility to Israel, not any humanitarian objective.

The successful foreign pressure, citing fake international law, to keep Israel from destroying Hamas convinced Hamas it could execute an attack against Jews and survive by hiding in its sophisticated Gazan tunnel fortresses, not coincidentally built with “humanitarian” aid, under hospitals, schools, and homes. Hamas is, therefore, actively trying to increase casualties in Gaza. Hamas prevents Gazans from fleeing the combat zones, endangers and interferes with humanitarian aid distribution, and locates its fighters and weapons amid Gazan civilians.

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Israel’s right and obligation to defend its people is not erased by the Hamas strategy of maximizing the deaths of innocents, including aid workers, on both sides.  The Biden administration’s claim that collateral damage and battlefield mistakes killing civilians, which Hamas strategically makes inevitable despite Israel taking unprecedented steps to minimize such harms, betrays a lack of “reverence for human life” and is “indistinguishable” from Hamas genocide mirrors and encourages the international court’s perversity.  

Fabricating new legal obligations and judicial jurisdiction against law-abiding countries such as Israel harms humanitarian objectives by creating a perverse advantage for terrorists and rogue regimes that encourages them to initiate barbaric attacks. America’s adversaries are watching and planning accordingly. 

Aharon Friedman served as senior adviser to the assistant treasury secretary for tax policy and as senior tax counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee.

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