Albanese government rejects ‘premise’ of genocide as Israel faces world court

Israel’s “genocidal acts” in Gaza have been laid out in meticulous detail in South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

But Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has declared “no one will stop us”, vowing that there are “many more months” of war ahead.

South African lawyer Adila Hassim argued that, “Israel has deliberately imposed conditions on Gaza that cannot sustain life, and are calculated to bring about its physical destruction.”

Over 30,000 are dead, including thousands missing under the rubble. Israel has destroyed 70 per cent of the basic civilian infrastructure of Gaza, including schools, hospitals, universities, water and sanitation services, the Euro-med Human Rights Monitor says.

Israel aims to make Gaza completely uninhabitable.

Israeli government ministers hope to make conditions unbearable enough to force “as many Palestinians in Gaza as possible to leave the Strip”, as heritage minister Amihai Eliyahu put it. “We need to find what hurts them, what will overwhelm them, break their spirit,” he said.

South Africa has requested urgent “provisional measures” instructing Israel to halt military operations. A decision against it would have enormous moral weight. But the ICJ has no way of enforcing its decisions.

It issued an advisory opinion in 2004 declaring Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank illegal that did nothing to stop it.

But the charge under the Genocide Convention shows the growing outrage at Israel globally.

The prospects of a wider war are growing, with the US and UK launching air strikes against the Houthis in Yemen. Israeli bombing against Hezbollah in Lebanon is also escalating.

The Houthis have vowed to keep targeting Israeli-linked shipping and other traffic in the Red Sea, near the Suez Canal, until Israel ends its war on Gaza.

The air strikes were immediately backed by the Albanese government, which boasted of Australia’s involvement with military personnel at the operation’s headquarters.

They are designed to send a message that any efforts at military action in support of the Palestinians will be punished.

US President Joe Biden followed up with a private message to Iran, which supplies arms to the Houthis, that the US was “well-prepared” for war.

Pressure on Labor

The Albanese government has refused to support the prosecution at the ICJ. Foreign Minister Penny Wong said it does not recognise the “premise” of South Africa’s charge of genocide. It is also hedging its bets by saying it, “respects the independence of the ICJ and the judicial process.”

But it is feeling the pressure from weeks of enormous protests after the government declared it “stands with Israel”.

More than 50 current and former Labor MPs signed a letter in December calling for an “immediate, permanent ceasefire” and an end to Israel’s “domination” over the Palestinians.

Penny Wong is visiting Israel to show the Australian government’s ongoing support for the Zionist state. Her trip comes in response to calls from Israel’s supporters for a high-level Australian visit.

While Wong initially presented her visit as “advocating for a pathway out of this conflict”, once there she declared that, “Our nation stands in solidarity with Israel”.

While the Australian government voted in support of an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” at the UN General Assembly in December, it refused to call for an unconditional ceasefire.

A joint statement from Albanese and the Canadian and New Zealand Prime Ministers before the December vote showed that Labor is backing Israel’s continuation of the war.

It made it clear that Albanese was advocating only another “pause” in Israel’s attack, and that Australia backed a long-term ceasefire only if Hamas completely surrenders, laying down its arms and unconditionally releasing all its hostages.

Labor’s efforts to blame Hamas for the genocide in Gaza mean they are still justifying and giving support to Israel’s war.

Israel can only continue to slaughter Palestinians because of the support of Western allies like the US, UK and Australia.

The US continues to supply Israel with all the weapons it needs to continue its saturation bombing. Australian companies are also supplying military equipment and parts. Bisalloy Steels in Wollongong provides armoured steel to Israel’s Rafael Defense Systems while other companies supply parts for Israel’s F-35 strike fighters.

We need to spread and deepen the support for Palestine to break Australia from backing Israel and the US. Organising in the unions with new groups of activists, and building union contingents on demonstrations will build a stronger movement and increase the pressure on Labor.

Invasion Day protests this year will include demands in support of Palestine, as Indigenous activists show their opposition to Israeli settler-colonialism.

Protests demanding boycotts and sanctions against economic and military links with Israel, such as Zim shipping, can also target Australia’s militarism and help create a political crisis around Australia’s support for Israel.

Escalating the protests and outrage worldwide against Israel’s genocide will be needed to force it to a halt.

Magazine

Solidarity meetings

Latest articles

Read more

Israeli attack on UNRWA aid another genocidal act

Israel’s allegations against the UNRWA aid organisation in Gaza have been rapidly exposed as lies.

ZIM, blockades and the unions: Lessons from Webb Dock

For almost four days in January protest action with workers refusing to cross the community picket succeeded in preventing work on the ZIM shipping-line at Webb Dock in Melbourne.

Teachers won’t be silenced on Palestine

More than 70 Victorian teachers and school staff attended a forum “Teachers for Palestine: why there’s no ‘neutrality’ on genocide” on 22 January, despite the Opposition Education spokesperson calling for the Education Department to discipline attendees.