*Photo: Ambassador Abdullah M. Abu Shawesh*
“The peace is a shared benefit, we all should work hand to hand to achieve it, no one is safe until everyone is safe.“
On the 118th day of the Israel genocidal war against the Palestinian people, the casualty toll has risen to 26,751 Palestinians killed and 65,636 persons injured. Among the dead are 11,500 children, including babies and toddlers.
In the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the casualty toll has risen to 370 Palestinians killed, including 94 children, and 4,386 injured since 7 October. In January alone, 61 Palestinians, including 13 children, were killed by the IOF and/or settlers.
More than 8,000 people – men, women, and children – remain buried under rubble, denied in death the dignity they were denied in life, along with the hundreds of bodies exhumed and defiled by Israel’s destruction of cemeteries and graves in Gaza.
It is the same dignity denied to the more than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza who are desperately struggling to survive the bombs, forced displacement, starvation, thirst, epidemics, and traumas inflicted on them by Israel as it carries on with its genocidal rampage.
The ICJ convened last Friday to deliver its opinion on the case submitted by South Africa against Israel, accusing it of violating its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip. South Africa asked the court to issue 9 provisional actions, including a request for the state of Israel to immediately suspend its military operation in and against Gaza.
I would like to start by extending many thanks to South Africa’s political leaders and people for their strong stance in upholding international law and holding Israel accountable for its crimes.
We welcome this historical move. For the first time ever, after 75 years of violating and trampling international law with full immunity and impunity, Israel will be in the right place it deserves – in the defendant’s box, being sued for committing the crime of genocide.
6 out of 9 provisional actions have been adopted by an overwhelming majority of the judges, which, if literally implemented, will put an end to the current textbook genocide conducted by Israel against the Palestinian people and put an end to nearly 4 months of unbearable suffering.
An important measure is that Israel is obliged to present a report within one month on the steps it took to abide by the 6 provisional measures.
The court also refused the Israeli request to reject the provisional measures submitted by SA and to remove the case from the general list.
The court stands short of adapting a very important and clear provision which is call Israel to promptly and completely ceasefire.
The Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh, expressed hope that the decision issued by the International Court of Justice would include an immediate ceasefire in light of the severe suffering that our people are enduring in the Gaza Strip. He mentioned the daily massacres in which hundreds of people, most of whom are children and women, are killed, in addition to the spread of famine and epidemics that are killing those trapped in shelter centers.
On the time of the many alerts came from different international agencies warning that the clock is ticking, the famine is real threat and 2 million Gazans depend on the UNRWA services for their daily sheer survival many donor countries announce suspension of its financial assistance to this agency under the Israeli alleged accusation of dozen of its staff was part of the October attack.
UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. The UNGA established UNRWA in 1948 with the mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the registered Palestinian refugees in the agency’s five operational areas, pending a lasting and just solution for their plight. Nearly 75 years later, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes and livelihoods in 1948 continue to be displaced and in need of support.
Israel and many of its allies waged a war against UNRWA a long time ago, as it is one of the most important international agencies dealing with Palestine refugees since their expulsion from their ancient homeland, Palestine. The aim was to dismantle it and end its legal mandate as a necessary step to deny the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, as entrenched in UNGA resolution 194. The recent move came after Israel allegedly accused a dozen of UNRWA employees as part of an attack launched against Israel.
UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini dismissed the claims and launched an internal investigation into the Israeli claims. He also issued an official statement declaring that as of January 27, nine countries have temporarily suspended their funding to UNRWA in reaction to allegations against 12 staff members out of 30,000.
UNRWA used to share the list of its staff with Israel every year and they never received any concerns on specific staff member. “It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an Agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region”.
When Israel killed 150 innocent UNRWA employees, no one condoned the Israeli terrorist action. The Palestinian government called for all countries that withdraw their funding to review their move and refrain from it. At this exact time, all hands should be on deck, not on the Israeli rifle triggers.
Many countries took less than 12 hours to suspended their financial assistance to the UNRWA for allegedly and under investigation Israeli clime of 12 of the UNRWA staff involved of OCT 7 attack. These same countries, after four months of the running carnage by Israel, did not suspend their military assistance or condemn Israel’s genocidal acts against innocent civilians. This is another practical example of double standards and hypocrisy.
Suspending financial assistance to UNRWA at this exact time poses an existential threat to more than 2 million people in Gaza who are totally dependent on it for their daily survival.
It became clear to all the political commentators that this war is not to accomplish the two main declared goals: the total elimination and dismantling of the military cabalists of the Palestinian military faction and the return of the hostages to their homes. Israel did not accomplish either of these two declared goals. It’s a war to save the current Prime Minister’s office and other fanatic and messianic minister offices.
This means that both the Israelis and the Palestinians became scapegoats for Netanyahu to avoid being jailed for the previous three cases and other ones he will be accused of after the war.
*Abdullah M. Abu Shawesh Ambassador of the Embassy of the State of Palestine
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February 1, 2024