Picture: Mahmud Hams / AFP / December 4, 2023 – Palestinians flee from Khan Yunis to Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 4, 2023, after the Israeli army called on people to leave certain areas in the city, as battles between Israel and Hamas militants continue. South Africa’s ICJ case against Israel has received widespread support as it faces increased criticism for its genocidal war on Gaza, the writer says.
By Peoples Dispatch
Israel has come under fire over comments from a number of ultra right-wing ministers and politicians who have called for the complete and permanent transfer and expulsion of the Palestinian population of Gaza. The officials have suggested that Gazans should be forcibly transferred to other countries in the region, as well as to countries in Africa.
The United Nations, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, France, the European Union, as well as Israel’s primary backer, the United States, among others have condemned these statements and noted that such a move would constitute a grave violation of international law.
Israel’s far right minister of Security Itamar Ben-Gvir responded to the criticism from the US stating: “Really appreciate the United States of America but with all due respect we are not another star on the American flag. The United States is our best friend, but first of all we will do what is best for the State of Israel: the migration of hundreds of thousands from Gaza will allow the residents of the enclave to return home and live in security and protect the IDF soldiers.”
Harsh criticisms have been lodged from progressives at the US and France who allege that their policies supporting Israel financially and politically throughout their genocidal war on Gaza have created the conditions for Israel to openly fantasise about this escalation of ethnic cleansing.
The growing international alarm and condemnation comes just a week before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is scheduled to hold public hearings over the genocide case that South Africa has filed against Israel over its war in Gaza. Turkey and Malaysia, have both endorsed the South African case against Israel.
Notably, the National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby rejected the case, an 84-page application, and called it “meritless”.
Worsening humanitarian crisis across Gaza
The United Nations has once again reiterated that the humanitarian situation in Gaza will continue to deteriorate if there is no ceasefire, emphasising that a number of areas have been rendered completely inaccessible due to Israel’s shelling.
The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) wrote in an update: “The UN and other humanitarian partners have been unable to deliver urgently needed life-saving humanitarian assistance north of Wadi Gaza for three days due to access delays and denials, as well as active conflict. This includes medicines that would have provided vital support to more than 100,000 people for 30 days, as well as eight trucks of food for people who currently face catastrophic and life-threatening food insecurity.”
The office added, “Humanitarian organisations are calling for urgent, safe, sustained and unhindered humanitarian access to areas north of Wadi Gaza, which has been severed from the south for more than a month.”
The OCHA along with the World Health Organisation also reported that “more than 400,000 cases of infectious diseases have been reported since October 7, with some 180,000 people suffering from upper respiratory infections”. “There also have been more than 136,000 cases of diarrhoea reported — half among children under the age of five years.”
Humanitarian organisations have emphasised that there is an urgent, critical need for humanitarian assistance, including medical aid, to treat and save the lives of those suffering from diseases and illnesses and to alleviate the extreme suffering and hardships of the population of around 2.1 million, of which 1.9 million are currently internally displaced.
Scores of Palestinians have been killed in fresh airstrikes and ground bombardment over the past 24 hours in Gaza.
The total death toll since October 7 has risen to at least 22,438 Palestinians killed, including more than 9,000 children and 4,000 women, along with more than 57,614 injured, more than 75 percent of whom are women and children. About 7,000 other Palestinians are reported missing, feared to be trapped under the rubble of the widespread destruction and rubble of damaged buildings.
Hospitals continue to be targeted by Israel. The al-Amal hospital, run by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), and the surrounding areas in Khan Younis over the past two weeks has been under Israeli attack, which has endangered the lives of thousands of IDPs who were taking refuge there, the PRCS has said. “The displaced persons are living in an atmosphere of horror and panic. This has forced dozens of them to leave again this morning and yesterday, fearing for their lives after they took refuge in the PRCS as a safe place protected by international humanitarian law.”
They reported that in addition to killing and injuring patients and displaced persons taking refuge at al-Amal, the Israeli bombing destroyed the transmitter station of the PRCS VHF communications which creates “a major obstacle to the response of ambulance crews to the wounded, the sick, and humanitarian cases”.
This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch