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Avi Lewis

Charging Israel with genocide is absurd

Charging Israel with genocide is absurd. If the judges are objective, the case will quickly be thrown out

More Jews were killed in 24 hours in Babi Yar in September 1941 than Arab Palestinians in Gaza over the past 3 months

33,771 Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators in a ravine outside of Kiev that day, one small part of a sustained campaign of extermination that took the lives of 11 million people over six years, including 6 million Jews

The terms Holocaust and Genocide were coined in the aftermath to describe these indescribable crimes and the 1948 UN Genocide Convention was drafted as a response to them

Today as the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors battle a terrorist group that committed the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, Jews find themselves absurdly in the defendant’s seat, painfully accused of a crime they have not committed but which they have uniquely experienced

As part of their campaign to demonize Israel and delegitimize what is perhaps the most legitimate response in military history, Palestinians and their supporters have levied every possible libel at the Jewish state:

Occupation, colonialism, imperialism, racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing. And now for the finale: genocide

The affront is threefold

Firstly: the deep offense of contending with such outrageous blood libels – a pattern that Jews have been subjected to throughout history. No other people in modern history have been accused of so many calumnies

Second: every action that Israel’s enemies attempt to carry out against it (such as genocide and ethnic cleansing) are swiftly repackaged and thrown right back at her in the form of a preemptive and baseless accusation

Third: since these charges are so obviously false, they essentially water down the original intention and meaning of the terms – an insult to the true victims of genocide

This inevitably leads to the kind of inane semantic debates which we see today that attempt to twist the accusations to fit the crime

If Israel can’t be accused of violating Article II of the UN Genocide Convention, then Article II can be reinterpreted to ‘fit Israel’s crime’, so to speak

The victims of actual genocide would be rolling in their graves. Indeed, their grandchildren are now fighting for their lives and security against the Iranian octopus and it’s cynical terror proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen

In addition, these charges distract from far more severe crimes taking place worldwide by placing excessive focus on a single armed conflict that is comparatively anodyne

Examples from the past decade alone: 500,000 murdered in Syria by the Assad chemical weapons regime. Allegations of 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang detained in concentration camps by the Chinese government and subjected to forced sterilizations and forced labour. An estimated 350,000 dead in Yemen. And of course the genocidal calls by nuclear-threshold Iran to wipe out the Jewish state

None of these received the kind of international focus and censure that Israel is facing now in it’s just war against Hamas

Then of course there’s the actual substance of the claims

Is Israel really committing genocide?

According to Hamas figures, 23,350 people have been killed in Gaza in the past three months

Never have the media and international bodies trusted and relied so heavily on a terrorist organization for statistics

Hamas is classified as a terror organization by the US, Canada and European Union – the latter of which is hosting the court case

A cursory glance at Hamas’ official communications shows that their claims of killing dozens of IDF soldiers each day are fanciful. If those stats are so readily exposed as lies, why trust their other figures?

Hamas has released no information on how many of it’s armed combatants have been killed, meaning that one would expect an accusation based on this data to be taken with a grain of salt

If for example you were to find out that 5,000 of those killed were armed Hamas fighters, would you still consider the figure ‘genocidal’? What about 10,000? 15,000?

Has anybody performed due diligence and conducted a review of the terror group’s numbers and the identities of those it claims are killed?

This is all the more pressing, since in Gaza the distinction between fighter and civilian is purposefully and cynically blurred

Hamas (and Islamic Jihad) fighters aren’t uniformed

They’re dressed as civilians, operate in independent cells, often from their own homes, and utilize UN shelters, schools, hospitals, kindergartens and children’s bedrooms as military bases, weapons caches, rocket launching sites and sniper lookouts

Ironically Hamas makes no pains to hide these facts and it self-broadcasts the footage

A Hamas operative in sandals and jeans carrying an RPG lives as a terrorist but dies as a civilian

If the court should be focusing it’s efforts somewhere, at the very least it should look into the collusion between the civilian populace in Gaza and Hamas and ask itself what a proper military response looks like in such a scenario

The number of Palestinian UNRWA staffers, medical workers and ‘journalists’ that take up arms in the ranks of Hamas is startling

After making themselves legitimate military targets, Hamas has a convenient alibi to report them as members of civil society after their deaths

According to IDF estimates, Israel has succeeding in eliminating anywhere between 9,000 (high confidence) to 11,000 (medium confidence) terrorists in Gaza

Meaning even if one were to accept Hamas’ figures as true, the combatant to non-combatant ratio places the IDF well within the boundaries of legal armed conflict – approaching 50%

Compare this to similar conflicts fought by Western powers against terrorist organizations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen and you can see that Israel’s precision is outstanding

So much for ‘indiscriminate’ bombings…

That’s not to say that mistakes aren’t made in the fog of war and confusion of the battlefield

Dozens of IDF soldiers have been killed in accidents and friendly fire incidents, and 3 hostages were tragically killed after escaping from captivity

The same is true of civilian deaths on the Palestinian side

As much as Israel aspires to fight a perfectly clean war with zero civilian casualties, the reality of war says otherwise, especially when Palestinian civilians are de-facto a part of the military apparatus, either as accomplices or human shields

Hamas as part of its cynical PR campaign has an interest to prop up figures of civilians deaths

Since it can’t defeat Israel in face to face combat, it appeals instead to gullible ears across the globe in an attempt to force Israel’s hand in other ways

The truth is that everything about Israel’s response to the October 7th Hamas atrocity has been highly measured (perhaps more than necessary), proportional and discriminate

Proportionality in war is not a numbers game. It’s measured in response to the strategic aims set by the warring party and the military advantage attained through each action

Israel’s strategic aim is to topple the Hamas terror regime

The only way to achieve a military advantage over Hamas is to go after them precisely where they’re embedded: shelters, kindergartens and hospitals

Hamas chose to start this war, but it doesn’t get to choose how it ends

I’m confident that anyone who puts aside the hyperbole and politicization to deeply look into and study Israel’s response to the Hamas massacre will see that the IDF has been extremely proportional

Hamas has spent 15 years preparing this moment by coopting every possible facet of civilian life in Gaza for military purposes

A hospital that is used to kidnap hostages, fire rockets, store weapons and house an underground intelligence and military communication apparatus ceases to maintain the status of hospital from an international law standpoint

The fact that Israel does everything in it’s power to minimize civilian casualties while Hamas does everything in it’s power to maximize them – should not be lost on the judges at the ICJ

The bitter cost of 180 soldiers’ lives and a 3 month war that is far from over could have easily been mitigated by a far more lethal aerial campaign and by not requesting civilians to vacate combat zones

Instead Israel chose to endanger its own soldiers in order to prioritize the lives of enemy civilians. Does that sound genocidal?

Thousands of Gazan day laborers working in Israel from before October 7th were released unharmed back to the Strip in November. I’m sure this fact won’t be lost on the judges at the ICJ when trying to determine if this too falls within the definition of ‘genocide’

This of course comes in stark contrast to Hamas – which is completely genocidal in it’s intent and actions

Over the course of 8 hours on October 7th, Hamas brutally murdered 1,300 people – mostly civilians

They didn’t stop because they had enough – they were beaten back by courageous and outnumbered Israeli civilians and soldiers

Those who perpetrate genocide seek to eradicate everyone in the target group: pregnant women, babies, elderly, fathers, children

Hamas fighters (together with Palestinian civilians and journalists that joined them in the atrocities) specifically targeted these defenseless groups

According to Israeli figures most of those killed by Hamas that day were civilians

What Hamas did on October 7th was genocidal in it’s character, speed and lethality: a highly intentional and highly intimate spate of murders and rapes that spared nobody in their path

The mass murder was recorded by the perpetrators – meaning that they were proud to commit these crimes

The fact that people around the world continue to deny these ever occurred despite the overwhelming evidence is simply malicious

If any additional proof is required of Hamas’ genocidal intent, there are copious amounts of televised speeches and religious literature that openly call for all Jews to be exterminated

On October 7th they put their genocidal plans and aspirations into practice

In a reformed world, Hamas and it’s ilk would be prosecuted and convicted at the ICJ for genocide

In our Kafkaesque world, the Jewish state finds itself once again on trial while the killers walk free

About the Author
Avi was formerly a news writer at the Times of Israel. Originally from Australia, he served in the IDF and today works in Israel's thriving Hi Tech sector in Tel Aviv. He lives near Modi'in with wife and 3 kids
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