ALTHOUGH the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor wants arrest warrants to be issued for Israel’s prime minister and defence minister, as well as three top Hamas leaders, for possible war crimes, it is unlikely the move will lead to justice for Gaza’s bloodied people. This is the second major effort in the global legal arena to hold Israel to account for its atrocities after South Africa initiated genocide proceedings against the Zionist state at the International Court of Justice. While Hamas officials have said that warrants against their leaders amount to equating the “victim with the executioner”, Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the ICC’s move “with disgust”. US President Joe Biden has termed it “outrageous”, adding that there can be “no equivalence between Israel and Hamas”. The latter part of Mr Biden’s assertion is actually true — although it is not precisely what he intended to convey. While excesses against civilians cannot be condoned, Palestinian groups have fought for their land and freedom. Israel, meanwhile, has been waging a war of extermination against the Palestinians since the Nakba, with the Gaza carnage the latest chapter in this saga. So a comparison is indeed unfair.

The ICC has previously issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir, with neither leader brought to court. It is unlikely that Mr Netanyahu and his defence minister — with their powerful patrons shielding them — will ever end up in The Hague to answer for their crimes. But the list of barbaric acts unleashed upon Palestine’s people and neighbouring Arab populations by the Israelis and their Zionist forbears is a long one. The Nakba, Deir Yassin, Sabra and Shatila, Qana, and the ongoing genocidal campaign in Gaza are just a few of the massacres involving Israel. While the international legal system may not be able to punish their tormentors, history has already passed judgement in favour of Palestine’s children.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2024

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