Your Man in the Hague (In a Good Way) Part 2 358

There was a very good feel at the end of the South African presentation on day one. Everyone felt it had gone extremely well, and left very little room for the court to wriggle away from provisional measures. We left the public gallery, and I went with Corbyn and Mélenchon to meet the South African delegation. This caused some concern to the security officials, who told us that members of the public had to leave immediately and not meet delegates or speak to the media, who were grouped outside the court but still within the precincts.

This was fairly impractical as the media very much wanted to speak with Corbyn and Mélenchon. There was a lot of flapping of arms and waving. All my friends of the queue had left, while I stayed sticking close to Jeremy, partly because I didn’t like to leave him unsupported, but mostly because his wife Laura was somewhere looking after my phone. The ICJ staff seemed scared to tell off Corbyn and Mélenchon, so kept getting pretty shirty with me as a proxy, saying we must leave.

It was quite strange. The situation was very friendly; there was no tension. There were about sixty delegates and about the same number of journalists, who were all supposed to be there. Then there were Corbyn, Mélenchon and me, who were apparently supposed to have left, but whose presence made no actual difference to events. People being in slightly the wrong place entirely peacefully after proceedings had finished, seemed to me an unnecessary source of anger. But a succession of female officials arrived, getting increasingly cross.

At this stage the South African delegation returned to their allocated office inside the building to finalise the formal press statement. We went with them. I was chatting to Amaar Hijazi, Palestine’s Deputy Foreign Minister, who I know a bit. One of the ICJ ladies came in with a clipboard, asked for silence, and then asked the assembled group in the manner of a public proclamation: “is this a legal meeting or a political meeting?”

Nobody seemed inclined to answer. So I replied “That’s rather a philosophical question. I am not sure if you can make that simple binary distinction”. Rather more usefully, Varsha [Gandikota-Nellutla of Progressive International] assured her it was a legal meeting, and the official said “good, political meetings off the premises”, waving her clipboard for no apparent reason. After a bit of a conflab we went out again.

I was enjoying Mélenchon enormously; he seemed to have unlimited stores of bonhomie and was unstoppably voluble with everyone. Whether the security guards wanted a lecture on workers’ cooperatives I am not sure, but they certainly got one.

We wandered back out the front door again and back into interviews. Two ladies came up to me looking very stern and said I must leave. Jeremy was giving an interview to Israeli TV and Mélenchon had bustled back into the building. One of the ladies said to me, “I am asking you to leave and you are refusing to do what I say”. I replied, “Oh no, certainly not. Of course I am doing what you say. Just very slowly”.

By now I had three enormous security officers with me, as I tried to keep an eye on Jeremy as he drifted through the milling journalists, while I kept running in to people I knew. I have to say the security people were very friendly, and seemed unsure why they were shadowing me too. Shortly a fourth turned up, a mountain of a man with a bald head and beard, who said, “Here you are; we’ve been looking for you everywhere”, which seemed strange. Possibly they couldn’t see me surrounded by their massive bouncers.

Laura had somehow got in, and gave me back my phone. Jeremy was slowly heading for the gates, but he is incapable of being impolite and not having a friendly word with anybody who addresses him, whoever they are. Once we were outside the gates he showed no sign of stopping with the much larger crowd outside, so I said my farewells and headed back to the hotel. My toes had gone very painful again and I was keen for another warm bath.

After the bath I went down to look for some food. I felt exhausted and drained. It was not just the cold night standing in the queue with no sleep, it was the immediately preceding 40 hour, four economy-flight journey from Bali, with virtually no sleep either, to get here. I hadn’t been in a bed, I calculated, for 85 hours.

I was also feeling a bit unappreciated. I had in fact played a role in this happening at all. Copies of my initial articles on invoking the Genocide Convention had been physically in front of South African cabinet ministers when they took the initial decision on 8 December to ask their excellent legal services to prepare a case. It was not me that arranged that and I cannot break confidence by telling you how it came about. I didn’t expect any acknowledgement, but it seemed an unfair twist of fate that had me standing all night in the cold trying to get in.

I was, dear reader, simply wallowing in exhaustion and self-pity, and in a kind of ridiculous teenage sulk. My tired brain was fogged and I was seriously worried about finding the energy to write up day one, which I had to do immediately. I wasn’t sure that my body was physically capable of another night of no sleep and standing in the freezing cold. I was fed up with being in exile over this laughable terrorism investigation, and I was missing my children.

I made up my mind – I could not do another night. I would have to explain to readers that I had done what I could. A great feeling of relief came over me, and I decided to go to bed.

That very second, out of the lift walked the eminent British lawyer Tayab Ali, with a short, unassuming bearded Arab gentleman.
“Hello Craig, how’s it going”, he asked, but they were evidently in a hurry, going somewhere: “This is Ghassan”.
We shook hands briefly and then the realisation struck me.
“Are you the surgeon?”
Ghassan looked diffident, slightly abashed.
“The surgeon from Gaza?”.
“Yes, I am Ghassan Abu SItta.”
“I am honoured, sir. Greatly honoured”.
He looked slightly embarrassed, and they dashed off to their meeting.

I felt even more embarrassed. I had just met the man who had stayed operating in Shifa hospital while Israel bombs and missiles struck it and Israeli snipers fired through the windows. He had continued to operate with no electricity, with no bandages, with no antiseptic, with no anaesthetic. He had worked 20 hours a day, amputating the limbs of children or trying to piece them back together. He stayed and stayed and stayed through weeks under fire. He did this for love: he is a top British plastic surgeon and could have been in the UK making millions.

I felt deeply ashamed. This man had endured so much, and done so much, and seen so much suffering. Here was I giving up over sore toes and lack of sleep, and over wanting to be important. I had an epiphany; I realised I can be a dreadful egoist, and I hated myself for it. Nothing stopped hurting, but I had a new surge of adrenaline and decided to get on with it. Perhaps nothing I did would help prevent genocide, but we all have to do that which is within our power to try.

I accept you may wish to scoff, but for me that encounter with Mr Abu Sitta revealed an important element of greatness – the ability to inspire others to do more that they believed they could, to transmit will. Even without actually saying anything.

I did, however, retain the sense to know that I had to prepare, so I got a taxi to a camping shop. There I bought the warmest sleeping bag I could afford, a reflective groundsheet, thermal socks and a flask.

I then took a taxi back, went straight to my room and started to write. The first three paragraphs flowed very easily. Then suddenly I was opening my very groggy eyes with my head on the keyboard, not sideways but leaning on my forehead. I had been asleep like that for three hours.

After that it was like wading through treacle. The phrases still rushed into my head as always, but there was a strange disconnect to my fingers and what they typed, which often was a phrase that sounded a bit like the one I was trying to get down. I recall typing “to assist them” as “his big cyst hen”. It was slow going.

At 11pm I went to see if there was a queue yet for the public gallery the next day. Nobody was there. I was worried that after the arguments at the gate the previous morning, with many people disappointed, the queue would start to form much earlier for Day 2. I decided to just publish what I had written so far, with an explanatory first paragraph, and check the queue regularly. The cold walk woke me up. It was notably warmer than the previous night – plus 2 rather than minus 5 – but the ground was all wet with a heavy dew and there was a lot more wind chill.

I checked again at 1.30am, still nobody had come. But at 3am there were eight people in the queue. I rushed back to the hotel, picked up my sleeping bag and groundsheet and published the now almost finished Day 1 article. I joined the queue as number 9 of the 14 who would be let in. I met a wonderful Dutch lady who had joined the queue with the intention of giving me her place if I arrived too late. I am ashamed to say I forget her name.

I was disappointed that not one of my new friends from the previous night’s queue was there again. I felt we had bonded through a pretty tough experience and a mutual cause. Almost all had said they intended to do both nights, and I presume the cold and exhaustion just got to people. This second night was much more jolly, I think because it was not quite so cold.

The reflective groundsheet was a big success, dry and surprisingly effective at stopping the cold seeping up. The mummy sleeping bag proved more of a problem. I am not as slender as I used to be, and with several layers of clothing and my ski jacket all on, it was a very tight fit. I got the zip up pretty well, but I couldn’t do the last bit that would bring the cowl over my head, not least because by that stage the bag had immobilised my arms.

Thankfully several wonderful young ladies came to help and zipped me up tight. This involved a lot of laughing. We could have invented a whole new genre of internet porn, in which fully clothed old men get zipped into bags. Although it probably already exists. I am not going to google for it, given the frequency with which the security services seize or steal my electronic devices. It might be misunderstood.

So at 3.30am I lay down my head, and did in fact sleep until about 5.30am. It was not comfortable, but it was not cold. I then wandered off to find a bush for a pee. When I returned, three women had taken over my groundsheet and were using my sleeping bag as a blanket. They joked that they had occupied my sleeping bag. I said I perfectly understood – surely their ancestors had a sleeping bag there 3,000 years ago. It was not brilliant repartee, but this kind of thing kept us going. The 14 of us who made the public gallery took group pictures.

There were some changes from the day before. We are to be allowed pens. But in view of “people wandering around” the day before, they said huffily, we were to be escorted in via a back door and leave the same way, and strictly forbidden from talking or interacting with anybody not in our group. So we entered the tiny public gallery. It has only two rows, and I now discovered that if you sit in the second row you cannot see anything. From the hall you can’t even tell there is a second row to the gallery. Once again, I marveled at the lack of attention to the dreadful design of the courtroom.

Luckily for me, a young man who apparently should not have been there was ejected from a front row seat, and finally I got to watch the Israeli presentation.

As with the South African case, according to court procedure the Israeli case was introduced by their “agent”, permanently accredited to the court, Tal Becker of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He opened with the standard formula “it is an honour to appear before you again on behalf of the state of Israel”, managing to imply purely through phrasing and tone of voice that the honour lay in representing Israel, not in appearing before the judges.

Becker opened by going straight to the Holocaust, saying that nobody knew more than Israel why the Genocide Convention existed. 6 million Jewish people had been killed. The Convention was not to be used to cover the normal brutality of war.

The South African case aimed at the delegitimisation of the state of Israel. On 7 October Hamas had committed massacre, mutilation, rape and abduction. 1,200 had been killed and 5,500 maimed. He related several hideous individual atrocity stories and played a recording he stated to be a Hamas fighter boasting on WhatsApp to his parents about committing mass murder, rape and mutilation.

The only genocide in this case was being committed against Israel. Hamas continued to attack Israel, and for the court to take provisional measures would be to deny Israel the right to self-defence. Provisional measures should rather be taken against South Africa and its attempt by legal means to further genocide by its relationship with Hamas. Gaza was not under occupation: Israel had left it with great potential to be a political and economic success. Instead Hamas had chosen to make it a terrorist base.

Hamas was embedded in the civilian population and therefore responsible for the civilian deaths. Hamas had tunnels under schools, hospitals, mosques and UN facilities and tunnel entrances within them. It commandeered medical vehicles for military use.

South Africa had talked of civilian buildings destroyed, but did not tell you they had been destroyed by Hamas booby traps and Hamas missile misfires.

The casualty figures South Africa gave were from Hamas sources and not reliable. They did not say how many were fighters? How many of the children were child soldiers? The application by South Africa was ill-founded and ill-motivated. It was a libel.

This certainly was a hardline and uncompromising start. The judges appeared to be paying very close attention when he opened with the 7 October self-defence argument, but very definitely some of them started to fidget and become uncomfortable when he talked of Hamas operating from ambulances and UN facilities. In short, he went too far and I believe he lost his audience at that point.

Next up was Professor Malcolm Shaw KC. Shaw is regarded as an authority on the procedure of international law and is editor of the standard tome on the subject. This is an interesting facet of the legal profession, where standard reference books on particular topics are regularly updated to include key extracts from recent judges, and passages added or amended to explain the impact of these judgments. Being an editor in this field provides a route to prominence for the plodding and pedantic.

I had come across Shaw in his capacity as a co-founder of the Centre for Human Rights at Essex University. I had given a couple of talks there some twenty years ago on the attacks on human rights of the “War on Terror” and my own whistleblower experience over torture and extraordinary rendition. For an alleged human rights expert, Shaw seemed extraordinarily prone to support the national security interests of the state over individual liberty.

I do not pretend I gave it a great deal of thought. I did not know at that time of Shaw’s commitment as an extreme Zionist and in particular his long term interest in suppressing the rights of the Palestinian people. After 139 states have recognised Palestine as a state, Shaw led for Israel the legal opposition to Palestine’s membership of international institutions, including the International Criminal Court. Shaw’s rather uninspired reliance on the Montevideo Convention of 1933 is hardly a legal tour de force, and it didn’t work.

Every criminal deserves a defence, and nobody should hold it against a barrister that they defend a murderer or rapist, as it is important that guilt or innocence is tested by a court. But I think it is fair to state that defence lawyers do not in general defend those accused of murder because they agree with murder and want a murderer to go on murdering. That however is the case here: Malcolm Shaw speaks for Israel because he actually wants Israel to be able to continue killing Palestinian women and children to improve the security of Israel, in his view.

That is the difference between this and other cases, including at the ICJ. Generally the lead lawyers would happily swap sides, if the other side had hired them first. But this is entirely different. Here the lawyers (with the possible exception of Staker) believe profoundly in the case they are supporting and would never appear for the other side. That is just one more way that this is such an extraordinary case, with so much drama and such vital consequences, not least for the future of international law.

For the reason I have just explained, Shaw’s role here is not that of a simple barrister plying his trade. His attempt to extend the killing should see him viewed as a pariah by decent people everywhere, for the rest of his doubtless highly-paid existence.

Shaw opened up by saying that the South African case continually spoke of context. They talked of the 75 years of the existence of the state of Israel. Why stop there? Why not go back to the Balfour Declaration or the British Mandate over Palestine? No, the context of these events was the massacre of 7 October, and Israel’s subsequent right of self-defence. He produced and read a long quote from mid-October by European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen, stating that Israel had suffered a terrorist atrocity and had the right of self-defence.

The truth is that this is not genocide but armed conflict, which state has existed since 7 October. That was brutal, and urban warfare always involved terrible civilian casualties, but it was not genocide.

He then turned to the question of genocide. He argued that South Africa could not bring this case and the ICJ had no jurisdiction, because there was no dispute between Israel and South Africa on which the ICJ could rule, at the time the case was filed. South Africa had communicated its views to Israel, but Israel had given no substantial reply. Therefore a dispute did not yet exist at time of filing. A dispute must involve interaction between parties and the argument had been on one side only.

This very much interested the judges. As I noted on day one, this got them more active than anything else when Professor John Dugard addressed the same point for South Africa. As I reported:

The judges particularly enjoyed Dugard’s points, enthusiastically rustling through documents and underlining things. Dealing with thousands of dead children was a bit difficult for them, but give them a nice jurisdictional point and they were in their element.

They were even more excited when Shaw tackled the same point. This gave them a way out! The case could be technically invalid, and then they would neither have to upset the major Western powers nor make fools of themselves by pretending that a genocide the whole world had seen was not happening. For a while, they looked visibly relieved.

Shaw should have given up while he was ahead, but he ploughed on for an hour, with some relief when he continually muddled his notes. A senior KC with zero ability to extemporise and recover was an interesting sight, as he kept stopping and shuffling paper.

Shaw argued that the bar for judging whether South Africa had a prima facie case must be significantly higher because of the high military and political cost to Israel if the court adopted provisional measures. It was also necessary to show genocidal intent even at this stage. Otherwise the genocide was a “car without an engine”. If any illegal actions had taken place within Israel’s carefully targeted military action, Israel’s own military courts would investigate and act on them.

Random Israeli ministers and officials making emotional statements was not important. Official policy to protect civilians would be found in the minutes of the Israeli war cabinet and national security council. Israel’s strenuous attempts to move civilians out of harm’s way was an accepted measure in international human law and should not be viewed as mass displacement.

It was South Africa which was guilty of complicity in genocide in cooperation with Hamas. South Africa’s allegations against Israel “verge on the outrageous”.

Israel’s next lawyer was a lady called Galit Raguan from the Israeli Ministry of Justice. She said the reality on the ground was that Israel had done everything possible to minimise civilian deaths and to aid humanitarian relief. Urban warfare always resulted in civilian deaths. It was Hamas who were responsible for destruction of buildings and infrastructure.

There was overwhelming evidence of Hamas’ military use of hospitals. In every single hospital in Gaza that IDF had evidence of military use by Hamas. Mass evacuation of civilians was a humanitarian and legal measure. Israel had supplied food, water and medicine into Gaza but supplies had come under Hamas fire. Hamas steals the aid for its fighters.

Next up was lawyer Omri Sender. He stated that more food trucks per day now entered Gaza than before October 7. The number had increased from 70 food trucks to 109 food trucks per day. Fuel, gas and electricity were all being supplied and Israel had repaired the sewage systems.

At this stage Israel had again lost the judges. One or two were looking at this man in a highly quizzical manner. A couple had definitely fallen asleep – there are only so many lies you can absorb, I suppose. Nobody was making notes about this guff. The judges may find a way not to condemn Israel, but could not be expected to go along with this extraordinary nonsense. Sender continued that the scope and intensity of the fighting was now decreasing as the operation entered a new phase.

Perhaps noting that nobody believed him, Sender stated that the court could not institute provisional measures but rather was obliged to accept the word of Israel on its good intentions because of the Law of the Unilateral Declarations of States.

Now I have to confess that was a bit of international law I did not know existed. But it does, specifically in relation to ICJ proceedings. On first reading, it makes a unilateral declaration of intent to the ICJ binding on the state that makes it. I cannot see that it forces the ICJ to accept it as sufficient or to believe in its sincerity. It seems rather a reach, and I wondered if Israel was running out of things to say.

That appeared to be true, because the next speaker, Christopher Staker KC, now took the floor and just ran through all the same Hamas stuff yet again, only with added theatrical indignation. Staker is the lawyer I suspect would happily have appeared for either side, because he was plainly just acting anyway. And not very well.

Staker said that it was astounding this case could be brought. It was intended to stop Israel from defending itself while Israel would still be subject to Hamas attacks. Hamas has said it will continue attacks.

If you look at the operation as a whole including relief efforts, it was plain there was no genocidal intent. Israel was in incredible danger. The proposed provisional measures were out of proportion to their effect. Can you imagine if in the Second World War, a court had ordered the Allies to stop fighting because of civilian deaths, and allowed the Axis powers to keep on killing?

The final speaker was Gilad Noam, Israel’s deputy attorney-general. He said that the bulk of the proposed provisional measures should be refused because they exposed Israel to further Hamas attack. Three more should be refused because they referred to Palestine outside Gaza. There was no genocidal intent in Israel. Ministerial and official statements made in the heat of the moment were rather examples of the tradition of democracy and freedom of speech. Prosecutions for incitement to genocide were under consideration.

The court must not conflate genocide and self-defence. The South African case devalues genocide and encourages terrorism. The Holocaust illustrated why Israel was always under existential threat. It was Hamas who were committing genocide.

And that was it. Israel had in the end not been allowed to show its contentious atrocity video, and it felt like their presentation had become repetitive and was padded to fill the time.

It is important to realise this. Israel is hoping to win on their procedural points about existence of dispute, unilateral assurances and jurisdiction. The obvious nonsense they spoke about the damage to homes and infrastructure being caused by Hamas, trucks entering Gaza and casualty figures, was not serious. They did not expect the judges to believe any of this. The procedural points were for the court. The rest was mass propaganda for the media.

In the UK, the BBC and Sky both ran almost all the Israeli case live, having not run any of the South African case live. I believe something similar was true in the USA, Australia and Germany too.

While the court was in session, Germany has announced it will intervene in the substantial case to support Israel. They argue explicitly that, as the world’s greatest perpetrator of genocide, they are uniquely placed to judge. It is in effect a copyright claim. They are protecting Germany’s intellectual property in the art of genocide. Perhaps they might in future license genocide, or allow Israel to continue genocide on a franchise basis.

I am sure the judges want to get out of this and they may go for the procedural points. But there is a real problem with Israel’s “no dispute” argument. If accepted, it would mean that a country committing genocide can simply not reply to a challenge, and then legal action will not be possible because no reply means “no dispute”. I hope that absurdity is obvious to the judges. But they may of course wish not to notice it…

What do I think will happen? Some sort of “compromise”. The judges will issue provisional measures different to South Africa’s request, asking Israel to continue to take measures to protect the civilian population, or some such guff. Doubtless the State Department have drafted something like this for President of the court Donoghoe already.

I hope I am wrong. I would hate to give up on international law. One thing I do know for certain. These two days in the Hague were absolutely crucial for deciding if there is any meaning left in notions of international law and human rights. I still believe action by the court could cause the US and UK to back off and provide some measure of relief. For now, let us all pray or wish, each in our way, for the children of Gaza.



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358 thoughts on “Your Man in the Hague (In a Good Way) Part 2

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  • JulianJ

    Thanks Craig for writing this, and overcoming adversity to do so.

    “A senior KC with zero ability to extemporise and recover was an interesting site [sight], as he kept stopping and shuffling paper.”

    Reminds me of someone….ohhh I know, it’s Sir Kid Starver!

  • Stephen C

    Thank you for your continued extraordinary effort in attending this hearing and posting such detailed summaries so promptly.

  • AG

    “They argue explicitly that, as the world’s greatest perpetrator of genocide, they are uniquely placed to judge. It is in effect a copyright claim. They are protecting Germany’s intellectual property in the art of genocide. Perhaps they might in future license genocide, or allow Israel to continue genocide on a franchise basis.”

    Well said.

    • Rosemary MacKenzie

      I think that is the most appalling statement/claim any country’s government has every made for a country! What has been the reaction of the people of Germany to this AG?

      • Jen

        At least Namibia, site of the 20th-century’s first major genocide (of Herero and Namaqua people by German military forces in the Kalahari and later in concentration camps), was unimpressed with Germany’s show of support for Israel at the ICJ and called on Germany to reconsider its support.

    • Cornudet

      Indeed. I feel that the ironic mood in some of my own posts has been missed by some others amongst this site’s readers, but the irony here is simply exquisite.

      By the way, for Germany to partake of a great bout of breast beating on the subject of the holocaust, which none of us should demean, at the same time as neglecting to acknowledge their earlier genocide in Namibia suggests, to paraphrase Orwell, that they feel that some untermenschen are more equal than others.

      That being said, the latter genocide was part and parcel of a conflict which saw most of Germany levelled, split into two and occupied by enemy forces for decades. Whilst the Soviet occupation ended after the fall of the Berlin wall, the Western Allies have never withdrawn their forces

      • Cornudet

        And that is a laugh about the women having ancestors who occupied Craig’s space 3000 years ago. It’s easy to see whose backside is being kicked there.

  • Xavi

    Thanks Craig. What an incredible contrast between Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta and Professor Malcom Shaw KC – as men and as human beings.

  • Opport Knocks

    What seems to be missed, even in most non-MSM reporting, is Israel’s initial support and funding for Hamas.

    Multiple retired IDF officers have claimed that this was the case, including one who stated that he had a budget to support the placement of radical Imams inside Gaza mosques.

    Israel wanted radical opposition in Gaza, not moderates (and socialists) like Arafat and Abbas. Once Hamas was installed, elections have conveniently been cancelled. Radical opposition can be used as a pretext for the ethnic cleansing that is happening now.

    The counter argument that Hamas, once created, decided to go rogue like Osama bin Laden, seems unlikely. Israel wants it all with only a sufficient number of compliant Palestinians to cook, clean, garden, drive taxis, etc.

  • Mr Mark Cutts

    The truth is – Israel produced no evidence.

    Assertion- speculation and hearsay is very weak weapon as a defence when all the real world’s people have and are watching Israel’s ‘ actions’ on phones and TV as a permanent ongoing witness to what Israel is actually up to instead the Israel’s fake concern for The Gazans.

    Here’s one for the defenders of Israel’s Right to defend itself:

    Due to the building of a Fence ( that worked well for the Israelis as a Real Defence – until it didn’t for some reason) and the almost casual bombing and attacking Gazans for going near it and just generally annoying the Israeli government for just even touching it.

    Is it any surprise that Hamas would claim that they have a right to self-defence just as much as the Israelis do?

    If the past Israel’s version of self-defence involves flying over Gaza ( past and present defensive attacks?) as a form of self-defence then
    the ‘Breakout’ from the other side of the fence was also a form of self-defence.

    Self-defence by the means of attack – which is just what Israel is claiming in The Hague.

    As far as I am aware the places defensively attacked by Hamas were within the non-committally titled ‘Occupied Territories’.

    Meaning that Israel was not attacked at all but that the Occupied Territories with Settlers within them were attacked in Palestine.

    Tel Aviv attacked by Hamas would be an attack on Israel – an attack on the Occupied Territories would not.

    So, my view/opinion is that Israel do have the right to defend themselves and The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves also. Even if that means either side attacking each other as a means of preventing future attacks.

    Perhaps Hezbollah will use that interpretation of attack meaning defence should the balloon go up in The Region?

    • Tom Welsh

      “The truth is – Israel produced no evidence”.

      Absolutely true; and absolutely to the point. A careful examination of statements by Israeli political, religious, and military leaders – and many of their rank and file – demonstrates conclusively that they believe Israel should never have to produce any evidence. Jews should always be believed because they are the only real people with real souls. Gentiles don’t matter any more than domestic animals – in fact, some rabbis have declared that Gentiles are below domestic animals.

      Israel, they claim, is always right – especially when it is wrong, as in this case.

  • Zander Tait

    Many thanks Craig. Even though exhausted you truly are a wordsmith and craft a telling and informative collage of events culminating in a journalistic tour de force.

    The most appalling event I have ever seen was the IDF deliberately driving their tanks through a recently filled Palestinian cemetery. Disinterring hundreds of dead Palestinian men women and children. Mangling even further their already mangled bodies.

    It seems that killing Palestine civilians just once is insufficient for Israel. Perhaps this could be interpreted as further evidence of genocide.

    May the Gods go with you Craig.

  • harry law

    In our hearts we recognize evil when we see it. Genocide on the part of the Israeli Government in this case is the very essence of evil.
    How will the ICJ decide? One important point is that each Judge is required to set out in detail the reasons for their decisions; here they will be aware that their reputations as Judges, but more importantly as moral human beings, will follow them for the rest of their lives and beyond. No small matter, in other words: is Israel guilty or not, simple as that?

  • TomB

    Thanks Craig.
    Inherited will is a beautiful idea and I think it was well worth getting out of bath.
    I did check so you don’t have to and yes there’s a lot of “older guys in sleeping bag” porn out there.
    Looking forward to your next analyses and camping adventures

  • Tom Welsh

    “I didn’t expect any acknowledgement, but it seemed an unfair twist of fate that had me standing all night in the cold trying to get in”.

    Very unfair, unkind… indeed, diabolical. But not fate. Oh, no. Definitely human agency. The banality of evil includes evil people’s propensity for the pettiest of persecution.

  • DunGroanin

    Really, the ‘turning the Nelsonian Blind Eye’ defence?

    This Court is A Dead Parrot! It has turned its wigs and gowns into panto and shuffled off!

    Finally we may get new international law and courts without thugs stopping legitimate observers. The RoW will see this forever repeated on the Internet. The Collective Western legal system for being bent. Hiding behind their theatre.

    Go and get yourself and family off to another sun warming place – you deserve it.

  • Tom Welsh

    “I felt deeply ashamed. This man had endured so much, and done so much, and seen so much suffering. Here was I giving up over sore toes and lack of sleep, and over wanting to be important. I had an epiphany; I realised I can be a dreadful egoist, and I hated myself for it”.

    It’s a sign of greatness to criticise oneself for not being quite as fantastically brave and strong as someone who is right up there in the “Jesus” class. As I see it, it’s a case of Mr Ghassan Abu SItta 99.999 points, Mr Murray 99.99 points. The ones who can fairly berate themselves are those of us sitting on our G. maximus reading this.

  • Emma M.

    Israeli lawyers appear to have made an argument based on the most prestigious of legal sources, the Looney Tunes: Hamas/Palestinians are an entire population of Wile E. Coyotes who have mistakenly misfired rockets and booby trapped themselves into oblivion, and the only harm Israelis have inflicted is from going “beep-beep”. I can’t imagine a more absurd, incredible argument.

    The entire Israeli testimony is a bad joke, a perversion of law, justice, and morality. People of the future will no doubt struggle to imagine how anyone could have supported such cartoonishly evil, ridiculous villains, how it could have come to this, how they could seriously say the things they do and be listened to by anyone. No doubt, they will justly mock their stupidity, and laugh at the most absurd of their claims the way people do with Nazis in the present era. The Zionist is truly one of the most ridiculous and contemptible characters in history, worthy of infinite scorn.

    I can only hope that in addition to only the best for Palestinians and somehow a swift relief of the injustice inflicted on them, an end to the genocide, that humanity will after it is all done, somehow for once manage to learn its lesson from all this, and avoid forgetting and doing it all again. One can dream.

  • Peter

    ” … Germany has announced it will intervene in the substantial case to support Israel.”

    According to Shaheed Bolsen, the South African submission is “backed by the 53 countries of the OIC (Organisation Of Islamic Cooperation), the 22 countries of the Arab League and, in fact, the entirety of the Global South.” – listen from start.

    Though I have not seen it, and I can’t find the citation just now, he has elsewhere claimed that the South African submission also includes a 100 page additional document outlining and detailing US and UK complicity in the genocidal crimes of Israel.

    “What do I think will happen? Some sort of “compromise”. The judges will issue provisional measures different to South Africa’s request, asking Israel to continue to take measures to protect the civilian population, or some such guff.”

    For once I sincerely hope Craig is wrong about that because that would not be a compromise but a complete capitulation. It would amount to little more than what the US and UK are doing right now.

    Craig spoke on Galloway’s MOATS this evening and was asked exactly that question but then the connection immediately cut and after it was restored Craig was gone and George made no comment about what had been lost. The show is still streaming live (almost 9pm) but you can scroll back to see Craig’s contribution:

    • Lysias

      Was something done to interfere with the transmission?

      I have at least once in the past had a similar experience with Galloway’s MOATS. I forget what it was about, but I’m pretty sure that it was something else that our lords and masters would not have wanted broadcast.

    • Brianfujisan

      Yes, I seen that Peter, I was very surprised when GG made no mention at all of the Technical disruption … but it was a very good talk by Craig.. and George’s monologue at the start was worth watching too

      And well done once again Craig for the monumental efforts you put in to be there to ensure we get your writings on all of this.
      I’m glad the ray of light that is Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta touched you that night.

  • Carolyn Stephens

    Thank you Craig so much for your two reports and for your sacrifice in enduring so much sleep deprivation, freezing cold and discomfort. I really enjoyed your reports, after watching South Africa on Al Jazeera on Thursday. I will definitely look at your posts on X from now on. Bless you, and Free Palestine. Free Gaza. Hope to goodness the ICJ do the right thing.

  • wally jumblatt

    So, do both sets of advocates now not get the opportunity to counter the arguments?
    I hope that’s not the end of the pleadings and we are left to the judges to pick and choose what they’ll ignore, with impunity. Gives them way too much room to duck the simple issue.

  • Jack

    Again, very interesting read Craig, invaluable behind-the-scenes reporting. Captivating!

    Norman Finkelstein do not have high expections of the ICJ. He rule that the judge from France, maybe, will vote in line with South Africa. And that is 1 judge.
    But forget the judges from Germany, US, UK, one also must forget about the judges from China, Russia that are themselves accused of genocide in the ICC and they will not, according to Finkelstein, target Israel for the same crimes

    Then you have a judge from Morocco, a country that just recently normalized relations with Israel, then you have a judge from Slovakia, another pro-israel country. Then you have a judge from Somalia ( Report: Somali president plans talks with parliament on possible ties with Israel
    Another ICJ judge is one from (pro-israel, islamophobic) India. Well it goes without saying how rigged the system already is.

    And I am stereotyping now of course, just because 1 judge represent a certain nation do not automatically mean they will judge lawsuits accordingly to their state’s interest, but there is a high risk they will.
    Info on the 15 judges:

    William Schabas, a professor of international law at Middlesex University in London and honorary chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. is on the other hand more positive of the outcome of the ICJ:

    Also pro-palestinian veteran professor, Francis Boyle are also more positive:
    Israel will lose genocide case at The Hague, human rights lawyer predicts | LBC
    As Boyle touch upon, if ICJ rule in favour of South Africa, then the western states, especially the US will be complicit in genocide according to the convention on genocide. So for the west it is not only about shielding Israel, it is about shielding themselves now.
    If palestinians have any friends they should plan for a Plan B if ICJ do not rule to their favour.

    The whole idea that the perpetrator that openly boast and showcase what he do everyday to the outside world somehow have the same right as the victim to speak his voice in this court…preposterous!

  • Kuhnberg

    What struck me about Israel’s defense, if you can call it that, was its extreme mind-numbing dullness. It was the perfect illustration of Hannah Arendt’s immortal phrase ‘the banality of evil.’ So much so that I gave up listening halfway through Martin Shaw’s peevish throat-clearings. The shuffled papers episode might have provided some light relief, but even that was too weighed down by the leaden hand of Zionist grandiosity to be truly enjoyable.

  • AG

    Namibia has expressed grave concerns (they are outraged) about Germany siding with Israel. President Hage Geingob called it a “shocking decision.”
    The German paper´s report ends:

    “The mass murder of the Southern Namibian Herero and Nama peoples by the then German colonial power from 1904 to 1908 is considered the first genocide of the 20th century. Only after a long refusal did the German government recognize the crimes in the historical assessment as genocide in 2021 – a legal recognition, however, is still missing today. Namibia criticizes Germany’s “inability” to learn lessons from its history.”

    • Tom Welsh

      Much as I sympathise, I feel that this sentence is a fine example of muddled thinking:

      “Namibia criticizes Germany’s “inability” to learn lessons from its history”.

      1. The names “Namibia” and “Germany” actually refer to the current governments of those nations; and, what’s more, to the quite small parts of those governments that control or influence public foreign policy. That is, to small elites of professional politicians, mostly selfish and some psychopathic, who have absolutely no concern for the interests of their nations and people.

      2. Thus there is no question of Germany being able or unable to learn from history. Most Germans, no doubt, can do so and have done so, and may feel strongly about the matter. But their governments do not represent them or care what they think. And, of course, politicians classically don’t care about the past and look ahead only about a year at most.

  • Nota Tory Fanboy

    So Israel’s defence includes that their representatives’ statements are merely emotional, heat-of-the-moment “free speech” and therefore not actually incitement to genocide, not really. Honest. Definitely no intent to see here. Move along.

    Why, then, are Hamas’ statements? (Characterisation of which is also included in Israel’s defence).

    I hope the BBC et al. get taken to court over their demonstrably biased broadcasting.

    Bravo Mr. Murray on shining light for us into corners far better resourced organisations are too cowardly to bother. Shame on us all; what have our societies become.

    • Nota Tory Fanboy

      If they take Israel’s submission at its word, then how will the UK successfully prosecute any incitement to genocide of Israelis and Jews?

      • Tom Welsh

        Er, obviously it is wicked and impermissible for any non-Jew (aka Gentile) to harm or even criticise any Jew. On the other hand, there is absolutely no obstacle to any Jew saying anything he or she likes about any Gentile, and indeed doing anything they like to them.

        Humans don’t usually care much about the effect of their actions on bugs. Once you realise that not only Palestinians and other “Arabs”, but all Gentiles, are a lot like bugs from the point of view of Zionists, things start to make a lot more sense.

        In the interests of brevity, this is of course an oversimplification. There are very many kindly, decent, civilised Jews – mostly outside Israel, it must be said. Many of the people I admire most are Jews: writers, journalists, artists, musicians, scientists, mathematicians… Not so many politicians and businessmen, but then I don’t much like them whatever their ethnicity.

        • Nota Tory Fanboy

          The point is that Israel’s legal team is giving inciters the World over a get-out clause: it was just heat-of-the-moment, emotional “free speech”…
          Did they really not stop to think what impact that would have on racists calling for genocide of Jewish and Israeli people? It’s an enormous footgun.

  • Duno N

    Thank you for your reporting Mr Murray!

    Maybe this has been mentioned before, but the American judge on the ICJ, Joan Donoghue was an attorney representing the United States back in the 80s in front of the ICJ.

    In The Republic of Nicaragua vs the United States of America, the ICJ did rule 12-3 that America had broken international law in its actions against Nicaragua by arming the Contras, attacking Nicaraguan property and mining Nicaragua’s harbors. As it turns out, once the jurisdiction argument was ruled on and the case was cleared to proceed the US refused to attend any further and Donoghue had nothing else to add.

    I would like to hope that Judge Donoghue will not fall back to her old arguments and try to get this all dismissed on a procedural technicality by using her position as the President of the ICJ, but I wouldn’t be shocked if she’s talking constantly with the State Department and getting her marching orders.

    After all, the US rejected the ICJ’s ruling against them and refused to pay even a single dime of compensation to Nicaragua. When American prestige is on the line, all bets are off sadly. But still I hope for justice.

    Looking forward to more articles from you

  • Neil

    Ghassan Abu SItta was one of the speakers at the huge (but chaotic) demonstration in London on Sat 13th. He had me in tears, and no doubt many others as well. There were plenty of other tear-jerking stories, but Ghassan in his quiet, modest way, had by far the biggest impact of all the speakers.

    • barbara deutsch

      Dear Neil,

      I have searched for a recording of Ghassan Abu Sitta’s address to the Jan. 14 marchers, without success (although I am aware of a brief interview conducted with him there that day). If you can, would you kindly provide a link to his more formal statement?

      with thanks,

  • Matt Seattle

    Thanks for your tenacity in getting there, freezing, losing sleep and talking us again through the proceedings, which we watched at home.
    Many hardline Israeli politicians have already condemned Israel by their own utterances, so let us hope that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is correct that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

  • harry law

    Sorry this comment was posted on the wrong thread.
    I watched Craig Murray on MOATS this evening and heard George Galloway saying that Sunak and Starmer would take action against the Houthi without a vote in Parliament. In breach of Starmer’s own principles on the subject, he argued that the attacks on Yemen did not amount to a real war with boots on the ground etc. Amazing. George also said this US/UK action was also a breach of International law. He is right; the UNSC resolution, which Russia and China abstained, only condemned the Houthi blockade, it did not authorise military action. This was similar to the no-fly zone in Libya which Russia abstained on, only for NATO to bomb everything that moved in Libya.
    Once again the US ‘Rules Based order’ takes precedence over International Law.
    Craig’s interview was interrupted; however, he did say this case is a make-or-break issue for International law. I suspect International Law is a dead letter and has been for many years.

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