Suit charges Biden administration with genocide complicity


Palestinian human rights organizations and others have sued US President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken for complicity in genocide and violating the duty to prevent genocide in relation to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed the case Nov. 13 on behalf of Defense for Children International-Palestine, Al-Haq and individual plaintiffs affected by the conflict, asserting violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention and the 1988 Genocide Convention Implementation Act.

The complaint, brought in US District Court in San Francisco, alleges that Biden and other officials have “been failing to uphold the country’s obligation to prevent a genocide” and “enabled the conditions for its development by providing unconditional military and diplomatic support” to Israel. The plaintiffs are calling on the court to order administration officials to “take all measures within their power to prevent Israel’s commission of genocidal acts against the Palestinian people,” and to prevent the administration from “abiding, abetting, enabling, or facilitating Israel’s commission of genocidal acts against the Palestinian people of Gaza.” This includes ordering the administration to influence Israel to end its bombing of Gaza, to lift the siege on Gaza, and prevent the forcible transfer of Palestinians from Gaza.

The plaintiffs assert that the evidence they’ve provided shows that the “acts of the Israeli government represent an unfolding genocide,” citing the “continued siege blocking of all necessities, widescale bombing, use of chemical weapons, and forced evacuation orders.” The complaint also refers to the “deliberate targeting” of hospitals, civilian shelters and infrastructure including refugee camps, and intentional communication blackouts.

The complaint was filed along with a declaration from leading legal expert on genocide William Schabas, and a declaration from Holocaust scholars Drs. John Cox, Victoria Sanford and Barry Trachtenberg. Both declarations assert that Israel’s actions constitute signs of genocide and “resemble other genocides in recent history.”

The US Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Kirby commented on the current situation in Gaza on Nov. 14. Kirby stated that the administration’s primary focuses are freeing the hostages being held by Hamas and “prevent[ing] further escalation” of the conflict. Kirby also stated that the administration “do[es] not support striking a hospital from the air… Hospitals and patients must be protected.”

Kirby announced that the Treasury Department issued a third round of sanctions against Hamas, but added that “Hamas actions did not lessen Israel’s responsibilities to protect civilians in Gaza.” Kirby stated that the administration doesn’t “support a ceasefire,” but does “support these humanitarian pauses that the Israeli military put in place.”

From Jurist, Nov. 15. Used with permission.

Note: Some of these same human rights groups have also brought suit before the International Criminal Court accusing Israel of genocide.

Photo: The White House/Wikimedia Commons

  1. Israel’s genocidal rhetoric escalates

    The genocidal rhetoric from Israeli officials continues unabated. In response to the government’s move to allow limited fuel shipments into Gaza, deputy speaker of the Knesset Nissim Vaturi (Likud) tweeted: “All of this preoccupation with whether or not there is internet in Gaza shows that we have learned nothing. We are too humane. Burn Gaza now no less! Don’t allow fuel in, don’t allow water in until the hostages are returned back!” (Palestine Chronicle)

  2. Israeli human rights group accuses government of war crimes

    Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that monitors the Gaza Strip, issued a position statement on the current crisis Nov. 13. It acknowledges that the Hamas attakcs and hostage-taking constitute war crimes, but emphasizes: 

    The use of incendiary and explosive weapons in densely populated areas, indiscriminate bombardments, collective punishment, starvation, the deliberate killing of civilians and targeting of civilian infrastructure, and the taking of hostages violate these principles and constitute war crimes. All parties must be held accountable for violations of these principles. Violations committed by a party to hostilities do not in any way detract from the obligations of all other parties, and must not be used as justification for additional atrocities.

  3. Court dismisses suit accusing Biden of complicity in genocide

    The US District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit Jan. 31 that accuses President Joe Biden of being complicit in genocide in Gaza. The decision, written by Judge Jeffrey S. White, hinged on jurisdictional questions and did not speak to the substantive claims of the lawsuit. (Jurist)

  4. Appeals court dismisses Biden genocide complicity suit

    The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on July 15 upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that sought to compel the Biden administration to withdraw military, diplomatic, and financial support from Israel. (Jurist)