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