United Nations Definition of ‘Genocide’
The United Nations has a web page, which provides a definition of genocide.
It defines genocide as:
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
It stress two main main elements:
- A mental element: the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”; and
- A physical element, which includes the following five acts, enumerated exhaustively:
- Killing members of the group
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
Israel’s actions in Palestine tick some of the physical criteria of genocide
Israel’s actions in Palestine fit some of the physical elements:
- Killing Palestinians in Gaza
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to Palestinians
- Cutting off water and electricity
But Israel is claiming that its actions are focused on destroying Hamas
But, importantly, Israel is currently claiming that its actions are intended to destroy Hamas. If this is the case, then what is happening is not genocide.
Others claim Israel’s actions are intended to mete out collective punishment on Palestinians generally, if what they mean is part of the collective punishment includes taking measures which knowingly result in the deaths of Palestinians, then we can conclude that Israel’s intent and actions, together, constitute genocide
Some people have argued that Israel’s actions are intended to be a ‘collective punishment’ of the Palestinian people. If when people say this they mean that part of the collective punishment involves taking measures which knowingly result in deaths of Palestinians – then not just designed to destroy Hamas – then we can conclude that Israel’s intent and actions, together, constitute genocide.
In other words genocide is used as a strategy to publish and inhibit a people from further attacks.
Its all about the intent.
The UN page says
The intent is the most difficult element to determine. To constitute genocide, there must be a proven intent on the part of perpetrators to physically destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Cultural destruction does not suffice, nor does an intention to simply disperse a group. It is this special intent, or dolus specialis, that makes the crime of genocide so unique. In addition, case law has associated intent with the existence of a State or organizational plan or policy, even if the definition of genocide in international law does not include that element.
Some people have claimed that what Israel have been doing in Gaza, does amount to genocide.
Olivia Giovetti writes: (25th October 2023)
Iris Hefets, a board member of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, stood alone on Hermannplatz on 14 October, holding up a sign that said: ‘As a Jew and as an Israeli, stop the genocide in Gaza.’ She was taken into police custody.
No intent, but sloppy sloppy implementation
And what if the Israeli state and defence force are targeting and focusing their efforts on destroying Hamas – but doing it in an utterly careless way that doesn’t take into account the number of civilian deaths that it causes? What if there is an almost deliberately sloppy intent to the implementation? Then perhaps we can say that Israel’s actions are bleeding into genocide.
Or what if the Israeli strategy is that to defeat Hamas (whatever that means??) they have to destroy a good part of Hamas and Gaza civilian infrastructure, which means thousands of people get killed as collateral damage. Is that genocide? In other words the mass killing of a people is seen as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself? Or in some ways part of an end in itself, to the extent that any hostile force, embedded in a community or quasi-state, feeds off that community and state, such that the community are seen to form part of the live blood of the hostile force?
Beyond the question of genocide, its clear that Israel is a project of Palestinian ethnic cleansing, implemented by the state of Israel, the United States and various supporting countries
Israel may be laying waste to Gaza, and it may be killing thousands of Palestinians in the process – but one might argue, that this is not enough to meet the definition of genocide. But what is clear is that historically, Israel has embarked on a policy of ethnic cleansing of various lands in and around Israel – of Palestinian people. It started in 1948 with the Nabka and continues today with Israeli strong-men bullying Palestinian people out of their homes and land, and building Israeli homes in their place.
This has been supported by the United States and various western powers, who have used Israel as a proxy western occupying force in the Middle East to act as a counterweight to any Iranian, pan-Arab or pan-Islamic forces and movement in the area.
We will have to wait and see what moves Israel makes on Gaza over the weeks and months to come – but its clear that right now – thousands and millions of people from Gaza are being driven from north to south, and some beyond the border between Israel and Egypt.
At the end of all this, Hamas will be stronger than ever
At the end of this Israel will have traumatised and radicalised the two million people in Gaza, and many other people around Israel and the world. There’s a good chance that Hamas, to the extent that it is a mindset which desires bloody and murderous revenge for perceived wrongs – on the Israeli state and Jewish people – will likely have grown ten, one hundred, one thousand – fold – who knows? – to two million (minus whatever number of Palestinians are killed in this latest episode).