The latest round of violence began on August 5, when Israel launched a series of airstrikes targeting Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza. The strikes were in retaliation for a rocket attack that killed an Israeli soldier.
Since then, the violence has escalated, with airstrikes hitting civilian targets and Hamas firing rockets into Israel. As of Wednesday, October 26, 2023, the death toll has reached over 2,100 Palestinians and 72 Israelis, according to the United Nations.
The international community has condemned the violence and called for an immediate ceasefire. The United States, which has been a strong supporter of Israel, has also called for restraint. However, the Biden administration has been criticized for not doing more to pressure Israel to end the violence.
MOUNTING PRESSURE ON ISRAEL AND THE US:
The latest round of violence has intensified pressure on both Israel and the US. Israel is facing growing international criticism for its use of disproportionate force. The US is also facing criticism for its close relationship with Israel and its failure to do more to stop the violence.
The pressure on Israel is likely to continue as the death toll continues to rise. The international community is increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress in resolving the conflict.
The US is also facing increasing pressure from its own citizens to take a more active role in ending the violence. A recent poll found that 62% of Americans believe that the US should do more to pressure Israel to end the violence.
WHAT LAWS GOVERN THE CONFLICT?
The complex issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is subject to a web of international laws and bodies. The 1949 Geneva Conventions, ratified by all UN member states, form the foundation of internationally accepted rules of armed conflict. These conventions are supplemented by rulings from international war crimes tribunals.
A framework known as the “Law of Armed Conflict” or “International Humanitarian Law” governs the treatment of civilians, soldiers, and prisoners of war. This framework applies equally to government forces and organized armed groups like Hamas militants.
In the event that domestic legal systems fail to prosecute alleged perpetrators of atrocities, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague emerges as the sole international entity with the authority to pursue charges. Due to limitations in jurisdiction, domestic courts can only play a minor role in such cases.
The ICC’s founding statute, the Rome Statute, grants it the power to investigate crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes committed within the territory of member states or by their nationals, provided that domestic authorities are unable or unwilling to carry out such investigations.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE ICC?
Established in 2002, the ICC serves as the permanent international war crimes tribunal. Its jurisdiction encompasses war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed within the territory of its 123 member states or by their nationals.
Despite its crucial role, the ICC faces challenges due to the non-participation of major world powers like China, the United States, Russia, India, and Egypt. Additionally, while the ICC recognizes Palestine as a member state, Israel rejects its jurisdiction and avoids formal engagement.
With limited resources and an ongoing investigation in 17 other locations, including Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Myanmar, the ICC’s budget allocation for investigations in the Palestinian territories for 2023 stands at just under €1 million. However, it actively seeks additional funding to enhance its investigative capabilities.
Since 2021, the ICC has been conducting an ongoing investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed within the occupied Palestinian territories. Initial findings in 2021 indicated a reasonable basis to believe that violations had been committed by all parties involved, including Israeli troops, Hamas militants, and other Palestinian armed groups.
WHAT ACTS COULD VIOLATE WAR CRIMES LAW?
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based organization, has highlighted several actions that could be considered war crimes, including:
- Deliberate targeting of civilians by Palestinian armed groups: This includes acts such as indiscriminate rocket attacks and the taking of civilians as hostages.
- Indiscriminate counter-strikes by Israeli forces: These strikes, intended to target Hamas militants, have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.
- Israeli blockade on Gaza: The Israeli Defence Minister’s decision to tighten the blockade on Gaza, restricting the supply of food and fuel to its 2.3 million residents, has drawn criticism from the UN and human rights groups. This action raises concerns about potential violations of international law.
- Israeli threat of ground invasion: The Israeli Defence Minister’s vow to “wipe Hamas off the face of the earth” and the growing expectation of a ground invasion raise concerns about potential disproportionate use of force and the resulting civilian casualties.
US President Joe Biden acknowledged Israel’s right and duty to respond but emphasized the importance of adhering to the rule of law. This statement highlights the international community’s focus on ensuring that all actions taken by both parties comply with international law and minimize civilian casualties.
INDIA’s STANCE ON THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT:
The intricate relationship between India, Palestine, and Israel demands continuous attention. While the trilateral dimension holds undeniable importance, acknowledging the primacy of the bilateral connections between India and each nation is crucial. This implies that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict will inevitably impact the India-Israel relationship and vice versa.
India has demonstrably shifted its approach, adopting a neutral stance instead of its traditional active support for the Palestinian cause. The Indian government has consistently emphasized its desire to remain impartial and objective in the conflict. This translates to continued humanitarian aid and diplomatic support for both sides.
Following the United States’ relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem and the subsequent deterioration of the situation in Palestine, New Delhi has adopted a more cautious approach. This cautious approach is evident in India’s vocal stance on maintaining equidistance from both parties in the conflict.
The latest round of violence in Gaza has intensified pressure on Israel and the US. The international community is increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress in resolving the conflict. The US is facing increasing pressure from its own citizens to take a more active role in ending the violence. It is unclear what solution will ultimately be successful. However, it is clear that the current situation is unsustainable and that a long-term solution must be found.
Aditya Pratap is a lawyer and founder of Aditya Pratap Law Offices. He practices in the realm of real estate, corporate, and criminal law. His website is adityapratap.in and his media interviews can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/@AdityaPratap/featured. Views expressed are personal.
This article has been assisted by Sridhan Tiwari, a 3rd year law student pursuing B.A., LL.B. from Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida.