You probably haven’t heard of Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh. She’s an Irish human rights lawyer, part of the team that just nudged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) verdict regarding South Africa’s case against Israel. One week ago, the ICJ delivered their verdict with calm measured syntax: but their words rattled international leaders around the world.
Because the ICJ did not throw out the case against Israel; instead, it demanded Israel take “all necessary measures” to prevent acts as outlined in article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention. You can see and hear Blinne’s testimony here (it’s a long recording, so skip 2 hours in for her words). She is neither ranty nor loud, but devastatingly precise about the slashing of human rights by Israel across Gaza. Her comments on the “agonizing deaths” of Palestinians buried alive under the rubble of their own homes is haunting, as it needs to be.
So much has been written, and said about Gaza since 7 October last year, and yet here we are. Masse killing by Israeli state troops carry on unabated. I checked the news just this afternoon, and flinched. Twenty six thousand nine hundred Palestinians have been killed inside Gaza, including more than ten thousand children. Al Jazeera has just published this “know their names” list of the children who are dead. I urge you to read the names and ages, and and to think about the humanity we are all losing through these senseless, systematic killings.
Having lived in Gaza city – incidentally I met Blinne while I was there – I’ve many Palestinian friends. Some have escaped the Strip, deeply traumatised and harrowed by leaving so many family and friends behind. Others are trapped, mainly in the southern city of Rafah, where the population has swelled from about a quarter of a million Palestinians before this war to more than 1.9 million now. One friend I’ve spoken to almost every day since October, is missing: I haven’t heard from her since 23rd January and I really hope she is still alive. Another Gazan friend of mine, now working in another Middle East country, is agonizing about her family, who have been missing for two weeks without contact.
Blinne, and the whole human rights lawyer team who stood with South Africa against the Government of Israel, are rock stars. And so are the Palestinian journalists inside the Strip, our only source of information from inside the bloody inferno. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says 85 media colleagues have now been confirmed dead: 78 Palestinians, 4 Israelis and 3 Lebanese. These courageous individuals include Iyad El-Ruwagh, killed with four of his children by an Israeli airstrike on Nuseirat refugee camp on 25th January. And 24-years old old Mohamed Atallah, killed in northern Gaza City on 29th January. The CPJ is investigating numerous unconfirmed cases of other journalists reporting on the war in Gaza being detained, threatened, missing and injured.
This unwinnable war is now spiralling outwards, across the region, and needs to be contained before Iran and the US take military steps they can’t undo. Benyamin Netanyahu’s vengeance, and his intent to save his own political skin, needs to be reined in tightly.
This includes by leaders in the US and the UK, until now blinkered by dangerous, naive assumptions that an extreme rightwing Israeli Government has any interest in even the facade of a two-state solution, or that the Hamas movement can be cowed and destroyed, especially when many of its political elite are way outside Gaza, beyond the reach of Israeli government tentacles. Despite speculative reports to the contrary, there is no sign whatsoever that Hamas is crumbling. Only that trauma and disease are ripping across Gaza, while starvation lurks in the shadows.