The ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza—as well as its surrounding regions—has triggered questions over how the bastions of international humanitarian law can actually tolerate Tel Aviv’s war crimes. Under international law, regardless of whether a target is military or civilian, the principle of proportionality prohibits any attacks when they are “expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” No sane mind can justify the “proportionality” of Israel killing more than 11,000 Palestinian civilians, including over 4,600 children, in retaliation to Hamas’ actions of Oct. 7. To add salt to the gaping wound, Israeli government and military officials have repeatedly demonstrated “genocidal intent” by declaring there are “no innocents” in Gaza, while attempting to justify the killing of U.N. ambulance drivers, medical staff and aid workers after branding them members of Hamas.
The Israeli aggression has now lasted over a month, with evidence mounting of serious war crimes, as already indicated by the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Amidst this, Muslim states have repeatedly failed Palestinians by maintaining diplomatic ties with Israel, even as they voice weak condemnations. Egypt, Jordan, the U.A.E., Morocco and Turkey—not to mention Western powers, China and India—continue to maintain diplomatic and economic relations with Israel, raising the key question of why Israel should revisit its decades-spanning policies of apartheid, dehumanization of Palestinians, oppression and subjugation if it faces no penalties for the same. Why should it stop its relentless bombing of Gaza? Why should it rethink its illegal occupation and colonization? Why should it even listen when the secretary-general of the Arab League accuses it of perpetrating “genocide” and Arab leaders make perfunctory declarations but take no decisive action at the Arab-Islamic Summit?
A former U.N. official sums it up best: “As far as international reaction is concerned, to date, only Bolivia has severed diplomatic relations with Israel to protest against the ongoing war crimes. Unless Egypt, Jordan, U.A.E. and Morocco sever their diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv as their people demand; unless countries such as Turkey, South Africa and Brazil, which have denounced Israel’s war crimes, align their diplomacy with their own pronouncements; unless these countries emulate Bolivia’s principled diplomatic move and put pressure on their Western partners; unless Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Iran, Qatar, Azerbaijan and other large exporters of oil and natural gas use their economic leverage on Israel’s blinded backers, Gaza and its population will go on being destroyed.”