ISCI is a cross-disciplinary research centre working to further our understanding of state crime: organisational deviance violating human rights

A Statement on the Palestinian Genocide

Gaza October 2023

As scholars of genocide, the International State Crime Initiative stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine and deplores the current genocidal actions of the State of Israel and its complicit Western supporters. We mourn the killings of all innocent victims in Israel and in Palestine but stress that it is crucial to recognise the historical antecedents behind what is happening now.

Omar Barghouti expresses the asymmetry and background context with devastating brevity and clarity. On the Hamas attack he writes that to call this “unprovoked” is;

“… a typical anti-Palestinian racist trope that views us as relative humans who do not deserve full human rights. Why else would the relentless, slow death and structural violence resulting from Israel’s ongoing 75-year-old regime of injustice against us be deemed invisible or unworthy of condemnation and accountability?”

Israel’s announcement of a state of “total siege” of Gaza, cutting off water, food, electricity and medical supplies, amounted to a statement of intent to commit genocide against the Palestinian people by “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” (Genocide Convention 1948, Article 2). With the complicity of Western governments, Gaza’s 2.2 million inhabitants are trapped in an apocalypse. For 16 years Israel has imposed an illegal blockade on Gaza turning it into an “unliveable” zone. A total siege will ensure death for more of those who haven’t yet been murdered by its terrifying and indiscriminate bombardments. When 1.1 million Gazans were given 24 hours by Israeli military forces to evacuate to the south, Israeli aircraft bombed their convoys.

The UK and the US have sent warships and aircraft carriers to support Israel’s campaign of terror. Germany and France have outlawed demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The British Home Secretary has instructed police that, “the waving of a Palestinian flag, may not be legitimate such as when intended to glorify acts of terrorism”.

When Defence Minister Yoav Gallant described Palestinians as “human animals”, his intentions were crystal clear and explicitly genocidal. In Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Cambodia and Burma/Myanmar the ‘non human’ epithet underpinned and made easier the mass extermination of the ‘other’. Genocide is a process which begins with dehumanisation and ends with erasure. In between and often concurrent are occasions of litmus-testing violence, structural discrimination, forced isolation and ghettoization and systematic weakening. For Palestinians the genocide began in 1917 with the Balfour Declaration, when Britain ‘gifted’ their country to European Zionists looking for a Jewish homeland. It really took form in the 1948 war, which led to the creation of the State of Israel. During this catastrophe (the Nakba) thousands of Palestinians were killed and 750,000 were driven from their homeland, forever denied a right of return by the Israeli state. Decades of dispossession, structural violence, forced eviction and apartheid discrimination have followed. What we are witnessing now is the dénouement of Israel’s genocide of the indigenous Palestinians. What we are witnessing now is a second Nakba, a catastrophe which threatens the very existence of the Palestinian people.

We feel outrage and despair but we are not helpless. Palestinians need our support. As Omar Barghouti has written;

“The most profound ethical obligation in these times is to act to end complicity.”

Recognising that the real power in our society lies with organised civil society, we therefore urge all our supporters to commit to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, to demonstrate outrage against Israel’s genocide and to challenge our genocide-complicit governments and major political parties at every opportunity.

We stand with the people of Palestine.

Update – 17 October 2023

Well over 2,500 Palestinians have been killed in the past week. Hospitals and schools have been targeted and already over 1,000 Gazan children have been killed. Predictably, journalists and medics have also been targeted.

Update – 25 October 2023

It is now day 20 of Israel’s relentless genocidal siege and bombardment of Gaza. At least 6,000 Palestinians have been killed, almost half of them children. Thousands more lie buried under the rubble of bombed residential buildings. Hospitals and journalists continue to be targeted. In just over two weeks 23 Gazan journalists and numerous medics have been killed.  Eight of Gaza’s 24 hospitals are no longer functioning. The genocidal intention of the Israeli state is becoming clear: the leadership of the IDF declared that ‘The emphasis is on damage, not accuracy’, while Netanyahu threatened to ‘flatten’ the strip, and another official spokesperson warned  that ‘Gaza will eventually turn into a city of tents. There will be no buildings’.