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The Power of Poetry to Move Us to Love in Times of Human Cruelty

San Francisco’s third poet laureate, devorah major, speaks on Palestine and how poetry can help us connect as we navigate the violence of our world.

by April M. Short

Near the end of November 2023, about 15,000 people—including at least 5,500 children—had been killed by Israeli military bombardment in less than two months. Israel’s near-constant bombing and artillery fire in the 25-mile Gaza Strip began following an attack by Hamas that reportedly killed several hundred Israeli civilians. For weeks, Israel cut off access to water, electricity, internet, and basic supplies in Gaza. International aid groups were barred from helping wounded and stranded civilians—civilians largely unable to flee Gaza since it is surrounded by walls and the Israeli military in the fashion of an open-air prison. Many international aid organizations have called Israel’s illegal occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and its treatment of Palestinian civilians, an apartheid for decades. In this current conflict, aid groups have warned of unprecedented humanitarian crises. On November 16, UN experts wrote, “Grave violations committed by Israel against Palestinians in the aftermath of October 7, particularly in Gaza, point to a genocide in the making.”

Poly Akhter’s mother, Shahana (38), grieves for her, 1 June 2013. [ Photo Credit: Taslima Akhter ]

Amid global concerns of genocide being committed against civilians in Gaza, continual mass public protests have taken place around the world following October 7, often led by Jewish people. Protests have called Israel’s actions a genocide and have highlighted the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, citing multiple statements by state officials, the unparalleled number of civilian lives lost—so many of whom were children, and other reported international war crimes on the part of Israel (including attacks on hospitals, and the use of white phosphorus chemical bombs). In mid-November, more than 2,000 musicians had urged Israel to declare a ceasefire in Gaza, and 24 U.S. Congress members had signed onto a letter asking U.S. President Joe Biden to call for a ceasefire. On November 16, the Los Angeles Times editorial board publicly called for a ceasefire in Gaza, joining the increasing global demand for an end to the violence.

On November 24, a four-day truce was reached between Israel and Hamas, which included “the release of Hamas captives and Palestinian prisoners.” This agreement was extended by two days on November 27. Protests continued during the truce, as activists in New York shut down the Manhattan Bridge on November 26 and disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, pointing out that a humanitarian pause is not the same as a long-term ceasefire.

Political Poetry

Meanwhile, since the beginning of November 2023, multiple reports stated entire families, with members spanning three or four generations, had been killed by the Israeli military in Gaza. As of late November, an unknown number of nameless and unidentifiable bodies lay in piles in Gaza, including thousands of children. Among the most tragic images from the Gaza Strip during these weeks on social media were those of children’s names written on their bodies, in hopes that they would be identifiable if killed. After learning about the practice in a social media post, San Francisco’s third poet laureate, devorah major, wrote the following poem:

childhoods remembered
do you remember holding
your small child hand up to
your father’s large comforting hand
amazed at its size compared
to your vine thin fingers?

do you remember making
fingers and palms into church and steeple
and then opening to see all the people?

do you remember drawing
eyes and mouths on fingers
creating silly finger people?

thumb folded around
pointer finger making a mouth
opening and closing—

silly games of childhood
laughter crawling down our bodies
dissolving in the air
and reappearing
as a tickle giggle
finger wiggle.

not wanting to be one of the missing
or one of the unable to be identified killed
the little girl wrote on the inside of her
heart shaped palm between heart
and lifelines in neat Arabic script
“if my hand survived
this is my name” before she was slain.

these children do not have
numbers burned into their arms
but many have written their own
names statements and identification numbers.

pants legs rolled up reveal
the brothers inscribed legs reading
Ahmad Nateel
Jowan Nateel
Rebhan Nateel.

did the oldest write it for his younger brothers
or were they perhaps written by a trembling mother
or a father writing while damming his own tears?

now they lie next to each other
softly browned saplings chopped down
before they could bear fruit.

the whole family it seems
assassinated in what their killers
call a cleansing
a mowing of grass
a righteous final solution

are you old enough to remember being a child
old enough to remember growing up
maybe even remember becoming old

they are not
their dead bodies
reflect the memories they will never have

one child has written on her arm
“no I will not die”
does she still live

Poet devorah major has also written the poem “land, settlers, and genocide: america, australia, palestine” and others in response to “the most recent October 2023 Israeli attacks on and siege of Palestine,” she says. She notes that Israel’s current military response in Gaza is, “…precipitated by the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which was precipitated by the continued aggression, murders, and land grabbing by Israel back to 1948.”

Major is a California-born, “granddaughter of immigrants, documented and undocumented,” award-winning poet, and writer of both prose and fiction who taught poetry craft, science fiction, short story writing, and composition at California College of the Arts (and has taught at a number of universities and other higher education institutions as well). She has been part of the poetry performance group Daughters of Yam for more than 20 years, and is a Cave Canem poetry fellow. Growing up, she says, poetry and books were “everywhere around” her home. Her father was a (nonfiction) writer and befriended poet Bob Kaufman in San Francisco’s North Beach when she was young, and her father would sometimes recite lines from Kaufman’s poetry book Golden Sardine to her. She wrote her first poem around the age of seven or eight, about a turtle.

She says the reasons she began writing poetry as “an avocation, vocation, and passion” is another story. This story is rooted in the Black Arts Movement, which had come to be by the time she was a teen. While studying dance and theater she found herself writing more and more poetry.

“A lot of us did,” she says, sharing that poet Sonia Sanchez was also a friend of her father’s. “I remember finding her chapbook, Homecoming, lying on our dining room table. The Last Poets were playing on the radio and poetry seemed to be the lingo of the times. It spoke to the promise of a revolutionary change that would bring the world I saw in my dreams to a world I lived in. It was wonderful and I was hooked.”

In an interview with the Independent Media Institute, devorah major shared about her poetic process, why she writes poetry that is political, and the power of poetry to help us find connection and understanding as we navigate all the facets of this world, including unfathomable human cruelty.

April M. Short: What continues to draw you to poetry as an art form, especially in times of upheaval, violence, and conflict?

devorah major: Writing poetry is, for me, a way to see things more clearly, to question what surrounds me, to seek or express a kind of spirituality, to heal and be healed, to learn. I find words quite powerful. Wars are waged with weapons, but peace is attained through words.

In these times where there is so much dishonesty in the media and even much more distraction from what is really going on in our world, poetry can be a kind of light that helps us consider or reconsider where and how we stand in the world. Ultimately, I am not sure human cruelty and acts of genocide can ever be really understood, but poetry can help us see it more clearly and define better ways to vanquish it, ways to be truly human, to be more humane. Poetry is a means of connection.

When I have had the privilege of sharing my work in an international poetry festival, what was most inspiring and encouraging for me was that each of us, hailing from far parts of the globe and speaking myriad languages shared the same visions for a world that thrived on unity and cooperation and, of course, love—and turned from war and oppression, not just through words but through action.

AMS: Is there something unique that poetry can offer in coming to terms with difficult and painful realities in the world?

DM: I think that poetry can, in a concise and moving way, provide historical context, which often provides strategies for successful struggle and timely reflections on the happenings of the times. This helps people to emotionally and spiritually engage with these realities instead of just viewing news bites.

At its best, poetry can say in a very few words what an entire essay might discuss. Before we can solve a problem, we must clearly see its parameters. Poetry helps one to see. It is, after all, one thing to look, and quite another to see.

AMS: Will you please share why and when you wrote “childhoods remembered,” and your personal process with this piece?

DM: My daughter sent me a social media video of living and dead children with names written on their arms and legs. When I finished crying, I realized I had to write a poem that considered what this horrific act of writing on one’s body so that one’s corpse could be identified meant.

I remembered teaching my toddler daughter hand games that I had played as a child. That was the poem’s doorway for me. That poem poured out of me. Sadly, the translation did not name the girl who wrote, “No, I will not die,” or I would have included her name in the poem, too.

AMS: Will you please share your process and reasons for writing “land, settlers, and genocide: america, australia, palestine”? What were you thinking and what compelled you to tell this story in this way?

DM: What struck me about this barbaric response to the Hamas action, which insofar as it killed civilians also was barbaric, was that the occupation of Indigenous people’s land had a long, brutal history. I focused on North America, Australia, and Palestine. I actually researched what trees grew in America and Australia when they were uncolonized land and what crops were grown and harvested in Palestine for centuries.

Did you know Israelis uprooted olive trees that were over 2,000 years old to plant their pine trees? While looking into that, I found out that some olive trees chopped down and planted over with the Israeli pines began to regrow after 50 years dormant, and split open the pine trees. I often do some research for this kind of poem to make sure I stay focused on yes, the emotions, the story, the moments, but also the actual history and ecology that can provide useful metaphors.

AMS: Some Americans (and others) have been afraid of speaking up against Israel’s actions and/or are inundated with media narratives in support of Israel. Have you experienced backlash in regard to these poems and/or your work in general? If so, how do you navigate that?

DM: Some Americans fear their shadow. Most do not see the full picture and have no sense of history or context. American media contributes to this ignorance because of its own imperatives that rest on supporting the capitalist, war economy and sustaining the current power structure.

My fear is the world the children, all the children, will inherit if I am complicitly helping in this destruction with silence. Thus far, however, the comments I have gotten about my poems have all been supportive.

AMS: Have you ever felt hesitant to share poetry that is political, and where do you source the courage to create and share your art and your voice?

DM: I consider all art, and thus all poetry, political. The choice of focus, the choice of point of view, the choice of subject are all political choices. Does one look at the sky and only note its colors and the way they make one feel in that moment and maybe planes seen swooping by? Or does one notice how its colors have turned because of pollution, and the planes are warplanes leaving trails between the clouds? Does one write of idyllic, mythic love or investigate love’s truths? Do the words seek to distract or engage? Do I speak for positive change and the empowerment, freedom, and uplifting of the people, or do I write words that support, sustain, and possibly glorify the rulers and the military-industrial complex that is quite international these days and times? For me, even if I am writing a poem about the stars or the sea, the way I address that subject is innately political while I strive to maintain its scientific and poetic integrity.

I don’t find it an act of courage to speak truth as I see it. It takes no more courage to write on human struggles in these times than it does when I write of love or of the universe. However, at times, it does take a measure of courage to look, to actually see, especially now when the planet is burning in so many ways—Palestine, Sudan, Ukraine, American city streets, among the many formal and informal wars; and of course, the planet itself is suffering its own warming and fires due to human excesses. I am never hesitant to share my voice. I simply keep working to improve my craft and my clarity, hoping that some of my words land in other people’s ears and/or hearts and are found of value.

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

April M. Short is an editor, journalist, and documentary editor and producer. She is a co-founder of the Observatory, where she is the Local Peace Economy editor, and she is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute. Previously, she was a managing editor at AlterNet as well as an award-winning senior staff writer for Good Times, a weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, California. Her work has been published with the San Francisco Chronicle, In These Times, LA Yoga, Pressenza, the Conversation, Salon, and many other publications.

Trilateral Missile Defense System a Step Towards Asian NATO

Members of the Biden Administration extol the Camp David Agreement as historic and unprecedented and as a qualitative leap forward in the United States, Japan, and South Korea military cooperation and coordination.

by Dae-Han Song and Jeffrey Wagner

The United States, Japan, and South Korea will fully operationalize a missile warning system “by the end of December.” While justified as a means to counter North Korea’s missile launches, more worrisome, it escalates tensions in the region with China through the “NATOification” of all three countries, agreed upon in the “Spirit of Camp David” agreement.

President Biden greeted President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan. It was the first time Mr. Biden had invited foreign leaders to Camp David. [ Photo: amuel Corum for The New York Times ]

The agreement was hailed as a “new era of trilateral partnership” during the August 18 press conference following a meeting between the heads of state of all three countries. Western media echoed the sentiment, calling it “historic” and “unprecedented.” China, listed in the agreement as a regional concern, accused the United States of creating a “mini NATO in Asia.” In response, United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan emphatically stated that the trilateral alliance is “nothing new” and certainly “not a new NATO for the Pacific.” Yet despite such dismissals, this meeting between the U.S. and its strongest allies in the region lays the foundations for NATO-level military cooperation—a common threat, interoperability, and security coordination—that threatens China and escalates tensions in the region.

‘Collective Interests and Security’

While the United States has had bilateral agreements under the San Francisco System with South Korea and Japan for decades, the August 18 Camp David meeting institutionalized trilateral cooperation among the three nations, changing the scope and nature of their relations from the hub-and-spoke bilateral alliances to trilateral annual summits (covering finance, commerce, industry, foreign policy, and defense) and joint military exercises. As Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) states: “This [unprecedented] institutionalization of the trilateral relationship… transforms these alliances into something quite new.” This was a historical breakthrough for the United States, which first pursued a NATO-level alliance built around Japan in the 1950s. Yet, unresolved grievances around Japan’s colonialism (enabled by the U.S. decision to prioritize its security interests over rectifying Japan’s war crimes and colonialism), and the different security interests between South Korea and Japan forced it to settle for bilateral agreements with governments it installed and propped up. Nonetheless, as noted in Foreign Policy magazine, this U.S. “military preeminence in the Pacific gave Washington the luxury of not needing a collective security agreement.” Today, as the U.S. “has lost its preponderance of military power in the maritime domain… [the U.S. and its allies face a] threat comparable to what NATO confronted in Europe during the Cold War.”

The conservative, pro-U.S. Yoon Suk Yeol administration’s 2023 decision to normalize relations with Japan (casting aside a South Korean Supreme Court ruling against Japanese companies for the wartime conscription of Koreans) paved the way towards establishing the trilateral alliance that the U.S. had sought for the past 70 years. While the Spirit of Camp David Agreement is not yet a full-fledged mini Asian-NATO, combining two of the United States’ closest allies in the region into military cooperation with each other is a step towards it. The agreement contains the seeds of a NATO-level trilateral alliance based on mutual self-defense. More specifically, it calls for consultation and coordinated responses “to regional challenges, provocations, and threats that affect our collective interests and security.” As Kurt M. Campbell, Biden’s Asia strategy architect, has stated: a “fundamental, foundational understanding” of the Spirit of Camp David statement is that “a challenge to the security of any one of the countries affects the security of all of them.”

‘Integrated Deterrence’

One of NATO’s strengths, which enhances and expands U.S. power projection in the region, is the synergy achieved by greater interoperability (i.e., the ability to effectively “achieve tactical, operational and strategic objectives”) between member countries. All of these are being built up and pursued through the trilateral security cooperation agreement.

This agreement lays the groundwork for trilateral interoperability to achieve “integrated deterrence” against China. This integrated deterrence is key in the U.S. containment of China. It allows the United States to carry out provocations (e.g., former U.S. House Speaker’s Nancy Pelosi August 2022 visit with Taiwan’s president) while limiting China’s response options.

A key component of integrated deterrence is joint military cooperation and coordination through a common operational picture. In other words, all parties need to be looking at the same operational picture informing their operational decisions. The recent normalization of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) by the Yoon Administration lays the foundation for this. Previously, under the 2014 trilateral information sharing agreement, South Korean and Japanese intelligence would be shared between each other through the United States and would be limited to threats from North Korea. GSOMIA, first signed in 2016, and reinstated by Yoon (after former President Moon allowed it to expire in 2019), allows comprehensive intelligence sharing between South Korea and Japan directly, including “threats from China and Russia.” On August 29, the United States, South Korea, and Japan held joint ballistic missile defense drills to “detect and track a computer-simulated ballistic missile target, and share related information.” The system is expected to be fully operationalized by the end of December 2023. While ostensibly against North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles, given the scope of GSOMIA, this missile defense system can just as well be applied to China.

At a time when regional power is maintained through an “extended deterrence” to determine the outcome without a bullet even fired against an adversary, the United States’ missile defense system allows it to project its power in the region by neutralizing China’s anti-access and area-denial capabilities. Furthermore, it threatens to neutralize China’s ability to respond to a first strike by the United States. The United States’ “extended deterrence” containing China and China’s “extended deterrence” safeguarding its economic rise leaves both jostling for military advantage. In effect, U.S. actions are triggering a set of actions and counteractions that are escalating tensions in the region.

Members of the Biden Administration extol the Camp David Agreement as historic and unprecedented and as a qualitative leap forward in the United States, Japan, and South Korea military cooperation and coordination. At the same time, they oppose its characterization as a mini-Asian NATO. And while the agreement has not yet reached NATO status, it is clearly laying the groundwork toward that objective. It has also driven China, North Korea, and Russia to strengthen their own coordination, effectively consolidating an opposing bloc. Ultimately, the fight to establish competing “extended deterrence” is the beginning of war. To stop war, we must shift from military posturing and escalation to diplomatic solutions and respect for the security concerns of all countries.

Source: Globetrotter

Dae-Han Song is in charge of the networking team at the International Strategy Center and is a part of the No Cold War collective. 

Jeffrey Wagner is an educator in South Korea and a member of the International Strategy Center.

The Netherlands’ Turn to the Radical Right

The political context surrounding this outcome includes the early fall of the Rutte IV government, which was triggered by the issue of the so-called “asylum crisis”

The Freedom Party (PVV) of xenophobic leader Geert Wilders has won a resounding victory in the November 22 parliamentary elections in the Netherlands, with 37 seats out of a total of 150 in the lower house of the country’s bicameral parliament.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom, known as PVV, casts his ballot in The Hague, Netherlands. (AP)

In second place, the coalition of social democrats and left-wing environmentalists, GroenLinks-PvdA, led by former European Commission vice-president and Green Deal promoter Frans Timmermans, won 25 seats. The right-wing liberals of the VVD, Mark Rutte’s outgoing 13-year-long PM party, won 24 seats. In fourth place, the new center-right New Social Contract (NSC) of Pieter Omtzigt (former CDA MP, Christian Democrats) won 20 seats.

The political context surrounding this outcome includes the early fall of the Rutte IV government, which was triggered by the issue of the so-called “asylum crisis”: the disastrous management of refugee centers and the inability to humanely accommodate a growing number of people fleeing war zones.

Secondly, deteriorating conditions for the majority made the cost of living one of the key issues in this election. The working class in the Netherlands is suffering from the effects of an enduring economic and social crisis, the result of 13 years of austerity-driven, liberal-conservative governments. The number of people living in poverty (800,000) has increased, and people face higher housing, health, and energy costs, as well as an increase in the cost of basic commodities in recent years, forcing thousands to resort to free food distribution centers.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Media Outlets Call for an End to Israel’s Massacre of Palestinian Journalists

“We are outraged at the murder of over 60 of our Palestinian colleagues at the hands of Israeli Forces since October 7,” reads the statement.

The world is waiting in cautious anticipation amid the four-day pause in hostilities in Gaza, giving Palestinians a brief respite from incessant Israeli airstrikes. Israel did not cease its bombing of the enclave from October 7 to the start of the pause on November 24. In these nearly seven weeks, over 15,000 Palestinians were killed and 33,000 have been injured. Some reports estimate that the true death toll could be around 20,000 given how many are still trapped under the rubble.

Palestinian protesters hold flags during a protest against the killing of Palestinians near the fence of the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on July 3, 2023. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

The Government Media Office in Gaza has reported that 67 journalists have been killed in the Israeli attacks on the Strip. The Committee to Protect Journalists has stated that the last month was the deadliest for attacks on journalists since it started keeping records in 1992. Many press freedom advocates have argued that the killing of journalists and communicators in Gaza appears to be part of Israel’s sinister efforts to prevent the truth about its brutal attacks from reaching the world.

In this context, a group of left media outlets from across the world issued a statement expressing solidarity with Palestinian journalists and demanding a definitive end to what constitutes a grave violation of press freedom. The outlets are ARG Medios, Brasil de Fato, Breakthrough News, Madaar, Pan African TV, Peoples Dispatch, and the Insight Newspaper.

“We are outraged at the murder of over 60 of our Palestinian colleagues at the hands of Israeli Forces since October 7,” reads the statement.

“We stand with our colleagues in Palestine who are risking their lives to tell the truth that the world so desperately needs to hear.”

 from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Moroccan Activists Arrested for Demanding End to Normalization of Ties With Israel

The Front Against Normalization issued a list of arrested activists and claimed that they were kept in detention in Salé.

On November 26, in Salé, Moroccan police assaulted and arrested activists with the Front Against Normalization with Israel who were demanding an end to the normalization of ties between Morocco and the Zionist state.

The activists were participating in a march organized by the front in solidarity with the Palestinian people and Gaza, a part of a crowd of thousands waving Palestinian flags and shouting slogans in support of Palestine.

Palestinian gather to protest a deal between the UAE and Israel to normalise ties, in Gaza City, Gaza on 19 August 2020 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

The march was attacked by the police in front of the Carrefour market in Salé. The police assaulted organizers and arrested some of the activists on the spot.

The Front Against Normalization issued a list of arrested activists and claimed that they were kept in detention in Salé.

Following the footsteps of Bahrain, the UAE, and Sudan, in 2020, Morocco became the fourth Arab country to sign a normalization deal with Israel. The deal, known as the Abraham Accords, was promoted by the US.

By signing the deal, Moroccan King Mohammed VI violated his country’s commitment under the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 of not recognizing Israel until a separate Palestinian state was created. The decision was massively unpopular domestically. Morocco signed the Accords in return for the U.S. recognizing its occupation of Western Sahara.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Gaza; A decisive test for humanitarian rights

International crimes entail the individual criminal responsibility of those who commit such acts, and the International Criminal Court is empowered to take action against these individuals.

by Alireza Delkhosh
In the wake of the unprecedented attacks of the Zionist regime on the defenseless people of Gaza in Palestine, important questions were raised regarding the functions of human rights mechanisms and international and intra-national organizations in armed conflicts.

People take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in London, Britain, Nov. 11, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Ying)

The Zionist regime, in blatant violation of fundamental human principles and values, and in disregard of the provisions of international law, engaged in deliberate attacks targeting the civilians and civilian locations, leading to mass killings- essentially, a deliberate “genocide”.

The regime’s attacks on Gaza included intentional and blind aggressions on civilians, particularly women and children, as well as targeting journalists, relief forces, and other individuals protected by humanitarian regulations. These actions were just one aspect of the criminal behavior exhibited by the regime during the attacks.

The complete blockade of this Strait, preventing the entry of essential supplies such as water, food, fuel, electricity, and medicine, serves as clear evidence of the intentional violation of humanitarian regulations in armed conflicts.

While the October 2023 attacks by the Zionist regime marked an unprecedented scale in terms of civilian casualties, this regime has a dark history of disregarding international law since its inception.

Illegally occupying lands, annexing territories, transferring its population to occupied lands, and exploiting the natural resources of Palestine constitute gross violations of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and hinder the realization of the Palestinian cause.

Simultaneously, these unlawful actions give rise to international responsibility, including the obligation to hold the perpetrators and leaders accountable. Moreover, they afford third countries the right to support the people under occupation and colonization, while deeming assistance to the occupying government as contrary to the right to self-determination, thereby prohibiting it.

The above matters have been emphasized by the United Nations General Assembly on December 14, 1990, by specifying the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people and declared the legitimacy of their struggle for independence, territorial integrity, national unity, and liberation from colonial rule, apartheid, and foreign occupation.

In addition, the General Assembly has generally approved the use of force in all cases where the right to self-determination is forcibly denied.

On the other hand, according to customary international law, third countries are obligated to identify situations resulting from the violation of peremptory norms of international law, including the occupation of other countries’ territories. Governments are obliged to refrain from providing material and moral assistance to occupying regimes, avoiding measures that would support an illegal and illegitimate state of occupation.

Here, it’s relevant to highlight some of the criminal actions of the Zionist regime in October 2023 against the people of Gaza, considering that according to Common Article 1 to the Fourth 1949 Geneva Conventions, member states of the convention commit to adhering to the provisions outlined in these conventions under all circumstances.

The Zionist regime’s reference to legitimate defense in response to the October 7 attack by Hamas is also a completely vain and baseless claim, since the International Court of Justice has deemed such references to legitimate defense in occupied territories, made by the occupier, as an unjustified claim.

The Zionist regime has committed war crimes in these attacks. Official statistics indicate that more than 13,000 people, predominantly women and children, have been killed in Gaza during the attacks since October 7. Most of the hospitals and health centers have been targeted by the Zionist regime and due to the lack of fuel, the rest of those centers have stopped providing medical services, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

The attacks on Al-Ahli Hospital on October 17, 2023, resulted in the deaths and injuries of hundreds of civilian patients and medical staff. Instead of apologizing, acknowledging or avoiding its responsibility, the authorities of this regime clearly stated that their attacks emphasized on “inflicting more damage rather than precision in attacks”!

The siege of the Gaza Strip, cutting off access to essential resources such as water, food, electricity, fuel and medicine constitutes a clear violation of international law, particularly Article 54 of the First Additional Protocol to the Four Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the use of food as a weapon.

Targeting civilians, civilian properties and places, relief units and all other criminal actions of the Zionist regime is a clear violation of Articles 50, 51, 130 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) and Articles 11 and 85 of the First Additional Protocol of 1977.

Compelling the people of Gaza to relocate by the Zionist regime is a crime against humanity and a violation of Article 49 of Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) and Article 17 of the Second Additional Protocol.

The attacks by the Zionist regime have inflicted significant suffering on ordinary people, leading to the destruction of at least a portion of the population in Gaza. In accordance with the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, these assaults are deemed a deliberate act aiming to eliminate a specific group of people, constituting an act of “genocide.” Simultaneously, the threats made by the authorities of the Zionist regime regarding the potential use of nuclear weapons against the people of Gaza violate the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, which deems the threat to use nuclear weapons as illegitimate. Additionally, such actions disregard numerous resolutions of the Organization’s General Assembly.

Having outlined some of the unlawful acts committed by the Zionist regime, the next step is to address how to hold the perpetrators and leaders accountable for these crimes.

In essence, international crimes entail the individual criminal responsibility of those who commit such acts, and the International Criminal Court is empowered to take action against these individuals.

On the other hand, the International Court of Justice, which can only deal governments’ violations (and not the actions of individuals), is the relevant legal authority for addressing the crime of genocide and other crimes listed in Article 3 of the Convention on the Prohibition and Punishment of Genocide.

Given the Palestinian government’s membership in the International Criminal Court, the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed by the authorities and forces of the Zionist regime in the occupied territories.

The intentional community and public opinion fervently desire news that ensures accountability for those murderers and the killers on the comfort zone of government responsibility, and guarantees punishment for their actions.

Views are personal

Dr. Alireza Delkhosh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Sri Lanka.