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International Court of Justice Says Israeli Genocide Against Palestine Is “Plausible”… 

But Limits Itself to an Empty Warning

Imagine that a well-known and consistent batterer openly threatens his partner with murder and then buys a gun. His partner finds out, goes to court to say that she fears for her life and the lives of her children, and seeks a restraining order. The judge says that her fears are “plausible” and sternly rules that the batterer must take steps not to murder her and report to him in a month—without that restraining order or any other enforcement.

This is essentially what happened when the International Court of Justice (ICJ)1 ruled in the case that South Africa brought that charged Israel with committing genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. 

Mountains of Evidence That Say “This is a genocide now.”
Court Says, “Check back in a month.”

First of all, “genocide” is not a curse word. It is not a charge to lightly fling around. It is a legal term that means the deliberate killing of a people, in whole or in part.

As death toll approaches 30,000, almost half of the dead are children. Here a relative holds the body of a child killed in Rafah, January 17, 2024.


As death toll approaches 30,000, almost half of the dead are children. Here a relative holds the body of a child killed in Rafah, January 17, 2024.    Photo: AP

There are mountains of evidence that convincingly make the case for the genocidal character of Israel’s war against Palestine. As we write, the death toll in Gaza approaches at least 30,000 human beings, overwhelmingly non-combatants. Almost half of the dead are children. South Africa in its case presented statements to the ICJ by top Israeli leaders openly declaring that the target of the slaughter is not Hamas2 but the entire population of Gaza.3 They introduced a statement from the Secretary-General of the United Nations that “Nowhere is safe in Gaza” (emphasis added). 

Because of all this and more, South Africa called for the ICJ to order that “The State of Israel shall immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.”4 While the Court ruled that the charge of genocide is “plausible,” they did not do what South Africa asked. They did not call for a complete halt to Israeli military and police operations in Gaza. So the ICJ said that the charge of genocide is “plausible,” but then left open the ability for Israel to keep lying that the genocidal effect of their actions is not intentional and is really the fault of Hamas.

Outrageous. What should happen if a charge of genocide is found to be plausible? Exactly what South Africa said: a complete halt to military and police operations against the possible victims until the charge can be definitively decided. It should NOT mean that those who have vowed to punish an entire people and carry out measures of intentional mass starvation, who order the systematic use of extremely powerful bombs that do wipe out large numbers of civilians, and who have destroyed the majority of hospitals in Gaza are only told to make sure that “their soldiers” are obeying the law.

Does such a ruling seem “unrealistic”? In fact, two years ago Ukraine brought a charge of genocide against Russia for its February 2022 invasion. The ICJ in that case ordered Russia to immediately cease military operations. The bitter and brutal irony is that Israel has killed far more civilians in less than four months than Russia has in the past two years! 

Israel, Backed by the U.S., Sees Ruling as a License to Continue Genocide

According to accounts in Israeli newspapers, Israel’s rabidly racist, straight-up genocidal5 Prime Minister Netan-NAZI welcomed the ICJ ruling (while publicly whining that it was “obscene” to even consider genocide charges against Israel). He said the ruling upheld "Israel[’s] right to basic self-defense.”

The U.S. State Department greeted the ruling saying, accurately, that “the court did not make a finding about genocide or call for a cease-fire in its ruling.”

Palestinians at a hospital in Deir al Balah,l Gaza Strip, mourn the relatives killed in the Israeli air and ground offensive, January 26, 2024.


Palestinians at a hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, mourn relatives killed in the Israeli air and ground offensive, January 26, 2024.    Photo: AP

Meanwhile, on the ground, and reflecting reality in Gaza, a Palestinian man, Nidal Kamal, told NBC News, “We were expecting the international court to commit Israel to complete a cease-fire. We want a cease-fire so that we can return to our homes and see our families. We are demanding that the world enforce a complete cease-fire.” Kamal told NBC he believed the ICJ’s ruling would “result in nothing.”

And so, the children keep dying. The people keep starving, freezing, deprived by Israel of the most essential needs of human survival. Israel continues to systematically destroy homes, schools, hospitals, places of worship. Israel continues to drop U.S.-supplied bombs on refugee camps into which it has ordered people to flee. And the U.S. continues to arm, defend, and fund all this.

Calling Bullshit Sugar Doesn’t Make It Sweet: Face—and Transform—Reality

The failure of the ICJ to order an immediate cease-fire in Gaza poses big questions for oppressed people, and for people who believe in justice. It is profoundly harmful to misinterpret the Court’s decision as mainly some kind of important concession to the Palestinian people, whether one is doing this willfully or not.

Yet this is precisely what has been done by too many “progressive” political forces. To take just one example, The Intercept headlined their main article “A Historic Victory For the Palestinians.”6

People cannot get free unless they understand the reality they are actually dealing with. The reality in this case is that the genocide is continuing. The reality is that Netan-NAZI has vowed total victory over Gaza, with all that implies. The idea and appeal behind the misreading or misinterpretation of reality like what The Intercept did is the notion that we have to twist reality in order to “keep our hopes up” or “keep going.” 

But if a cancer treatment doesn’t work, the patient’s doctor should NOT tell the patient that it did! The doctor should level with the patient and redouble the effort to scientifically understand the source of the cancer and search for something that WILL cure it.  

Some Basic Truths About the U.S.-Supported Israeli War Against Palestine, by Bob Avakian


A REAL Sense of What We Are Up Against, a REAL Sense of What It Will Take, and a Determination on THAT Basis

The struggle to force Israel, and the U.S. behind it, to stop this aggression has to proceed with a full sense of what we are up against and what Israel and the U.S. will do to continue this. And it has to increasingly proceed with an understanding of the system that drives this war—and wars like it. Bob Avakian has recently put it this way, in his new social media account, @BobAvakianOfficial:

Why is Biden, and basically the entire government and ruling class of the U.S., supporting Israel in carrying out genocide against the Palestinian people, before the whole world? Here is the answer to that crucial question:

This is not because of “the power of the Jewish lobby”—or because of some ignorant, ridiculous and outrageous notion that “Jews are controlling everything.” It is because Israel plays a “special role” as a heavily armed bastion of support for U.S. imperialism in a strategically important part of the world (the “Middle East”). And Israel has been a key force in the commission of atrocities which have helped to maintain the oppressive rule of U.S. imperialism in many other parts of the world

It’s the system! The system of capitalism-imperialism that Biden serves. The system he has to serve—the system that anybody and everybody has to serve if they want to hold office, and especially “high office,” like president, within this system. That is why Biden is doing what he’s doing—what all these politicians are doing—above and beyond their more narrow personal interests.

It’s the system! This system of capitalism-imperialism that embodies and enforces white supremacy, patriarchal male supremacy and other brutal oppression— this system resting on ruthless life stealing exploitation of masses of people in this country and literally billions of people worldwide, including more than 150 million children—all enforced with massive violence and destruction, of people and the environment, posing a very real threat to the future and the existence of humanity.

This system that needs to be overthrown at the soonest possible time, through an actual revolution.

For the answer to the crucial question of HOW that could be done and what role you could play, follow Bob Avakian on social media. Or go here, here, here or here.



1.  The ICJ is based in The Hague, Netherlands. It is the judicial arm of the United Nations. Any enforcement of ICJ rulings depends on actions by the UN Security Council, where the U.S. has veto power.  [back]

2.  Hamas is the reactionary ruling force in Gaza which attacked Israel on October 7, 2023.  [back]

3. Statements cited in the ICJ report included: 

On October 12, 2023, Isaac Herzog, President of Israel, stated, referring to Gaza: “It is an entire nation out there that is responsible. It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved. It is absolutely not true.” 

On October 13, 2023, Israel Katz, then Minister of Energy and Infrastructure of Israel, stated on X (formerly Twitter): “the civilian population in [G]aza is ordered to leave immediately. We will win. They will not receive a drop of water or a single battery until they leave the world.”


4.  A final ruling on charges of genocide will take a long time, maybe years, but according to the authority granted by the UN, the ICJ is empowered to issue rulings in the meantime (like the immediate end to Israel’s military operations in Gaza which South Africa demanded) if there is “real and imminent risk that irreparable prejudice [harm] will be caused to the rights [of the people of Gaza] claimed before the Court gives its final decision.”  [back]

5.  Netanyahu (Netan-NAZI) invoked a Biblical story where “god” commands the Israelites to attack their enemy “and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”  [back]

6.  See for example: The InterceptICJ RULING ON GAZA GENOCIDE IS A HISTORIC VICTORY FOR THE PALESTINIANS THAT ISRAEL VOWS TO DEFY; The GuardianICJ's Gaza decision shores up rules-based order and puts west to test; and Democracy Now!, which reported, “The interim verdict is a major blow to Israel and the U.S., which have undermined the case despite overwhelming evidence presented by South Africa.”  [back]

Help Make 2024 Our Year—a Year of Revolution! 
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From the genocide in Gaza, to the growing threat of world war between nuclear powers, to escalating environmental devastation… the capitalist-imperialist system ruling over us is a horror for billions around the world and is tearing up the fabric of life on earth. Now the all-out battle within the U.S. ruling class, between fascist Republicans and war criminal Democrats, is coming to a head—likely during, or before, the coming elections—ripping society apart unlike anything since the Civil War. 

Bob Avakian (BA), revolutionary leader and author of the new communism, has developed a strategy to prepare for and make revolution. He’s scientifically analyzed that this is a rare time when an actual revolution has become more possible, and has laid out the sweeping vision, solid foundation and concrete blueprint for “what comes next,” in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

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