Chris Hedges: Even Genocide Won’t Be Stopped

The ruling by the International Court of Justice was a legal victory for South Africa and the Palestinians, but it will not halt the slaughter.

Red Ink — By Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) refused to implement the most crucial demand made by South African jurists: “the State of Israel shall immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.”

But at the same time, it delivered a devastating blow to the foundational myth of Israel. Israel, which paints itself as eternally persecuted, has been credibly accused of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Palestinians are the victims, not the perpetrators, of the “crime of crimes.” A people, once in need of protection from genocide, are now potentially committing it.

The court’s ruling questions the very raison d’être of the “Jewish State” and challenges the impunity Israel has enjoyed since its founding 75 years ago.  

The ICJ ordered Israel to take six provisional measures to prevent acts of genocide, measures that will be very difficult if not impossible to fulfill if Israel continues its saturation bombing of Gaza and wholesale targeting of vital infrastructure. 

The court called on Israel “to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” It demanded Israel “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

It ordered Israel to protect Palestinian civilians. It called on Israel to protect the some 50,000 women giving birth in Gaza.

It ordered Israel to take “effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article II and Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide against members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.” 

The court ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent the crimes which amount to genocide such as “killing, causing serious bodily and mental harm, inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”

Israel was ordered to report back in one month to explain what it had done to implement the provisional measures.

Gaza was pounded with bombs, missiles and artillery shells as the ruling was read in The Hague — at least 183 Palestinians have been killed in the last 24 hours.

Since Oct. 7, more than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed. Almost 65,000 have been wounded, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Thousands more are missing. The carnage continues. This is the cold reality. 

Translated into the vernacular, the court is saying Israel must feed and provide medical care for the victims, cease public statements advocating genocide, preserve evidence of genocide and stop killing Palestinian civilians. Come back and report in a month. 

It is hard to see how these provisional measures can be achieved if the carnage in Gaza continues.

“Without a ceasefire, the order doesn’t actually work,” Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations, stated bluntly after the ruling. 

Time is not on the side of the Palestinians.

Thousands of Palestinians will die within a month. Palestinians in Gaza make up 80 percent of all the people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide, according to the United Nations.

The entire population of Gaza by early February is projected to lack sufficient food, with half a million people suffering from starvation, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, drawing on data from U.N. agencies and NGOs. The famine is engineered by Israel. 

At best, the court — while it will not rule for a few years on whether Israel is committing genocide — has given legal license to use the word “genocide” to describe what Israel is doing in Gaza. This is very significant, but it is not enough, given the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. 

Israel has dropped almost 30,000 bombs and shells on Gaza — eight times more bombs than the U.S. dropped on Iraq during six years of war. It has used hundreds of 2,000-pound bombs to obliterate densely populated areas, including refugee camps.

These “bunker buster” bombs have a kill radius of a thousand feet. The Israeli aerial assault is unlike anything seen since Vietnam. Gaza, only 20 miles long and five miles wide, is rapidly becoming, by design, uninhabitable.

Israel will no doubt continue its assault arguing that it is not in violation of the court’s directives. In addition, the Biden administration will undoubtedly veto the resolution at the Security Council demanding Israel implement the provisional measures.

The General Assembly, if the Security Council does not endorse the measures, can vote again calling for a ceasefire, but has no power to enforce it. 

Defense for Children International – Palestine v. Biden was filed in November by the Center for Constitutional Rights against President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The case challenges the U.S. government’s failure to prevent complicity in Israel’s unfolding genocide of the Palestinian people.

It asks the court to order the Biden administration to cease diplomatic and military support and comply with its legal obligations under international and federal law. 

The only active resistance to halt the Gaza genocide is provided by Yemen’s Red Sea blockade. Yemen, which was under siege for eight years by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Britain and the U.S., experienced over 400,000 deaths from starvation, lack of health care, infectious diseases and the deliberate bombing of schools, hospitals, infrastructure, residential areas, markets, funerals and weddings.

Yemenis know too well — since at least 2017 multiple U.N. agencies have described Yemen as experiencing “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world” — what the Palestinians are enduring. 

Yemen’s resistance — when the history of this genocide is written — will set it apart from nearly every other nation. The rest of the world, including the Arab world, retreats into toothless rhetorical condemnations or actively supports Israel’s obliteration of Gaza and its 2.3 million inhabitants.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the U.S. has sent 230 cargo planes and 20 ships filled with artillery shells, armored vehicles and combat equipment to Israel since the attacks of Oct. 7, in which some 1,200 Israelis were killed.

U.S. weapons and military equipment are being shipped to Israel — which is running out of munitions — from the British base RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, according to the U.K. investigative website Declassified UK. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that more than 40 U.S. and 20 British transport aircraft, along with seven heavy-lift helicopters, have flown into RAF Akrotiri, a 40-minute flight from Tel Aviv.

Germany reportedly plans to provide 10,000 rounds of 120mm precision ammunition to Israel. If the court rules against Israel, these countries will be recognized by the world’s most important international court as accomplices to genocide.

The ruling was dismissed by Israeli leaders. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seeking to paint the decision not to demand a ceasefire as a victory for Israel, said:

“Like every country, Israel has an inherent right to defend itself. The vile attempt to deny Israel this fundamental right is blatant discrimination against the Jewish state, and it was justly rejected. The charge of genocide leveled against Israel is not only false, it’s outrageous, and decent people everywhere should reject it.”

“The decision of the antisemitic court in The Hague proves what was already known: This court does not seek justice, but rather the persecution of Jewish people,” National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said. “They were silent during the Holocaust and today they continue the hypocrisy and take it another step further.”

The ICJ was founded in 1945 following the Nazi Holocaust. The first case it heard was submitted to the court in 1947.

“Decisions that endanger the continued existence of the State of Israel must not be listened to,” Ben-Gvir added. “We must continue defeating the enemy until complete victory.”

The court, which rejected Israel’s arguments to dismiss the case, acknowledged “that the military operation being conducted by Israel following the attack of 7 October 2023 has resulted, inter alia, in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries and the destruction of homes, schools, medical facilities and other vital infrastructure, as well as displacement on a massive scale.” 

The ruling included a statement made by the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, who on Jan. 5, called Gaza “a place of death and despair.” The court document went on:

“. . . Families are sleeping in the open as temperatures plummet. Areas where civilians were told to relocate for their safety have come under bombardment. Medical facilities are under relentless attack. The few hospitals that are partially functional are overwhelmed with trauma cases, critically short of all supplies, and inundated by desperate people seeking safety.

A public health disaster is unfolding. Infectious diseases are spreading in overcrowded shelters as sewers spill over. Some 180 Palestinian women are giving birth daily amidst this chaos. People are facing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded. Famine is around the corner.

For children in particular, the past 12 weeks have been traumatic: No food. No water. No school. Nothing but the terrifying sounds of war, day in and day out.

Gaza has simply become uninhabitable. Its people are witnessing daily threats to their very existence — while the world watches on.”

The court acknowledged that:

“… an unprecedented 93% of the population in Gaza is facing crisis levels of hunger, with insufficient food and high levels of malnutrition. At least 1 in 4 households are facing ‘catastrophic conditions’: experiencing an extreme lack of food and starvation and having resorted to selling off their possessions and other extreme measures to afford a simple meal. Starvation, destitution and death are evident.” 

The ruling, quoting Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), continued:

“Overcrowded and unsanitary UNRWA shelters have now become ‘home’ to more than 1.4 million people. They lack everything, from food to hygiene to privacy. People live in inhumane conditions, where diseases are spreading, including among children. They live through the unlivable, with the clock ticking fast towards famine.

The plight of children in Gaza is especially heartbreaking. An entire generation of children is traumatized and will take years to heal. Thousands have been killed, maimed, and orphaned. Hundreds of thousands are deprived of education. Their future is in jeopardy, with far-reaching and long-lasting consequences.”

The court also referred pointedly to comments made by multiple senior Israeli government officials advocating genocide, including the president and minister of defense. Statements made by government and other officials form a crucial element of the “intent” component when seeking to establish the crime of genocide.

It quoted Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who declared — two days after the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7 — that he ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza City with “no electricity, no food, no fuel” being permitted.  He said:

“I have released all restraints . . . You saw what we are fighting against. We are fighting human animals. This is the ISIS of Gaza,” Gallant told Israeli troops massing around Gaza the following day. “This is what we are fighting against…Gaza won’t return to what it was before. There will be no Hamas. We will eliminate everything. If it doesn’t take one day, it will take a week, it will take weeks or even months, we will reach all places.”

The ICJ quoted Israel’s President Isaac Herzog as saying, “It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved. It is absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’état. But we are at war. We are at war. We are defending our homes.”

Herzog continued “We are protecting our homes. That’s the truth. And when a nation protects its home, it fights. And we will fight until we’ll break their backbone.”

Today’s decision was read out by the ICJ’s current president, Judge Joan Donoghue, an American lawyer who used to work at the U.S. State Department and the Department of the Treasury before she joined the World Court in 2010.

“In the Court’s view, the facts and circumstances mentioned above are sufficient to conclude that at least some of the rights claimed by South Africa and for which it is seeking protection are plausible,” it read. “This is the case with respect to the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide and related prohibited acts identified in Article III, and the right of South Africa to seek Israel’s compliance with the latter’s obligations under the Convention.”

It is clear from the ruling that the court is fully aware of the magnitude of Israel’s crimes. This makes the decision not to call for the immediate suspension of Israeli military activity in and against Gaza all the more distressing.  

But the court did deliver a devastating blow to the mystique Israel has used since its founding to carry out its settler colonial project against the indigenous inhabitants of historic Palestine. It made the word genocide, when applied to Israel, credible. 

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.

This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular columnClick here to sign up for email alerts.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

15 comments for “Chris Hedges: Even Genocide Won’t Be Stopped

  1. Bobok
    January 28, 2024 at 12:07

    I’ve read many of Chris Hedges’ articles over the years, and I’ve noticed over and over again that he refuses to stray from his position that violence is always wrong. Yet, he writes here that the Houthis will be well remembered by history, because they alone, up to the present, are the only Arab neighbor trying to help the poor Palestinians in a meaningful way. They are attacking Israeli commercial interests at sea. This seems to be some retreat from some of his former beliefs, and if it is, I ‘m gratified. The notion that non-violence is always the first, and last, solution to any political crisis is erroneous. Exceptions, of course, are merited, and this horror of Israelio-American genocide against the captive and helpless people- and they are people, not ‘animals’ or ‘vermin’- of Palestine easily rises to that exception.

  2. Paul Citro
    January 28, 2024 at 09:23

    Voting for Joe Biden is now being complicit in genocide. Under no circumstances will I do so. This is not a political issue; it is a moral one.

    • JonnyJames
      January 28, 2024 at 18:03

      Good luck with that. As if DT represents any difference. DT is just as much of a racist Zionist as his son-in-law Kushner, and his buddy Netanyahu.

      No matter who “wins” Elections Inc., US policy will not change.

      If you want to maintain the “moral high ground” write-in Chris Hedges

  3. Francis Lee
    January 28, 2024 at 05:10

    Strange world. The world where the Jews have given so much in terms of politics, art and economics: Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky, Georgy Lukacs, The Frankfurt School, and even Norman Finkelstein: On the other hand we have Netanyahu and company. Need I say more!?

  4. WillD
    January 28, 2024 at 03:19

    Israel and the US make little attempt to hide the nasty truth about Israel’s genocidal war against Palestinians, thus strengthening the accusations against Israel which they term anti-Semitic. Perhaps a better term would be ant-Zionist since that narrows the field down to the main perpetrators and excludes the Israelis that don’t support their government’s behavior.

    Also, the more they cry ‘anti-Semitic’ the less weight it carries because it is clearly not true in most accusations.

  5. Michael G
    January 27, 2024 at 16:01

    “By mistaking method for content and structure for morality, we have created a fatal weapon that can be used against any fair society. No honest man can use a modern system to create and serve as well as a dishonest man can use it to destroy and fill his pockets.”

    John Ralston Saul – “Voltaire’s Bastards”

  6. jamie
    January 27, 2024 at 14:46

    Thing is, they will carry out the genocide with whatever means; one is by reducing aids or preventing that it reach the Palestinians. I have always thought that the main purpose of sanctions is to keep a country in poverty and instability, to kill innocents in order to create social upheavals. In today’s’ “new-nazism” they do not use concentration camps and gas chambers on their territory, hatred would be too obvious; instead, they “asphyxiate” the economy of a country (non-white, or not espousing western ideology) and its people, making that country an “open concentration camp” for the majority.
    It does not matter if sanctions are broad or aims at specific persons, just the fact that they sanction a country or its leaders is already an economic death sentence, unless you are Russia and can withstand capital flight.
    I think it is not a coincidence, that after the ICJ ruling, the “UNRWA’s scandal” blow out of proportion, with allegations that some workers were involve in the brutal attack of 07/10 (information given by Israel); now several nations have quickly halted the aids, making the life of Palestinians even more dire, and if death do not come with a bomb it comes by lack of necessity goods, medicine and medical services. And again for a dozen, the west justify the death of thousands; if this is not just as brutal as the nazi ideology I don’t know what is
    At least the “Axis against humanity” is lining up, there for everybody to see:
    … list will go on

  7. JonnyJames
    January 27, 2024 at 13:26

    Great summary from Mr. Hedges.

    As expected, the US/UK and some other sycophant-vassal states, have started the backlash by cutting their funding for UNRWA. It is time now for the double-talking hypocrites: KSA, Turkey, Gulf States, etc. to step up and push for immediate aid and assistance for Gaza.

    I would not be surprised if this escalates into (illegal) sanctions and threats of arrest by the US/UK, but of course we hope that does not happen.

    The US/UK/Israel are losing the PR wars badly, and appear to be digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole. The hubris and arrogance leads to treating the rest of the world with contempt and even hatred. It looks like the US/UK/Israel are on a reckless, irrational path toward a game of “chicken”: either the rest of the world do what they say, comply, or they threaten to blow up the whole world. The only choice the imperialists see is: hegemony or total destruction. It may sound hyperbolic, but it looks like mentally-deranged people with their fingers on the nuclear trigger are in charge. The Doomsday Clock is still 90 seconds to midnight, but it might be 60 seconds very soon.

    As Mr. Hedges has said years ago, the US oligarchy (and capitalism in general) is a Suicide-Death Cult.

    • Red Star
      January 29, 2024 at 07:38

      The Skwarkbox (UK) reports today on instances of UK bank customers trying to make donations to UNRWA having their transactions disrupted by the banks, and in some cases their accounts being locked.


  8. Kingharvest
    January 27, 2024 at 12:28

    The ruling was never going to change very much, unfortunately, but in treating this as a vindication, despite the atrocities on record, USG and Israel have established an untouchable blueprint for future wars.

    The US can walk away with impunity, claiming ‘no boots on the ground,’ leaving the occupiers to sort out the horrid mess.

    Future history books will record either 26 January 2024 or 07 October 2023 as a red line in the downfall of humanity.

  9. Em
    January 27, 2024 at 11:58

    This highly disdainful form of spectator entertainment, called the law, wherein each performance has a different set of rules of engagement; arbitrarily applied and enforced, run according to each tournaments directors.

    It matters not what the sport is; be it economics, politics or the ‘legal’ foundations of society itself; the people love to be entertained, roaring both approval or disapproval for their favorites winning or losing a point.

    When the winner is announced the viewers file out of the Coliseum and go back to their mundane lives of hemming and hawing over the spilt milk of historical statistics.
    Or do they??? When the game is over, does it even matter???                      

    Hope is equivalent to blind faith belief, especially when it comes to the law and the ICJ ruling for the Palestinians. The the proof, in this case, is overwhelming!

    If the court now requires years to consult, in order to reach a final verdict, there will be no one alive to ponder the righteousness, or otherwise, of its decision!

  10. ray Peterson
    January 27, 2024 at 11:52

    If the International Court of Justice made a pronouncement
    containing justice, then the horrible image of a Gazan man
    chasing a dog with a child’s foot in its mouth (Palestine Chronicle),
    is nothing but a foot race.
    God help us.

  11. Susan Leslie
    January 27, 2024 at 10:45

    Seems like a major conflict of interest for “the ICJ’s current president, Judge Joan Donoghue, an American lawyer who used to work at the U.S. State Department and the Department of the Treasury” to preside over this court – America is complicit in the crimes being perpetrated by Israel and should have no say whatsoever in the ruling of the court – nor should Britain, Germany, and any others sending weapons to Israel…

  12. hetro
    January 27, 2024 at 09:40

    It seems to me the main problem for the ICJ was or is dealing with the psychotic nature of the defendants, as indicated here in Hedges’ report. The pathological severity of the delusions offered as “defense” by Israeli authorities reminds of the lunacy of Hitler. And this limitation of the Court is the main problem with its decisions rendered yesterday. The restraining force needed to stop the mentally ill will not be served by advice to stop harming Palestinians and report back on how you’re doing in a month.

    Israel’s defense minister states the Court is “antisemitic,” the blanket response to any critical view of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. Its President claims Palestinians could have “risen up.” Netanyahu’s rationalizations are stock, unexamined positions of self-protective righteousness. The Official Israeli View, backed by the US echo chamber, does not involve thinking, only paranoid knee-jerk response making. The “self-defense” and “human shield” excuses will continue unaffected by the ICJ Ruling and claimed to be legitimate reasons for what they’re doing, as with everything else as justification.

  13. chris
    January 27, 2024 at 04:54

    The ICJ ordered Israel to take six provisional measures to prevent acts of genocide, measures that will be very difficult if not impossible to fulfill if Israel continues its saturation bombing of Gaza and wholesale targeting of vital infrastructure.
    The court called on Israel “to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” It demanded Israel “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

    But since Israel and its western leader whores have loudly maintained that (in spite of all evidence to the contrary) they’ve been doing this the whole time, the ICJ ruling will not put a dent into the ongoing Israeli genocide.
    Absent a command to cease and desist, they’ve been given a month to wrap up their genocide. And by all accounts, they were just about done anyway as they were already pulling their troops out, having run out of targets.

Comments are closed.