What is happening in the Gaza Strip is unprecedented in human history. This densely populated area is being bombarded with hundreds of missiles every day. Thousands of people have been martyred and every second that passes we see more children and women being brutally martyred by the Zionist regime.
As this viciousness occurs in broad daylight, one might wonder where international law is and what it is being done by international lawyers. The barbarity of the Zionist regime in Gaza might be another reason for those who have always questioned the efficacy of international law to remain convinced that it is just as fruitless as they claim. Law students around the world may now view international law merely as a means to hold moot courts and entertain themselves. If not so, international law and international mechanisms must act now accordingly.
Hundreds of books and articles can be written to name, analyze, and study the crimes being committed in Gaza these days. But what really stands out is the mass starvation imposed on innocent people of Gaza by the Zionist regime. The defense minister of the Zionist regime announced: “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,”. This statement is crystal clear that the Zionist regime and its allies not only have no respect for international law but also are not embarrassed to flout and humiliate the rules of international law flagrantly. This order results in the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, which is a violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime (ICC Statute, Article 8(2)(b)(xxv)).
It also fulfills the legal threshold for the crime against humanity of inhumane acts (7(1)(K)). In fact, the crimes outlined above are being committed with indubitability, and they even amount to genocide.
Article II of the Genocide Convention stipulates that “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” Today in international law, it is widely established that the prohibition of genocide is a preemptory norm of international law (jus cogen) which according to the International Law Commission means a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of states as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character. The International Court of Justice has also affirmed that the prohibition of genocide is a preemptory norm of international law.
Considering the statements of the officials of the Zionist regime and the actions and measures taken by their military forces, it can be concluded that the imminent risk of genocide of the people of Gaza is in sight if not already happened. Under the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (2001), when there is a serious breach of an obligation arising under a peremptory norm of general international law, states shall cooperate to bring an end to that breach. But what the world is witnessing not only is not cooperation toward putting an end to the atrocities of the Zionist regime but also the saber-rattling of some Western countries in order to frighten other countries to take any steps against the interests of the Zionist regime.
Using the exact wording of the International Law Commission, a peremptory norm of international law reflects and protects the fundamental values of the international law community. Now as discussed, one of the most egregious crimes under international law is being committed by the Zionist regime and neither the international law nor the international community are bothering themselves to stop it.
What is the point of international law if it cannot accomplish anything today? Is there any use to its existence if it cannot achieve anything now? Hundreds of innocent Palestinian women and children are being martyred today and the officials of the Zionist regime have grotesquely even demanded the secretary general of the UN to resign. Their behavior reveals how disrespectful and rude their officials are towards international law and its mechanisms. Rather than being mortified more than ever, international law and the international law community must now find ways to extinguish the ferocity of the Zionist regime.