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  • Writer's pictureThe Pinsker Centre

Is Israel Committing Genocide in Gaza?

Report by the Pinsker Centre


As Israel continues its goal of destroying Hamas after the terrorist organization killed over 1,200 Israelis in the horrific massacre on October 7th, a common allegation from those criticizing the Jewish state’s right to self defense is that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. While not only blatantly incorrect, the use of the term genocide is an extremely grave missuse of the word that dismisses the memories of those who have perished under documented past genocides. The term “genocide” is an extremely narrow legal term adopted by the United Nations following the genocide of the Jewish people by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. The highest of crimes against humanity recognized by the international community, the word should not be used sparingly in the case of any conflict. As such, there are strict criteria that must be met to charge a state or group with the crime of genocide due to its “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” as demonstrated by the UN in the following in its Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: [1]


(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.


The lives of innocents lost through armed conflict should never be dismissed, but there is a clear distinction between the act of genocide and the loss of civilian life in war. Although the war against Hamas in Gaza has resulted in tragic deaths, the term “genocide” requires a clear, systemic attempt to destroy an ethnic group. Israel has demonstrated no intention to kill or remove Palestinians in Gaza, and the scope of the Jewish state’s current operation is just to remove Hamas from every part of Gaza it has infiltrated.


If Israel has been committing genocide on Gazan Palestinians since the territory was captured, then the population of Palestinians in the territory would not be increasing at a faster rate than Israel itself.[2] Israel has made no rhetorical or military aim to systematically kill off the entire population of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and to suggest that the country is doing so would be a clear fabrication of truth. In comparison, Hamas’s charter explicitly calls for the extermination of Jews in Israel– a direct call for genocide.[3]


The bloodshed in Gaza is tragic, but it is a direct consequence of Hamas’s wish to maximize human suffering through human shields as it wages war against Israel.[4] Israel was founded by genocide survivors seeking a refuge from painful memories of concentration camps, gas chambers, and the systematic executions of families, friends, and kin. To accuse the Jewish state of doing the same against Gazan Palestinians, without any possible evidence, is a distortion of truth and morals.


Sources


[1] “Convention on the Prevention of Genocide,” United Nations, General Assembly resolution 260 A (III), 9 December 1948, https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocitycrimes/Doc.1_Convention%20on%20the%20Prevention%20and%20Punishment%20of%20the%20Crime %20of%20Genocide.pdf.

[2] “Gaza Strip,” CIA World Factbook, 6 December 2023, https://www.cia.gov/the-worldfactbook/countries/gaza-strip/, “Israel,” CIA World Factbook, 6 December 2023, https://www.cia.gov/theworld-factbook/countries/israel/.

[3] Bruce Hoffman, “Understanding Hamas’s Genocidal Ideology,” The Atlantic, 10 October 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/10/hamas-covenant-israel-attack-wargenocide/675602/.

[4] James Pamment, et al., “Hybrid Threats: Hamas’s use of human shields in Gaza,” NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, 6 June 2019, https://stratcomcoe.org/publications/hybrid-threatshamas-use-of-human-shields-in-gaza/87.



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