JUSTICE - No. 71

2 No. 71 JUSTICE am writing these lines on Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s “Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Hostile Acts,” and on the eve of Independence Day, marking the 76th Anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. More than 25,000 soldiers and civilians have lost their lives since 1860, the beginning of the rebirth of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. More than 1,500 new victims have been added since October 7, 2023. These are days that are almost impossible to bear. We recently marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah. A public discussion has begun as to whether October 7 marks a new Holocaust. There is no doubt that the heinous and horrific actions of Hamas on that day – mass slaughter, murder, rape, kidnapping, defiling of bodies – are exactly the same type of monstrous actions perpetrated during the Holocaust. Nevertheless, the surprise events of October lasted only one day. Our Nation now has a State, an Army, Security Services, and a Government. I do not overlook the shortcomings of the Army and the Security Services, who failed in their duty to prevent much of what happened on October 7. But 85 years ago, we did not have a State, a Government or an Army, and the horror lasted for six years while the Nazis and their collaborators worked tirelessly to destroy our People, without their having anyone to protect them. The war in Gaza continues, albeit at a lower level of intensity. The war has raised complex dilemmas, military, political, ethical and legal. The war is being waged in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Hamas not only operates from within centers of civilian population, including mosques, schools and hospitals, and uses the civilian population as human shields, but also uses the population as a weapon in achieving its goals. Hamas does not care for the lives of its people, and exploits the suffering of the civilian population in order to harm Israel. While Israel continues to invest efforts in protecting and minimizing harm to civilians and abides by international law, Hamas is exploiting international law and the civilian population. Hamas is trying to portray Israel as an aggressor with no regard to international law, rather than a victim responding to defend itself while abiding by its international law obligations, and has succeeded in convincing many that this is the case. At the same time, our enemies are using legal means in order to block Israel’s right and actions to defend itself. The “Genocide” proceedings instigated by South Africa at the ICJ are an absurd misuse of international legal forums. The parallel Advisory Proceedings on the “Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” at the ICJ are yet another example of the abuse of legal proceedings. I do not intend to minimize the obligations of the State of Israel to abide by international law even in the most difficult of circumstances, nor the importance of the international courts, but to express outrage against the distortion of international law by such misuse. The latest attempt of the International Criminal Court to indict Israel’s Prime Minister and its Minister of Defense on charges of Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes is tantamount to indicting the State of Israel for defending itself against an enemy whose sworn mission is to destroy it. Even though the IJL does not have any formal standing at the ICJ, we submitted a detailed Written Statement, in line with ICJ Practice Directions, in the Advisory Proceedings. The Statement will be reprinted in the next issue of JUSTICE. This Statement presents, inter alia, a clear and balanced account of the legal claims of Israel and the Jewish People concerning the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as a reasoned perspective on the Laws of Belligerent Occupation. The dispute between Israel and the Palestinians will not be resolved in any international legal forum. The proper forum for debating and resolving the IsraelPalestinian conflict is a political one, and requires negotiations between the parties. A few weeks ago, Iran attacked Israel with an unprecedented barrage of hundreds of missiles and drones. Thanks to Israel’s defensive and offensive capabilities, and with assistance from its allies, a terrible disaster was President’s Message I Meir Linzen Photo: Idan Gross