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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

There is no genocide in Gaza – Biden

The US leader has promised to “always stand with Israel”

US President Joe Biden has dismissed arguments that Israel’s military operation in Gaza can be described as genocide, reiterating Washington’s support for West Jerusalem as he hosted an event for Jewish American Heritage month at the White House.

On Monday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, announced that he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh, accusing them of “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Read more: War-cabinet minister threatens to collapse Israeli government

Speaking at the White House later in the day, Biden condemned the ICC move as well as separate allegations by the UN’s International Court of Justice that Israel’s actions in Gaza could be genocidal.

“Let me be clear, contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what’s happening is not genocide. We reject that,” Biden said.

Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out an incursion into Israel on October 7 which resulted in about 1,200 people being killed and 250 taken hostage. The Israeli government responded by launching a large-scale military operation in Gaza, which according to the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry has killed over 35,000 people and left almost 80,000 others wounded. Israel has vowed to continue the offensive until Hamas is completely eliminated.

“We stand with Israel to take out Sinwar and the rest of the butchers of Hamas,” Biden said on Monday. “We want Hamas defeated. We’ve worked with Israel to make that happen.”

In January, an interim ruling by the ICJ, the UN’s top court in The Hague, ordered Israel to take steps to prevent genocide and improve humanitarian conditions for Gaza’s population. The lawsuit, filed by South Africa late last year, accuses West Jerusalem of committing systematic war crimes in the Palestinian region.

Read more: Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon escalate amid cross-border clashes

Ireland announced in March that it would support Pretoria’s case, calling Israel’s actions in Gaza a “blatant violation of international humanitarian law on a mass scale.” Last week, Egypt also called on Israel to “comply with its obligations as the occupying power.”