Biden, Blinken, and Austin Accused of “complicity” in the genocide in Gaza; Judge gives the accused 60 days to respond

 On the same day the International Court of Justice issues its Order related to the same claim brought by South Africa against Israel, Friday, a federal court in Oakland, California, held a hearing to consider a lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights in the United States, accusing President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin of “complicity” in the genocide crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

During the session - which was held in the presence of lawyers representing Biden, Blinken, Austin and the Center for Constitutional Rights - the court listened to the testimonies of lawyers, activists and doctors from Gaza regarding the killing and destruction that Palestinians have been exposed to in the Strip since last October 7, when the death toll exceeded 29 thousand. The injured are 64 thousand.

The lawyers for the lawsuit pointed out that the current US administration is violating the 1948 Genocide Convention by supplying weapons to Israel, indicating that the defendants’ lawyers believe that the court does not have the authority to decide on this matter. The matter, and they present arguments, including the issue of separation of powers in the United States.

The Center for Constitutional Rights in the United States filed this civil lawsuit against the president and the two foreign ministers last November on behalf of Palestinian organizations, Palestinians in Gaza, and American citizens with relatives in the Strip.

Additional experts submitted declarations and amicus briefs in the U.S. case, including Josh Paul, the former high-ranking State Department official who resigned to protest the U.S.’s continued transfer of arms to Israel that would be used to commit human rights abuses; the world’s leading legal expert in genocide, William Schabas; 77 human rights organizations from around the world; Arab-American organizations documenting the harm to their communities; Jewish Voice for Peace; Palestinian journalists; and medical professionals.

Dr. Barry Trachtenberg, a genocide and Holocaust scholar who submitted a declaration with other historians and also testified today, said, “Israel’s assault on Gaza has been funded by the American people, fought with U.S.-supplied weapons, and encouraged by a complicit White House,” he said. “Unlike past genocides, which were adjudicated long after they had concluded, we have an opportunity to halt this one in its tracks. Palestinians have suffered far too much and for far too long.” 

Notably, in its responses, the U.S. government has not challenged the facts that Israel is committing genocide or responded to the facts setting out the way that U.S.-munitions and other forms of U.S. support have furthered the genocide, but has rather focused on technical jurisdictional issues, arguing that the court cannot review its policy choices and that it is Israel, an “independent actor,” causing the injuries, despite the U.S.’s considerable influence over Israel. 

Center for Constitutional Rights attorneys argued today that the court has a constitutional duty to enforce the government’s legal obligations to prevent and not be complicit in genocide, and that it is clear, as both Israel and the U.S. have acknowledged, that Israel’s unfolding genocide could not happen without U.S. weapons and diplomatic cover. 

Since the complaint was filed, Israel’s siege and assault has killed over 14,700 more Palestinians, for a total of 25,700 people, and injured over 36,250 more, for a total of 63,740. The U.S. has continued to transfer millions of  dollars worth of weapons and ammunition. A previous filing in the case cites reports from early December that the United States had transferred to Israel at least 15,000 bombs, and more than 50,000 155mm artillery shells, which are inherently indiscriminate. 


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