The start of 2024 has seen South Africa bring claims of Israeli genocide against Gaza in the Jewish State’s war on Hamas, following the October 7 massacre of civilians in southern Israel. This attack by Hamas claimed over 1,200 civilian lives and resulted in more than 200 taken hostage into Gaza. In light of this accusation brought before the International Court of Justice branch of the United Nations amid ire that has spread to the West, let us consider the UN’s legal definition of genocide:
“A crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part”
a definition arguably reflective of Hamas’s actions toward its own people alongside Israel.
Since October 7, the global outcry against Israel’s actions in Gaza have reflected narcissist prayer tendencies – there’s not enough evidence of the attacks to justify retaliation and even if there were, Israel is an oppressor against which any violence is legitimate. Meanwhile, Hamas not only purposefully entrenches itself among its own civilians and international humanitarian institutions rather than face the IDF head-on in its alleged freedom struggle but also refuses to let those civilians take shelter in its terror tunnels during Israeli retaliation.
Indeed, Hamas leaders’ open admission of intentionally martyring Gazans in its PR campaign for global sympathy indicates Hamas’s genocide of Gazans. Yet, as committed as Western progressives claim to be toward the plight of Palestinians, they seem to largely prioritize Gazans when Israel can be framed as a perpetrator. This phenomenon of holding a democracy as an oppressor echoes that of Hamas’s long-time supporter, the Islamic Republic of Iran, regarding both Israel and the United States, a notion often supported by self-identified progressives in the West.
In the case of Israel and the Jews, Hamas leaders have promised to repeat the actions of October 7 until no Jews remain in the region. So, while Hamas both wages war on Israel and orders its civilians to ignore Israeli evacuation calls, Israel has stayed out of Gazan affairs. In fact, the recent attacks occurred at a time when Israel was preparing an influx of work permits to Gazans, in the hopes of improved diplomacy and quality of life for those in the Strip.
Yet, despite Israel taking all of these measures to secure both diplomacy and civilian life, Hamas continues its crusade against the existence of a Jewish sovereign state in its Islamic hegemonic empire. The group not only indiscriminately targeted civilians on October 7, which constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law, but has promised to continue such offensives, reflecting the “intent to destroy in whole an ethnic or religious group.”
Meanwhile, Hamas’s actions toward Gazan civilians meet all qualifications for the UN’s definition of genocide: 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.
In terms of killing members of the group, Hamas is known to execute Gazans for both alleged collaboration with Israel as well as suspected homosexual relations. The torture these Gazans underwent at the hands of Hamas also constitute bodily harm, a fact which, whenever raised, the plethora of Western pro-Hamas LGBTQ+ groups dismiss as “pinkwashing” – as if it’s impossible to question the actions of both Israel and Hamas.
Regarding causing serious bodily or mental harm, Hamas’s instructing Gazan civilians to ignore Israel’s evacuation calls alongside barring Gazans from sheltering in Hamas tunnels count as inviting serious bodily harm. Hamas’s stealing of international aid also causes both physical destruction as well as measures intended to prevent births to maintain the victimhood ploy. Further, Hamas’s indoctrination of Gazan children constitutes psychological abuse that primes them for extremist violence later in life.
Finally, when Hamas terrorists initiate rocket barrages from regions where IDF troops have withdrawn, the group forces civilians in those areas to re-locate yet again, reflecting a forcible transfer of children to another location, including many compelled to flee to Egypt. Simply because Hamas lacks the IDF’s level of firepower doesn’t mean the militant group isn’t capable of horrific damage or perpetual sabotage of its own people, particularly if its Iranian support system realizes full nuclear potential.
In the end, neither the Muslim world nor the West can cry “genocide” by Israel yet remain silent on Hamas, in the face of glaring intent from the latter toward both its own people and the Jews.
Sarah Katz is an author and cybersecurity technical writer with a background in Middle East studies at UC Berkeley, and with pieces published in the Middle East Quarterly and Jewish Journal.