The European Union must sanction Israel for its crimes in Gaza

Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu / Anadolu via AFP

The European Union has the duty and the means to act to prevent Israel’s crimes in Gaza. Every day without action means more civilian deaths occuring. This is the conclusion of a colloquium at the European Parliament co-organised by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Greens/European Free Alliance, focusing on the legal and political implications regarding the qualification of genocide by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for Israeli actions against the population in Gaza.

Brussels, 22 February 2024. "Justice is our weapon," reminded Johann Soufi, a lawyer and prosecutor specialised in the field of international justice, at the heart of the European Parliament in Brussels on February 22, during a colloquium initiated by FIDH. Speaking alongside him were Alexis Deswaef, FIDH Vice-President, Mounir Satouri, member of the European Parliament from the Greens/European Free Alliance group, Vusi Madonsela, Ambassador of South Africa to the Netherlands, Kayan Leung, South African lawyer and member of Lawyers for Human Rights, Simone Susskind, former Belgian federal senator and founder of Actions in the Mediterranean. The event was moderated by Yosra Frawes, head of the Maghreb and Middle East office at FIDH, and Maha Abdallah, representative of Al-Haq in Brussels.

As civilians deaths are mounting every day in Gaza, FIDH is urging for an immediate ceasefire and for the prosecution of Israeli officials for the crimes committed. South Africa’s complaint against Israel at the ICJ (on the basis of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide) is crucial. It represents a major step forward in the recognition and denunciation of these international crimes. FIDH supports the development of international justice in the face of one of the greatest challenges in its history since 1948.

For Yosra Frawes, "South Africa’s complaint against Israel at the ICJ for genocide seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. Unfortunately, it has been made possible by Israeli actions in Gaza. The systematic violation of all the rights of the Palestinians, their forced displacement, the murder of civilians, particularly women and children, the organisation of their destitution and the famine that is affecting them, amount to a policy of elimination that meets the criteria for the qualification of genocide. There must now be an international outcry for the decisions of the ICJ to be implemented."

"The European Union has a duty to intervene to the fullest extent against Israel. The plausible risk of genocide recognised by the ICJ is a point of no return, which makes the absence of concerted sanctions and condemnations unsustainable. The EU and its Member States must recognise the Palestinian State and take responsibility for peace and justice, where the far-right in power in Israel opposes it in an irresponsible and criminal manner,’ declares Alexis Deswaef. In his speech, he recalled Israel’s military operations in Gaza, ’Operation Cast Lead’ and ’Operation Protective Edge,’ and asserted, "It is impunity for past crimes that has fueled subsequent crimes."

This FIDH colloquium drew a full house in parliament and gathered 150 people watching live online. For Éléonore Morel, CEO of FIDH, the event proves that there is "more than just public curiosity about this topic, but genuine interest. FIDH is driving the debate. We were among the first international NGOs to clearly label Israel’s actions as genocide. And it is our role to foster dialogue among states, civil societies, and institutions to find common ground and advance towards justice and an end to impunity."

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