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Israel and the world have legal obligation to stop Hamas from committing genocide, says former US prosecutor

Members of Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, attend a rally in Beit Lahiya on May 30, 2021. (Photo: Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

Former Director of the U.S. Justice Department Office of Special Investigations Eli Rosenbaum told The Jerusalem Post last week that Israel and the world are obligated under international law to stop Hamas from carrying out its genocidal intentions.  

“Israel has a legal obligation under international law as a signatory of the Genocide Convention [1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide]. The treaty obligates all signatory nations not just not to commit genocide and punish it, but to prevent it,” said Rosenbaum, who prosecuted World War II Nazi criminals, Rwandan génocidaires, and Russian war criminals during his 38 years in the United States Justice Department.

Rosenbaum pointed out that Hamas' attack on Oct. 7, which resulted in the massacre of over 1,200 predominantly civilian Israelis, demonstrated its commitment to its charter to eliminate Israel. He also noted that Hamas vowed to replicate the attack of Oct. 7 until Israel is destroyed.

“Hamas intentionally carried out an attack that was so gruesome, so far beyond what anyone could have imagined in terms of cruelty, attacks that rivaled and even exceeded the cruelty seen at the hands of Nazi forces in World War II,” Rosenbaum said in his interview with the Jerusalem Post. “And I feel fairly well qualified to opine on that, having studied and investigated and prosecuted Nazi cases for some 40 years.”

All signatories to the Genocide Convention have an obligation to stop Hamas from committing genocide, Rosenbaum asserted.

“Every country that signed the Genocide Convention, which is the vast majority of the countries of the world and that has the capability to act, has a treaty obligation that is an obligation under international law,” said Rosenbaum.

“To quote the International Court of Justice, if they’re aware or should normally have been aware of the serious danger that acts of genocide would be committed, those countries are obligated to employ all means reasonably available to them to prevent genocide within the limits permitted by international law."

“And I would say that a few countries, in addition to Israel, have taken this obligation seriously, most notably the United States – initially through President [Joe] Biden sending naval power, closing in on the Mediterranean [Sea] and reportedly warning off both Hezbollah and Iran," Rosenberg continued.

"But there are other countries that are well resourced and well positioned to help prevent genocide and that are signatories to the convention,” he added.

“Rather than spewing outrageously false accusations about Israeli genocide, countries like Turkey have a legal obligation to do what they can to help prevent renewed genocide by Hamas.”

An Israeli soldier walking through the destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Oct. 15, 2023. (Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)

Rosenbaum also noted that those providing weapons to Hamas were violating international law.

“Providing weapons to an entity that you are aware or should have been aware is carrying out or applying a genocide would be a violation of both the Genocide Convention and the Rome Statute on the ICC. It would be a criminal offense, basically, in rendering that state or other entity complicit, as one might say, an accessory to genocide or something of that nature,” the former prosecutor said.

He also said the accusations of “genocide” leveled at Israel were an "obscene falsehood.”

“The crime of genocide requires not just an outcome of mass death over the course of war but the intent to destroy a population in whole or in part. It is not simply a matter of casualty numbers,” Rosenbaum explained.

He noted that it had been proven that Hamas has "fabricated and inflated" the numbers of civilian casualties, including those involving women and children.

Rosenbaum highlighted that if genocide were a numbers-only issue, then the U.S. could also be guilty of committing genocide in history.

“We would have committed genocide in Germany, where, just to speak of aerial bombing, not ground operations, by the British Royal Air Force and the then US Army Air Force, that combined bombing killed somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people. No one would say that the Allies committed genocide against Germans. That’s just absurd. Germany started a war. It was also a genocidal war, particularly against Jews and Roma, and they killed millions of people. The Allied military campaign is what brought an end to genocide,” he stated.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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