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Israel is a rogue state. Who will stop them?

Palestinians search for food among burnt debris in the aftermath of an Israeli strike on an area designated for displaced people, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 27, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

On May 26, the Israeli military carried out an unspeakable massacre in a humanitarian zone in Rafah, bombing tent camps filled with displaced men, women, and children, and killing at least 45 Palestinians. Hundreds of others were wounded.

The images from that night will never leave us. Human beings, including babies, were torn apart, asphyxiated, and burned alive, their plastic tents and makeshift wooden shelters set ablaze as Israeli missiles rained down on them. These are the actions of a rogue state and the direct result of decades of impunity for systematic abuses and countless war crimes. This genocide must end now — and the U.S. must impose an arms embargo on Israel.

The Biden administration has responded to this latest massacre by the Israeli military in familiar fashion. U.S. officials expressed “concern,” and called the images of bodies turned to ash and infants decapitated by shrapnel “distressing.” 

They have requested that the same government responsible for these horrors investigate itself, which is all but guaranteed to result in total impunity. And they have asserted that Israel nevertheless has the right to “self defense” — even if that means slaughtering starving and traumatized people sheltering in makeshift tent camps.

This is what impunity looks like.

The Israeli government was quick to call the attack on the tent camp in Rafah a “tragic mistake,” claiming it was targeting two Hamas officials. Let’s be clear: This wasn’t a mistake. This massacre is in line with how the Israeli military has carried out its relentless bombardment of Gaza over the last eight months, whereby it has knowingly murdered tens of thousands of Palestinians and written off their deaths as “collateral damage” in its so-called war on Hamas. 

President Biden repeatedly called the Israeli invasion of Rafah a “red line,” but it didn’t cut off the flow of weapons to Israel.  And the Israeli government has understood this inaction as essentially a greenlight to continue its slaughter. Netanyahu is pressing forward with the invasion, using U.S.-made weapons to massacre families huddled together in tents. 

What came of the Biden administration’s insistence on a “plan” to “evacuate” civilians, should the Israeli military invade Rafah? In a matter of a few weeks, the Israeli military has forced hundreds of thousands of displaced people in Rafah to once again gather what remains of their belongings and flee for their lives, many for the third or fourth time since the genocide began. And then it has bombed the safe zones where they fled to.

Last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the leaders of Hamas and Israel’s government, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. A few days later, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a ruling demanding that Israel halt its ongoing invasion of Rafah. The Israeli government responded by bombing Rafah over 60 times in the following 48 hours. Both Netanyahyu and Biden have called the warrant for the Israeli officials’ arrests “outrageous,” and Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Republican Senator Lindsey Graham that he would “welcome” working with him on “a bipartisan effort to sanction the ICC.”

As the Israeli military’s genocidal onslaught in Rafah draws condemnation across the globe, the Israeli government’s efforts to crush any attempt to hold it accountable are coming to light. This week, the Guardian and +972 Magazine published a bombshell report detailing how the former head of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, had allegedly threatened the chief prosecutor of the ICC in order to coerce her into dropping an investigation into Israeli war crimes — part of a nearly decade-long “covert war” by Israeli intelligence agencies to undermine the court.     

In the face of all of this horror, many of us are asking ourselves what more we can do.

For the last eight months, we have risen up in unprecedented numbers to demand an end to this genocide and fought tirelessly to move our elected officials toward support for a ceasefire and an end to U.S. weapons to Israel. Today, most Americans want a ceasefire, but the flow of U.S. weapons to Israel continues almost uninterrupted. 

That doesn’t mean we give up. We don’t know what will ultimately shatter the facade of unquestioning U.S. support for Israeli apartheid, but we can see the cracks, and history tells us it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. That’s why we need to keep pushing.  

Tell Congress: Arms embargo NOW.

Every member of Congress needs to hear from us right now. Use this tool from our sister organization, JVP Action, to tell your elected officials that they must support an arms embargo on Israel.

What we’re reading.

This week, the Guardian and +972 Magazine published an investigation alleging that the former head of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, had personally threatened the chief prosecutor of the ICC in order to coerce her into dropping an investigation into Israeli war crimes — part of a nearly decade-long “covert war” by Israeli intelligence to undermine the court.

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