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Judge Affirms “Plausible” Genocide in Gaza But Dismisses Case on US Complicity

The judge said he “implores [Biden officials] to examine the results of their unflagging support of the military siege.”

Palestinians walk amid the destroyed Ayin Calut apartment at the Nasirat Refugee Camp after Israeli forces withdrew from the area in Gaza City, Gaza, on January 17, 2024.

On Wednesday, a U.S. district judge in California pleaded for U.S. officials to reexamine the country’s “unflagging support” of Israel amid its current bulldozing of Gaza while dismissing a case brought against the Biden administration over its complicity in the assault over jurisdictional grounds.

Judge Jeffrey White, a George W. Bush appointee, appeared to reluctantly rule that the case was outside of the purview of the court, writing that the suit represented one of the “rare cases” in which he was unable to rule for that reason.

However, White was sympathetic to the case, and notably didn’t dismiss the case for a reason like lack of standing. Rather, he affirmed the International Court of Justice’s preliminary finding last week that it’s “plausible” that Israel is committing a genocide and said that U.S. officials should reconsider the deluge of weapons and military assistance that the U.S. is currently providing to Israeli forces.

“The Court is bound by precedent and the division of our coordinate branches of government to abstain from exercising jurisdiction in this matter,” White wrote. “Yet, as the ICJ has found, it is plausible that Israel’s conduct amounts to genocide. This Court implores Defendants to examine the results of their unflagging support of the military siege against the Palestinians in Gaza.”

The historic lawsuit, brought on behalf of Palestinians against Biden officials by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), argued that the administration is in violation of international laws on genocide. CCR’s case included testimony from Palestinians in Gaza, with one plaintiff, Omar Al-Najjar, telling the court, “I have lost everything in this war. I have nothing but my grief. This is what Israel and its supporters have done to us.”

CCR and legal experts said that, while the case was dismissed, it is notable that White’s findings are now on the record in the U.S. legal system, including his writing on the “undisputed evidence” presented in witness testimony and writings otherwise supporting the case for Israel’s assault being a genocide. Indeed, White’s acknowledgement of the ICJ ruling stands in sharp contrast to statements from other top U.S. officials, who have dismissed the ruling and instead sought to further punish Palestinians in Gaza in response.

“Both the uncontroverted testimony of the Plaintiffs and the expert opinion proffered at the hearing on these motions as well as statements made by various officers of the Israeli government indicate that the ongoing military siege in Gaza is intended to eradicate a whole people and therefore plausibly falls within the international prohibition against genocide,” White wrote.

CCR senior staff attorney Katherine Gallagher, who argued the case before the court, said that the group is committed to exhausting all legal options to stop Israel’s assault.

“The court affirmed that what the Palestinian population in Gaza is enduring is a campaign to eradicate a whole people — genocide — and that the United States’ unflagging support for Israel is enabling the killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians and the famine facing millions,” Gallagher said in a statement. “While we strongly disagree with the court’s ultimate jurisdictional ruling, we urge the Biden administration to heed the judge’s call to examine and end its deadly course of action.”

One plaintiff, Mohammed Monadel Herzallah, expressed disappointment over the ruling. “It is important that the court recognized the United States is providing unconditional support to Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza and that a federal court heard Palestinian voices for the first time, but we are still devastated that the court would not take the important step to stop the Biden administration from continuing to support the slaughter of the Palestinian people,” Herzallah said. “Currently, my family lacks food, medicine, and the most basic necessities for survival.”

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