The Growing Legal Fights Against Israel & Many Voices For Assange

Featuring Hassan Ben Imran and Kevin Gosztola

by Kate Horgan
Published: Updated:
The Project Censored Show
The Official Project Censored Show
The Growing Legal Fights Against Israel & Many Voices For Assange

In the first half of the show, we welcome back Hassan Ben Imran, board member at the Law for Palestine organization. Hassan gives host Eleanor Golfield updates on the ICJ case of genocide and how he believes the case is pushing the movement for Palestinian rights from the streets into the halls of policy and legislative power. Hassan also sheds light on the attack against UNWRA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and how Israel used a media propaganda campaign to smear the agency so as to both shift focus from Israel’s crimes and get rid of a thorny agency whose very existence represents Palestinian’s right of return. In the second half of the show, we are all Julian Assange. As we mark the anniversary of the release of frequent guest Kevin Gosztola’s book Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange, we wait with baited breath to see if his last appeal in the UK courts will be heard or if he will soon find himself on US soil facing charges of telling the truth. Chris Hedges, George Galloway, Margaret Kimberley, John Kiriakou and more send a message to our listeners about Julian and the importance of fighting for what this one man represents.


Video of the Interview with Hassan Ben Imran


Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Hassan Ben Imran

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Eleanor Goldfield: Thanks everyone for joining us at the Project Censored radio show. We’re very glad to welcome back to the show, Hassan Ben Imran, who’s a board member at the Law for Palestine organization and an author on Palestine/Israel, and international law.

Hassan, thanks so much for coming back on the show.

Hassan Ben Imran: Thank you, Eleanor. It’s a pleasure to be back.

Eleanor Goldfield: So, Hassan, the last time that we spoke, the ICJ had not yet come out with its interim decision, which it did in late January, when it ordered Israel to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza, thereby suggesting that the court feels that there is evidence to show that there are genocidal acts.

Now, it’s been over a month since that ruling came down, and it’s quite clear that Israel is doing the opposite of mitigating genocide, and in fact, ramping it up. So, I’m curious if you could give us an update. What’s going on in the court right now, and what are they doing as they see this continued genocide play out?

Hassan Ben Imran: So, let me start by saying that this decision by the ICJ is quite historic. It’s very important, despite anything we can say to criticize certain elements of the decision and certain things that were missing that we will tap into right now. I think this was a very historic moment, a very important development in the international legal scene.

For the first time in history, you find Israel and its lawyers standing behind the dock, justifying themselves. I know this should have happened 50 years if not 75 years from now. This should have happened long ago. At least it happened at this moment. This in itself marks the beginning of a new era.

In the international legal scene now, there are so many things to be said about the Israeli respect or behavior towards this decision. And it’s not one. It’s two orders. First, in the 26th of January, the court for the first time said that Israel is plausibly committing genocide. So that’s big in itself.

And the court did reaffirm this observation with a stronger sentiment a few weeks later, right after the news were circulated about the invasion of Rafa. And they clearly stated that it forms a clearer version somehow within the text. We can infer that the court is saying that this is clearly a stronger case for the plausibility of genocide if Rafa is to be invaded.

So the court has done its job to a certain degree of establishing the observation, the legal observation and the legal judgment and characterization of the situation. The job of other UN organs and the rest of the international community is to act upon this decision. Israel, as expected, did not respect the decision.

Netanyahu, a few days before the order, he made it very clear that he’s not going to respect the Hague. He did not even say the ICJ. He mentioned the Hague generally, they just include any other court, including the ICC, just in case, to preemptively cover them all in the statement. So nobody, I think no sane political or legal observer would assume that Israel is going to respect it.

There are no indications that Israel is going to well behave. After all that we have seen, there is not a single indication that says that Israel is likely to change its behavior internally, like self observe its own obligations. However, the moment this decision came out, we started seeing so much changes in the tone internationally.

Of course, there were others who were trying to divert attention through the UNRWA case. That we might discuss later, they were trying to discuss legal technicalities in order to turn it into a big moot court instead of a serious court dealing with a case of genocide.

But ever since this decision came out, we started seeing the tone in the international legal community changing. We started seeing UN experts speaking out more clearly about this and about arms. We started hearing about new cases such as a couple of days ago, there was a lawsuit against the German chancellor, the head of state of Germany and his cabinet as well for complicity in genocide. Another case is happening in other countries, Netherlands, so on and so forth. We can discuss the effect of this one.

So now what we should be expecting from this case is for the rest of the UN community, the international community to act. Now, Article 94, Paragraph 2, if I’m not mistaken, of the ICJ, of the UN Charter, clearly indicates that the UN Security Council is to interfere in a situation of this sort when the orders, the judgments of the court is not respected by the party that is directly connected to the case.

There are others who are trying to turn it into a moot court and say that, oh, no, this refers to the judgment, it does not refer to provisional measures. It’s a very strange argument, I would say, because, you know, it’s, it’s a court order at the end, whether it’s provisional measures or a final judgment.

However, it could be inferred from this article that South Africa can go to the Security Council to implement it. And now, we would assume that the U. S. would use the veto power. This would be the first time in this context, up to my knowledge, where a veto power was used to block a decision by the ICJ.

This would be a big. It’s not going to be a smooth attempt from the U. S. to just raise the hand and veto this one. It will have serious repercussions in the whole international legal system.

So to conclude with, I would say this was a historic moment. This opened the door of many legal venues to be addressed and used. It created further pressure on the ICC that was not acting the way it should earlier. Until now, I haven’t heard of any arrest warrants. Like we’re talking about violations that have been there for ages. Now the ICC is under more pressure. Domestic courts are under more pressure. We can go in further details about this case and its consequences.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And I would like to get into some of that, but first, because you mentioned the Security Council, could you explain how that would be different in terms of the U. S. using its veto power and what power the Security Council would realistically have in terms of implementing that decision from the ICJ?

Hassan Ben Imran: Okay. Speaking of the powers of the U. N. Security Council, the U. N. Security Council has every power to intervene militarily. Collective security is embedded in the mandate of the UNSC. So the U.N. Security Council can, first of all, can intervene directly militarily in every way, can impose economic sanctions, can impose military embargo, so on and so forth.

Now, this is kind of un unlikely to happen considering the US veto power and probably the UK. But again, this is not gonna be an easy job to veto this one. It’s not gonna go as unnoticed as other veto powers. This is a more serious case. This is an ongoing case. So it would create further serious pressure on the countries that are likely to veto to pressure their ally that is genociding the Palestinians.

So they would be telling them, listen, like the American President: I faced one genocide case in my court. Other prime ministers in other countries, including the UK, they’re facing genocide complicity cases in their courts, they’re receiving pressure from within the international institutions, receiving pressure from within the administration itself.

There is some sort of a silent protest or a silent strike within even the US administration that we heard about. Everyone is pissed, is angry, is not okay with the way that the administration is acting. So this would create further massive pressure on the leaders to pressure Israel because we know Israel on its own could have never done one quarter of what it did, there is no way Israel, it could go that far. It has gone far, but now there is a new level of power that Israel has gone to simply because of the unchecked support, protection, and aerial military support. Even militarily, Israel is relying on U.S. weapons besides European ones. The ammunition, it comes from that.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And with that, how do you feel about the fact that the ICJ decision did not call for an immediate ceasefire. How important do you think that that is?

Hassan Ben Imran: I would have wanted, definitely, like everyone else, like South Africa, like anyone else involved in this, everyone would have wanted the ICJ to clearly state that there needs to be a ceasefire.

However, we can clearly infer, and one of the judges in a separate opinion did clearly state that these provisional measures cannot logically or practically be implemented without a ceasefire. So it’s like the court did ask for a ceasefire without stating it. Now, why did the court avoid that?

In the case of Ukraine, it stated that. There was a clear statement of ceasefire in the case of Ukraine. Others would call the issue the complexity of the use of force in the Palestinian case. Now, if the court is to ask for a ceasefire, the court is expected to give an answer about self defense.

The question of self defense and the question of the right to resistance or right to use force for the occupied people. So that would put the court in a position to justify certain things that are already being deliberated by another chamber of the same court, in the advisory opinion that was initiated in December 2022, right? Way before October.

So some would use this as a reason for why the court didn’t address this. However, considering the urgency of the situation, the court could have been more clear about this. But that in a way reduces the clear inference that this cannot be implemented without a ceasefire. Israel is trying to say publicly that, oh, we won this, the court did not ask for ceasing hostilities or ceasing fighting, but the court did, without stating it.

How can, for example, let’s take humanitarian assistance to make it simple. Guterres, the UN Secretary General, a few weeks before the provisional measures and in the morning of the provisional measures, stated very clearly that for humanitarian aid or assistance to be called as such, it has certain criteria.

One of these criteria is security. There has to be security in the neighborhoods where the aid is delivered. There has to be staff, right? How can you deliver the aid? You cannot just, like, some countries are now throwing it into the sea and you know, people are taking it and it’s already gone, it’s wasted.

But anyways, there has to be staff, there has to be fuel, there has to be machines, like, vehicles to take, deliver the aid. So there are clear criteria about how humanitarian assistance can qualify to be called as humanitarian assistance.

Now, within this situation, there is no way to do this without ceasing the hostilities, without stopping the fight, because the fighting is happening within the neighborhoods where people are residing. The destruction is happening right in the centers of civilian presence.

So for that to happen, the ceasefire is a must. I think for any jurist, any serious jurist, this is a very clear case. However, we do see the legal propaganda here: no, the court did not clearly ask for a ceasefire. That means the fighting can continue. I think this is not a correct understanding of the order.

Eleanor Goldfield: Thank you for clarifying that. And you mentioned this December 2022 advisory opinion, and I wanted to get into that a little bit, and also make that connection, make that link between the current case that South Africa brought.

But, just getting into that a little bit to give a little bit of backstory to folks listening. Basically it was a request for the ICJ to examine the legal consequences of Israel’s, “prolonged occupation, settlement, and annexation of Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967.” And the General Assembly resolution also asked the court to consider the legal consequences of the occupation for all states to determine whether other countries have obligations in respect of it. And as I understand these hearings just ended yesterday. We’re recording this on February 28th. And more than 50 countries submitted testimony. Israel abstained, of course, saying it rejects the validity of the proceedings.

So I’m just curious, Hassan, what can you tell us about these proceedings and that link between the current case that South Africa brought?

Hassan Ben Imran: So regarding the ICJ advisory opinion, I believe it is equally important to the ICJ judgment, the international court of justice’s judgment on genocide.

Though genocide is such a grave crime, but this is very important because it as they say, it crosses the ts and dots the i’s very clearly about the root causes and the occupation itself. Now, what does that mean? When the court clearly states that the occupation is illegal in and of itself, that means the occupation itself is an act of aggression.

That means the right to self defense cannot be claimed in this circumstance. Now this has been stated already by the court in 2004, but now in this form it would be in a much more definitive statement that Israel cannot claim the right to self defense, whether in the West Bank, in Gaza, in East Jerusalem, and in the other occupied territories, such as the Golans of Syria and those territories in South Lebanon, Sheba farms.

Once the court clearly states that there is no way, a possible way to claim the right to self defense within this context. This is one, but also the court is expected to deliver an opinion about third state’s responsibility.

This ruling will have also a very clear impact or like consequences, I would say on third state, the reactions of third states towards this issue.

Now everyone is delivering aid to Israel. I’m talking about the military aid and military support to Israel. Now we will start hearing more cases of what has been happening in the past 10 days or a few weeks.

Now, let me count the few developments that happened lately. We’re talking about a case in the Netherlands. The appeal court clearly asked the government to halt military, the arms trade with Israel. Of course, the government reappealed despite the case is very solid, but this is, you know, this is a good start. Now you have the government of the Netherlands having trouble because of Israel’s behaviors.

Now you can expect when the prime minister of the Netherlands meets with the prime minister of Israel, what the conversation would be about. This would have a clear impact on the dynamics of these two countries. At the end, nobody wants to be in trouble because of others actions, because of the actions of others that they are totally not benefiting from when you think of it in a national security or national interest manner.

The other thing, the other case, the famous one, that was a few days ago in Ireland. The Irish Senate clearly stated, I think just yesterday or maybe it’s been a few days ago, clearly stated unanimously,

unanimously voted that arms trade with Israel is to be halted. Israel and its allies are not to use Irish land or Irish spheres for any purposes that would contribute to what’s happening inside Palestine right now, basically the genocide. And now this is to be voted upon by the Irish parliament itself to be an effective law. But this is a good start. It never happened before. This is a huge success for arms embargo, for the calls for arms embargo.

There was another letter that has been sent also to the European Commission, invoking the agreement on human rights and the European engagement with any arms trade that would involve violations of human rights.

So basically we’re talking about the international legal movement pushing, like moving from the people’s voice pushing for Palestinian rights moving to another level, the decision making and the policy making levels.

We saw this in the cases I mentioned in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. By the way, the case in the US, despite that it was dismissed, it still stated clearly that there is a plausible case of genocide. It cited that it referred to the ICJ and it clearly spoke about the siege and the consequences of the siege on Gaza and how it affects people’s lives in an illegal way.

So that in itself, despite that it was hoped that the court would go forward with this case, in itself is an achievement because it can be cited in other cases in the future lawsuits that could be taken in the US and elsewhere. So we’re talking about a growing legal movement that is moving from the people to the decision makers.

It’s creating further pressure, the friendly states, the states that care about human rights in practice, in actuality are now taking it more seriously. As we saw in the cases I mentioned, and the countries that do not really bother about human rights when it is the human rights or when when the abuse is happening by one of their allies, they are feeling further pressure within the legal systems within the networks.

So that would affect the dynamics of interaction with Israel. It will not lead to justice directly. We all know that if you change the names, if the name of Palestine was not there and the name of Israel was not there, we’re talking about any other case, we all know that this would have already happened long ago, and the situation would have been resolved.

But simply because it’s not fashionable to support Palestine in certain venues, we know why Palestinians have to go through this, why the allies of the Palestinians have to go through this in order to reach to like a sense of justice that could be served to the people. But I think it’s a call for everyone to continue because apparently this path, despite being very complicated, very costly, very slow, it’s still, it has some light at the end of the tunnel and this light has to be pursued.

The pressure has to increase and this movement has to grow stronger, more solid. People who are not already a part of this legal movement participating in pushing for this direction would realize that this is the time that actually we do something of impact or that would cause some impact.

I understand now, as we’re talking, Eleanor, I understand people are starving in Gaza. And by starving, I mean starving, like they’re eating cat food and dog food and it’s not enough, even that’s not enough. So we’re talking about the cats also starving in Gaza. We’re talking about the dogs starving in Gaza. We’re talking about the birds starving in Gaza, like every living entity is starving in Gaza. It’s not just the humans in Gaza. The only ones who are not starving in Gaza are the ones who are starving the Gazans, inside Gaza. The soldiers who are causing this situation to be there. And the leaders who go into the territory of Gaza. These are the only ones who have food to eat in Gaza.

So I understand it is too much of a claim to speak about hope and light at the end of the tunnel and a legal movement that would lead to tangible impact. I do feel this. I do feel the pressure of saying this when I communicate with any of my friends in Gaza who are still alive at this moment. I do feel it.

However, we know that history, while it is full of tragedies of this sort, it still has some sort of hope at the end. Now let me talk about clear examples of this. The government of Great Britain, back in history, not long ago, we’re talking about 150 years ago, it starved around 1 million Irish people, right here, in Ireland.

It starved them to death. They were starving and then they cited the parasites. Oh, it’s the parasites that killed the Irish people, not the starvation policies that were very well designed to reduce the number of Irish people to solve the problem that the Irish created the same way that the Palestinians are being a problem because they exist.

I mean, if Palestinians stopped to exist, the problem would have ended. That’s how the Israelis see it. That’s how the decision makers, the strategic mindsets, minds in Israel see it. So starvation has been a tool. And what we see has been a tool of any colonial power. Because when the people exist, the colonial power sees this as a problem.

I want the land, I don’t want the people. So how to solve this problem? Kill them all? Yeah, I tried it, but then it’s gonna cause me so much problems. I’m gonna be in the ICJ, in the ICC, I’m gonna be sued, my allies will be sued for genocide complicity. So genocide, or like killing people, creating direct aggressive, violent act, is gonna create some noise which is not wanted by the criminals. So what they would go for is a less noisy form of genocide. It’s a silent genocide, a silent elimination of the people.

How can you do this? Starvation. Because it’s the parasites, right? In Gaza, it’s whatever reason that’s causing that, the water is polluting. So it’s easier to kill people slowly without any noise through starvation.

Britain has done it in the UK, in Kenya, and they put people inside literally zoos. It’s called conservatory. It was literally just like the safari style, where you have animals within one territory and cannot move out. Many people died there. The same thing happened with the designed famines in India, in Bangladesh.

This is a strategy that has been employed by colonizers throughout history. So now this is the moment where we try to see how the situation ended. Yes, the famines, the starvation, the miseries happened. People died. Innocent people that should have lived died. People that had stories, that had lives, that had love stories, that had businesses, that had poetry, full stories, human civilization ended in certain points because of these colonial policies that Israel is implementing.

Israel is looking at the guidebook. of colonization, colonialism, genocide, and it’s implementing it. Look, look, by the way, about this, not to branch out, but look at the Serbian leaders, the defense before the ICJ and ICTY, like it’s a moment of deja vu, you know, like I hear this somewhere else as well. Israel leaders are referring almost to the same strategies, legal strategies that the Serbian Genocide leaders refer to in the court. It’s the same guidebook.

Eventually, Ireland is independent. Yes, it has some challenges here and there, political challenges, but Ireland reached to a point where they try to celebrate the dead by making their death loud and commemorate their culture, their civilization.

The memory of those people was not lost. Still is there. In other cases, it is still the same. Kenyans are still celebrating their heritage. Many African countries are still celebrating their heritage. They are moving towards a better point in their history. Building a better future. Gaza should not be an exception. Should not, in any way, be an exception.

Yes, you can see that the whole political community, international political community is going in one direction and Gaza is coming back in an opposite direction. It’s like, you know, like everything is going towards one end and Gaza is interrupting this. Like it’s causing problems to the normalization policies, causing problems to peace in the Middle East, the new Middle Eastern order, whatever . Gaza is a problem for that.

I understand, but in the same time, we do see the support. It cannot go unnoticed. All over the world. Now we’re talking about demonstrations, protests, legal action, political action happening in almost each and every Latin American country, in almost each and every African country. Each and every Southeast Asian country. In East Asia as well, the pressure started, even the Chinese statement before the ICJ advisory opinion was quite different than one people expected. So we’re talking about pressure or we’re talking about massive support, mainly within the people, but sometimes it reaches to the decision making levels all over the world.

Now that aside, talking about the ICJ advisory opinion, we’re talking about 52 statements, interventions from states. And we’re talking about three interventions from international organizations. These are the OIC, the Arab League, the LAC, the Latin American States, the Organization of Latin American States. And 52 from countries.

So, out of these 55, who stood against the rights of the Palestinians? Only two, three. And of course, the U. S., the U. K., and some, some countries out there, a few ones like Fiji, others who started talking about that the occupation is legal, it’s a natural consequence of war, so on and so forth.

You’re talking about 50 plus interventions, 50 plus states and organizations in the ICJ, basically the international community, this is the international community. The international community is not the United States, it’s not the U. K. It’s not some country here and there in the middle of the Atlantic.

It’s the international community speaking out from all over the world with different languages and different cultures saying that this is wrong. This should be the case and this cannot go unnoticed by the court. The court is noticing this. By the way, this has been the most congested , the proceeding with the highest level of interventions ever in history. Not a single time the ICJ received this amount of interventions about a particular case. This indicates something, and all of them almost, except the US, the UK, and Fiji, and another country, if I’m not mistaken, were negative, and every, all of the others, they were positive, they were supportive.

They were saying, this is an illegal occupation, this has to end, and some of them were talking about third state’s responsibilities. This will inspire further cases in courts, this will inspire further pressure, and that will be exerted on certain states that are supplying Israel.

We’re starting to see a movement similar to what happened to South Africa, apartheid South Africa, that brought the apartheid to an end. I know this is much more complicated than the apartheid South Africa, for the reasons we know, but It still can have the same destiny if enough pressure, because the support for South Africa was unprecedented at some point.

I’m talking about apartheid South Africa. It started diminishing, but also there was a growing support internationally. For Palestine, we do witness the massive, crazy, unjustified support from certain countries to Israel. But in the same time, we do realize that the people have had enough. People are speaking out, people are pushing towards a certain end.

So, Palestine could have the same destiny, not necessarily mathematically the same, but the same in the sense of justice and freedom.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And I’m curious, as you were talking, it’s a question that I hadn’t thought of ahead of time, but I’m curious because regionally speaking, I mean, folks have pointed out that Netanyahu is clearly trying to go for a regional war.

I mean, Israel’s bombing Syria and Lebanon. And so what are the chances of Arab nations in the region coming to the very physical aid of Palestinians in kind of a similar way that Yemen has? What do you feel is the chance of that? And are you worried that in the midst of all these legal proceedings, we could see a larger, full scale regional war?

Hassan Ben Imran: The other day I was chatting with my friend about this. He has a very deep insight into regional politics. And he was like, if they wanted to interfere, they would have interfered already. I mean, it has been ugly a long time ago. However, you know, maybe there is a certain unannounced red line that we don’t know of.

Because what is the red line? Genocide has happened, has been crossed. So it’s like a massive form of genocide. It’s like a genocide that meets the threshold of 100%, if that’s what you’re talking about. There might be. The problem is with the region, not to go too much off the legal discussion, but the problem with the region, the Middle East, North Africa, the Arab region in particular, is after the Arab Spring, the movement that has been called the Arab Spring, the people have been exhausted.

People, they reach to a level of hope that, oh, things can improve. We actually can have democratic systems or at least just systems, representative systems, systems that reflect our wishes, systems that I don’t feel are alien to me. So after that failure and the aggressive, violent comeback of traditional military republics and others, people have kind of given up on many things.

Even hope. And losing hope is the most dangerous of everything that we can lose. It’s as dangerous as losing life itself. So people in the region are kind of frustrated, angry, but they’re like, okay, it’s over. Look at the migration rates. It’s quite desparate when you look at the problems in the Middle East.

When you come to the governments of the regions of the countries in the Middle East, we have to discuss the degree of political independence when it comes to foreign policies. Because independence is a construct. It’s not like you declare your independence and you’re fully independent. This applies not only to the Middle East and North Africa, it applies to many other countries around the world where they cannot act in a certain way because of constraints that are announced or unannounced.

So let’s say if this was another case, you would have heard of many countries intervening even militarily to stop this, at least to break through the territories and provide humanitarian assistance. This has never happened. I don’t see any indications that this would change any time soon. I might, I actually really, really deeply hope I’m wrong.

Unfortunately, I can’t see any indications.

Eleanor Goldfield: And so kind of, kind of shifting back here to the UN, of course, the ICJ is a UN court and UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees is a UN agency and UNRWA is on the brink of collapse now thanks to dozens of countries pulling funding from this vital agency based on admitted “low confidence” claims that about a dozen staffers at the agency took part in October 7th attacks.

And just for reference, UNRWA employs roughly 13,000 people in Gaza. So this is not a mom and pop shop organization. So I’m curious, Hassan, in your estimation, how will this, this UNRWA being on the brink of collapse, how would that affect or does it affect the ICJ case?

Hassan Ben Imran: About the UNRWA actually, we will talk about how serious what’s going on is, but when did this UNRWA news come to the media, or like came out? It came like two days after the ICJ provisional measures. I believe this is anything but innocent. The Israeli Hasbara machine, the propaganda machine of Israel has been talking about this for some time.

They wanted to shut down the UNRWA long, long ago. And here I’m not talking about the media or public voices. I’m talking about the discussions within the Knesset. I’m talking about the committees. And there is one that has been live streamed and it’s there online where the discussions within the Israelii policymaking circles were very clear that the UNRWA represents the existence of the right to return.

It’s the UN agency that says Palestinians are refugees. Refugees how? Through the Nakba? Through the ethnic cleansing? And refugees that are to return where? It’s to the modern day, the territory of Israel. For example, the population of Gaza is 80 percent refugees from the towns surrounding Gaza.

Those towns around Gaza, the Israeli villages, the kibbutzim, they were actually the Palestinian towns where people of Gaza have been forced out from. So the right of return is kind of well codified because of many reasons, but mainly because of the existence of UNRWA. It’s the organization that documents the names of the refugees, their ID numbers, everything. So shutting down the UNRWA technically means a success in Israeli attempts to totally cancel and alienate the right to return. Nobody would talk about it since you don’t know who the refugees are.

So the Israeli intention to crack down on UNRWA has been there for long. And the reason why countries, some countries refused to listen to Israel and they continued financing UNRWA is to avoid any Palestinian explosion, like what happened in October, or what happened in other incidents. They were afraid if you shut down the UNRWA, these people will realize that they’re dying anyway. So, they might do things that are not wanted by Israel. So, in this case, you know, like, no, better to keep the UNRWA, it will mitigate the situation, it will reduce.

Now the UNRWA is providing aid to 75 percent of Palestinians in Gaza. You can imagine how serious that would be if the UNRWA is shut down. However, this came two days after the provisional measures. It was seen by many as an attempt to divert attention from the provision measures, and it was successful.

I mean, if I were an immoral, heartless media strategist, I would be very impressed. This was excellent media propaganda. So it was like it should be taught in universities. This was an excellent case.

The World Court, the top court on earth, made such a huge decision, the first decision of its kind to equate Israel with genocide. Two days later, everyone is talking about the UNRWA. Like this didn’t happen innocently or out of the blue. It was premeditated, in my opinion, it was pre organized.

However, talking about the UNRWA itself. Now, if the UNRWA is shut down, you’re going to talk about genocide, a quick starvation, like people are going to die faster.

That’s definitely the case. The countries who announced that they won’t fund the UNRWA, actually some of them did not pledge anything to UNRWA. So it was a media show that, oh, we’re cutting funds to UNRWA. Germany did not pledge anything to UNRWA in the upcoming months. And then Germany announced it cut funds to the UNRWA. It already provided funds and did not announce anything in the future. What funds are you cutting? The ones that you are not giving? It was a media oriented, or like, it was something that was intended to divert attention to provide further diplomatic and media support for Israel. Many countries were like Germany, they have not pledged any actual support to the UNRWA. They were trying to cut off the funds earlier, but then they found this as a good reason to, you know, like, say, oh, look, these people are terrorists. These people are killing babies and people. So, let’s cut it off.

And now we’re talking about seven employees. Initially they said 12, 13, then it went all the way down to seven, out of 13,000. And these seven, until now, the UNRWA has not been submitted any actual evidence against them. So the people who are accused of supporting terrorism are accused without any documentation, without any evidence. So the whole thing does not add up. That’s why it’s difficult to see it outside the framework of propaganda that Israel has been working on, and Israel had said this on TV.

I mean, it has been live streamed, the Knesset discussions and the committees of the Knesset when they were discussing why they need to shut down the UNRWA way before anything was equated with an UNRWA.

So I would say cutting funds is very serious. It will cause further misery on the Palestinian side. It will definitely radicalize the people who are already radicalized by so much pain and horror. Like, the images of babies would, it would create a cultural shock. You know, like, if someone is not moved by what’s going on, by moved, I mean moved in any way, even toward radicalized or more humanists.

It’s insane. What we see online is insane. So if the funds are cut to that, we’re going to talk about much more dramatic situation on the ground and all levels, and all levels on levels that even Israel is not happy with. Will this actually happen? Will they really continue with the cutting of the funds?

I doubt, I doubt. I think this is a media propaganda campaign and it will come to an end at some point. There are countries that will stop for good. They will not give anything because actually they didn’t want to continue from the first place before that came to exist. But others, they will come back to support UNRWA.

There are countries within those that cut the funds that are more reasonable than the others. So they would try to mitigate the situation, calm down, you know, like make sure it does not exacerbate and go to levels where they cannot handle it and then the whole region will break out.

Eleanor Goldfield: And do you think the ICJ is looking at this happening and saying this is even just further evidence of a genocide? And do you think it would help them come to a decision quicker or affect their decision making in some way?

Hassan Ben Imran: It definitely affects the arguments. There are many arguments that have been circulated, official arguments, and now they’re being delivered, but they’re being delivered to the court in the process that simply cutting the funds of UNRWA moves some of these states from the category of complicity in genocide to actual, they are contributing to the starvation policies.

And starvation is not a consequence of the fighting. It’s a plan. It’s a policy design. The fighting is designed to cause this, to design this policy. So it would be brought to the court that these countries are participating in this genocide by cutting the funds to UNRWA. Of course, these countries will find any argument to escape this sort of thing.

But I don’t see in any way the court buying that nonsense about UNRWA. The court, the ICJ is a serious court. The problem with the ICJ is that it has no teeth, has no claws, I would say, no enforcement mechanisms. It’s an international court. It faces the same problems of international law. I would say the problem is not the ICJ, but the problem is the system that is surrounding the ICJ that is preventing the ICJ from doing its job.

Yes, the ICJ needs the reforms here and there, but still the ICJ is to a certain degree doing its job. And it did its job by issuing the provisional measures that were very clear. Yes, we wanted the word of ceasefire. Of course, they wouldn’t use the word ceasefire, they would use different terminology like ceasing military operations, so on and so forth. But we wanted that wording, but that wording is still inferred from the current structure of the provision measures.

The problem is with the UN Security Council that is not acting upon this, the problem with the veto power within the UN Security Council, the problem with the fact that those who fund the UN are threatening that they would cut their funds to the UN if the court goes in a certain direction.

So, I mean, the problem is bigger than that, bigger than the court.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I suppose we will just have to wait and see what happens. Hassan, thank you so much for taking the time to contextualize all of this and giving your expertise. We really appreciate it so much.

Hassan Ben Imran: Thank you, Eleanor.

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