“We are watching a genocide unfold in Gaza in real time and, despite the government’s view that a U.S. court can do nothing about it, CCR and our clients argue that it certainly can and it absolutely must!” said one advocate.
Calling for an emergency injunction to stop the Biden administration from aiding Israel in its bombardment of Gaza, which has so far killed more than 26,000 people and pushed roughly 2 million more to the point of starvation, human rights organizations and Palestinians in the U.S. on Friday took federal leaders to court to stop U.S. “complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide.”
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland held a hearing on the case, in which the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is representing groups including Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) and Al-Haq in suing President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
The groups, joined by individual plaintiffs whose families in Gaza have been subjected to Israel’s assault and decades of occupation, argue that the U.S. is violating domestic and international law and breaching the Genocide Convention, of which it is a a signatory.
The hearing was held hours after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) released its initial ruling in South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza. The ICJ found that Israel must “take all measures within its power” to prevent genocide.
Laila El-Haddad, one of the plaintiffs in the U.S. case, said the group entered the courtroom “proud and hopeful” on the heels of the ICJ ruling.
On the heels of the ICJ ruling, we are on our way to US federal court to hold the US government accountable. We are proud and hopeful and here for our families who are being genocided with UD complicity! pic.twitter.com/IO9j3cCqLn
— Laila El-Haddad (@gazamom) January 26, 2024
The CCR reported that the court’s livestream was at capacity during the hearing, while outside the courtroom, supporters painted, “Biden complicit in genocide,” and, “No bombs to Israel” on the street.
— Vince Warren (@VinceWarren) January 26, 2024
“A recording of the hearing will be made available by the court in due course,” said CCR.
Dena Takruri of AJ+reported that in the “unprecedented” hearing, a doctor testifying remotely from Rafah, Gaza told the court that “cases of childbirth in the streets are widespread at this time.”
Along with relentless air and ground attacks by Israeli forces, Gazans have for nearly four months faced a near-total blockade on Gaza, with aid deliveries severely curtailed by Israel. Roughly 90% of Gaza residents are now frequently going without any meals for at least a full day.
South Africa’s case at the ICJ outlined numerous statements of genocidal intent by top Israeli officials.
Despite the mounting evidence of ethnic cleansing, the Biden administration has called South Africa’s accusations “meritless” and has continued to arm Israel without congressional approval.
“Our community mobilized to put Biden in power after [former President Donald Trump,” Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the Sacramento Valley and another Palestinian American plaintiff, testified at the hearing. “It hurts. It hurts deeply.”
The plaintiffs planned to hold a post-hearing press conference.
“The takeaway from today’s court hearing,” said CCR executive director Vince Warren, “is that we are watching a genocide unfold in Gaza in real time and, despite the government’s view that a U.S. court can do nothing about it, CCR and our clients argue that it certainly can and it absolutely must!”
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