Ad Hoc Studies

The International Judicial System vs. Israel Reactions and Significance

On May 24, 2024, the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) published temporary orders regarding the IDF's activity in Rafah and regarding the humanitarian demands from Israel within the framework of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, as part of a lawsuit filed by South Africa against Israel alleging an alleged violation of obligations under the Convention to prevent genocide. The ruling did not order a halt to the IDF operation in Rafah, but stated that Israel should refrain from carrying out actions that could be considered genocide against the Palestinians. On May 20, 2024, Karim Khan, the Prosecutor General of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC), announced that he had submitted a request to issue arrest warrants on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity against three of the leaders of Hamas and against Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Galant. This is the first time that the prosecutor's office requests to arrest individuals from a western country and the request also created an immoral comparison between Israeli leaders and senior Hamas officials. The ICJ ruling and the chief prosecutor's request were regarded by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hamas and Palestinian NGOs as important achievements in the legal warfare they have been waging against Israel for years and which they regard as no less important than the armed struggle. The Palestinians welcomed the announcements, but also expressed doubt about the cessation of the operation in Rafah and criticized the request to arrest senior Hamas officials.
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Criticism of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Objections to the War with Israel

With the ongoing fighting along the Israel-Lebanon border, criticism of Hezbollah continues in Lebanon, including the claim that the organization dragged Lebanon into an unnecessary war which does not serve the country's national interests and exacerbates Lebanon's already problematic internal situation. According to the claims, Hezbollah serves the interests of Iran, not Lebanon, Hezbollah is not "the protector of Lebanon," as it represents itself, but is dragging the country into the abyss of a severe economic-political crisis. Some of the organization's critics state that the only way to resolve the situation is by implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for the removal of Hezbollah from south Lebanon and replacing it with Lebanese army forces. For the most part the criticism comes from a handful of public figures and politicians, mostly Christians' and from a small number of Lebanese residents, mainly the Christian residents of the southIn most cases the protestors are content to express their criticism in writing, mainly on social networks, or orally. Some of them are very careful about what they say because they fear retaliation from Hezbollah which could endanger their lives. At the moment there are virtually no signs of any organized or public protest.
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The UN General Assembly Votes to Give the Palestinian Authority Additional Rights

On May 10, 2024, the UN General Assembly, with a majority vote of 143 countries, approved a resolution to grant the Palestinian Authority (PA) additional rights in the UN. It also allowed the PA to resubmit its request to the Security Council for full UN membership. The significance of the vote is that the representatives of the PA. The vote was a precedent-setting, controversial move, as it is not clear whether the General Assembly has the authority to grant the PA, defined as an observer, the rights of a full UN member state, as only the Security Council has that authority. Without a doubt, the vote in the General Assembly was a significant political achievement for the PA. Winning a majority vote in the General Assembly, with countries such as France voting in favor, indicated the broad consensus that currently exists around the globe for the recognition of the "State of Palestine." The step may also promote bilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, including by EU member states. It also challenges United States policy towards the Palestinian issue, after an attempt was made to bypass the American veto of the proposed resolution in the Security Council and the possibility that the issue would be deliberated again by the Security Council.
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The Palestinian Perspective on the IDF Operation in Rafah

IDF forces initiated a military operation in limited areas in east Rafah, targeting Hamas terrorist facilities. The forces took control of the Gazan side of the Rafah Crossing, which is situated in the east of the city. Prior to the operation, the IDF began evacuating the residents of east Rafah to an expanded humanitarian zone in Mawasi Khan Yunis in the central Gaza Strip. UNRWA and Palestinian media outlets reported tens of thousands of residents evacuated from the area, although Hamas claimed lower numbers. The IDF takeover and closing of the Rafah Crossing provoked reactions from Palestinian figures and international aid organizations. The Arab world also condemned the IDF's action and expressed concern regarding the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Hezbollah, the Houthis and the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq threatened that if Israel entered Rafah they would escalate their attacks, and have in fact carried out their threats. Egypt prepared for the operation and raised the alert level of its forces in the border area, out of concern that Gazans would enter its territory. It is currently unclear how long the IDF operation in east Rafah will last and if it will expand to other areas. Meanwhile, the efforts of the United States, Qatar and Egypt to reach a deal to release the hostages continue. Contrary to the statements of senior Hamas members before the operation, its representatives continued the negotiations for a ceasefire and a hostage deal even as IDF forces operate in Rafah.
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The New Palestinian Authority Government

On March 31, 2024, the 19th Palestinian government was sworn in at Mahmoud Abbas' office in Ramallah. It is headed by Dr. Muhammad Mustafa. the government ministers do not belong to any political party. Its platform emphasized that the government regards Judea, Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip as one political-geographic unit with the PLO as the source of its authority (Wafa, March 28, 2024). The new government is defined as "a government of technocrats" and has almost no known figures with a political past. It has 23 ministers, compared to 26 in the government headed by Muhammad Shtayyeh, and has representation for the Gaza Strip, Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem. Seven of the government ministers are from the Gaza Strip (currently staying in Ramallah), 14 from Judea and Samaria, and two are residents of east Jerusalem. There are four women in the government. Two ministers are Christians and the rest are Muslims. Most of the ministers are in their sixties. The vast majority have advanced degrees from universities abroad. Two of the members of the government, Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa and Ziad Hab al-Reeh, have political experience, but while all the other ministers have an impressive record in civilian and academic fields, they lack political experience. The ITIC has no information about their political positions or their positions regarding Israel and the conflict, since so far they have seldom been interviewed or expressed positions on those issues. However, contrary to Mustafa's statements that the new government is manned by independent technocrats, a detailed examination revealed that at least four of the ministers are unequivocally members of Fatah and in the past ran for positions on behalf of the movement, headed by Interior Minister Ziad Hab al-Reeh. At least two of them were previously detained by Israel.
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Organizing Aid Flotillas to the Gaza Strip and international arenas

Since the beginning of the Gaza Strip War, initiatives have been undertaken around the globe to organize boats and ships to bring aid to the Gaza Strip, leading to the establishment of the International Campaign to Save Gaza (ICSG), which was announced on November 23, 2023 during a conference held in Istanbul.. Recently the organization, behind which is the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC), announced it would launch a ship from Libya to El Arish in the near future, and would launch another ship from Lebanon. Zaher Birawi, the ICSG chairman, announced the launch of a flotilla to "break the blockade of the Gaza Strip," most likely four ships from European countries. The Turkish IHH announced it had purchased several ships for the flotilla, which is expected to set sail in mid-April. In addition to sending humanitarian the flotilla organizers intend to turn them into anti-Israeli media campaigns. The arrival of aid ships, especially those with "activists" from around the world, could challenge the Israeli Navy. There is also a concern that aid arriving by sea will enter Gaza without Israeli supervision and the ships will be used to smuggle weapons. Should the ships also be carrying people with political influence and media personnel, they could complicate world public opinion for Israel. In the past Zaher Birawi stated that the main purpose of the flotillas was to raise awareness and discredit Israel, and to publicize the political and media campaigns accompanying the flotillas.
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