The definition of genocide was coined in 1944 by Jewish Lawyer Raphael Lemkin, a former native of Lviv, who promoted the establishment of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, in the aftermath of the Holocaust committed by the Nazis against the Jewish people during WWII. Often seen as the "crime of crimes", genocide is defined by the special intent to "destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group".

Nonetheless, as the ICJ itself has previously made clear, the use of force, even on a significant scale, “cannot in itself constitute an act of genocide.” The proliferating misuses of claims of genocide are worrying and threaten to denude the term of its special status. If every war is a genocide, the term becomes meaningless. It will also harm the Genocide Convention should states withdraw from it, to avoid its weaponization against them. 


On Oct. 7, Hamas and other terrorist groups initiated a war against Israel and perpetrated unprecedented savagery, including the murder, torture, rape and mutilation of over 1,200 Israelis, and the taking hostage of 240 people, including infants, elderly and sick. Hamas’ atrocities are in total violation of International Humanitarian Law, as is its brutal treatment of the hostages, still being tortured and denied any access by the ICRC.

Predictably, in accordance with its right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens, Israel had to respond forcefully, seeking to secure the release of its infants, children, women, and men being held as hostages in Gaza, and to deny Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza the capacity to continue attacking its citizens and territory as they have explicitly vowed to do "again and again and again". 

Israel can hardly be blamed for using military force available to it to legitimately defend its own citizens from further attacks in accordance with the laws of war. Israel has been consistent in explaining that the IDF is targeting the terror operatives and military infrastructures and not the Palestinian civilians.


The intense fighting and scope of the civilian damage in Gaza is in large part the outcome of Hamas' strategy to embed its combatants within the civilian population of Gaza, including in mosques, hospitals, schools, and UN facilities, which constitute obvious war crimes. Hamas abuses civilians as human shields and strives for a high casualty count to galvanize public opinion against Israel.

Israeli forces are compelled to fight an asymmetric war in a dense urban landscape that Hamas prepared for that purpose for over a decade, in particular by using an unparalleled tunnel network deployed beneath civilian areas.

On Dec. 29, 2023, South Africa filed an application with the International Court of Justice instituting proceedings against Israel, alleging that Israel is committing genocide. The misuse of the Genocide Convention against Israel is an outrage.

South Africa bases its case on two claims, neither of which stands up to scrutiny. The first is the scale of civilian death and destruction in Gaza. There is no doubt that the war in Gaza has been devastating for the civilian population. However, this does not indicate that genocide has taken place.


The second are various statements by Israeli officials or former officials, which they claim prove necessary special intent of committing genocide. The various quotes used to suggest Israel has the intention of committing genocide are not convincing. They do not reflect Israel's actions in practice, and many were said in the emotional aftermath of the mass slaughter and horrific atrocities committed on Oct. 7, an event that would shake any civilized country to the core.

It would have been better had they not been said, but they are a far cry from any reasonable proof of intent. Moreover, they are a very selective collection of cherry-picked statements, ignoring numerous statements by Israel's top political and military leaders clarifying Israel's actual and official policies of minimizing harm to civilians and ensuring humanitarian aid.  

However, the true evidence of any lack of intent to commit genocide is Israel's unwavering and continuous efforts to facilitate humanitarian aid (over 6,300 trucks since the beginning of the war) and the robust measures to minimize civilian casualties, including warnings of attacks and precautionary measures which often increased the risk to its own forces.


Indeed, the USA's NSC spokesperson stated that Israel “has published online maps of places where people can go or not to go. That’s basically telegraphing your punches, and there’s very few modern militaries in the world that would do that. I don’t know that we would do that."[1] This is hardly genocidal intent.

With the Holocaust as a backdrop and Israel’s attachment to the values sanctifying life, the claim of genocide is especially painful against Israel. It is a modern case of the ancient harmful trope of blaming the Jews with the very crimes committed against them.

Michael Brodsky is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Israel in Ukraine.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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Comments (4)
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It’s possible to deplore the mass casualties in Gaza without desiring the annihilation of the world’s only, tiny, Jewish state. Hamas could have stopped the Israeli assault at any time, by freeing its captives. The Palestinians know where the hostages are, & could have stopped the slaughter by telling the IDF where their fathers, husbands, sons & neighbours have hidden them. Hamas could have saved Gazan women & children by allowing them to shelter in the tunnels built with stolen aid money, but it prefers to exhibit dead babies to the world, so mindless people can blame a country which is fighting to be allowed one tenth of one per cent of the Middle East. Al Aqsa is built on top of the Jewish Temple ruins. That should give a clue as to who was in Jerusalem first.
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Palestine is not a country, nor a nation state. It has never been so. It was part of an administrative district, conquered by in turn by Babylonians, Romans, Arabs, and Turks. Israel, in contrast, was an independent kingdom with a distinct population 3000 years ago, and Jews have made Jerusalem the focal point of their culture & religion ever since. In 1918, Palestinian Arabs wanted to continue as part of Greater Syria, but ruled by Arabs instead of Turks. There was no demand for a separate state, because that had already been created - Jordan. Citizenship was offered to any Arab who wanted to move to the east bank of the river. It was not until c. 1967 that on Soviet advice, the anti-Jewish movement was re-branded as secular nationalism. Now, it has reverted to Jihad.No Jewish communities are allowed in Arab states. They were all driven out or killed. No one who claims to be in favour of justice ever demands compensation or right of return for them. Israel has a 25% Arab population. These facts are relevant.
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Evil article, makes me sick. Israel actions makes me sick.

Anna Maria
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@JMiguel, spot on! This is clearly right wing lying by Jewish lobby. Watch Den Haag. They will be prosecuted for war crimes and genocide.
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@JMiguel, If you were a member of a community numbering 7 million, surrounded by 464 million people who are determined to exterminate both your state and your people, you might feel a lot sicker.
André Kapsas
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Why do you give a tribune to the representative of a state which is constantly breaching international law? Are we also going to get some input from Russian representatives about why it was legitimate to attack and occupy Ukraine? Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it's building illegal settlements there, it enforces a system of apartheid where your ethnicity determines your rights - or lack thereof -, it has been enforcing an illegal blockade of Gaza, it holds thousands of Palestinians prisoner without a trial, it regularly kills unarmed civilians, and now it is engaged in a genocide against the population of Gaza. The far right Israeli government has made it clear that their goal is to wipe out the population and the army has dropped more bombs on Gaza than the Western coalition in Afghanistan. When over than 70% of those you kill are women and children, it's obvious that you're committing a genocide, and not fighting terrorism.

Also, official Israeli data says that 695 Israeli civilians, including 36 children, were killed on October 7th, as well as 373 security forces and 71 foreigners, giving a total of 1,139 (Source; France 24). Another lie by the Israeli state has been this '1200 innocent civilians'. Sorry, but Palestinians have the right to kill Israeli security forces, that's war. If you want to stop this war, just like Russia, enough to pull out your troops from 1967 borders and recognise the Palestinian state.

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@André Kapsas, Sadly in desperation from their ever shrinking land mass, resources and rights, the Palestinians turned to a known IRAN BACKED terrorist group for their salvation. I don't know what options to that existed though since no other nation seemed to offer any protection to the ever growing (often violent) Israeli confiscation of their territory.

Contrary to what the biased author would like to sell, it became evident from even the most Israeli supportive media's coverage, that Israel intentionally has now caused a Palestinian humanitarian disaster by indiscriminately levelling all GAZA infrastructure, industry and residences. Without providing any humanitarian provision, and in fact even blocking foreign aid in the first months and blocking exit borders, they demanded Palestinians to flee to refugee camps, some of which they subsequently bombed....for the love of god!

To to give my honest opinion..."Israeli you blew it"; in both your recent pre-Hamas invasion treatment of the Palestinians, and in your subsequently over the top response. I say this as a proud descendant of relatives that stopped (some died trying) the Nazi genocide of Jewish innocents. I say it as a person with dear Jewish relatives and acquaintances. I have no ties to anything Palestinian related, but the innocent victims there presently have my full empathy.

I wish this situation was not now wasting valuable time and support the Ukrainians deserve.