Israel’s eight-month-old air and ground assault on Gaza has sparked unprecedented international outrage. On 24 May, following an emergency hearing in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its offensive at Rafah. South African Judge Dire Tladi, one of the International Court’s presiding judges, said in a statement released with the order:

“There are no words left to describe the horrors being experienced in Gaza. The words ‘apocalyptic’, ‘exceptionally grave’, ‘catastrophic’, and ‘disastrous’ have been used to describe the current situation [in the Palestinian enclave], but none of them seem to truly capture the magnitude of what is unfolding before our eyes. Heartbreaking accounts of victims and survivors and images of unimaginable suffering reach us almost daily.

Instead of complying with the court order, Israel shelled a refugee camp outside Rafah, in an area previously designated as a ‘safe zone’. Two days later, independent journalist Shrouq Aila told Democracy Now!

“At least two rockets were fired at a camp for displaced people near the UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees] logistics base. [People] had gathered around the area because they thought it was a safe area. The area is full of tents for displaced people. After the shelling, the fire [spread quickly] because the tents are made of wood and nylon fabric […]. [As a result, the death toll rose to 45, and nearly 200 people were injured.

Video footage shows a man who survived the attack holding the charred and decapitated body of a child. CNN reported that the ammunition used in the attack was manufactured in the United States by Boeing.

Meanwhile, also in The Hague – not far from the International Court of Justice – the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Khan argued in a brief: “Whatever its military objectives, […] the means Israel has chosen to achieve those objectives in Gaza – deliberately causing death, starvation, great suffering and serious injury to the body or health of the civilian population – are criminal”.

In a further blow to Israel, three European countries formally recognized Palestine as a state on 28 May. Ireland, Norway, and Spain joined 140 other UN member states and two non-UN-recognized states, Vatican City and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which had already recognized the Palestinian state.

Announcing the decision, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said:

“On 21 January 1919, Ireland asked the world to recognize our right to an independent state. It was a call for the world to recognize our independence in which we emphasized our national identity, our historic struggle and our right to self-determination and justice. Today we use the same language to support the recognition of Palestine as a state.

Harris added: “I have spoken to several other leaders, and I am confident that more countries will take this important step in the coming weeks. Iceland and Sweden recognized Palestine as a state several years ago; Slovenia has said it will do so in mid-June.

On 10 May, the UN General Assembly voted to reconsider Palestine’s full membership of the UN. There were 143 votes in favor, 25 abstentions, and nine votes against, including the United States. Full membership requires the approval of the Security Council, where the US has a veto. In April, before the General Assembly vote, the UN Security Council considered a resolution to admit Palestine as a full member of the international body. The US vetoed the resolution, as it almost always does on issues that run counter to Israel’s interests.

President Joe Biden has publicly called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, but his actions speak much louder and more deadly than his words. The Biden administration appears to lack a ‘red line’ that would compel it to halt arms shipments to Israel or take any other relevant punitive action that would bring the US in line with almost every other country in the world.

At a White House press briefing on 28 May, CBS News reporter Ed O’Keefe asked US Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Kirby about the deadly Israeli attack on the Palestinian refugee camp near Rafah:

O’Keefe: “How does this not violate the red line that the president has drawn?
Kirby: “We don’t want to see a major ground operation. And we haven’t seen that.
O’Keefe: “How many more charred bodies does the president have to see before he’s going to consider a policy change?”
Kirby: “We don’t want to see any more innocent lives lost. And I’m a little offended by your question.
In his recent request for arrests for war crimes committed in Gaza, ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said he “will not hesitate to submit further requests for arrest warrants”. President Biden and senior members of his administration have the power to end Israel’s war on Gaza and the ongoing massacre of civilians there. Their decision not to do so is criminal.