Aharon Barak, a war criminal, as a judge in the ICJ

Yossi Schwartz ISL (The RCIT section in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 13.01.2024

Ahron Barak the war criminal has chosen by Israel to represent it in the ICJ as a judge in the petition of South Africa charging Israel with genocide. How ironic history can be. Barak who survived the Nazis became the president of the Supreme Court of the Zionist apartheid state that has committed genocide in 1948 and these days and is sitting as a Judge to defend the war crime of genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza. Needless to say, the liberal Zionists are happy with this choice. The Movement for a Quality Government in Israel declared: “Justice Barak is one of the greatest jurists to have arisen in the State of Israel, and his appointment to the position is a requisite” [1]

Defending Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians is nothing new for him, after all Israel’s ad hoc judge at the ICJ genocide hearing has a long track record of circumventing international legal norms to defend Israeli apartheid. For the Zionists it is hard to think of a person better suited for the role. Not because of Barak’s legal prowess, nor the international reputation he has built for himself, nor even the fact he is a Holocaust survivor — which did not go unnoticed by those who sent him to the Hague but because of his long track. He is very aware of his criminal role as he said in a conference of lawyers in Eilat while he still was the president of the SC-the role of the SC is to provide Israel with an umbrella against actions considered as war crimes by the outside world.

On the one hand, the Israeli judicial system under Barak’s stewardship greatly expanded the boundaries of its own authority. On the other, the court almost always stood beside the positions of Israel’s security establishment. In Barak’s own words: “All matters of the West Bank and Gaza are justiciable [i.e. can be handled within the Israeli judicial system]. Military affairs in the [occupied] territories are justiciable. Whether to shut off electricity in Gaza — justiciable. Why? Because there is international law. If shutting off electricity in Gaza is not justiciable here, it will be justiciable in The Hague. This is the case in this matter and likewise in the matter of the settlements” [2]

“Barak sat in the Supreme Court’s ruling on Jami’at Iscan — which allowed the Israeli army to expropriate Palestinian land for the construction of highways in the West Bank — as if it were intended to serve the residents under occupation, arguing that “long-term military rule could lead to a stagnation in the development of the local population and the region” [3]

Barak as attorney general and later as Supreme Court judge dealt with the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite the almost wall-to-wall consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements, and the long list of international law authorities, which include United Nations Security Council resolutions, UN General Assembly resolutions and one ICJ opinion, the Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that settlements are “non-justiciable”, e.g. that the court refused to discuss their legality under international law.

Aharon Barak as Israel’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, in a hearing in Jerusalem February 9, 2004. Dealing with the legality of a West Bank barrier the government says stops suicide bombers but which human right groups say causes Palestinian hardship ruled for the government. The case was heard in the ICJ that ruled against the fence.

“Barak in his judicial role approved the punishment of home demolition. First introduced by the British in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in South Africa, this practice was imported by the British Mandate authorities in an effort to subdue the Palestinian Revolt (1936-39)” [4]

“The legal basis for this practice was abrogated when Jordan controlled the West Bank between 1948 and 1967, but after it occupied the territories, Israel resurrected the colonial legislation and has used it extensively against the families of Palestinians suspected of being active in resisting the occupation”. [5]

“The Supreme Court repeatedly rejected the argument that this practice is illegal under international law because it violates the Geneva Convention prohibition on collective punishment. While there were some dissenting views in the court because of the draconian nature of this practice, under Barak’s leadership, it was approved, denying that it was punitive and presenting it as an administrative measure intended to promote security through deterrence” [6]

“The ruling on the use of torture is probably the case that best exemplifies Barak’s approach of controlling the excesses in order to legitimate and save what is manifestly illegal under international law. The prohibition of torture under international law is absolute. It has attained the status of jus cogens – a fundamental principle of international law that applies in times of war and peace and under all circumstances. Not so according to Barak.”

“In a 1999 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the principle of the prohibition of torture, but this prohibition was not absolute. Under Barak’s guidance, it left the door open for the use of torture, or as it was euphuistically called “physical investigation means”, in situations of a “ticking timebomb”. In such cases, the interrogators would not be held liable. He effectively introduced the prohibition and the loophole to circumvent it at the same time” [7]

“While there was a marked decrease in cases of torture following this case, the backdoor that Barak introduced turned into a gate. Cases of torture increased significantly within a few years, and it was a widespread practice against Palestinian political prisoners even before the October 7 attacks. Human rights organizations documented cases of sexual violence as torture and torture that led to death. None of those who practiced torture was ever prosecuted” [8]

In December 1992, six members of the Zionist armed forces were killed by Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories. Armed resistance to occupation is legal by international law. One of them was a Border Policeman, Nissim Toledano, who was kidnapped on 13 December by Hamas. After finding Toledano’s body, Israel arrested some 1,600 Palestinians. On 15 December, Prime Minister Rabin announced that the Israeli government intended to take severe action against Hamas.

On the morning of 16 December, the government decided to order the deportation of 415 people for up to two years on the grounds that they endanger human lives by their activities, or those who incite others to such actions.” The deportations were to be carried out “without prior notification”. Barak approved this action prohibited by international law.

Thus, the fact that he is a judge in the ICJ in the case of the genocide of the Palestinians instead of being in jail tell us that something is very wrong in the imperialist world order.

Down with the imperialist order!

Down with the Zionist apartheid state!

For Palestine red and free from the river to the sea!


[1] https://www.972mag.com/aharon-barak-the-hague-israel-genocide/

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Dr Mazen Masri https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2024/1/11/aharon-barak-and-israels-legal-illegality

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

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