A group of Palestinians living in the US and the occupied Palestinian territories filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Biden administration, seeking to halt further diplomatic and military support to Israel amid its ongoing assault on Gaza.
The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in a federal court in San Francisco, accuses President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin of failing to “prevent an unfolding genocide” against the Palestinian people, in violation of international law.
The plaintiffs include two Palestinian human rights organizations, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Al-Haq, as well as individuals who have lost family members or suffered injuries in the Israeli attacks on Gaza. They are represented by CCR, a US-based nonprofit, and other lawyers.
The lawsuit argues that the US has a duty to take all measures available to it to prevent a genocide, which is defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. It claims that Israel’s actions in Gaza, which have killed more than 12,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and wounded more than 20,000 others, according to Gaza health officials, amount to genocide.
The lawsuit also alleges that the US has provided Israel with unconditional military, financial, and diplomatic support, despite knowing that Israel is using its weapons and aid to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza. It cites Biden’s pledge to provide Israel with an additional $14.1 billion in military aid, as well as the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire, as examples of the US complicity in Israel’s crimes.
The plaintiffs are seeking an emergency order from the court to stop the US from providing any further support to Israel while the case is being considered. They are also asking the court to declare that the US has violated its obligations under international law and to order the US to take all necessary steps to end the Israeli siege and bombing of Gaza and to support a lasting solution based on the two-state solution.
The lawsuit comes as Israel’s military continues its offensive in Gaza, which began on October 7 after Hamas, the group that governs Gaza, launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, killing 1,200 Israelis and taking more than 200 hostages. Israel says its ground forces entered the Strip in late October and quickly encircled the north’s main settlement Gaza City, where it claims that Hamas fighters have an underground headquarters in tunnels beneath al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the city. Hamas denies the allegation and says the hospital is a civilian facility that provides vital health services to the besieged population.
The lawsuit is the first of its kind to challenge the US role in the Gaza war in a US court. The plaintiffs hope that the lawsuit will draw attention to the plight of the Palestinian people and pressure the US to change its policy towards Israel and the conflict.