By Kayla Meraz
OAKLAND, CA – Although dismissing the case on jurisdictional grounds, a U.S. District Court here heard Defense for Children International – Palestine v. Biden – which alleged the Biden administration’s complicity in the Gaza genocide – and Wednesday commented Israel plausibly engaged in genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, with the U.S. providing unwavering support for these actions.
The court acknowledged international law’s fundamental and binding prohibitions against genocide applied in this “rare” case where “the preferred outcome is inaccessible to the Court,” and concluded that it lacked the authority to resolve the case because it involved executive decision-making concerning foreign policy, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“There are rare cases in which the preferred outcome is inaccessible to the Court. This is one of those cases. The Court is bound by precedent and the division of our coordinate branches of government to abstain from exercising jurisdiction in this matter. Yet, as the ICJ has found, it is plausible that Israel’s conduct amounts to genocide. This Court implores Defendants to examine the results of their unflagging support of the military siege against the Palestinians in Gaza,” said Judge Jeffrey S. White.
The court’s assessment drew heavily on live testimony from seven Palestinian witnesses, detailing firsthand accounts of loss, displacement, and dire living conditions. Expert opinion repeatedly underscored the “genocidal” nature of Israel’s military operations, echoing historical precedent.
Though unable to rule directly because of jurisdictional constraints, the court delivered, said plaintiffs, a scathing rebuke, urging a reevaluation of policies perpetuating the crisis.
Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, emphasized the urgent need for action, highlighting the Biden administration’s role in enabling Palestinian suffering.
Plaintiffs, like Waeil Elbhassi and Mohammed Monadel Herzallah, voiced frustration at the court’s inability to halt the ongoing devastation, urging an end to U.S. support for Israel’s actions.
“It is important that the court recognized the United States is providing unconditional support to Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza and that a federal court heard Palestinian voices for the first time, but we are still devastated that the court would not take the important step to stop the Biden administration from continuing to support the slaughter of the Palestinian people. Currently, my family lacks food, medicine, and the most basic necessities for survival. As Palestinians, we know this is a hard struggle, and as plaintiffs we will continue to do everything in our power to save our people’s lives,” noted plaintiff Mohammed Monadel Herzallah.
Diala Shamas, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights stated, “To be clear, this is far from a win for the U.S. government. It is unprecedented and damning that a federal court has all but affirmed that Israel is committing a genocide while criticizing defendants Biden, Blinken, and Austin’s ‘unflagging’ support for the acts that constitute that genocide.
“This stressed the significance of the court’s acknowledgment of genocide while condemning U.S. officials’ steadfast backing of such actions.”
The plaintiffs, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel, Van Der Hout LLP, include Palestinian human rights organizations and individuals directly impacted by the crisis, both in Gaza and the United States.