Ramallah, January 30, 2024—Defense for Children International - Palestine testified in United States federal court on Friday as the lead plaintiff in a case asserting the Biden administration is complicit in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.
Khaled Quzmar, General Director of DCIP, testified via video in an Oakland, California federal court on January 26 to the impact of the Biden administration’s complicity in the genocide that Israeli forces are carrying out against Palestinians in Gaza. Quzmar spoke to the impact that Israeli forces’ siege, bombardment, and ground invasion has on more than one million Palestinian children in Gaza. Quzmar also testified on behalf of Mohammad Abu Rukbeh, DCIP’s senior field researcher in Gaza and a plaintiff in the case, and told the court that Israeli forces have killed at least eight members of the Abu Rukbeh family. Additionally, in December, an Israeli sniper shot Abu Rukbeh’s mother in the leg. Despite Quzmar’s efforts to contact a humanitarian organization to secure her medical treatment outside of Gaza, her condition deteriorated due to the collapse of the healthcare system and her diabetes, and her leg was amputated. Abu Rukbeh and his family are currently displaced and living in a tent in southern Gaza.
“This case is historic as it is the first time Palestinians have ever testified in federal court to the impact of the United States’ complicity in the Israeli military’s campaign to destroy Palestinian life,” said Quzmar. “President Biden must stop sending weapons that Israeli forces will use to kill even more Palestinian children and families.”
The hearing included the testimony of several plaintiffs, including DCIP, Al-Haq, Palestinians in Gaza, and Palestinian-Americans with family in Gaza. The final witness was Jewish history and Holocuast expert Dr. Barry Trachtenberg, who testified that Israel’s actions meet the textbook definition of genocide. The hearing was scheduled to ask the judge to file an injunction, or an emergency order, to instruct the Biden administration to stop providing weapons and diplomatic support to Israel amid the ongoing genocide of Palestinians.
The hearing was widely covered in U.S. and international media, including the New York Times, Al Jazeera, TIME, The Independent, and The Intercept, among others. Quzmar published an op-ed in The Nation detailing why he decided to testify.
The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights in a federal court in California on November 13, asks the courts to stop President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Austin from continuing to provide weapons, military funding, and diplomatic support to Israel as U.S. government officials have a legal duty to prevent genocide.
The lawsuit argues that the Biden administration is in violation of customary international law, codified in the 1948 Genocide Convention and the Genocide Convention Implementation Act passed by Congress in 1988.
The plaintiffs in the case are Palestinian human rights organizations Defense for Children International - Palestine and Al-Haq; Palestinians in Gaza Ahmed Abu Artema, Dr. Omar Al-Najjar, and Mohammad Abu Rukbeh; and Palestinian-Americans Mohammad Monadel Herzallah, Laila Elhaddad, Waeil Elbhassi, Basim Elkarra, and A.N. More than 100 members of the plaintiffs’ family members had been killed by the Israeli bombardment and ground invasion into the Gaza Strip as of November 13.