The Historical Roots of Israel’s Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine

While the Jewish state is not alone in sending assistance to beleaguered Ukraine, it is able to bring to bear its unique expertise when it comes to offering certain kinds of relief. Tammy Reznik explains:

Jerusalem has provided aid with a focus on its well-developed capacity to provide medical assistance, despite not sharing any borders with Ukraine. Israel acted quickly after the crisis hit, sending a professional mental-health delegation from the World Zionist Organization to Ukraine within the first week of the invasion, as well as a large shipment of medical supplies, equipment, and clothing to be shared [by] all citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish. This effort has been managed by multiple agencies, including the Foreign Ministry, Health Ministry, and leading Israeli hospitals.

Israel’s humanitarian effort culminated with an announcement on March 14 of a government-approved operation, Kokhav Meir, [literally “shining star”]—named after Israel’s Ukraine-born prime minister Golda Meir. This operation will see the setting up of a field hospital on the ground in Ukraine, with at least 100 staff members. . . . Israel has long been renowned for its capacity to set up these field hospitals in emergency zones, but this case is significant for a number of reasons.

The field hospital, of course, is but one of several initiatives, which include inter alia the purchase and provision of generators for the hospital in Lviv. Reznick also explains the special significance of the operation’s name:

Israel by way of tragic circumstance has developed a leading role in response to mass casualties. As such, Israel has established a set of extremely effective procedures for rapid and effective response in case of emergency, with a recognition of the mental-health impacts, as a key aspect of its international response.

Israel’s humanitarian efforts, began in 1958, with the establishment of MASHAV, a Hebrew acronym for the Agency for International Development Cooperation, following the first visit of the then-Foreign Minister Golda Meir to Africa. . . . Meir, who went on to become Israel’s first and only female prime minister, played a significant role in Israel’s crisis response, and MASHAV is one of her strongest legacies. Interestingly, Meir is a popular figure in Ukraine, thanks to her own Ukrainian heritage (she was born and spent most of her childhood in Kyiv).

Read more at Fresh Air

More about: Golda Meir, Humanitarian aid, War in Ukraine

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law