Benjamin Reese, a teacher at the Warner Robbins Middle School in Houston County, Georgia, threatened to behead a 13 year old Muslim student in her classroom on December 7, after she asked him why he had displayed an Israeli flag on the classroom wall. “You motherfucking piece of shit! I’ll kick your ass! I should cut your motherfucking head off!” he yelled at the student, following her and two of her friends down the seventh grade hallway.

Another teacher told the police that Reese called the student “my antisemitic friend” and said that “She is a stupid motherfucker, and I will drag her by the back of my car and cut her fucking head off for disrespecting my Jewish flag.” Another adult witness said Reese was shouting in the hallway that he would “slit her fucking throat,” according to reports. A week later Reese bailed out of prison for $7500 and hasn’t yet been allowed back on campus, school authorities told reporters.

According to the police report shared with the press: “The student said she entered Reese’s classroom, pointed to the flag and asked him why he had it hanging there… Reese responded he was Jewish and had family members who still live there… The student told him she found the flag offensive due to ‘Israelis killing (Palestinians),’ and then claimed Reese became angry… She said he began to yell and asked if she denied the right of Israel to exist… The student claimed she left the classroom due to the situation becoming ‘heated and uncomfortable,’ but Reese tried to prevent her from leaving… She said he continued to yell at her and her friends as they walked away down the hallway.”

The confrontation came as the United States and Israel find themselves increasingly isolated in pressing ahead with the genocide of people in Palestine. Last Tuesday, the United Nations General Assembly voted 153–10 to demand an immediate ceasefire, where aside from 23 abstentions, the two countries were joined in opposing a ceasefire by Austria, Czechia, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Paraguay and Papua New Guinea.

With the publicised pressure on Israel from its largest weapons supplier to minimise the civilian casualties in Gaza, the occupier’s modus operandi may be changing. It has blacked out communications again in Gaza, which makes it impossible even for the few remaining emergency services to communicate with survivors or each other, and in the cut-off north it may be conducting further ground massacres, like the mass execution reported last Thursday at the Shadia Abu Ghazala school in northern Gaza.

The school had been turned into a refugee shelter in al-Faluja, and survivors told reporters that on December 12, Israeli soldiers entered inside, took away the adult men, and executed the remaining people there, including a woman and eight children, including newborn babies, point blank. Video showed piles of bullet casings in the classroom they were hiding in.

The day before the vote on December 12, Palestine’s observer mission to the UN wrote in a letter to the Security Council president:

“The Security Council’s failure to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, due to the veto cast by the United States, has permitted the Israeli war machine to carry on with its slaughter of Palestinian civilians with total impunity. Once again, Israel interprets this shielding as a license to kill, committing more atrocities and horrors against Palestinian civilians at a scope and scale shocking humanity.”

It recalled the US veto a day earlier of another Security Council resolution for a ceasefire: “The obstruction of the Council’s Charter duties stands in stark contrast to the global appeals for a halt to the bloodshed, defies the inherent human instinct to preserve human life, and breaches the core tenets of international law”.

“Regrettably, such urgent warnings and appeals continue to be ignored, enabling Israel, the occupying Power, to carry on with its genocidal onslaught… Every day without a ceasefire is a grave day, marked by more loss of life, forced displacement, destruction, human suffering and peril to regional and international peace and security.”

They reiterated “the State of Palestine’s constant appeals for an immediate ceasefire to halt the bloodshed of our people, halt their forced displacement and attempts at their mass deportation… The international community cannot fail to act in the face of the war crimes and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people under its illegal colonial occupation and apartheid regime.”

They noted that in “the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem… Settler terror has spiked as extremist settlers are emboldened not only by Israeli leaders' inflammatory rhetoric and dangerous incitement, but are being armed and trained as militias.”

“All of this… is happening because of the exceptionalism and impunity granted to Israel… for its violations and crimes. This illegal, unjust and dangerous situation cannot be allowed to continue… A world where international law is flouted with no consequences is a world where lawlessness will reign and no civilian and no country is safe.”

Palestine accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in 2014, and seven years later the ICC ruled it had criminal jurisdiction over grave crimes committed in “the occupied Palestinian territories” after 2014. The League of Nations had signed off on the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel in 1948, and only the territories it occupies since 1967 are considered occupied in international law.

Israeli soldiers occupy the Palestinian Legislative Council building in Gaza, November 13. They blew it up a day later

The day before the vote, the International Federation for Human Rights, a worldwide collective of civil society organisations, stated from Paris that “the unfolding genocide against the Palestinians must stop immediately.”

Al-Haq, a Palestinian civil rights organisation and a member of the federation, last month filed suit at the ICC against US president Joseph Biden and other senior officials for aiding and abetting the Israeli genocide.

Demanding a ceasefire, the collective stated: “The captive civilian population of the Gaza Strip is being attacked and indiscriminately killed with the financial and material support of the United States and European states, including through the provision and transfer of arms”.

“States and individuals who provide assistance to Israel are hereby rendering themselves complicit… The International Criminal Court is called to immediately issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials who are responsible for international crimes against Palestinians.”

“Palestinians are being killed every day, every hour, and their living conditions are unrelentingly becoming those of planned elimination… This level of orchestrated violence by an occupying force is genocide… To political leaders and high officials, we must stress that support and assistance to Israel is complicity in this unfolding genocide. You have been warned.”

“Israel’s President, ministers, military generals, and spokespersons have abundantly and publicly spoken about their intentions in Gaza. They spoke of turning ‘Gaza into a desert island’, of ‘fighting human animals’, and of the emphasis being ‘on damage not on accuracy’… in carrying out their aggression.”

“In this current military attack, Israel has committed a number of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which are taking place in the context of an ongoing 75-year settler colonialism and apartheid and 56-year illegal belligerent occupation of the Palestinian territory. This is by far possibly the worst killing campaign carried out against the Palestinian people since the Nakba in 1948.”

“Israel has deliberately denied the Palestinian population in Gaza all the basic necessities for human survival… Israel’s evacuation orders, large-scale destruction of homes and basic infrastructure, and relentless attacks have forcibly displaced over 1.7 million Palestinians, constituting grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.”

“Notably, Israel has long perpetrated the crime of persecution and the crime of apartheid - both crimes against humanity - against the Palestinian people as a whole.”

The federation called on world states “to take all available measures to avoid complicity in Israeli conduct through the provision of materials, arms, economic and diplomatic support” and “apply and impose economic sanctions, arms embargo, and other countermeasures until Israel adheres to its obligations under international law”.

It sought legal opinion from genocide scholar and historian William Schabas, who stated that “the United States of America is in breach of its obligation, under both the 1948 Genocide Convention to which it is a party as well as customary international law, to use its position of influence with the Government of Israel and to take the best measures within its power to prevent the crime taking place”.

On the siege of Gaza, it emphasised that “Israel’s acts of depriving the people of Gaza of essential supplies and humanitarian aid are in breach of the Rome Statute, especially the prohibition on the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival”.

“Gaza is part and parcel of the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel, as the Occupying Power, has therefore clear responsibilities towards the protected population in Gaza particularly under the Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel’s deliberate, widespread, systematic, relentless targeting of civilians and mass killing of Palestinians in its current aggression against the population in Gaza is in violation of The Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, and amounts to war crimes, including the crime of wilful killing, and crimes against humanity, including the crimes of murder and extermination”.

Israel has killed over 286 health workers in Palestine since October 7, and by laying siege to hospitals and emergency services it has caused many wounded people to die.

The resolution noted that “Israel’s indiscriminate attacks have also resulted in serious injuries. It is estimated that over 42,000 Palestinians have been injured, over 70 percent of whom are children and women. These attacks inflict severe physical pain, which further constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law, amounting to a war crime, namely, the wilful causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health. In addition, Israel has indiscriminately used white phosphorus in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world in violation of international humanitarian law amounting to a war crime.”

The white phosphorus bombs are being supplied by the United States, which said last week it would “pause” the sale of M-16 assault rifles to Israel, as they may be used by settlers colonising the West Bank, instead.

On the over 8,000 violent arrests by Israel in the West Bank, the resolution said: “The widespread arbitrary arrests of Palestinian civilians, 2070 of whom are currently held in administrative detention without charge or trial, together with measures of torture, ill-treatment and collective punishment against them in Israeli custody, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. As part of this mass arrest campaign, thousands of workers from Gaza, who worked inside Israel have gone missing since the aggression on Gaza started. Israeli authorities refused to disclose their names and places of detention, which amounts to the crime against humanity of enforced disappearance.”

On the day of the vote in the UN, South Africa’s representative Mathu Joyini stated that “The events of the past six weeks in Gaza have illustrated that Israel is acting contrary to its obligation in terms of the Genocide Convention. As a UN member state and owing to South Africa’s painful past experience of a system of apartheid, this impresses on us as member states to take action in accordance with international law.” The same day, Israeli soldiers cheered as they blew up an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza.

On the latest aggression in Gaza, Israeli minister of strategic affairs Ron Dermer said on December 3, “If we wanted to do it fast, we’d harm a lot more civilians.”

“We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.”

— Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel, speech to the Knesset, June 25, 1982

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”

— Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel, statement to The Sunday Times, June 15, 1969

Nurse at a government hospital in Akka, northern Palestine (Karimeh Abbud, 1890–1955)

“How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.”

— Golda Meir, March 8, 1969

“Lubna Mahmoud Alian, 15 years old, a violin student at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Gaza, was martyred on November 21, along with more than fifty members of her family. Lubna was one of the outstanding students at the institute, singing and playing music for joy and life. She saw music as her future, a means to represent her people and her country in Palestinian, Arab, and international orchestras.” (Palestine Culture Ministry, Second Preliminary Report on Destruction in the Cultural Sector)

“We must expel Arabs and take their places.”

— David Ben-Gurion, 1937

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”

— David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister of Israel, to the General Staff, May 1948

“Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves… politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country.”

— David Ben-Gurion, speech in 1938