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War on Gaza: Federal court expedites appeal of genocide lawsuit against Biden

A federal court has granted a motion to expedite the appeal of a lawsuit that alleges Biden has failed to stop a genocide in Gaza
A woman mourns a loved one killed during Israeli bombardment outside Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, on 28 February 2024 (AFP)

A federal appeals court has granted a motion to expedite the appeal of a lawsuit that alleges Biden has failed to stop a genocide in Gaza.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which is helping litigate the case on behalf of the Palestinian plaintiffs, told Middle East Eye on Wednesday that a hearing has not been scheduled yet but that one could take place sometime in early June.

An opening brief for the plaintiffs is due on 7 March, while the Biden administration's brief is due on 5 April.

In a blow to the Palestinian plaintiffs, a district judge dismissed the case last month, citing the court’s lack of jurisdiction over the issue. However, the judge also said in his ruling that there was a plausible case for genocide in Gaza.

CCR and the law firm Van Der Hout LLP were seeking the expedited appeal against the court’s ruling, citing the current conditions in Gaza amid Israel's war "including mass starvation, intentionally inflicted upon plaintiffs, their families, and all the residents of Gaza".

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“The Ninth Circuit’s grant of our motion to expedite is important, as the dire and unlivable conditions in Gaza must be addressed urgently,” Johnny Sinodis of Van Der Hout LLP said in a statement.

“Each day that the US continues its unrestrained support of Israel, more and more innocent women and children are slaughtered by Israel’s assault and indiscriminate bombing campaign.”

CCR and Van Der Hout LLP initially helped file the lawsuit on 13 November along with a group of Palestinians in the US who are from Gaza or have family there. Among the plaintiffs are also the rights groups Al-Haq and Defense for Children International-Palestine.

The filing accused the administration of failing to "prevent an unfolding genocide" against Palestinians in Gaza amid Israel's military assault on the besieged enclave. At the time of the filing, Israel had killed around 11,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

In a little over three months, the death toll from the war that started in October has risen to nearly 30,000 Palestinians, with thousands more maimed and injured. UN officials have warned that the besieged enclave’s population is on the verge of starvation.

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The Biden administration has continued its unconditional support for Israel despite its ally frustrating its policy goals and the policy splitting the Democratic Party.

"Israeli forces are killing Palestinian children and their families at an unprecedented rate with President Biden’s full support," said Khaled Quzmar, director at Defense for Children International - Palestine, an organisation that is a plaintiff in the suit.

"While we welcome the expedited appeal, each day that passes without an end to Israel’s genocidal campaign results in catastrophe for Palestinian children in Gaza."

The Biden administration has focused its efforts on trying to secure a hostage deal, which current and former US officials tell MEE the White House hopes can be turned into a truce.

But the US’s diplomatic push faces pressure from Israel, which has threatened to launch an invasion of the southern city of Rafah where around 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering.

Speaking on the television show Late Night with Seth Meyers, US President Joe Biden appeared to indicate an openness to a Rafah invasion, saying that Israel had "made a commitment to me" that they have "the ability to evacuate significant portions of Rafah before they go and take out the remainder of Hamas”.

The US has said executing an evacuation plan for Rafah should be a pre-condition before launching a ground invasion.

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