Opinion
Climate
Economy
Politics
Rights & Justice
War & Peace
Members of the GOP clown posse listen as Trump rants to reporters at his New York hush money trial.
Further

Ungaggable: Costumed Clowns and Lickspittle Surrogates 'R Us

This week saw a seedy, craven parade of MAGA stooges trooping into court to pay fealty to their two-bit mob-boss on trial for cooking the books to hide hush money payments to a porn star so he could get elected to a job he was stupefyingly unfit for, and still is. Then "God's most pathetic Republicans" - from Mike Handmaid’s Tale to the Beetlejuice Lady - brazenly violated his gag order for him to declare the rule of law "a sham." Nope, nothing to see here.

The GOP, of course, is already a toxic mix of idiocy, rancor and racism we always think can't go any lower until they inevitably do. This week, Florida's Ron DeFascist signed a bill deleting the term "climate change" from state laws in the witless name of owning "radical green zealots"; the action forbids any consideration of potential climate effects of greenhouse gas emissions from energy policy in the rapidly sinking state, weakens regulation of fossil fuel pipelines, and thank God "keeps windmills off our beaches." And in law-and-order Texas, his feral colleague Greg Abbott just pardoned racist groomer Daniel Perry after serving just one year of a 25-year sentence for murdering BLM protester and Air Force veteran Garrett Foster in 2020. Abbott, who notably refused to recommend a posthumous pardon for George Floyd for a 2004 drug arrest - years before he was choked to death by police - touted Texas' "‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney,'" confirming, one critic said, "There are two classes of people in this state, where some lives matter and some lives do not."

But Republicans sank still lower this week with the servile pilgrimage of multiple MAGA sycophants to the crime-and-bird-shit-stained altar of their ugly shell of a tinpot dictator, now charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up cheating on his wife when she was home with their infant son and then persistently lying about it. As further illustration of how deeply into ethical loathsomeness the GOP has sunk, these are the same goons who, after he admitted to his pussy-grabbing exploits on the "Access Hollywood" tape, at least had the good grace to scurry to distance themselves while making fake horrified noises. Now, at the mercy of an unshackled, sputtering bully vowing revenge on any turncoats - and their own unfathomable slavish devotion to him - such moral niceties seem quaint. And so they flocked there, cartoon villains in their goofy, unctuous, matching red ties and navy suits - they got the memo! - to kneel before their preposterous monarch. After weeks alone in court - not even grim Melania - he was jubilant. "I do have a lot of surrogates," he beamed when asked, "and they are speaking very beautifully."

Thus summoning the queasy spectacle of the "family-values" party rushing to defend a serial sexual predator banging a porn star, the appearance of the feckless likes of J.D. Vance, Byron Donalds, Doug Burgum, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tommy 'Dumb As A Rock' Tuberville - the Republicans aren't sending their best, or are they? - was widely mocked as a "demeaning," "ridiculous," "embarrassing," “both thuggish and pathetic," "utterly humiliating" act of obeisance by MAGA plus-ones eager to drop their day jobs to win tawdry Brownie points. Serving as ignorant "Mouths of Sauron," they stayed in court for 45 minutes, came out to a press conference and violated Trump's gag order for him: The trial is a sham, a scam, a witch hunt, a Biden show trial (albeit put in motion by juries of regular Americans) and the judge and his family are crooks. Burgum: "The American people have already acquitted (Trump)." Donalds: "There's nothing wrong here, there's nothing that's been done poorly by (Trump), the only thing being done wrong is by this judge." Tuberville, saying the quiet part out loud (see dumb): "We're here to overcome this gag order."

Still, it got weirder. According to Trump's gag order, everything his lackeys did was likely illegal. It forbids him, not just to say what they said, but to direct "others to make public statements" about attorneys, court staff, their family members, the proceedings. Which presumably includes, as several journalists reported, Trump sitting in court editing speeches for his lap-dogs to repeat to the press. The most "gob-smacking" part: The arrival of "shiny-eyed Christian nationalist" and second-in-line to the presidency Mike Johnson with an "all-out assault (on) the federal and state legal systems foundational to the U.S. government." Johnson called the court "corrupt," attacked Judge Merchan's daughter - "Among the atrocities is (her) making millions of dollars fundraising for Democrats" (who's Ginni Thomas?) - said "these are politically motivated trials" and declared Trump "innocent." Jamie Raskin: "I don’t find anything unusual about a fundamentalist theocrat who thinks the Bible is the supreme law of the land attending the legal proceedings of an adjudicated sexual assailant and world-class fraudster for (covering up) payments to conceal (an) adulterous affair. Do you?"

Because the GOP is shameless and irony is dead, the next day Johnson - the Congressional architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election who's already said it's his "duty" to do it again if needed, a position deemed on "the far-right fringes of American legal thought" - turned up at a House "Back the Blue” event to proclaim, "We've got to make crimes criminal again" and promote a California sheriff, Oath Keeper and Jan. 6 fan-boy who decries "the sick and twisted progressive social experiment." Because Trump, the House also voted to delay their “urgent” hearing to hold A.G. Merrick Garland in contempt for the imaginary crime of refusing to hand over information they already have - specifically, the audio of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur, though they have the transcript. Ranking Dem Jerry Nadler blasted the "political theater" of Gym Jordan et al who've spent $20 million to investigate conspiracy theories that have "delivered Exactly Nothing" while delaying House business to attend the trial of a madman who just praised "the late, great Hannibal Lecter" and "defend (him) against frankly indefensible acts."

Despite Laura Ingraham's pan of the courtroom - "The air is musty, the floors are old, the benches are hard oak" - a "new band of jesters" arrived Thursday to attend/hold court briefly and attack everyone. This time it was far-right cranks Lauren Boebert, who missed court for her miscreant son facing 22 charges including a felony and multiple misdemeanor property thefts but found time to come trash Judge Merchan's daughter - "millions and millions of dollars" - and Matt Gaetz, who once sought a pardon from Trump while under now-renewed investigation for sex-trafficking a teen girl and said the D.A. made up "the Mr. Potato Head of crimes” against Trump. If irony hadn't died, we'd say Gaetz looked just like Mr. Potato Head - sorry, Potato - when he echoed the Proud Boys ina selfie with other toadies that read, "Standing back and standing by, Mr. President," earning a sublime "Bootlicker" troll: "Not all heroes wear capes." The final cringe: Boebert, her cohort gone, shrieking into the mike, "What is the crime?!" as people yell "Beetlejuice!" at her. "They may have gagged (Trump)," she wrote later. "They didn't gag me. They cant gag me. i have no gag reflex. I am ungaggable."

Later, once the bootlickers returned to D.C., the House held their let's-do-something-to-Merrick-Garland hearing. It did not go well. It went so unwell it may have proved, per one sage, "This country has been stuck in Junior High since 2015." It may have also proved, for the first time, Klan Mom MTG correct when she recently whined, "(Americans) are looking at Republicans in Washington and laughing at us. They think we are a complete joke." Alas, in more (dead) irony, she confirmed it when she and Jasmine Crockett, who's way above her pay grade, got into it after Marge lobbed a "fake eyelashes" barb at her so low Jamie Raskin retorted, "That’s beneath even you, Ms. Greene." So it went. Jeers, yelps, havoc. AOC deemed MTG's puerile rants "absolutely unacceptable" with, "Oh, girl. Baby girl." Crockett asked to clarify the rules if, say, she dissed someone's "bleach blonde, bad-built, butch body." Comer, befuddled: "Uhh, what now?" Raskin face-palmed. After a brief recess, Boebert took the floor: "I just want to apologize to the American people. When things get (so) heated, unfortunately it’s an embarrassment on our body as a whole." Wait. Boebert as the adult in the room? When pigs fly. Nothing to see here.

SEE ALL
Donald Trump speaks
News

Cable News Refused to Report Trump's Bombshell Quid Pro Quo Offer to Big Oil Execs

Major cable news networks Fox News Channel, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC all failed to cover former President Donald Trump's promise to Big Oil executives that he would reverse President Joe Biden's climate regulations if they donated $1 billion to his campaign, according to an analysis published by Media Matters for America late Tuesday.

When the news first broke, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch wrote, "You won't read a more important story today." Yet, in the four days after the story broke, it only received 48 minutes of cable airtime—all on MSNBC.

"The most under-covered Trump story is his complete selling-out of the American people on issues they care about most," Jesse Lee, a former Biden communications adviser, posted on social media in response to the report. "If gas prices go up soon, these same networks that ignored Trump's $1 billion oil bribe will cover it constantly—and crucify Biden."

"He is basically saying he's going to destroy the planet that our children... are growing up on just if these guys will write him a check."

The story of Trump's quid pro quo offer to fossil fuel executives was first reported by The Washington Post on May 9. It detailed a dinner the former president hosted at Mar-a-Lago in April attended by leaders of oil and gas firms including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Occidental Petroleum. During the dinner, Trump told the executives that a $1 billion donation would be a "deal" for the industry "because of the taxation and regulation they would avoid thanks to him."

To assess how cable covered—or didn't cover—the story, Media Matters for America looked at the transcripts from May 9 to May 12 for CNN; Fox News Channel; MSNBC; ABC's "Good Morning America," "World News Tonight," and "This Week;" CBS' "Mornings," "Evening News," and "Face the Nation;" and NBC's "Today," "Nightly News," and "Meet the Press." They searched the transcripts for the words "Trump," "former president," or "Mar-a-Lago" close to the words "oil," "donor," "executive," "billion," "industry," "fossil," or "fuel," as well as any version of the words "environment" or "CEO."

Only the MSNBC transcripts turned up any results. These included:

  1. Just over 18 minutes—or nearly 40% of the total—on "Velshi" on May 11, featuring interviews with climate activist Bill McKibben, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington president Noah Bookbinder, and The Atlantic's David A. Graham.
  2. A discussion on the May 9 edition of "Alex Wagner Tonight" between host Wagner and guests former Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and former Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
  3. An interview on the May 10 edition of "All in With Chris Hayes" with New York Times climate reporter Lisa Friedman.
  4. An exchange on the May 11 edition of "Alex Witt Reports" between host Witt and New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker.
  5. An interview on the May 12 edition of "Ayman" with Princeton University sociology professor Kim Lane Scheppele and New York Times columnist and analyst Michelle Goldberg.
  6. Mentions on "The ReidOut" and "The Weekend."

Several of the MSNBC interviews did highlight the importance of the story—which has prompted an investigation by a top House Democrat.

McKibben told Ali Velshi that "in a very real sense this is the most important climate election ever."

Others focused on the blatant corruption of the exchange. Graham noted that it was particularly brazen.

"He is making it clear what the quid pro quo is without any kind of pretense. It's just right here, 'You give me money; I'll do what you want me to do,'" Graham told Velshi.

Rhodes called it "basic pay-to-play corruption," adding, "He is basically saying he's going to destroy the planet that our children... are growing up on just if these guys will write him a check."

There were also comments on what the news said about the fossil fuel executives themselves.

"These are the same executives who, in the wake of January 6, said, 'We're not going to support people who undermined our democracy,'" Bookbinder pointed out. "And there they are, these couple of years later, meeting with Donald Trump, courting his support, hearing his offer—his demands—that they give a billion dollars to his campaign."

Baker told Witt: "I think it's going to confirm for a lot of people who are already suspicious of the fossil fuel industry that they have, over the years, bought off Washington writ large. That's been a longtime conviction on the part of people who think that the energy industry has too much power."

"It's going to cause a lot of cynicism, obviously, especially if Donald Trump were to win and then to try to roll back some of these climate initiatives," Baker continued. "People will make the assumption—and it will have some obvious evidence to back it up—that he is doing so in exchange for large contributions from an industry that's affected by it."

They will, that is, if they caught the 48 minutes of reporting the story received.

SEE ALL
credit cards
News

Trump-Appointed Judge Halts Biden Rule Capping Credit Card Fees

A Trump-appointed judge on Friday delivered a win for big banks when he granted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce a temporary injunction halting a Biden administration rule that would cap credit card fees at $8.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule, which would have gone into effect May 14, could save U.S. consumers more than $10 billion each year. The decision to pause its implementation, issued by U.S. District of the Northern District of Texas Judge Mark Pittman, will cost ordinary Americans around $27 million each day it is in effect.

"In their latest in a stack of lawsuits designed to pad record corporate profits at the expense of everyone else, the U.S. Chamber got its way for now—ensuring families get price-gouged a little longer with credit card late fees as high as $41," Liz Zelnick, the director of the Economic Security and Corporate Power Program at Accountable.US, said in a statement.

"It's time the U.S. Chamber stops clogging the courts with baseless lawsuits designed to enrich corporate CEOs on the backs of working families—and it's time the judiciary stops legitimizing venue shopping from big industry."

The CFPB issued the rule on March 5 as part of the Biden administration's commitment to crack down on "junk fees." However, the Chamber of Commerce and other banking trade associations—including the American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association—quickly sued to block it. The executives of Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank, and JPMorgan Chase sit on the boards of the groups behind the suit, according toThe Washington Post.

"Banks make billions in profits charging excessive late fees," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote on social media Saturday in response to the ruling. "Now a single Trump-appointed judge sided with bank lobbyists to block the Biden administration's new rule capping these junk fees."

Accountable.US also criticized the fact that the suit was before Pittman at all, arguing that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed the suit in Texas federal court so that it would end up under the jurisdiction of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has 19 Republican-appointed justices out of a total of 26. The chamber has filed nearly two-thirds of its lawsuits since 2017 with courts covered by the 5th Circuit.

"The U.S. Chamber and the big banks they represent have corrupted our judicial system by venue shopping in courtrooms of least resistance, going out of their way to avoid having their lawsuit heard by a fair and neutral federal judge," Zelnick said. "It's time the U.S. Chamber stops clogging the courts with baseless lawsuits designed to enrich corporate CEOs on the backs of working families—and it's time the judiciary stops legitimizing venue shopping from big industry."

The 5th Circuit's treatment of the case has also come under fire, as Trump-appointed Judge Don Willett has not recused himself despite the fact that he owns tens of thousands of dollars in Citigroup shares. While Willett has argued that Citigroup is not a party to the case, it belongs to trade groups that are, and any ruling on credit card fees would significantly impact the bank. Collectively, all the judges on the 5th Circuit have invested as much as $745,000 in credit card or credit issuing companies, according to the most recent publicly available information.

Donald Sherman, Gabe Lezra, and Linnaea Honl-Stuenkel of Citizens for Ethics in Washington wrote: "Judge Willett's refusal to recuse, and the lack of transparency about the rationale, reinforces the need for more judicial ethics reform to ensure that everyday Americans and government agencies have a level playing field when they go into court against corporate interests."

SEE ALL
U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks
News

'Jews for Jamaal' and Squad Push Back Against AIPAC Attack on Bowman

As the leading U.S. pro-Israel lobby's political action committee unleashes a nearly $2 million ad blitz targeting Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Jewish allies of the New York Democrat—who is an outspoken critic of what he and many experts call Israel's genocide in Gaza—on Thursday joined progressive lawmakers in condemning right-wing efforts to defeat pro-Palestine incumbents.

United Democracy Project (UDP), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) super PAC, has booked $1.9 million in television ads to influence the outcome of the Democratic primary in New York's 16th Congressional District, according to Wednesday reporting by Sludge's David Moore.

"This new ad spending in New York shows once and for all that my opponent, George Latimer, is bankrolled by a right-wing super PAC that has received over $40 million from Republican megadonors who want to defend Republican insurrectionists, overturn voting rights, and ban abortion nationwide," Bowman said in a statement.

"Democrats across New York deserve better, and will reject these attempts to buy our elections and undermine our democracy," he added.

Jews for Jamaal, a pro-Bowman coalition spearheaded by the group Jews for Racial & Economic Justice Action, said in a statement that "we recognize this media blitz for what it is: a desperate move by powerful interests to silence the district's first Black representative in history."

"UDP is overwhelmingly spending its millions in Democratic primaries, mostly against Black and brown Democratic incumbents who speak out against war and for the human rights of Palestinians," the coalition continued. "This massive amount of spending distorts the political landscape, drowning out the needs and voices of everyday constituents with the interests of a few wealthy donors."

"It undermines the very foundation of our democracy, which must be built on the principles of transparency, accountability, and genuine representation," Jews for Jamaal added.

As more and more Democrats speak out against Israel's assault on Gaza—which according to Palestinian health officials has killed, maimed, or left missing more than 125,000 people—and violent repression by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, AIPAC has lashed out at even the mildest criticism of Israeli government policies and practices, which many experts around the world call genocidal.

Last November, Slate's Alex Sammon reported that UDP was set to spend approximately $100 million in a bid to unseat both pro-Palestine congressional progressives and more moderate Democratic candidates who the powerful lobby group believes don't sufficiently support Israel. Sammon said that Bowman, along with fellow "Squad" members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Summer Lee (D-Pa.) are among UDP's top targets.

Some of those lawmakers also rallied to Bowman's defense on Thursday.

"It's our duty to fight back," Lee said on social media. "As somebody who knows these folks intimately, I can speak to the damage UDP causes not just to the candidates they target and smear, but to the communities attached to us and democracy itself."

The congresswoman—who won her primary last month—continued:

Their campaign against me in 2022 was steeped in dog whistles and disinformation. Their most shameful million-dollar attack against me was just unsubtly implying I was a [former U.S. President Donald] Trump supporter... in mailers where my skin was oddly shadowed or darker. For three weeks, they plastered the airwaves and mailboxes in wall-to-wall attacks that overwhelmed our midsized media market. Cable and broadcast, digital and streaming... even children's programming on YouTube was targeted.

Omar asserted on social media that "a people-powered movement will always be stronger than special interest groups."

"We got your back, Jamaal Bowman," she added.

Bush said that Latimer "is being used as a Trojan Horse for far-right billionaires and anti-abortion extremists."

"But from the Bronx to St. Louis, we won't let them win," she vowed.

Bowman, in turn, posted in support of Bush, whom he pledged to defend against "Republican billionaires... coming for her."

Last month, another coalition—the youth-led Protect Our Power campaign—was launched in support of progressive congressional incumbents under attack by AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups.

"The only thing that beats organized money is organized people," the young organizers said at the time. "Fortunately, that's what we know how to do best."

SEE ALL
Garrett Foster
News

'Alliance With White Nationalists': Texas Gov Rebuked for Pardoning Shooter of BLM Protester

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a pardon on Thursday for Daniel Perry, who was convicted of fatally shooting Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster in 2020.

Abbott's pardon came less than an hour after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended it, Austin-based investigative journalist Tony Plohetski noted on social media. In addition to releasing him from prison, the pardon grants Perry "restoration of full civil rights of citizenship," including the right to own a gun.

"Before Daniel Perry murdered a veteran in 2020, he told a friend he 'might go to Dallas to shoot looters.' A year before, he wrote, 'to bad we can't get paid for hunting Muslims,'" Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) wrote in response to the news. "Gov. Abbott's alliance with white nationalists is putting dangerous people on our streets."

"He has declared that Texans who hold political views that are different from his—and different from those in power—can be killed in this state with impunity."

Perry shot Foster on July, 25, 2020 in Austin. At the time an active duty Army sergeant and Uber driver, Perry accelerated his car toward a group of people protesting the police killing of George Floyd. Some of the protesters approached his car, including 28-year-old Air Force veteran Foster, who was legally open carrying an AK-47. Perry then shot Foster four times with a .357 Magnum pistol.

Perry's lawyers said that Perry acted in self-defense and that Foster had started to point his gun at him, according toThe New York Times. However, Perry told police that Foster had not actually aimed at him but that he "didn't want to give him a chance" to do so.

Perry also had a history of making violent and racist remarks on social media. In one 2020 message, shared at the trial, he said he "might have to kill a few people on my way to work."

A jury voted in 2023 to convict Perry of murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; he was later sentenced to 25 years in prison. However, a day after his conviction and before he was even sentenced, Abbott said he was "working as swiftly" as possible to pardon him. In Texas, all pardons must come through the board, but its members were all appointed by Abbott.

"Texas has one of the strongest 'Stand Your Ground' laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive district attorney," Abbott said in a statement announcing the pardon. "I thank the board for its thorough investigation, and I approve their pardon recommendation."

Foster's family members reacted with shock and dismay to the news.

His mother, Sheila, told The New York Times that she would leave Texas because of Abbott's pardon.

"I feel like I'm in a Twilight Zone episode. This doesn't happen," she said. "It seems like this is some kind of a political circus and it's costing me my life."

She added that Foster "deserved so much better" and was "out there protecting people from people like Perry."

Foster's partner Whitney Mitchell said: "I am heartbroken by this lawlessness. Gov. Abbott has shown that, to him, only certain lives matter. He has made us all less safe."

"With this pardon, the governor has desecrated the life of a murdered Texan and U.S. Air Force veteran, and impugned that jury's just verdict," she further toldHouston Public Media. "He has declared that Texans who hold political views that are different from his—and different from those in power—can be killed in this state with impunity."

Public and elected officials also criticized Abbott's pardon.

Travis County District Attorney José Garza, who prosecuted the case, said the pardon board and Abbott had made a "mockery of our legal system."

"Their actions are contrary to the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state where some lives matter and some lives do not," Garza continued. "They have sent a message to Garrett Foster's family, to his partner, and to our community that his life does not matter."

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) suggested the pardon was politically motivated.

"Let's call this for what it is: From the start, Abbott wanted to pardon this racist murderer to score political points with MAGA Republicans," Doggett wrote on social media.

Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-27), chairman of the Texas Black Legislative State Caucus, said in a statement that "the blatant hypocrisy in this decision is beyond comprehension" and it was an "all-time low, even for the governor."

"This pardon not only undermines the justice system but also sends a chilling message that politically motivated violence is acceptable," Reynolds continued. "This decision is a slap in the face to the Foster family, the Black Lives Matter movement, and to all who believe in justice and equality."

Reynolds added: "Gov. Abbott's actions are not only disappointing—they are deeply disturbing. They reveal a willingness to ignore the rule of law and cater to a dangerous ideology that puts lives at risk. This pardon sets a dangerous precedent that undermines public trust in our legal system and emboldens those who seek to harm others under the guise of political dissent."

Notably, the pardon board recommended a posthumous pardon for Floyd, whose killing by the Minneapolis police sparked the protests where Perry killed Foster. Floyd had a drug charge on the books from his time in Houston that, according to Austin lawyer Rick Cofer, stemmed from drug planting by corrupt cops. Abbott responded to that recommendation by pressuring the board to rescind it, which they eventually did.

SEE ALL
Israeli representatives attend a hearing at the International Court of Justice
News

Critics Denounce Israel's Defense Against Genocide Charges as 'Dishonest Talking Points'

The arguments presented by Israeli representatives at the International Court of Justice on Friday were not unexpected, as the government faced a new set of hearings on the Israel Defense Forces' assault on Gaza, but observers said the legal team's defense of the country's actions in the Palestinian enclave were "hard to stomach" in light of mounting reports about the lack of humanitarian aid and the rising death toll.

Tamar Kaplan Tourgeman, principal deputy legal adviser of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Gilad Noam, the deputy attorney general for international law, presented Israel's arguments against South Africa's claim that the ICJ must stop the IDF's invasion of Rafah, from which 630,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee since Israel seized a border crossing there and began moving troops into residential neighborhoods.

More than 1 million people have been forcibly displaced to Rafah since October as Israel has decimated cities across Gaza in what it claims is an effort to target Hamas fighters—but which has killed at least 35,303 people, two-thirds of whom have been women and children. The World Food Program and the U.S. Agency for International Development have both said in recent weeks, following months of warnings from humanitarian groups, that famine has taken hold in parts of Gaza due to Israel's near-total blockade on humanitarian aid.

Tourgeman claimed that South Africa—which launched the genocide case against Israel in December—has turned "a blind eye to Israel's remarkable effort" to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza residents and said Israel has taken "proactive steps" to ensure medical care is still being provided. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) disputed the claims at a press briefing shortly after the hearing.

"The last medical supplies that we got in Gaza was before May 6," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said at a U.N. press briefing, referring to the date Israel seized the Rafah crossing. "We don't have fuel. We have hospitals under evacuation order. We have a situation where we cannot move physically."

Al Jazeera journalist Tareq Abu Azzoum reported Friday that U.N. officials had confirmed no aid has come through either the Rafah or Karem Abu Salem crossings in recent days.

"That reflects how much Israel is working to erase truth and change the facts on the ground as it continues its relentless bombardment of Rafah and the Jabalia refugee camp," Abu Azzoum said.

Marc Owen Jones, associate professor of Middle East studies and digital humanities at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, accused Israel of using the ICJ hearing to promote "dishonest talking points" to the international community.

"This is why a lot of what it says comes across as completely dishonest—because it is completely dishonest," Jones told Al Jazeera. "There is a difference between the reality on the ground and what Israel is trying to present to the international community... The aid situation is desperate."

Kate Stegeman, a policy and advocacy consultant in South Africa, said it was "particularly hard to stomach" Israel's denial that civilians and medical staffers were killed by the IDF at Al-Shifa Hospital, one of the facilities where multiple mass graves have been found containing hundreds of bodies, including those of women and children.

Tourgeman also focused part of her defense on statements made by Israeli officials about their objectives in Gaza. She claimed that when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Gaza must not pose a threat to Israel and when Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the military operates "neighborhood by neighborhood" and will reach every location in Gaza, they were speaking expressly about Hamas.

The legal adviser did not mention Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich's recent call for the "total annihilation" of Rafah and other cities, Gallant's statement that he had "released all the restraints" on the military, or a former intelligence chief's comment in October that "the 'noncombatant population' in the Gaza Strip is really a nonexistent term," among other statements.

While the Israeli representatives claimed the country "has been and remains committed to acting in accordance with its international legal obligations," said one critic, "the problem for Israel is that the world has seen what they've done."

SEE ALL