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Friday, September 5, 2014

Tallying Israeli War Crimes

Tallying Israeli War Crimes

For decades, Israel has slaughtered Palestinians with impunity,
always protected by the U.S. government and its veto at the
UN Security Council. But the latest bloody assault on Gaza has
prompted more open talk about Israeli war crimes — and U.S.
complicity, says Marjorie Cohn.

By Marjorie Cohn
Consortiumnews.com
September 5, 2014

By sending vast amounts of military aid to Israel, members of the
U.S. Congress, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama
and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have aided and abetted the
commission of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity
by Israeli officials and commanders in Gaza.

An individual can be convicted of a war crime, genocide or a crime
against humanity in the ICC if he or she “aids, abets or otherwise
assists” in the commission or attempted commission of the crime,
“including providing the means for its commission.”

There is growing evidence that Israeli leaders and commanders
have committed war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity
as defined in the Rome Statute for the ICC.

U.S. military aid has aided, abetted and assisted the commission of
these crimes by providing Israel with the military means to commit
them.

During Operation Protective Edge, Israeli forces again used the
Dahiye Doctrine, which, according to the UN Human Rights Council
[Goldstone] Report, involves “the application of disproportionate
force and causing of great damage and destruction to civilian
property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, in 2007, the Bush
Administration agreed to provide Israel with $30 billion in military
assistance from 2009 to 2018, provided in annual increments of $3.1
billion.

During his March 2013 visit to Israel, Obama pledged that the U.S.
would continue to provide Israel with multi-year commitments of
military aid subject to the approval of Congress.

Since 2012, the U.S. has sent $276 million worth of weapons and
munitions to Israel, not including exports of military transport
equipment and high technologies.

From January to May 2014, the U.S. transferred to Israel almost $27
million for rocket launchers, $9.3 million worth of parts of guided
missiles and nearly $762,000 for bombs, grenades and munitions of
war.

On July 20, 2014, Israel requested additional ammunition, including
140mm tank rounds and 40mm illumination grenades, and the
Defense Department approved the sale three days later.

It came from a $1 billion stockpile of ammunition the U.S. military
stores in Israel for that country’s use; it is called War Reserve
Stockpile Ammunition-Israel.

In early August 2014, both houses of Congress overwhelmingly
passed, and Obama signed, an appropriation of $225 million for
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which has also been
used in Gaza.

The Senate vote was unanimous.

With no debate, the House of Representatives voted 395 to 8
to approve the deal.

War Crimes

Here is a summary of the crimes, as defined in the Rome Statute,
that Israeli leaders have committed and U.S. leaders have aided
and abetted:

(1) Willful killing: Israeli forces have killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians
(more than 400 children and over 80 percent civilians).

Israel used 155-millimeter artillery, which, according to Human
Rights Watch, is “utterly inappropriate in a densely populated
area, because this kind of artillery is considered accurate if it
lands anyplace within a 50-meter radius.”

(2) Willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or
health: Nearly10,000 people, 2,500 of them children, have been
wounded.

Naban Abu Shaar told the Daily Beast that the dead bodies from
what appeared to be a “mass execution” in Khuza’a looked like
they were “melted” and were piled on top of each other; assault
rifle bullet casings found in the house were marked “IMI” (Israel
Military Industries).

UNICEF said the Israeli offensive has had a “catastrophic and tragic
impact” on children in Gaza; about 373,000 children have had
traumatic experiences and need psychological help.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
said: “There’s a public health catastrophe going on. You know,
most of the medical facilities in Gaza are non-operational.”

(3) Unlawful and wanton, extensive destruction and appropriation
of property not justified by military necessity: Tens of thousands of
Palestinians have lost their homes.

More than 1,300 buildings were destroyed and 752 were severely
damaged. Damage to sewer and water infrastructure has affected
two-thirds of Gazans.

On July 20, Israeli forces virtually flattened the small town
of Khuza’a; one man counted 360 shell attacks in one hour.

Reconstruction of Gaza is estimated to cost $6 billion.

Israel shrunk Gaza’s habitable land mass by 44 percent, establishing
a 3 km “no-go” zone for Palestinians; 147 square miles of land will
be compressed into 82 square miles.

Oxfam described the level of destruction as “outrageous … much
worse than anything we have seen in previous [Israeli] military
operations.”

(4) Willfully depriving a prisoner of war or a civilian the rights of
fair and regular trial:

Nearly 2,000 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces during July
2014, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies.

Prisoners include 15 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council,
about 240 children, dozens of women, journalists, activists,
academics and 62 former prisoners previously released in a prisoner
exchange.

Israeli forces executed many prisoners after arrest, either by
directly firing on them, refusing to allow treatment or allowing
them to bleed to death.

More than 445 prisoners are being held without charge or trial
under administrative detention.

(5) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population,
civilian objects, or humanitarian vehicles, installations and
personnel: “The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is under direct
attack,” reads a joint declaration of over 150 international law
experts.

Israeli forces violated the principle of “distinction,” which forbids
deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian objects.

Israeli forces bombed 142 schools (89 run by the UN), including six
UN schools in which civilians were taking refuge.

Israeli forces shot and killed fleeing civilians (warnings, which must
effectively give civilians time to flee before bombing, do not
relieve Israel from its legal obligations not to target civilians).

Israeli forces repeatedly bombed Gaza’s only power plant and
other infrastructure, which are “beyond repair.”

Israeli forces bombed one-third of Gaza’s hospitals, 14 primary
healthcare clinics and 29 ambulances. At least five medical staff
were killed and tens of others were injured.

(6) Intentionally launching attacks with knowledge they will cause
incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian
objects or long-term severe damage to the natural environment, if
they are clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military
advantage:

The principle of “proportionality” forbids disproportionate and
excessive civilian casualties compared to the claimed military
advantage gained in the attack.

The Dahiye Doctrine directly violates this principle.

Responding to Hamas’ rockets with 155-millimeter
artillery is disproportionate.

Although nearly 2,000 Palestinians (over 80 percent civilians) have
been killed, 67 Israelis (all but three of them soldiers) have been
killed.

The coordinates of all UN facilities were repeatedly communicated
to the Israeli forces; they nevertheless bombed them multiple
times.

Civilians were attacked in Shuja’iyyah market.

(7) Attacking or bombarding undefended towns, villages, dwellings
or buildings, or intentionally attacking religious, educational and
medical buildings, which are not military objectives:

On July 20, Israeli forces virtually flattened the small town
of Khuza’a; one man counted 360 shell attacks in one hour.

Israeli forces bombed 142 schools (89 run by the UN), one-third of
Gaza’s hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics, and 29 ambulances.

Israeli shelling completely destroyed 41 mosques and partially
destroyed 120 mosques.

Genocide

(a) With the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group: Palestinians, including primarily
civilians, and Palestinian infrastructure necessary to sustain life
were deliberately targeted by Israeli forces.

(b) The commission of any of the following acts

(i) killing members of the group: Israeli forces killed nearly 2,000
Palestinians.

(ii) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group:
Israeli forces wounded 10,000 Palestinians.

(iii) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated
to bring about its destruction in whole or in part:

Israeli forces devastated Gaza’s infrastructure, knocking out Gaza’s
only power plant, and destroying homes, schools, buildings,
mosques and hospitals.

Crimes Against Humanity

(A) The commission of murder as part of a widespread or
systematic attack against any civilian population:

Israeli forces relentlessly bombed Gaza for one month, killing
nearly 2,000 Palestinians, more than 80 percent of whom were
civilians.

Israeli forces intentionally destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure,
knocking out Gaza’s only power plant, and destroying homes,
schools, buildings, mosques and hospitals.

(B) Persecution against a group or collectivity based on its political,
racial, national, ethnic or religious character, as part of a
widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population:

Israeli forces killed, wounded, summarily executed, and
administratively detained Palestinians, Hamas forces and
civilians alike.

Israel forces intentionally destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza,
populated by Palestinians.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “the massive death
and destruction in Gaza have shocked and shamed the world.”

He added the repeated bombing of UN shelters facilities in
Gaza was “outrageous, unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

(C) The crime of apartheid (inhumane acts committed in the
context of an institutional regime of systematic oppression and
domination by one racial group over another racial group, with
the intent to maintain that regime):

Ali Hayek, head of Gaza’s federation of industries representing
3,900 businesses that employ 35,000 people, said:

“After 30 days of war, the economic situation has become,
like, dead.

It seems the occupation intentionally destroyed these vital
factories that constitute the backbone of the society.”

Israel maintains an illegal barrier wall that encroaches on
Palestinian territory and builds illegal Jewish settlements
on Palestinian lands.

Israel keeps Gazans caged in what many call “the world’s largest
open air prison.”

Israel controls all ingress and egress to Gaza, limits Gazans’ access
to medicine, subjects Palestinians to arbitrary arrest, expropriates
their property, maintains separate areas and roads, segregated
housing, different legal and educational systems for Palestinians
and Jews and prevents mixed marriages.

Only Jews, not Palestinians, have the right to return to Israel-
Palestine.

Collective Punishment

Although the Rome Statute does not include the crime of collective
punishment, it is considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva
Convention, which constitutes a war crime.

Collective punishment means punishing a civilian for an offense he
or she has not personally committed; it forbids reprisals against
civilians and their property (civilian objects).

Ostensibly to root out Hamas fighters, Israel has wreaked
unprecedented devastation on the people of Gaza, killing
nearly 2,000 people (more than 80 percent of them civilians)
and destroying much of the infrastructure of Gaza.

This constitutes collective punishment.

On Aug. 5, 2014, veteran Israeli military advisor Giora Eiland
advocated collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population,
saying:

“In order to guarantee our interests versus the other side’s
demands, we must avoid the artificial, wrong and dangerous
distinction between the Hamas people, who are ‘the bad guys,’
and Gaza’s residents, which are allegedly ‘the good guys.’”

That is precisely the strategy Israel has employed during Operation
Protective Edge.

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands also constitutes collective
punishment.

Israel maintains effective control over Gaza’s land, airspace,
seaport, electricity, water, telecommunications and population
registry.

Israel deprives Gazans of food, medicine, fuel and basic services.

Prospects For Accountability

Both Israel and the U.S. have refused to ratify the Rome Statute.

But if Palestine were a party to the statute, the ICC could exercise
jurisdiction over crimes committed by Israelis and Americans in
Palestinian territory.

The ICC could also take jurisdiction if the UN Security Council refers
the matter to the ICC, or if the ICC prosecutor initiates an
investigation of the crime.

The U.S. would veto any Security Council referral to the ICC.

And the ICC prosecutor has not initiated an investigation.

So the question is whether Palestine can ratify the statute,
thereby becoming a party to the ICC.

In 2009, the Palestinian National Authority filed a declaration with
the ICC accepting the court’s jurisdiction. In 2012, the UN General
Assembly overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as a non-member
observer state.

During the present war, the Palestinian minister of justice and
the deputy minister of justice both submitted documents to the
ICC indicating that the 2009 declaration is still valid.

On Aug. 5, 2014, the Palestinian minister of foreign affairs met
with officials from the ICC and inquired about the procedures for
Palestine to become a party to the statute.

On July 25, 2014, a French lawyer filed a complaint with the
ICC on behalf of the Palestinian justice minister.

Citing Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories, Israel’s
blockade of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing military operations
there, the complaint alleges that Israel committed war crimes and
other crimes.

The Palestinian government has not formally commented on
this complaint.

On July 23, 2014, the UN Human Rights Council established a
commission of inquiry into Israeli violations of international
human rights and international humanitarian law.

The resolution also called on parties to the Fourth Geneva
Convention to convene and respond to the alleged violations.

That convention requires parties to prosecute violators.

Countries can bring foreign nationals to justice for war crimes,
genocide and crimes against humanity under the well-established
doctrine of universal jurisdiction.

Genocide charges could also be brought under the Genocide
Convention, to which both Israel and the United States are
parties.

That convention also punishes complicity in genocide; U.S. leaders’
provision of military aid would constitute complicity.

Although the Israeli and U.S. governments continue to maintain that
Israel has only acted in self-defense against Hamas’ terrorism, the
weight of world opinion points in the opposite direction.

There is overwhelming opposition to Israeli aggression in
Gaza and calls for justice and accountability.

Both Israeli and U.S. leaders must be criminally prosecuted
for committing and aiding and abetting these crimes.



Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law,
deputy secretary general of the International Association of
Democratic Lawyers, and a former president of the National
Lawyers Guild.

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/08/08/tallying-israeli-war-
crimes

2 comments:

  1. Who would dare to bring them to justice?

    ReplyDelete
  2. LORD, it is time for you to act, for these evil people have violated your instructions. - Psalm 119:126 (NLT)

    ReplyDelete

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