Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israel’s War Crimes

By Richard Falk

The Nation, December 29, 2008

Text Size

Editor’s Note: This statement was issued December 27 in response to Israel’s attack in Gaza by Professor Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories and a longtime member of The Nation’s editorial board.

The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.


» More

  • Israel’s War Crimes

    Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

    Richard Falk: Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza are severe and massive violations of international law–and nations that have supplied weapons and supported Israel’s siege of Gaza are complicit in the crimes.

  • Richard Falk: The sick man of Europe gets a jolt of life, but will it last?

  • Questionable Verdict

    Iraq

    Richard Falk: Even the most naive American voter cannot be expected to see the morally, legally and politically questionable death sentence given to Saddam Hussein a milestone in the Bush Administration’s illegal war in Iraq. As the milestones pile up, so do the bodies.

Those violations include:
Collective punishment: The entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians: The airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response: The airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.

Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. I note that Israel’s escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer; to the contrary, the one Israeli killed today after the upsurge of Israeli violence is the first in over a year.

Israel has also ignored recent Hamas diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on 26 December.

The Israeli airstrikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries who have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza that itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

I remind all Member States of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law–regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

About Richard Falk

Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law and practice at Princeton University, is the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur in the Occupied Territories and a member of The Nation editorial board. He is the author of many books, including The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order After Iraq. more…

Most Read

Issues »

Most Emailed

Issues »

Popular Topics
  • »

City

State Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

ZIP Code

Email Address

BREAKING: Ask Obama For a Torture Special Prosecutor | Change.gov is taking questions again — let’s ask Obama to appoint a special prosecutor for the Bush administration’s crimes.
Ari Melber

» Act Now!

War in Gaza | Support the work of CARE International and Medecins sans Frontieres in caring for the victims in the Gaza Strip.
Peter Rothberg

» The Dreyfuss Report

Obama Fiddles While Gaza Burns | Israeli hardliners and Hamas extremists create facts on the ground for Barack “January 20″ Obama.
Robert Dreyfuss

» The Beat

Obama Should Engage Now for Middle East Peace | The Gaza crisis is so severe that it demands the president-elect speak up for diplomacy.
John Nichols

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Post a Comment