Intentional attacks on the Palestinian population is a war crime:HRW

Gaza, 13 July-2014(RT): Intentional attacks on the Palestinian population can be deemed a war crime and accountability for violations of international law must be imposed, Bill Van Esveld, Israel, Palestine researcher at Human Rights Watch, told RT.

Intentional attacks on the Palestinian population is a war crime:HRW

Intentional attacks on the Palestinian population is a war crime:HRW
A senior medical official in Gaza said on Thursday that 263 Palestinians have been killed and 3,120 others wounded in 5 days of Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip.(source: Xinhua)

RT: As we know, the death toll in Gaza has climbed to 100. Many of them are children under the age of 17 – we’re talking about dozens here. Do you think the issue’s getting enough attention, considering the amount of civilian deaths?

BE: I think the general issue is getting enough attention, but the civilian suffering is not getting enough attention – it’s not getting enough attention from the Israeli forces who were conducting those airstrikes, naval strikes, tank shelling, and other forms of attack. Under the laws of war – which bind Israel as they bind any military force – you cannot shoot first and ask questions later. You have got to make sure what you’re shooting at is a legitimate target, and if there’s any doubt in your mind whether it might be civilian, you have to hold fire, and I’m very concerned that we are not seeing that – we may be seeing the opposite.

RT: Israel is saying it’s acting only to protect its population from Hamas – but since 2008 over 1000 civilians were killed in Gaza. That’s about 20 times more than the Israeli civilian death toll. And if we look at the total number of Palestinian children killed since 2008, we’re talking about over 500.

Do you think Israel’s response is measured considering all this?

BE: Well, it’s not a question of whether Israel has a right to defend itself – that’s an obvious yes; of course they have a right to defend themselves. The question is how they are going about it. When they make mistakes, do they learn from them? When forces do something deliberate or reckless are they punished? And the answer to those last questions is a clear “no.” We’ve seen virtually no accountability for very well-documented past cases of abuse, violations, and even war crimes, and without accountability and with impunity, then abuses will obviously continue.

RT: We’re interested to hear what you have to say about what the former mayor of the Israeli town of Shiloh thinks – he says the only way to win this war is to destroy the enemy without excessive regard for who’s a soldier and who’s a civilian. How does your organization respond to a statement like this?

BE: Well, that would be a complete disaster and I hope that nobody listens to that official. If that official were a commander in a military and his troops acted on that order, he could be prosecuted for war crimes. That is a blatant out-and-out disregard for the most fundamental rule of war, which is to spare civilians, and there is a good reason for it. You weaken your enemy by attacking their fighters and their military objects. You do nothing to weaken your enemy by attacking a civilian population who’s not fighting you. It does nothing for you; it’s a war crime, and it should not be advocated.

RT: World leaders are calling for an end to the violence, but Israel seems determined to continue. What do you think it would take to agree a truce?

BE: It’s difficult to say at this point; obviously both sides feel that they need to keep doing what they’re doing which is harming – unfortunately – civilians.

World leaders need to make a very clear statement that the violations of the objective laws – the laws that apply to both sides – will not be tolerated. Not to just say things like “We call for restraint” or “We hope the situation will go away.” They need to make it clear that there will be accountability for violations and this is going to be looked into and it’s not going to be swept under the carpet as the Goldstone Report was eventually put aside after the terrible carnage in 2008/9. My organization has been calling for the state of Palestine to go to the ICC for a year now, and it’s high time for them to do that. [Article Source: RT]

Posted by on July 13, 2014. Filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to Intentional attacks on the Palestinian population is a war crime:HRW

  1. Shazida Khatun

    Murder and Willful Killings

    In all situations of armed conflict, the deliberate killing of civilians is a war crime. Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibits “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture” when perpetrated against persons “taking no active part in the hostilities.” As noted, Israel has ratified the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The obligation contained in Common Article 3 is absolute. It applies regardless of whether a party to the conflict is a state. Serious violations of Common Article 3 are increasingly considered to be war crimes, and have been defined as such in the statutes of the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
    All Israelis are Reservists:

    Hamas and Islamic Jihad further argue that Israel’s military reservist system makes almost all of its Jewish citizens, except for children and the elderly, legitimate targets of armed attacks. “Are there civilians in Israel?” Shaikh Yassin asked in an al-Hayat interview, shortly after the end of Operation Defensive Shield.

    Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes

    Under international law, persons who commit, order, or condone war crimes or crimes against humanity are criminally responsible individually for their actions. In certain circumstances, IHL also holds commanders criminally liable for war crimes or crimes against humanity committed by their subordinates.145

    The responsibility of superior officers for atrocities by their subordinates is commonly known as command responsibility. Although the concept originated in military law, it now also includes the responsibility of civil authorities for abuses committed by persons under their direct authority.146 The doctrine of command responsibility has been upheld in recent decisions by the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and is codified in the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court.

    There are two forms of command responsibility. The first is direct responsibility for orders that are unlawful, such as when a military commander authorizes or orders rapes, massacres, or intentional attacks on civilians. The second is imputed responsibility, when a superior failed to prevent or punish crimes committed by a subordinate acting on his own initiative. This kind of responsibility depends on whether the superior had actual or constructive notice of the subordinates’ crimes, and was in a position to stop and punish them. If a commander had such notice, he can be held criminally responsible for his subordinates if he failed to take appropriate measures to control the subordinates, to prevent their atrocities, and to punish offenders.

    For the doctrine of command responsibility to be applicable, two conditions must be met. A superior-subordinate relationship must exist, and the superior must exercise “effective control” over the subordinate. Effective control includes the ability to give orders or instructions, to ensure their implementation, and to punish or discipline subordinates if the orders are disobeyed. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the “Celbici” case defined effective control as the superior “having the material ability to prevent and punish the commission” of violations of international humanitarian law. The ICTY held that the

    [d]octrine of command responsibility is ultimately predicated upon the power of the superior to control the acts of his subordinates. A duty is placed upon the superior to exercise this power so as to prevent and repress the crimes committed by subordinates…. It follows that there is a threshold at which persons cease to possess the necessary powers of control over the actual perpetrators of offense and, accordingly, cannot properly be considered their “superiors”…. [G]reat care must be taken lest an injustice be committed in holding individuals responsible for the acts of others in situations where the link of control is absent or too remote.

    There is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity or war crimes. Individuals who plan, organize, order, assist, commit or attempt to commit them can be prosecuted at any time, as can those with command responsibility for such acts. All states are obliged to bring to justice such persons, regardless of the place and time at which their crimes occurred. The Palestinian Authority, to the extent that it exercises authority, should take immediate steps to prevent the commission of such acts and to criminally prosecute the individuals who have ordered, organized, condoned, or carried them out.

    They are all in the military, men and women…. They wear civilian clothes inside Israel, and military clothes when they are with us…. The 20,000 or 30,000 reserve soldiers, where did they come from? Are they not part of the Israeli people? Were they not civilians?

    International humanitarian law makes clear, however, that reserve or off-duty soldiers who are not at that moment subject to the integrated disciplinary command of the armed forces are considered civilians until the time that they become subject to military command-meaning, until they are effectively incorporated into the armed forces. Their incorporation into the regular armed forces is most frequently signified by wearing a uniform or other identifiable insignia.

  2. UN must urgently investigate war crimes in Israeli-Gaza conflict – Amnesty International

    Amnesty International (AI) has urged the UN to urgently mandate an independent international investigation into Israeli airstrikes on Gaza as well as Palestine’s indiscriminate shelling of Israel, and hold accountable those responsible for war crimes.
    Despite claims by Israel that its operation “Protective Edge”, launched June 8, targets Hamas militants, most of more than a hundred Palestinians killed in airstrikes on Gaza are civilians, Amnesty says, adding that at least 24 children and 16 women were among the casualties.

    Simultaneously, at least 20 people in Israel have been wounded by rocket attacks from Palestinian territories, according to the human rights watchdog, calling on the UN to set up a “fact-finding mission to Gaza and Israel to investigate violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.”

    “Swift UN action is needed as lives hang in the balance,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International. “The international community must not repeat previous mistakes, standing by and watching the devastating consequences for civilians of both sides.”
    Amnesty sees arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian military groups as a means of preventing the violence escalating further.

    “Pending such an embargo, all states must immediately suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to the parties, which have failed to properly investigate violations committed in previous conflicts, or bring those responsible to justice,” Amnesty’s official statement reads.

    Strikes on homes, performed as part of Israel’s military operation, are a matter of particular concern to human rights groups. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on Friday questioned the legality of such attacks.

    Israel has argued that all targets in the Gaza strip are either military facilities or are homes of Hamas militants.
    “In case of doubt, buildings ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets,” Libi Vice, spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces (IFD) told RT on Thursday.

    Human rights watchdogs want proof that 340 housing units, destroyed in Gaza, were actually used for military purposes.

    “Unless the Israeli authorities can provide specific information to show how a home is being used to make an effective contribution to military actions, deliberately attacking civilian homes constitutes a war crime and also amounts to collective punishment against the families,” said Amnesty’s Luther.

    “Firing indiscriminate rockets, which cannot be aimed accurately at military targets, is a war crime, as is deliberately targeting civilians,” he added. “There can be no excuse for either side failing to protect civilians, including journalists, medics and humanitarian workers, or civilian facilities.”

    Amnesty International has also called on Israel and Egypt to “ensure that sufficient amounts of medical and humanitarian supplies are allowed into Gaza”. Healthcare services in the region have been on the brink of collapse due to shortages of supplies, the World Health Organization earlier warned.

    Friday saw thousands of activists in London and Oslo protesting against Israeli strikes in Gaza. Organizers of the massive rallies said Palestinians are facing “a horrific escalation of racism and violence” at the hands of the IDF.