By Almameh S Manga
LLM Human Rights and
Criminal Justice (Candidate)
University of Aberdeen
Scotland, United Kingdom
One of the cardinal principles of International Humanitarian Law is the duty of distinction as contained in Article 48 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva conventions ‘In order to ensure respect for and the protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives’. Israel continues to cause havoc in Palestine in what is fast becoming a daily routine thus violating the above principle on international law.
The rule of distinction continues to be violated by the Israeli Military. The rule outlines that warring parties must take steps to distinguish between civilians and their objects and military and their objects. Targeting civilians and their objects is clearly prohibited and doing so may amount to grave breaches and the belligerents ought to take steps to punish the perpetrators. Dozens of incidents perpetrated by the IDF in Gaza which were conducted in isolated instances. For instance, a mortar attack on a mosque in Gaza during a religious service killed dozens of members of the congregation and injured many others. Israel in response, said the mosque was used to store weapons, a claim that was dismissed by the report as fallacious and at most illogical.
The question that came to mind, was, why didn’t they bomb the mosque during odd hours when no one is in? It shows the hypocrisy and how bloodthirsty the Zionist regime under PM Benjamin is trying so hard to extinguish the Palestinians. Justice Goldstone said and I quote “no justification under international humanitarian law to mortar the mosque during a service” .The conduct of the Israeli armed forces according to Green constitutes grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons. Such would warrant or give rise to individual criminal responsibility as well as the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is also a violation of the right to life. Dozens of peaceful protesters were gunned down with several dozens injured. Such despicable behaviour by Israel at the pleasure of Trump and the US are indeed a cause for concern. This is indeed troubling and shocking.
Israel is culpable and the time is ripe for justice to be served for its actions against the people of Palestine. According to the Goldstone report evidence has shown that there appears to be a “deliberate and systematic policy on the part of the Israeli armed forces to target industrial sites and water installations,” for example in 2009, the Goldstone report stated especially on the objectives and strategy of Israel’s offensive. The rule of proportionality in light of Articles 51 (5) (b) and 57 of AP I continues to be flouted as pinpointed by the investigation which concluded that military planners deliberately followed a doctrine which involved “the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations”.
Indiscriminate attacks are clearly prohibited in terms of the ICRC study, rule 12. The attacks on the Palestinian people have always been indiscriminate by every stretch of human imagination. Using mortars and sophisticated weapon to attack peaceful protestors as seen today is a serious violation of IHL and IHRL in terms of Article 51, API and must be condemned in the strongest terms. This appears to be a modus operandi for Israel for many decades now, something which was in display Monday morning in Jerusalem. This nonchalant attitude towards the people of Palestine by Israel is sickening and must warrant the International community to employ concerted efforts to bring an end to the suffering of the people of Palestine.
The firing of mortars from Gaza did receive a condemnation but up till today, Israel takes comfort in releasing further missiles on the innocent people of Palestine. Spreading of fear among the population of Palestine constitutes a fundamental breach of international law “would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity and Israel must held to account. Israel does everything with impunity as repeated calls by the international community for a thorough and independent appropriate investigations falls in deaf ears. For instance, the UN Fact-Finding mission called on the Security Council to sanction a committee of experts to monitor the proceedings taken by the Israeli government.
The frustration of the team led by Justice Goldstone was manifested when it called on Security Council and I quote ‘If these did not take place, or were not independent and in conformity with international standards, the report called for the Security Council to refer the situation in Gaza to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).’ The US and Saudi Arabia constitute the biggest to any peaceful solution in Gaza. The previous administration under President Obama took steps which brought some hope to people of Palestine leading to strain relationships between the US and Israel. Saudi Arabia on the other hand continues to fuel the tension by making inflammatory statements against the Palestine people which can only be quantified as a survival tactic. The position of Saudi Arabia in this whole fiasco can best be described as hypocritical. There are religious differential undertones which although germane yet is not the purpose of this piece.
According to Michael Ignatieff, Eleanor Roosevelt would be disappointed to learn that her own country is the biggest violator of international law. The US has shamelessly masqueraded herself as a moral police internationally. US have always been the first country to condemn atrocities in other places yet, it provides a free licence to Israel to terrorise the Palestinians. The world must stand up to prevent the continuation of the massacre against the people of Palestine. Interestingly, those who are expected to stand up against what has become the worst human catastrophe in contemporary history are the same people systemically supporting Israel.
The actions of Israel today is not a sign of self defence as they always claim, but rather a massacre on people who clearly have been denied their right to external self determination as per article(s) 1 of both International Covenant on Civil and Political rights and International Covenant of Economic Social and cultural rights. The ICJ Advisory opinion on the Wall has stated in clear terms that such a move would amount to a violation of International law. The killing of innocent civilians especially women and children is beyond human comprehension. Israel or the US is not alone in these treacherous and blatant human rights violations against the people of Palestine. Saudi Arabia is also playing a key role is such violations of international.