Thursday, January 22, 2009

Self-defense is No Defense

Evidence is stacking up that Israel has a war crimes case to answer

The Guardian (UK), January 21, 2009 - Palestinians are living under occupation, and are therefore "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Protected persons may not be punished for crimes that they themselves have not committed, and their collective punishment constitutes a war crime.

Israel's attempt to claim self-defence as a justification for the separation wall, which annexes swathes of Palestinian land, has already been rejected by the International Court of Justice. On July 9 2004, the International Court of Justice provided its advisory opinion that the construction of the wall is contrary to international law and that Israel was obliged to dismantle the wall forthwith. The court rejected Israel's defence that the separation wall is justified under the doctrine of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

When the Middle East envoy for the Quartet, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, was interviewed by Gavin Esler on BBC Newsnight on January 9, he opined that a ceasefire had not been possible because: "I think that there are still real issues about what can be done to stop the smuggling of the arms going into Gaza and then the opening of the crossings so that there can be proper humanitarian help." Blair effectively makes the Palestinians' right to humanitarian aid dependent upon whether their democratically elected leadership can be prevented from bringing arms into Gaza.

Yet, as Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: "To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate." ....

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