Friday, March 20, 2009
Israel Accused Of War Crimes
A United Nations human rights envoy has accused Israel of war crimes for failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets during the recent incursion into Gaza.
The accusation comes in an annual report issued by Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories.
Falk says in the report that it is "inherently unlawful" to launch an attack when civilian and military targets can't be distinguished.
There are several problems with this observation, however.
First, the Palestinian combatants were and continue to attack Israel from within the civilian population.
Second, Israel isn't facing a uniformed military opponent, making the distinction that Falk seeks nearly impossible.
Third, virtually every modern day war results in civilian casualties. War is no longer fought on designated battlegrounds like Gettysburg, where civilians could stand on a ridge and watch without fear of becoming victims.
My question is, does this report actually encourage Hamas to ramp up its attacks on Israel? Obviously the conflict between the Israelis and Hamas has as much a publicity component as a military one. One could suggest that Hamas can now increase the number of rockets it fires into Israel. If Israel doesn't respond the attacks can continue with impunity. If it does, it can be accused of war crimes.
Falk reaches the conclusion because Israel's unrelenting attacks on densely populated areas gave civilians no chance of escape.
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