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Archive for September 2006

Disproportionate memo

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I was addressed to and thus I happened to read the following article on the Washington Post of July 2006: «Israel Is Within Its Rights – By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey – Wednesday, July 26, 2006; Page A17 – Israel’s operations against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza have been widely condemned in Europe, the Arab world and at the United Nations as violations of international law. Some of the critics seem to deny that Israel has any legitimate right to use force […] In fact, Israel’s conduct has been fully compliant with the applicable norms of international law […] The legal rights Israel is exercising to defend itself today are the very same legal rights on which the United States must rely in the war on terrorism. Attempts to revise the traditional laws of war — moving toward a law-enforcement paradigm — so that law-abiding states cannot effectively protect their own populations from attack or even defend their territory from armed incursion are not humanitarian advances. They simply make the world safer for those who reject any notion of law in war …». I thought to past here – if you want simply as a (long and) personal memo – some excerpts of my comment about the topic.

I found out the explanation for the Washington Post’s biased position at the bottom of the page. Anyway the very premises of the article are wrong from the first lines, where they talk about the response to Hezbollah’s initial attack. In doing that they must assume that the abduction of the Israeli soldiers happened into Israeli land, and first of all, that seems to be untrue (On July 12, 2006, Israeli soldiers entered the Lebanon border and were captured in the Lebanese town of Ayta ash-Shab by Hezbollah militias that keep control of that land in Southern Lebanon – see Hindustan Times, Bahrain News, Asia Times). So Israel deliberately lied and let the world and the Westerners understand that the soldiers had been kidnapped in Israeli owned land). Second, luckily it’s not up to Washington Post’s journalists to determine if the use of force was disproportionate or not, any argument is up to a hypothetical Court. Third, you cannot have a terrorist threat and a Nations’s threat at the same time, if you state “they are terrorists”, you have no right to bomb Lebanon, but to ask the Government of that Country in order to get collaboration against these so called, terrorists. Otherwise you must assume that Lebanon is at war with Israel, thus you must implement international law, and the bombing of civilian areas doesn’t fit at all with it. As for Geneva convention, we have two Israeli soldiers captured – not kidnapped – by the enemy. They have a right to be kept alive and well, and that is all, till the end of the conflict or till there is a deal for a cease fire. That’s it. Poverty of arguments also emerges when they talk about Lebanese’s failure to control their own territory, as it’s well known the lot of Israeli actions through the border on Lebanese soil. Nonsense at all then talking about Putin’s intervention in Chechnya. what does it mean? If they assume Russians are fit to be tried for those operations, it doesn’t justify any other international crime. But the biased attitude of the writers is well explained when they say: “The legal rights Israel is exercising to defend itself today are the very same legal rights on which the United States must rely in the war on terrorism”. So they keep on telling the world that the enemy is “terrorism”, while they must be well aware of the fact that terrorism is simply a tool and that Neocons’ theory, made to bomb and get rid of the enemies of “their” oil and Project for a New American Century and here for the “New Middle East”, is a fake. About abduction of Israeli soldiers, here are some sources: link, link, link , but there’s a lot on the web. There is also a first link at Hindustan Times of July 12 2006 that unfortunately changes from day to day, so I’ve already posted the picture of its web page in “That’s just old news” of August 8th.

Then we have probably an Israeli aggression and a consequent Israel-Lebanon war. Two sovereign States. Correct? Well, the Geneva Convention (among the others) has then to be fully implemented, without targeting of civilians and, anyway, without a disproportionate use of the force. About it I meant luckily it’s neither up to some biased journalists, nor to you, the decision. Silly is the aim to get peace without justice. Generally speaking, the fact that Israel is illegally occupying other people’s land doesn’t suggest anything to you? E.G. that every Israeli operation against these people is an aggression to mantain an illegal “status quo”, and not self defence? Since Israel occupies Golan and Shebaa Farms (trying to make Litani River its swimming pool) West Bank and East Jerusalem (since 1967), deliberately making Palestinians’ life a hell, there will be no peace for Israel and in the region. While they decide to – honestly and for the first time – put an end to all this, neither Iran, Syria, nor anti-semitism, but demographic “bomb” and its apartheid politics are the real enemies for Israel very existence.

Some say doctrine of proportionality originated with the 1907 Hague Conventions, I’d look also at article 49 in International Law Commission’s Draft about State Responsibility. You can somewhat also refer to the 1977 Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions (e.g. article 57), and generally about illegally causing unnecessary suffering for civilians. Moreover the principle is anyway known as customary international law. Otherwise should we say disproportionality is internationally legal? Lot of water flew luckily under the bridges since Pearl Harbour and Hiroshima. To assert Israeli right to protect itself you must assume Israel was attacked unprovoked and get its legitimate case against Hezbollah. There is not evidence about that. In fact many said (and wrote immediately, on July 12 2006) that Israeli soldiers were abducted while they were (at least) illegally operating into Lebanese soil. Then it is anyway a matter of fact investigating not only on proportionality of the use of force (aimed to rescuing its soldiers), but on targeting of nonmilitary targets, on unnecessary suffering for civilians, on inflicting collective punishment. Doctrine of proportionality has been upheld in a number of disputes and you know very well that if legal bodies have failed to indict Israel, that is a matter of politics and not about law. What about talking (randomly) of the US vetoes? What about “bribing, intimidating and threatening others, including members of Security Council”? And about the politically aborted case against Sharon in Belgium? And about US and Israeli fleeing from the the newly born ICC? And about ICJ Advisory opinion on “the wall”?

Michael Ratner, an attorney, former director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and past president of the National Lawyer’s Guild, dealing with the (first) Gulf War, happened to say: «At Nuremberg, the Nazis were tried for crimes against humanity which included killings of the civilian population and the wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages and devastation not justified by military necessity. These laws are embodied in various treaties, including most importantly the Hague Convention of 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions. They all reflect a similar set of rules, violations of which are war crimes. They are built around two principles. First, military operations are to be directed at military objectives – the civilian population and civilian objects are not to be targets. So, massive bombing, as was engaged in by the U.S., which kills civilians and destroyed the water supply, is illegal.» About that topic he added that the second limit international law places on the conduct of war is the principle of proportionality.Well, I think that it is not easy to separate the two issues: a) proportionality, b) protection of civilian objects, but there is an interesting provision in Protocol 1, additional to the Geneva Conventions, 1977, chapter III, art. 52, par. 1 e 3. “Civilian objects shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals. Civilian objects are all objects which are not military objectives as defined in paragraph 2 […] “In case of doubt whether an object wich is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed no to be so used”.

Written by pipistro

September 8, 2006 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Lebanon

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