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Reading Jeff Halper’s ‘War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification’

7 Apr

 

[Prefatory Note: The review below was published in the current issue of Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and Islamicate World. I am posting it here because I believe that Jeff Halper’s book deserves the widest possible reading. It explains clearly and convincingly one of the deepest and least understood roots of Israel’s diplomatic support throughout the world, which is its role as a niche arms supplier and influential tactical specialist in waging wars against peoples who dare offer resistance to state power as variously deployed against them. The Israeli experience in exerting oppressive control of the Palestinian people provides the foundation of Israel’s international credibility and perceptions of effectiveness in disseminating for economic and political profit its hardware and software associated with managing and suppressing the resistance of popular movements fighting for their rights. The Israel stress on pacification rather than victory exposes the true nature of what Halper identifies so vividly and comprehensively as the distinctive character of waging ‘war against the people.’ ]

Jeff Halper, War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification, Pluto Press, 2015, 296 pp., $25.00 US (pbk), ISBN 9780745334301.

Jeff Halper is an unusual hybrid presence on both the scholarly and political scene. He describes himself as an “activist-scholar” (6), which adopts a controversial self-identification. The conventional stance erects a high wall between scholarship and activism. To his credit and for our benefit, Halper excels almost equally in both roles. He is one of the most lucid speakers on the lecture circuit combining clarity with wisdom and a rich fund of information and firsthand experience, and his work as a writer is influential and widely known. His activist credentials have been built up over many years, especially in his work as co-founder and leader of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which has bravely confronted Israeli demolition crews and IDF soldiers, helped Palestinians on multiple occasions to rebuild their destroyed homes, thereby responding humanely to one of Israel’s cruelest occupation practices, an instance of unlawful collective punishment. Halper has estimated that less than 2% of demolitions can lay claim to a credible security justification (the respected Israeli human rights NGO, B’Tselem, estimates 1.3% of demolitions are justified by security, while the rest are punitive or 621 of 47,000 since 1967). As an author his main prior book makes an unsurprisingly strong pitch for activism as the most reliable foundation for analysis and prescription. His important and incisive title gave the theme away—An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel.1 This earlier book remains valuable as testimony by a progressive Zionist in Israel that with good faith Jews and Palestinians might yet learn to live together, including finding a formula for sharing the land.

Halper’s own life experience makes this blend of scholarship and activism particularly compelling. He is an American born Jew who grew up in the Midwest and studied anthropology in Wisconsin, taught at a Quaker university for several years, and then moved to Israel where he married an Israeli and has three grown children. What particularly sets Halper apart from most other principled Jews in the ranks of critics of Israel is the striking combination of the radicalism of his opposition to the policies and practices of the Israeli state together with his evident commitment to remain in Israel no matter how far right the governing process drifts. Most other prominent Jewish critics of Israel have remained outside the country throughout their life (e.g. Noam Chomsky) or were born in Israel and then chose to become expatriate critical voices (e.g. Daniel Levy, Ilan Pappé, Gilad Azmun). There are a few internationally prominent Israeli journalists and cultural figures who have sustained sharply critical commentary (e.g. Gideon Levy, Amira Hass) and kept their Israeli residence despite harassment and threats.

In the book under review Halper broadens his own distinctive identity while enlarging the apertures of perception by which he views the Israeli state. He focuses attention on the Israeli arms industry, security doctrines, and policies, and examines Israel’s acquisition of formidable diplomatic influence grossly disproportionate to its size and capabilities. It is this gap between Israel’s significant impact on current world history and the modest scale of its territorial reality and its outsider status in most global settings that is the core mystery being explicated by Halper. He starts the book with some provocative questions that put the underlying puzzle before us in vivid language: “How does Israel get away with it? In a decidedly post-colonial age, how is Israel able to sustain a half-century occupation over the Palestinians, a people violently displaced in 1948, in the face of almost unanimous international opposition” (1)? He indicates that this phenomenon cannot be adequately “explained by normal international relations” nor by the strength of the Israel lobby in the United States nor by strong Israeli pushback to discredit critics by invoking the Holocaust as an indefinite source of impunity (3). What the book demonstrates very persuasively is that Israeli influence is a result of its extraordinary, partially hidden and understated role as arms supplier to more than 130 countries and as an increasingly significant mentor of national police forces and counter-terrorist operations and practices in many countries, including the United States.

Israel as Arms Merchant and Pacification Ideologue

Without exaggeration, War Against the People, is really three books in one. It is first of all a comprehensive and detailed look at the elaborate Israeli arms industry, including the extensive network of private companies engaged in arms production. Halper explores how Israel managed to become such a valued producer of sophisticated weaponry that so many governments have come to depend upon. Part of Israel’s success in the highly competitive international arms market is to identify and develop niches for itself in the wider global arms market that allows it to compete successfully for market share with companies backed by several of the world’s largest states by supplying specific kinds of weaponry that outperform the alternatives available for purchase. By so serving as an arms merchant to no less than 130 countries gives Israel a powerful unacknowledged source of leverage throughout the entire world. An aspect of Israel’s success is to be apolitical in its operations as an arms supplier, provided only that the foreign government poses no security threat to Israel.

Secondly, the book is a detailed examination of the specific ways that Israel has adapted its security doctrine and practice to the varieties of Palestinian resistance over the decades. The Israeli approach rests on adopting a goal toward internal security that seeks to achieve a tolerable level of “pacification” of the Palestinian population. As such it does not seek to “defeat” the Palestinians, including even Hamas, and is content with keeping violent resistance contained so that Israelis can go about their lives with reasonable security and the economy can prosper. At the same time, the threat of violent resistance never entirely disappears or is absent from the political consciousness and experience of Israeli society, and the fear factor keeps Israelis supportive of oppressive internal policies. Pacification in the face of a potentially very hostile minority Palestinian presence in pre-1967 Israel has presupposed a fusing of Israel’s military, paramilitary, police, and intelligence capabilities, but also a less understood Israeli politics of restraint. The capabilities to sustain pacifications must be continuously updated and adapted to evolving circumstances, including shifts in Palestinian tactics of resistance.

This mental shift from “victory” over the natives to their relentless “pacification” to some extent reflects the ethical orientation of a post-colonial world. In many respects Israel represents a species of settler colonialism, but it takes the form of seeking some kind of imposed accommodation with the native population rather than their extinction or spatial marginalization. Actually, as Israeli politics have moved further and further to the right, the tactics of pacification have become more coercive and brutal, and do seem to push the original dispossession of the nakba toward some kind of “final solution” by way of settlement expansion as likely supplemented at some point by population transfer and by periodic massive military operations of the sort that have occurred in Gaza in 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014. In other words, pacification as conceived in the 1950s has become quite something more ominous for the Palestinians in the twenty-first century as “Palestine” shrinks in size and diminishes in threat while Israel’s territorial ambitions continue to expand and seem to be within reach.

The Israel/Palestine encounter is certainly unique in several of its aspects, yet it bears sufficient similarity to a range of threats facing many governments in the world to allow the Israeli government to serve as an exemplary practitioner of counterinsurgency war/politics. It is precisely the generality of contemporary security challenges situated within society that makes the Israeli experience seem so valuable to others, especially when reinforced by the widespread impression that Israel’s security policies have succeeded in the face of difficult challenges over an extended period. This combination of considerations gives Israel’s weapons, training programs, and security doctrines their global resonance. Especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the long-term character of the Israeli experience became a strong credential on the arms market and among strategy-minded think tanks. Israel’s perceived counterinsurgency record has even led other governments to mute or even abandon their criticisms of the manner in which Israel suppresses Palestinians and flaunts international law. In this way, the Israeli network of arms sales arrangements has not only functioned as direct sources of influence and economic benefit to Israel, but also contributed a political payoff by weakening motivations at the UN and elsewhere in the world to exert meaningful pressure on Israel to modify its policies and uphold its obligations under international law. What Halper helps us to understand is this rarely discussed relationship between the arms trade and what might be called an international diplomacy of pacification. In effect, Israel has quietly bought off most of its potentially most dangerous governmental adversaries by making itself an invaluable collaborator in the security domain, which is given priority by every government when it comes to shaping its foreign policy. The reach of this weapons diplomacy is further extended due to Israel’s willingness to do arms deals discreetly with the most repressive of regimes around the world even while at the same time it takes great pains to substantiate the claim that Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East.

Thirdly, this long experience of coping with Palestinian resistance has given Israel continuing field experience with tactics and weapons useful to subdue a non-state adversary, including convincing demonstrations of what works and what doesn’t. In fundamental respects the work of pacification is never finished, and so Israel continuously modifies its weapons mix to take account of battlefield lessons and technological innovations, and this is of great value to governments that were seeking to choose among several alternatives to meet the requirements of their particular security challenges. Israel can claim both the reliability of its weaponry through their field testing in response to varying conditions and success in adapting to ever changing tactics of Palestinian resistance. No other country has achieved this mastery over the hardware and software of a pacification approach to internal security.

Halper also makes us aware that pacification is what also best explains the hegemonic ambitions of America’s securitizing approach to world order. What Israel has achieved on a small scale, the United States is managing on a large scale. In other words the several hundred American foreign military bases together with navies patrolling all of the world’s oceans, further reinforced by satellite militarization of space for purposes of intelligence and possible attack are the coercive infrastructure of both neoliberal globalization and American global leadership. The objective is to keep those dissatisfied with this established order under sufficient control so that trade, investment, and basic security relations are not deeply disturbed. Part of Halper’s argument is that Israel understands the dynamics of an effective regime of global pacification better than any other country, and has done its best to be useful to the United States and Europe by providing niche support in terms of weaponry (say for border barriers, surveillance, and control) and doctrine (say targeted assassinations by drone strikes and collective blockades).

Matrix of Control

Halper relies upon an illuminating style of conceptualization to develop his basic analysis. For instance, one of his important contributions is to specify global pacification by reference to a “Matrix of Control.” The basic argument of the book is that the most defining “wars” of our times involve using state violence against a mobilized population that mounts threats against the established economic and political order. The matrix of control is the complex interaction of weapons, policies, practices, and ideas that make this project a reality. The paradigmatic case is the Israeli pacification of the Palestinians, which is less than their defeat or annihilation, but something other than sustained warfare; it is doing enough by way of forcible action to punish, terrorize, and suppress without clearly crossing the line drawn by legal prohibitions on mass atrocity and genocide. It is damping down the fires of Palestinian resistance into a smoldering mass of tensions and resentments that every so often bursts into flames, offering pretexts for launching a new campaign of devastation. The pattern of periodic onslaughts against Gaza since 2008 is indicative of the broader policies, with three massive attacks every 2-3 years, what Israeli officials are comfortable describing as “mowing the lawn” (146), which incidentally stimulates a new round of arms sales.

The Israeli matrix of control (143-190) is specified by reference to its various main components, forming an integrated and distinctive form of what Halper describes as “urban warfare” resting on the premise of “domestic securitization,” that is, conceiving of the enemy as mainly operating within the boundaries of the state, ultimately to be contained rather than defeated. Such an integrated approach relies on walls to keep the unwanted from entering, surveillance, fragmenting the population to be controlled, periodic and punitive violent suppression designed to prevent, preempt, and demoralize, and proactive intelligence that seeks to gain access to the inner circles of militant opposition forces. Such a matrix of control both deploys a mixture of traditional counterterrorist measures and the latest innovations in sophisticated technology, including armed robotics, drones, and a variety of overlapping surveillance techniques. The approach relies on a vertical layering of security measures that rests on redundancy to ensure effective control. What is original about this approach is its conscious realization that “victory” over hostile subjugated forces is not an acceptable or realizable policy option, and what works best is a system of permanent control sustained by a mix of coercive and psychological instruments.

Pacifying Palestinians and Pacifying the World

Halper shows how this matrix of control, which developed to enable Israeli settler society to achieve a tolerable level of security with respect to the indigenous Palestinian population, seeks to fulfill an elusive requirement. It maintains security without resorting to genocide or to the kind of destructive forms of mass slaughter that characterized earlier experiences of settler colonialism where the land occupied was cleared of natives. At the same time, it pacifies in a post-colonial era where the power of the colonial master has been effectively challenged throughout the world. It is no longer possible to beat the native population into a condition of passive resignation as had been the case so often during the heyday of the extensive European colonial empires. These two considerations suggest a policy puzzle for the pacifier who must avoid extreme violence and yet depends on a sufficient degree of violence to intimidate a restive population that believes resistance is justified and currently accords with the flow of history.

The Israeli answer in a variety of acknowledged and disguised forms is best understood by reference to the Dahiya Doctrine, which incorporates a logic of disproportionate retaliation (174-176). In effect, for every Israeli killed or home damaged or destroyed, a far greater number of Palestinians will be killed and entire residential neighborhoods destroyed. The Dahiya Docrtine was proclaimed originally to justify the destruction of the Dahiya neighborhood in south Beirut during the Lebanon War of 2006. The people living in densely populated Dahiya were viewed by Israel as supportive of Hezbollah, but it is descriptive of Israeli behavior generally with respect to Palestinian acts of resistance, particularly with respect to Gaza since falling under Hamas’s control. The supposedly centrist Tzipi Livni, the Israeli political leader who served as Foreign Minister during the massive attack on Gaza at the end of 2008, expressed this Israeli way of dealing with Palestinian resistance in Gaza in the following chilling words: “Hamas now understands that when you fire on its [Israel’s] citizens it responds by going wild—and this is a good thing” (quoted in Halper, 175). I would add that “going wild” is a euphemism for rejecting the efforts of international humanitarian law and the just war tradition to constrain the intensity of violence and suffering by insisting on proportional responses. In effect, to reject so overtly this admittedly vague effort of international law to impose limits on the conduct of warfare, Israel is incorporating into the core of its security approach a repudiation of the humanizing ambition of international law, and implicitly claiming the right on its own to use force as it wishes. This is a step back from the extensive attempt during the prior century to put the genie of war, if not back in its bottle, at least to gesture toward that end. With Israel’s concept of securitization, also descriptive of the approach taken by the United States, as well as such other countries as Russia, France, and China, it is arguable that international society has turned the normative clock back to a nihilistic zero.

There is another crucial feature of the matrix of control that is of wider relevance than Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians that Halper associates with “Framing: A Tendentious Definition of ‘Terrorism’” (149-151). This framing idea is to make it appear that “the terrorists” are always those resisting control by the established political order, and never those that are exercising authority however oppressively. As Halper points out, the IDF may kill over 2,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of whom are civilians, in the course of an armed confrontation in Gaza, as opposed to Hamas killing five Israeli civilians, but Hamas will still be depicted as the practitioner of terror and Israel’s violence will be put forward as defensive measures that are reasonable and necessary for the protection of the civilian population of Israel. The Israeli government will describe Palestinian civilian deaths as regrettable collateral damage, while attributing Hamas’s comparatively trivial lethality to a deliberate intention to kill Israeli civilians. The final step in the ideologizing process is to make this construction of the respective intentions of the two sides hinge on the question of deliberate intention, and since Hamas’s rockets are fired in the general direction of civilian populations the intention is declared to be deliberate, while Israel is seeking to destroy militarily relevant personnel and weaponry. This kind of manipulative framing by Israel has been borrowed by the United States and other governments to lend moral authority to the form of disproportionate violence that has characterized counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan in the post-9/11 era as well as lesser military operations around the world in the course of “the war on terror.”

What Israel has been doing within Palestinian territory it is seeking to control, the United States does globally. The introduction of drone warfare and special ops covert forces into dozens of countries throughout the world is an extension of the matrix of control as perfected by Israel within its limited field of operations. It also reformulates the parameters of permissible violence without regard to the limitations of international law, regarding any point of suspected adversaries throughout the planet as subject to deadly attack, borrowing notions of targeted assassination from the repertoire of Israeli practices. As with Israel, the operative goal of the so-called long war is not victory in the World War II sense, but rather the exercise of a sufficiency of control that is able to establish tolerable levels of security for Western societies and transnational economic activity. It is worth pointing out that as with Israel, the United States is unwilling to pay the costs in reputation and resources that would be required to achieve victory, although in the Iraq occupation as earlier in Vietnam it did seek to do more than pacify but in the end found the costs too high, and abandoned the undertaking.

Halper’s book gives essential insights to a key set of interrelated concerns: the political benefits to Israel arising from its dual role as quality arms supplier and counterinsurgency mentor; the degree to which Israel’s success in managing a hostile Palestinian population as well as a series of dangerous regional threats offers the United States a model for global securitization with a primary objective of preempting threats to the American homeland and safeguarding neoliberal global markets and trade routes from hostile forces; as also noted, the Israeli domestic security apparatus has been influential in the equipping and training of American and other national police forces. Additionally, Isreali technologies and knowhow have been relied upon to monitor borders and to erect barriers against unwanted entry; the advantages of having a seemingly permanent combat zone such as Gaza for field testing weapons and tactics increases the attractiveness of Israel as supplier of choice. This kind of combat zone is real world simulation that has many experimental advantages over the sorts of war games that are used to assess the effectiveness of weapons and tactics. Without incoming rockets from Gaza it would be impossible to reliably test the effectiveness of a defensive system such as the Iron Dome.

Concluding Comments

In the end, Halper answers the question as to why Israel’s seeming international unpopularity based of its long-term suppression of the Palestinian people does not harm its image or status. Israel manages to get away with its abusive human rights record while a more powerful and populous country such as apartheid South Africa was sanctioned and censured repeatedly. Of course, U.S. geopolitical muscle is part of the answer, but what Halper adds to our understanding in an insightful and factually supported manner is an appreciation of Israel’s extraordinary usefulness as arms supplier and counterinsurgency guru. A further implication of Israeli usefulness is a realization that governments give much more weight to relationships that bolster their security capabilities than they do to matters of international morality and law. Given these realities, it remains clear that the Palestinian national movement will have to wage its struggle on its own with principal support coming from civil society. Israel, it must be acknowledged has substantially neutralized both the UN and the foreign policy of most important countries, although public opinion around the world is moving in directions that could exert mounting pressure on Israel in the years to come.

As the title of Halper’s book suggests, what is transpiring worldwide, and is epitomized by the Israeli response to Palestinian opposition, can be best understood as part of a wider shift in the nature of global conflict in the post-Cold War period. Instead of most attention being given by security bureaucracies to rivalries and warfare among leading states, the most salient, dangerous, and cruelest conflicts are between state and society, or wars waged against people. There are no significant international wars between two or more states taking place now, while at least 30 internal wars are raging in different parts of the world. To be sure there have been a series of military interventions as part of the global pacification project under the direction of the United States and proxy wars in the Middle East in which major states intervene on opposite sides of a civil war. Yet whether we think of Syria as the paradigm of twenty-first century warfare or the Israeli matrix of control, it is “the people,” or a mobilized segment, that is being victimized. Halper’s book does the best job so far of depicting this new cartography of warfare, and deserves to be widely read and its main theses debated.

 

 

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Joint Declaration on International Law & Gaza & Final List of Endorsers

2 Aug

Final Text of Joint Declaration on International Law & List of Endorsers

 

(Prefatory Note: with only a voluntary effort the Joint Declaration on International Law in relation to the Gaza Attacks by Israel has elicited an encouraging response from legal experts from around the world, including some of our most distinguished colleagues. Others without formal legal credentials have also indicated their support, and expressed their desire to endorse the Joint Declaration. The original drafting group agreed that formal endorsers should be limited to those with a law background, although we have recorded all others in a second list that will be made public when an appropriate occasion arises. We thank all of you who have contributed to this initiative by indicating support.

 As might be expected the dissemination of this text also generated critical reactions from those who argued that we had understated Israel’s rights under international law and understated Hamas’ violations. There were other more vituperative denunciations of such an initiative and its endorsers that expressed anger and hostility toward anyone who dares criticizes Israel, and even encouraged Israel to persist in its military onslaught in Gaza, and do whatever its leaders think necessary.

 With this posting we are formally closing the endorsing process, but we will continue to do our best to insist on the relevance of international law to the behavior of Israel and the other parties in this conflict along the lines of the analysis contained in the Joint Declaration. We discourage pro and con comments at this stage, although welcoming substantive discussion and suggestions for further dissemination)

 

 

The International Community Must End Israel’s Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip

As international and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal experts and individuals who firmly believe in the rule of law and in the necessity for its respect in times of peace and more so in times of war, we feel the intellectual and moral duty to denounce the grave violations, mystification and disrespect for the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental human rights of the entire Palestinian population committed during the ongoing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. We also condemn the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as every indiscriminate attack against civilians, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators, is not only illegal under international law but also morally intolerable. However, as also implicitly noted by the UN Human Rights Council in its Resolution of 23 July 2014, the two parties to the conflict cannot be considered equal, and their actions – once again – appear to be of incomparable magnitude.

Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the ‘protected persons’ under International humanitarian law (IHL), who is in the eye of the storm. Gaza’s civilian population has been victimized in the name of a falsely construed right to self-defence, in the midst of an escalation of violence provoked in the face of the entire international community. The so-called Operation Protective Edge erupted during an ongoing armed conflict, in the context of a prolonged belligerent occupation that commenced in 1967. In the course of this ongoing conflict thousands of Palestinians have been killed and injured in the Gaza Strip during recurrent and ostensible ‘ceasefire’ periods since 2005, after Israel’s unilateral ‘disengagement’ from the Gaza Strip. The deaths caused by Israel’s provocative actions in the Gaza Strip prior to the latest escalation of hostilities must not be ignored as well.

According to UN sources, over the last three weeks, at least 1,373 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and 8,265, including 2,502 children and 1,626 women, have been injured. Several independent sources indicate that only 15 per cent of the casualties were combatants. Entire families have been murdered. Hospitals, clinics, as well as a rehabilitation centre for disabled persons have been targeted and severely damaged. During one single day, on Sunday 20th July, more than 100 Palestinian civilians were killed in Shuga’iya, a residential neighbourhood of Gaza City. This was one of the bloodiest and most aggressive operations ever conducted by Israel in the Gaza Strip, a form of urban violence constituting a total disrespect of civilian innocence. Sadly, this was followed only a couple of days later by an equally destructive attack on Khuza’a, East of Khan Younis.

Additionally, the offensive has already caused widespread destruction of buildings and infrastructure: according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 3,300 houses have been targeted resulting in their destruction or severe damage.

As denounced by the UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on the Gaza conflict in the aftermath of Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in 2008-2009: “While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defence, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: The people of Gaza as a whole” (A/HRC/12/48, par. 1883). The same can be said for the current Israeli offensive.

The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is under direct attack and many are forced to leave their homes. What was already a refugee and humanitarian crisis has worsened with a new wave of mass displacement of civilians: the number of IDPs has reached more than 457,000, many of whom have obtained shelter in overcrowded UNRWA schools, which unfortunately are no safe areas as demonstrated by the repeated attacks on the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun. Everyone in Gaza is traumatized and living in a state of constant terror. This result is intentional, as Israel is again relying on the ‘Dahiya doctrine’, which deliberately has recourse to disproportionate force to inflict suffering on the civilian population in order to achieve political (to exert pressure on the Hamas Government) rather than military goals.

In so doing, Israel is repeatedly and flagrantly violating the law of armed conflict, which establishes that combatants and military objectives may be targeted, i.e. ‘those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.’ Most of the recent heavy bombings in Gaza lack an acceptable military justification and, instead, appear to be designed to terrorize the civilian population. As the ICRC clarifies, deliberately causing terror is unequivocally illegal under customary international law.

 

In its Advisory Opinion in the Nuclear Weapons case, the ICJ stated that the principle of distinction, which requires belligerent States to distinguish between civilians and combatants, is one of the “cardinal principles” of international humanitarian law and one of the “intransgressible principles of international customary law”.

 

The principle of distinction is codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of the Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to which no reservations have been made. According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” refer to “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence” (Article 49). Under both customary international law and treaty law, the prohibition on directing attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects is absolute. There is no discretion available to invoke military necessity as a justification.

 

Contrary to Israel’s claims, mistakes resulting in civilian casualties cannot be justified: in case of doubt as to the nature of the target, the law clearly establishes that an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes (such as schools, houses, places of worship and medical facilities), is presumed as not being used for military purposes. During these past weeks, UN officials and representatives have repeatedly called on Israel to strictly abide by the principle of precaution in carrying out attacks in the Gaza Strip, where risks are greatly aggravated by the very high population density, and maximum restraint must be exercised to avoid civilian casualties. HRW has noted that these rules exist to minimize mistakes and “when such mistakes are repeated, it raises the concern of whether the rules are being disregarded.”

 

Moreover, even when targeting clear military objectives, Israel consistently violates the principle of proportionality: this is particularly evident with regard to the hundreds of civilian houses destroyed by the Israeli army during the current military operation in Gaza. With the declared intention to target a single member of Hamas, Israeli forces have bombed and destroyed houses although occupied as residencies by dozens of civilians, including women, children, and entire families.

 

It is inherently illegal under customary international law to intentionally target civilian objects, and the violation of such a fundamental tenet of law can amount to a war crime. Issuing a ‘warning’ – such as Israel’s so-called roof knocking technique, or sending an SMS five minutes before the attack – does not mitigate this: it remains illegal to wilfully attack a civilian home without a demonstration of military necessity as it amounts to a violation of the principle of proportionality. Moreover, not only are these ‘warnings’ generally ineffective, and can even result in further fatalities, they appear to be a pre-fabricated excuse by Israel to portray people who remain in their homes as ‘human shields’.

 

The indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the targeting of objectives providing no effective military advantage, and the intentional targeting of civilians and civilian houses have been persistent features of Israel’s long-standing policy of punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip, which, for over seven years, has been virtually imprisoned by an Israeli imposed closure. Such a regime amounts to a form of collective punishment, which violates the unconditional prohibition set forth in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and has been internationally condemned for its illegality. However, far from being effectively opposed by international actors, Israel’s illegal policy of absolute closure imposed on the Gaza Strip has relentlessly continued, under the complicit gaze of the international community of States.

 

***

As affirmed in 2009 by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict: “Justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action” (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1958) Indeed: “long-standing impunity has been a key factor in the perpetuation of violence in the region and in the reoccurrence of violations, as well as in the erosion of confidence among Palestinians and many Israelis concerning prospects for justice and a peaceful solution to the conflict”. (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1964)

Therefore,

 

  • We welcome the Resolution adopted on 23 July 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council, in which an independent, international commission of inquiry was established to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

 

  • We call upon the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, individual States, in particular the United States of America, and the international community in its entirety and with its collective power to take action in the spirit of the utmost urgency to put an end to the escalation of violence against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, and to activate procedures to hold accountable all those responsible for violations of international law, including political leaders and military commanders. In particular:
  • All regional and international actors should support the immediate conclusion of a durable, comprehensive, and mutually agreed ceasefire agreement, which must secure the rapid facilitation and access of humanitarian aid and the opening of borders to and from Gaza;
  • All High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions must be urgently and unconditionally called upon to comply with their fundamental obligations, binding at all times, and to act under common Article 1, to take all measures necessary for the suppression of grave breaches, as clearly imposed by Article 146 and Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; these rules are applicable by all interested parties as well;
  • Moreover, we denounce the shameful political pressures exerted by several UN Member States and the UN on President Mahmoud Abbas, to discourage recourse to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and we urge the Governmental leaders of Palestine to invoke the jurisdiction of the ICC, by ratifying the ICC treaty and in the interim by resubmitting the declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, in order to investigate and prosecute the serious international crimes committed on the Palestinian territory by all parties to the conflict; and
  • The UN Security Council must finally exercise its responsibilities in relation to peace and justice by referring the situation in Palestine to the Prosecutor of the ICC.

 

 

***

 

Please note that institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.

 

  1. John Dugard, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  2. Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  3. Alain Pellet, Professor of Public International Law, University Paris Ouest, former Member of the United Nations International Law Commission, France
  4. Georges Abi-Saab, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Former Judge on the ICTY
  5. Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Chantal Meloni, Adjunct Professor of International Criminal Law, University of Milan, Italy (Rapporteur)

 

  1. Roy Abbott, Consultant in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, Australia
  2. Lama Abu-Odeh, Law Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  3. Taris Ahmad, Solicitor at Jones Day, London, UK
  4. Kasim Akbaş, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  5. Susan M. Akram, Clinical Professor and supervising attorney, International Human rights Program, Boston University School of Law, USA
  6. Maria Anagnostaki, PhD candidate, Law School University of Athens, Greece
  7. Antony Anghie, Professor of Law, University of Utah, USA
  8. Javier Ansuátegui-Roig, Director, Human Rights Institute Bartolomé de las Casas, Charles III University of Madrid, Spain
  9. Ayman Atef, LLM Ain Shams University, Egypt
  10. Ufuk Aydin, Dean, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  11. Nizar Ayoub, Director, Al-Marsad, Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
  12. Valentina Azarov, Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, Al Quds Bard College, Palestine
  13. Ammar Bajboj, Lecturer in Law, University of Damascus, Syria
  14. Samia Bano, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  15. Asli Ü Bali, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law, USA
  16. Jakub Micha³ Baranowski, Phd Candidate, Universita’ degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy
  17. Frank Barat, Russell Tribunal on Palestine
  18. Marzia Barbera, Professor of Law, University of Brescia, Italy
  19. Emma Bell, Coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, Université de Savoie, France
  20. Barbara Giovanna Bello, Post-doc Fellow, University of Milan, Italy
  21. Brenna Bhandar, Senior lecturer in Law, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  22. George Bisharat, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of Law, USA
  23. Marta Bitorsoli, LLM, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Trial Clerk ICTY, The Hague, The Netherlands
  24. Barbara Blok, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  25. John Braithwaite, Professor of Criminology, Australian National University, Australia
  26. Michelle Burgis-Kasthala, lecturer in international law, University of Edinburgh, UK
  27. Eddie Bruce-Jones, Lecturer in Law, University of London, Birkbeck College, UK
  28. Sandy Camlann, LLM Candidate, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France
  29. Grazia Careccia, Human Rights Advocate, London, UK
  30. Baris Cayli, Impact Fellow, University of Stirling, UK
  31. Antonio Cavaliere, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  32. Kathleen Cavanaugh, Senior Lecturer, Irish Center for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  33. Elizabeth Chadwick, Reader in International Law, Nottingham, UK
  34. Donna R. Cline, Attorney at Law, USA
  35. Karen Corteen, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Chester, UK
  36. Andrew Dahdal, Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  37. Teresa Dagenhardt, Reader in Criminology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  38. Luigi Daniele, PhD candidate in Law, Italy
  39. Alessandro De Giorgi, Professor of Justice Studies, San Josè State University, USA
  40. Cristina de la Serna-Sandoval, lawyer and human rights consultant, Spain
  41. Javier De Lucas, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  42. Paul de Waart, Professor Emeritus of International Law, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  43. Gabriele della Morte, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  44. Max du Plessis, Professor of Law, University of Kwazulu-Natal, and Barrister, South Africa and London, UK
  45. Isabel Düsterhöft, LL.M., Utrecht, M.A. Hamburg, Germany
  46. Noura Erakat, Georgetown University, USA
  47. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Canada
  48. Mireille Fanon-Mendés France, Independent Expert UNO, Frantz Fanon Foundation, France
  49. Michelle Farrell, lecturer in law, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, UK
  50. Daniel Feierstein, Professor and President International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), Argentina
  51. Eleonor Fernández Muñoz, Costa Rica
  52. Tenny Fernando, Attorney at Law, Sri Lanka
  53. Amelia Festa, LLM Candidate, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  54. Katherine Franke, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, USA
  55. Jacques Gaillot, Bishop in partibus of Partenia
  56. Katherine Gallagher, Vice President FIDH, senior attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  57. Avo Sevag Garabet, LLM, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
  58. Jose Garcia Anon, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  59. Cristina Garcia-Pascual, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  60. Jose Antonio García-Saez, International Law Researcher, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  61. Andrés Gascón-Cuenca, PhD candidate, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  62. Irene Gasparini, PhD candidate, Universitá Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  63. Stratos Georgoulas, Assistant Professor, University of the Aegean, Greece
  64. Haluk Gerger, Professor, Turkey
  65. Hedda Giersten, Professor, Universitet I Oslo, Norway
  66. Javier Giraldo, Director Banco de Datos CINEP, Colombia
  67. Carmen G. Gonzales, Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  68. Penny Green, Professor of Law and Criminology, Director of the State Crime Initiative, King’s College London, UK
  69. Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  70. Andrew Henley, PhD candidate, Keele University, UK
  71. Christiane Hessel, Paris, France
  72. Paddy Hillyard, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  73. Ata Hindi, Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  74. Francois Houtart, Professor, National Institute of Higher Studies, Quito, Ecuador
  75. Deena R. Hurwitz, Professor, General Faculty, Director International Human Rights Law Clinic, University of Virginia School of Law, USA
  76. Perfecto Andrés Ibánes, Magistrado Tribunal Supremo de Espagna, Spain
  77. Franco Ippolito, President of the Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy
  78. Ruth Jamieson, Honorary Lecturer, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  79. Helen Jarvis, former member Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), member of IAGS, Cambodia
  80. Ioannis Kalpouzos, Lecturer in Law, City Law School, London, UK
  81. Victor Kattan, post-doctoral fellow, Law Faculty, National University of Singapore
  82. Michael Kearney, PhD, Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex, UK
  83. Yousuf Syed Khan, USA
  84. Tarik Kochi, Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex, UK
  85. Anna Koppel, MSt Candidate in International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford, UK
  86. Azra Kuci, legal advisor TRIAL (track impunity always), Bosnia and Herzegovina
  87. Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and lawyer
  88. Giulia Lanza, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy
  89. Massimo La Torre, Professor of Law, University of Hull (UK), Catanzaro University (Italy)
  90. Daniel Machover, solicitor, Hickman & Rose, London, UK
  91. Tayyab Mahmud, Professor of Law, Director of the Centre for Global Justice, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  92. Maria C. LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney, CCR, New York, USA
  93. Louise Mallinder, Reader in Human Rights and International Law, University of Ulster, UK
  94. Triestino Mariniello, Lecturer in International Criminal Law, Edge Hill University, UK
  95. Mazen Masri, Lecturer in Law, The City Law School, City University, London, UK
  96. Siobhan McAlister, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  97. Liam McCann, Principal Lecturer in Criminology, University of Lincoln, UK
  98. Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  99. David McQuoid-Mason, Director, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  100. Yvonne McDermott Rees, Lecturer in Law, University of Bangor, UK
  101. Cahal McLaughlin, Professor, School of Creative Arts, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  102. Araks Melkonyan, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  103. Antonio Menna, PhD Candidate, Second University of Naples, Caserta, Italy
  104. Naomi Mezey, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  105. Michele Miravalle, PhD candidate, University of Torino, Italy
  106. Sergio Moccia, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  107. Kerry Moore, Lecturer, Cardiff University
  108. Giuseppe Mosconi, Professor of Sociology, University of Padova, Italy
  109. Usha Natarajan, Assistant Professor, Department of Law & Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies, The American University in Cairo, Egypt
  110. Miren Odriozola Gurrutxaga, PhD Candidate, University of the Basque Country, Donostia – San Sebastián, Spain
  111. Georgios Papanicolaou, Reader in Criminology, Teesside University, UK
  112. Marco Pertile, Senior Lecturer in International Law,
    Faculty of Law, University of Trento, Italy
  113. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law and Theory, LLM, The Westminster Law and Theory Centre, UK
  114. Carli Pierson, Attorney at Law, USA
  115. Antoni Pigrau Solé, Universitat Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona, Spain
  116. Joseph Powderly, Assistant Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  117. Tony Platt, Visiting Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University, USA
  118. Scott Poynting, Professor in Criminology, University of Auckland, New Zeeland
  119. Chris Powell, Professor of Criminology, University S.Maine, USA
  120. Bill Quigley, Professor, Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law, USA
  121. John Quigley, Professor of Law, Ohio State University
  122. Zouhair Racheha, PhD Candidate, University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France
  123. Laura Raymond, International Human Rights Advocacy Program Manager, CCR, New York, USA
  124. Véronique Rocheleau-Brosseau, LLM candidate, Laval University, Canada
  125. David Rodríguez Goyes, Lecturer, Antonio Nariño and Santo Tomás Universities, Colombia
  126. Alessandro Rosanò, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
  127. Jamil Salem, Director Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  128. Mahmood Salimi, LLM Candidate, Moofid University, Iran
  129. Nahed Samour, doctoral fellow, Humboldt University, Faculty of Law, Berlin, Germany
  130. Iain GM Scobbie, Professor of Public International Law, University of Manchester, UK
  131. David Scott, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
  132. Phil Scraton, Professor of Criminology, Belfast, Ireland
  133. Rachel Seoighe, PhD Candidate, Legal Consultant, King’s College London, UK
  134. Tanya Serisier, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  135. Mohammad Shahabuddin, PdD, Visiting researcher, Graduate School of International Social Sciences, Yokohama National University, Japan
  136. Angeles Solanes-Corella, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  137. Dean Spade, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  138. Per Stadig, lawyer, Sweden
  139. Chantal Thomas, Professor of Law, Cornell University, USA
  140. Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University, USA
  141. Gianni Tognoni, Lelio Basso Foundation, Rome, Italy
  142. Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology, The Open University, UK
  143. Paul Troop, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
  144. Valeria Verdolini, Reader in Sociology, University of Milan, Italy
  145. Francesca Vianello, University of Padova, Italy
  146. Lydia Vicente-Márquez, Executive Director, Rights International Spain
  147. Aimilia Voulvouli, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Fatih University, Turkey
  148. Namita Wahi, Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, India
  149. Sharon Weill, PhD, Science Po, Paris/ CERAH, Geneva, Switzerland
  150. Peter Weiss, Vice President of Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  151. David Whyte, Reader in Sociology, University of Liverpool, UK
  152. Jeanne M. Woods, Henry F. Bonura, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans, USA
  153. William Thomas Worster, Lecturer, International Law, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
  154. Maung Zarni, Judge, PPT on Sri Lanka and Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science

 

After July 28th

 

  1. Lindsay Adams, Barrister, London, U.K
  2. Kasim Akbaş, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  3. Nidal al-Azza, lecturer in Refugee Law, Al-Quds University, Director of Badil Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights, Palestine
  4. Reem Al-Botmeh, Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  5. Rouba Al-Salem, PhD candidate, faculty of Law, Montreal University, Canada
  6. Koorosh Ameli, Former Judge, Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands
  7. Rinad Abdulla, Lecturer in Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, Birzeit University, Palestin Claims Tribunal
  8. Mojgan Amrollahi Biuki, Human Rights Lawyer in Tehran, PhD candidate, Freiburg University, Freiburg i.Br., Germany
  9. Alessandra Annoni, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University of Catanzaro, Italy
  10. Javier Ansuátegui-Roig, Director, Human Rights Institute Bartolomé de las Casas, Charles III University of Madrid, Spain
  11. Alicia Araujo Mendonca, Lawyer, London, UK
  12. Maria Aristodemou, School of Law, Birkbeck College, USA
  13. Huwaida Arraf, Attorney and Human Rights Advocate, New York, USA
  14. Ayman Atef, LLM Ain Shams University, Egypt
  15. Ufuk Aydin, Dean, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  16. Irene Baghoomians, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Australia
  17. Ajamu Baraka, human rights activist and former director of the U.S. Human
  18. Marzia Barbera, Professor of Law, University of Brescia, Italy, Rights Network (USHRN), USA
  19. Faisal Bhabha, Assistant Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  20. Onder Bakircioglu, Lecturer in Law, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  21. Alonso Barros, PhD, Attorney at Law, Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights Advocate, Chile
  22. Asmaa Bassouri, PhD Candidate, Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech, Morocco
  23. Jinan Bastaki, Law PhD candidate, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK
  24. Paolo Bertoli, Professor of International Law, University of Insubria, Como-Varese, Italy
  25. Marta Bitorsoli, LLM, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Trial Clerk ICTY, The Hague, The Netherlands
  26. Tessa Boeykens, Legal Researcher in Transitional Justice, Ghent University, Belgium
  27. Audrey Bomse, Co-Chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee, USA
  28. Giorgio Bonamassa,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Lawyer
  29. Marco Borraccetti, senior Lecturer in European Union Law, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, Italy
  30. Fatma Bouraoui, Lawyer, Tunisia
  31. Bill Bowring, Barrister, Professor, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK
  32. John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York City, USA
  33. Valentina Cadelo, Researcher, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
  34. Andrea Caligiuri, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University of Macerata, Italy
  35. Alejandra Castillo Ara, Lawyer, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg i.Br., Germany
  36. Giovanni Cellamare, Professore of International Law, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bari, Italy
  37. Emanuele Cimiotta, Assistant Professor of International Law, Law Faculty, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  38. Maivan Clech Lam, Professor Emerita, City University of New York Graduate Center, USA
  39. Ziyad Clot, Lawyer, University of Paris II Assas and Sciences Po Paris, France
  40. Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president, National Lawyers Guild, USA
  41. Nicola Colacino, Associate Professor of International Law, University Niccolò Cusano, Rome, Italy
  42. Judith Cole, Adjunct Professor of International Law, International University in Geneva (IUG), Geneva, Switzerland
  43. Luigi Condorelli, Professor of International Law, University of Florence, Honorary Professor, University of Geneva, Switzerland/Italy
  44. Aoife Corcoran, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL Human Rights graduate), London, United Kingdom
  45. Francesco Costamagna, Assistant Professor of EU Law, University of Turin, Italy
  46. Jamil Dakwar, International Human Rights Lawyer, New York, USA
  47. Fredrik Danelius, LLM, former lecturer in international law, Lund University, Sweden, Oslo University, Norway, former editor-in-chief of Nordic Journal of International Law
  48. Shane Darcy, lecturer, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Northern Ireland
  49. Nasrin Dashty, Barrister, Associate Special Assistant, ICC, The Hague, The Netherlands
  50. Birju M. Dattani, Barrister and PhD Student in International Law, SOAS University of London, UK
  51. Gail Davidson, Director, Lawyers against the War, USA
  52. Mark de Barros, Lecturer in Law, Université Paris II Panthéon, Assas/Attorney at Law, New York Bar, France/USA
  53. Emanuele De Franco, Lecturer in Criminal Law, University Federico II, Solicitor, Naples, Italy
  54. Javier De Lucas, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  55. Fanny Declercq, LLM, Leiden University, The Hague, The Netherlands
  56. Géraud de La Pradelle, Emeritus Professor International Law, France
  57. Adele Del Guercio, Researcher in International Law, University L’Orientale, Naples, Italy
  58. Cristina de la Serna-Sandoval, lawyer and human rights consultant, Spain
  59. Francesca De Vittor, Researcher in International Law, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
  60. Saverio Di Benedetto, Senior Lecturer of International Law, Università del Salento, Italy
  61. Mahmoud Dodeen, Lawyer and Professor of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  62. Linn Döring, Lawyer, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  63. Pierre-Emmanuel Dupont, Member of the Hague Center for Law and Arbitration, Senior Lecturer at the Free Faculty of Law, Economics and Management, Paris, France
  64. Isabel Düsterhöft, LL.M., Utrecht, M.A. Hamburg, Germany
  65. Penelope Ehrhardt, MSt in International Human Rights Law Candidate, University of Oxford, UK
  66. Lena El-Malak, PhD in Public International Law SOAS, Legal Counsel, UAE
  67. Ali Ercan, Researcher and Intern at the OIC Mission to the United Nations, New York, USA
  68. Siavash Eshghi, PhD candidate, SOAS University, London, UK
  69. Marco Fasciglione, Researcher in International Law, International Institute for Legal Studies, Naples, Italian National Research Council, Italy
  70. Matteo Fornari, Researcher in International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
  71. Francisco Forrest Martin, Former Ariel F. Sallows Professor of Human Rights, University of Saskatchewan, College of Law, Canada
  72. Fabrizio Forte, PhD Candidate, University Federico II, Solicitor, Naples, Italy
  73. Micaela Frulli, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Florence, Italy
  74. Domenico Gallo, Judge, Italian Supreme Court, Rome, Italy
  75. Cristina Garcia-Pascual, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  76. Jose Antonio García-Saez, International Law Researcher, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  77. Andrés Gascón-Cuenca, PhD candidate, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain.
  78. Francesco M. Genovesi, Attorney at Law, Milan, Italy
  79. Andrea Giardina, Emeritus Professor of International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  80. Jérémie Gilbert, Reader in Law, University of East London, School of Law and Social Sciences, London, UK
  81. Andrés Felipe Gómez Ariza, Colombia, Public International Law LLM candidate, University of Leicester, UK
  82. Henning Grosse Ruse, PhD, Khan, King’s College, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, UK
  83. Kelly L. Grotke, PhD, Affiliate Research Fellow, Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, Iceland
  84. Kumaravadivel Guruparan, Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka
  85. Mateenah Hunter, LLB (Wits), LLM Public Interest Law and Policy (UCLA), Attorney, South Africa
  86. Ivan Ingravallo, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Bari, Italy
  87. Issaaf Ben Khalifa, Lawyer, University of Carthage, Tunisia
  88. Urfan Khaliq, Professor of International Law, Cardiff University, UK
  89. Ahmed Amine Khamlichi, Investigator at the CNRS, France
  90. Adilur Rahman Khan, Senior Advocate at Supreme Court of Bangladesh
  91. Shoaib M. Khan, Solicitor, Human Rights activist, London, UK
  92. Daniela Kravetz, International Criminal Justice and Gender Expert, The Hague, The Netherlands
  93. Azra Kuci, Human Rights Lawyer, LLM Graduate, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  94. Massimo La Torre, Professor of Law, University of Hull (UK), Catanzaro University, Italy
  95. Roberto Lamacchia, Lawyer, President, Association Democratic Jurists, Turin, Italy
  96. Michelle Landy, Solicitor, London, UK
  97. Federico Lenzerini, Assistant Professor of International Law, University of Siena, Italy
  98. Afsaneh Lotfizadeh, Human Rights Researcher (UCL LLM graduate), London, United Kingdom
  99. Michael Lynk, Professor, Faculty of Law, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  100. Osama Malik, Advocate, Islamabad High Court Bar Association, Pakistan
  101. Marina Mancini, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria, Italy
  102. Ana Manero Salvador, Associate Professor of Public International Law, University Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
  103. Fabio Marcelli, Research Director, Institute for International Legal Studies of the National Research Council, Rome, Bureau Member of IADL, Italy
  104. GIlberto Pagani, Avvocato, Legal Team Italia,
  105. Antonio Martínez Puñal, Professor of Public International Law, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  106. Mari Matsuda Professor, William S. Richardson School of Law, USA
  107. David McQuoid-Mason, Director, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  108. Maeve McMahon, Associate Professor, Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
  109. Ladan Mehranvar, PhD candidate in International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada
  110. Ezio Menzione,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  111. Ruth Mestre, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  112. Lies Michielsen, Lawyer Antwerp, Belgium
  113. Jeanne Mirer, President, International Association of Democratic Lawyers
  114. Bela Mongia, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL Human Rights student), London, United Kingdom
  115. Lavinia Monti, PhD candidate in International Law and Human Rights, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  116. Gloria M. Moran, Professor of Law, Religion and Public Policy, UDC, Spain/USA
  117. Giuseppe Morgese, Senior Lecturer in European Uninion Law, University of Bari, Italy
  118. Raffaella Multedo,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  119. Raymond Murphy, Professor of Law and Human Rights, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Galway, Northern Ireland
  120. Francesca Mussi, PhD candidate in International Law, University of Milan- Bicocca, Italy
  121. Egeria Nalin, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy
  122. Nina Navid, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL MA Human Rights graduate), London, U.K.
  123. Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Barrister, Palestine Legal Aid Fund, Amman, Jordan
  124. Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell, Lawyer, Hope, British Columbia, Canada
  125. Maria Irene Papa, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Faculty of Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
    Facoltà di Giurisprudenza
  126. Brad Parker, Attorney, Defence for Children International Palestine, USA
  127. Gilberto Pagani, Lawyer, Milan, Italy
  128. Brunilda Pali, Researcher, KU Leuven Institute of Criminology, Leuven, Belgium
  129. Paolo Picone, Emeritus Professor of International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Member of Institut de Droit International, Member of Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
  130. Enrique Pochat, profesor de Derechos Humanos en la Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina
  131. Giuseppe Puma – PhD, International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  132. Antonio Martínez Puñal, Professor of Public International Law, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  133. Micòl Savia, human rights lawyer, permanent representative of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) at the UN, Italy
  134. Chiara Ragni, Senior Researcher and Assistant Professor of International Law, University of Milan, Italy
  135. Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, USA
  136. Edel Reagan, LLM, Irish Center for Human Rights, Galway, Northern Ireland
  137. Clara Rigoni, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  138. Sunčana Roksandić Vidlička, assistent lecturer Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, PhD Candidate Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  139. Yashvir Roopun, Barrister at Law, UK
  140. Itziar Ruiz-Gimenez Arrieta, Lecturer of International Relations, University Autónoma of Madrid, Spain
  141. Simeon A. Sahaydachny, LL.M in International Law, New Jersey, USA
  142. Francesco Saluzzo, PhD candidate in International Law, University of Palermo, Italy
  143. Laura Salvadego, research Fellow in International Law, University of Ferrara, Italy
  144. Stephanie Schlickewei, Research Associate in Public International Law, University of Kiel, Germany
  145. Smita Shah, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, London, UK
  146. Rasha Sharkia, Media Advisor, Israel/Palestine,UCL MA Human Rights graduate, London, UK.
  147. Francesco Sindico, Reader in International Environmental Law, University of Strathclyde Law School, Glasgow, UK
  148. Francisco Soberon, Director Fundador, Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH), Lima, Peru
  149. Angeles Solanes-Corella, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  150. Mihira Sood, Human Rights Lawyer, Supreme Court of India, India
  151. Marta Sosa Navarro, Lawyer and International Criminal Law researcher, PhD in International Criminal Law, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
  152. Pamela Spees, Senior Staff Attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights, New York, USA
  153. Euan Sutherland, CB, Barrister and Parliamentary Draftsman, London, UK
  154. Patrice Tacita, Lawyer, Member of LKP, Guadeloupe
  155. Dennis Töllborg, Professor in Legal Science, STIAS Fellow, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  156. Seline Trevisanut, Assistant Professor in International Law, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  157. Maïa Trujillo, Senior Programme Officer for International Law and Human Rights, The Hague, The Netherlands
  158. Lydia Vicente-Márquez, Executive Director, Rights International Spain
  159. Luisa Vierucci, Lecturer in International Law, university of Florence, Italy
  160. Gianluca Vitale,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  161. Daniela Vitiello, PhD, International Law and EU Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  162. Benjamin Vogel, Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg i. Br., Germany
  163. B.J. Walker, Professor, University of Victoria, Canada, and PUC-Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  164. Burns H Weston, Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Senior Scholar, UI Center for Human Rights, The University of Iowa, USA
  165. Laura Westra, PhD, University of Windsor, Canada – International Law
    University Bicocca, Milan, Italy
  166. John Whitbeck, Expert on International Law, former legal advisor, Palestinian Negotiation Team
  167. Richard Wild, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Greenwich, UK
  168. Pål Wrange, Professor of International Law, Stockholm University, Sweden

 

 

 

  1. Selma Abdel Qader, LLM, SciencesPo, PSIA, Paris, France
  2. Jacqueline Alsaid, LLM, freelance writer and Human Rights Activist, UK
  3. Soumaya Ben Dhaou, PhD, Assistant Professor Nipissing University, ON, Canada
  4. Francisco Bernete, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
  5. Carla Biavati, Members of the IPRI – Institute for Peace Research, Italian branch
  6. Linda Bimbi, International Section of the Lelio and Lisli Basso Foundation, Rome
  7. Robert Bourque, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, College de Thetford and UMCE University, Canada
  8. Elpidio Capasso, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  9. Joseph Chiume, Barrister, Malawi
  10. Elena Coccia, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  11. Esmeralda Colombo, Legal Practitioner, (LLM, College d’Europe), Milan, Italy
  12. Antonio Crocetta, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  13. Maurizio Cucci, Member of the IPRI – Institute for Peace Research, Italian branch
  14. Simon Dalby, professor, Wilfrid Laurier University, USA
  15. Luigi De Magistris, Mayor of Naples and former Judge, Italy
  16. Silvia De Michelis, PhD candidate, University of Bradford, Department of Peace Studies, Bradford, UK
  17. Gennaro Esposito, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  18. Roja Fazaeli, Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  19. Andrea Florence, Master in International Law (IHEID), Brazil
  20. Alejandro Forero, Researcher, Observatory on Penal System and Human Rights University of Barcelona, Spain
  21. César Alejandro González Carrillo, Master in law
    Universidad de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México
  22. Héctor Grad, Associate Professor, Social Anthropology, University Autónoma, Madrid, Spain
  23. Cristina Greco, PhD in Semiotics, Department of Communication and Social Research, Rome University Sapienza, Italy
  24. Sondra Hale, Research Professor and Professor Emerita, Anthropology and Gender Studies, UCLA; and Coordinator, California Scholars for Academic Freedom, USA
  25. Remzi Halil, LLB, UK
  26. Naomi Head, Lecturer in Politics, University of Glasgow, UK
  27. Carlo Iannello, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  28. Mahmood M. Jaludi, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA
  29. Rabania Khan, LLB, UK
  30. Ronald C. Kramer, Professor of Sociology and Criminology, Western Michigan University, USA
  31. Charles H. Manekin, Professor of Philosophy, University of Maryland, USA
  32. Sarah Maranlou, Independent Legal Researcher, UK
  33. Lloyd K. Marbet, Executive Director, Oregon Conservancy Foundation, USA
  34. Miriam McColgan, Solicitor (Lawyer), Dublin, Ireland
  35. Giuseppe Nesi, Dean of the Law School, University of Trento, Italy
  36. Alba Nogueira López, Associate Professor of Administrative Law, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  37. Francis Oeser, Poet, London, UK
  38. Sarah Pallesen, MA Social Anthropology of Development, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK
  39. Daniele Perissi, LL.M Graduate, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Italy
  40. Raffaele Porta, Professor, Chemical Sciences, University Federico II, Naples Italy
  41. Nicola Quatrano, Judge, OSSIN – International Observatory on Human Rights, Italy
  42. Minhaj Quazi, B.Com(Hons) M.Com, LL.B.
  43. Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Executive Director, Law Life Culture, Bangladesh
  44. Jale Reshat, Solicitor, UK
  45. Dario Rossi, Lawyer, Italy
  46. Marco Russo, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  47. Ghassan Shahrour, MD
  48. Lloyd Schneider, Retired Minister, United Church of Christ, Delegate to General Synod 2015, Tuolumne, California, USA
  49. Gene, Schulman, Former senior editor, Overseas American Academy, Geneva, Switzerland
  50. Salvatore Talia, graduate in law, Università degli Sudi di Milano, Italy
  51. Carlo Tagliacozzo, Human Rights Activist, Turin, Italy
  52. Jeanne Theoharis, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Co-Founder of Educators for Civil Liberties , Brooklyn College of CUNY, New York, USA
  53. Ismail Waheed, Lecturer, Institute of Islamic Studies, Maldives
  54. Paul Wapner, Professor, School of International Service, American University, USA
  55. Saïd Zulficar, Network for Colonial Freedom

No Exit from Gaza: A New War Crime?

16 Jul

 

(Prefatory Note: this is a modified version of a post published online, July 15, 2014, at the recently established very informative website, Middle East Eye; as the casualty totals continue to mount while the world looks on in stupefied inaction, the attacks go on; at the very least, from a humanitarian perspective,there should be a global outcry demanding that children, mothers, and those sick and disabled be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip until current hostilities end. Yet this is a gap in international humanitarian law, refugee law, and the moral sensibilities of the combatant states.)

 

 

As the hideous Israeli assault on Gaza, named Operation Protective Edge, by the IDF enters its second week, overdue international appeals for a ceasefire fall on deaf ears. The short lived July 15th ceasefire arranged by Sisi’s Egypt had many accompanying signs of bad faith from its inception, including the failure to allow Hamas to participate in the process, insultingly conveying the proposed terms of the ceasefire through public media. The vague terms depicted, alongside the failure to take any account of Hamas’ previously announced conditions, suggest that this initiative was not a serious effort to end the violence, but rather a clever ploy to regain moral credibility for Israel thereby facilitating the continuation and even intensification of its violent military campaign that was never defensive in conception or execution. Rather than being a real effort to end the violence, such a ‘ceasefire’ seems best understood as a sophisticated for form of escalation produced by a descent into the lower depths of Israeli hasbara. Such an Israeli tactic was facilitated by the active complicity of the Egyptian government that shares with Israel an undisguised wish to destroy Hamas. Cairo regards Hamas as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has been criminalized and viciously repressed, and has collaborated with Tel Aviv ever since Sisi took over control of the Egyptian government.

 

Throughout Protective Edge Bibi Netanyahu has been telling the world that no outside pressure will alter Israel’s resolve to reach its military and political goals to disable Hamas for the indefinite future. The main official justification for such aggression is to make sure this time that Israelis will never again have to seek shelter from Hamas rockets, an elusive result that Netanyahu acknowledges could require a prolonged military campaign combining ground forces with a continuing air and naval assault. Others claim on Israel’s behalf that this attack on Hamas is a just response to its involvement in the kidnapping incident a month ago in which three Israeli settler teenagers were seized by two Palestinians, and soon afterwards brutally executed. Such a rationale would still be a hyperbolic form of collective punishment directed at the entire civilian population of Gaza, even if there had been a Hamas connection to the earlier crime, an involvement alleged from the very first moment, and yet up to now not substantiated by evidence even in the face of Hamas’ denial of any involvement. The internationally respected human rights and international law specialist resident in Gaza, Raji Sourani, has written that the scale and ferocity of Protective Edge is an application of what he labels the ‘Gaza Doctrine,’ a deliberate reliance on disproportionate force in any encounter in Gaza. The Gaza Doctrine is a renewal of what was originally known as the ‘Dahiya Doctrine’ after the destruction of the Dahiya residential neighborhood in south Beirut, where many of Hezbollah’s faithful were living, during the 2006 Lebanon War. The inability of Hamas to mount any sort of defense for the people of Gaza or even to provide protection via shelters and the like, epitomizes the criminal nature of Protective Edge, and more generally, of totally one-sided warfare.

 

Leaving aside the debate on causes and justifications, the civilian population of Gaza, estimated to be about 1.8 million with women and children comprising 75% of the total, are trapped in an overcrowded war zone with no shelters and no apparent exit from terrifying danger. Even if families are lucky enough to avoid direct physical injury, the experience of screaming jet fighters attacking through the night, targeting, attack, and surveillance drones flying overhead 24 hours a day, sustained naval artillery barrages, not to mention the threats and warnings of an imminent ground invasion combine to create a nonstop horror show. It has been convincingly confirmed by mental health specialists that these realities result in a trauma inducing phenomenon on a massive scale with prospects of lasting and irreversible psychological damage, especially to children.

 

With these elements in mind, the idea of fulfilling the basic objective of international humanitarian law to protect civilians caught in a war zoneis being violated by Israel, although not altogether. Israeli officials claim that leaflets dropped on some intended targets, otherwise forbidden, that give residents a few minutes to vacate their homes before their living space is reduced to rubble, exhibits a humane intent and satisfies the requirements of international humanitarian law. Such a self-sanitizing gesture fails to discharge the obligations of an Occupying Power under international humanitarian law.

 

In a further escalation of the attacks, perhaps the prelude to a ground invasion, residents of northern Gaza are being told to flee the area, and tens of thousands have apparently done so. Hamas apparently urged these same people not to leave their homes dismissing Israeli threats as intimidating propaganda. Cynically interpreted, Hamas appears to be informing Israel that if they go ahead and invade, there will be responsible for causing many Palestinian civilian casualties, and the shock caused by such carnage will help eventually swing the international balance of opinion strongly in their favor.

 

The entrapment of the Gazan population within closed borders is part of a deliberate Israeli pattern of prolonged collective punishment that has for the past several years been imposed on Gaza. This amounts to a grave breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and as such qualifies as a potential Crime Against Humanity. The morbid clarity of criminal intent is further disclosed by Israel’s willingness to allow 800 or so Gazans who have dual citizenship and hold a foreign passport to leave Gaza by entering Israel at the Erez Crossing, including 150 with American passports. No other Palestinian residents of Gaza have the option of leaving even if disabled, sick, elderly, or young. The civilian population of Gaza is denied the option of seeking refugee status by fleeing Gaza during this time of intense warfare, and there is no space available within Gaza that might allow Palestinian civilians to become internally displaced until Protective Edge completes its dirty work.

 

In countries such as Iraq and Syria we grieve appropriately for the millions becoming refugees or ‘internally displaced,’ compelled by the dangers of the raging conflict to seek refuge somewhere in the country that is removed from the immediate dangers of inhabiting the war zone. We can sense the extremity of the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza by realizing that these people whose lives are being acutely jeopardized, have no place to hide from the brutalities of war. There is no doubt that the whole of the Gaza Strip is a war zone. Gazans who have endured many mortal threats and a siege since 2007, currently find themselves in situations of extreme hazard, and yet have no possibility of seeking temporary safety as refugees by crossing an international border. The idea of internal refuge is almost inapplicable given the ferocious nature of Protective Edge that has spared not one corner of the tiny and overcrowded Gaza Strip. To be sure, in response to Israeli warnings to abandon their homes tens of thousands of Palestinians are fleeing south from north Gaza. At present writing , an estimated 17 thousand Palestinians have obtained refuge in the 20 UN-run schools situated throughout Gaza. UNRWA is doing its heroic best to handle these desperate people but its buildings have limited space and lack the facilities to handle properly this kind humanitarian emergency–insufficient bathrooms, no beds, and not enough space to meet the demands.

 

This is not the first time that this exit challenge has been posed in Gaza. Back in 2008-09 and 2012, Israeli launched major military operations in Gaza, and the issue of the entrapped civilian population was brought to the attention of the UN and the international community, a challenge met as now with scandalous silence. The encirclement of Gaza by Israeli controlled crossings and fences, even worse than in the past due to an Egyptian political leadership that makes no secret of its hostility to Hamas. The overall humanitarian crisis is catastrophic in the risk it poses to the totally vulnerable Gazan social reality.

 

For some perspective, it is useful to recall that just prior to the Kosovo War in 1999, up to a million Kosovars crossed into Macedonia to escape anticipated NATO air strikes and because of a credible fear of an imminent ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Serbian forces then controlling the country. As soon as the war was over and Serbia abandoned Kosovo, these refugees returned, having safely navigated the dangers of the war.

 

In Libya, too, the international community meaningfully responded in 2011 to the urgent crisis of an entrapped civilian population. In the Libyan crisis Security Council members talked piously about relying on the emergent norm of international law known as the Responsibility to Protect, or R2P, that validated intruding on Libyan sovereignty by way of a No Fly Zone that was established to protect the civilian population of Benghazi facing the vengeance of Qaddafi’s forces. This 2011 intervention has been much criticized because the humanitarian justification on which authorization for the undertaking was transformed immediately into a controversial regime-changing intervention that raised many objections. What is most relevant here is that the UN and the member governments of the Security Council acknowledged their responsibility to do something to protect a civilian population unable to remove itself from a combat zone. It should not be forgotten in comparing Libya with Gaza that humanitarian appeals seem much more effective when the country in question is perceived to have strategic value, especially large oil deposits.

 

The UN , aside from the admirable field efforts of UNRWA noted above, and the international refusal to adopt measures protective of the people of Gaza is unforgiveable, particularly as Gazans are being subjected to severe forms of violence that are approaching genocidal thresholds. Even so the UN and its leading member governments turn their heads and look away. Some do wors by actually endorsing Israel’s aggression. This pattern of behavior exhibits either a sense of helplessness in the face of Israel’s military juggernaut or even more disturbingly, a silence that can be construed as tacitly blessing this infernal entrapment of innocent and a long victimized people.

 

International law has little to say. International refugee law avoids issues associated with any right to escape from a war zone and does impose a duty on belligerent parties to provide civilians with an exit and/or a temporary place of sanctuary. International humanitarian law offers little more by way of protection to an entrapped people, despite the seeming relevance of the Fourth Geneva Convention devoted to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War. There is accorded to foreign nationals a right of departure with the onset of war, including even repatriation to an enemy country, but no right of nationals to leave their own country if under attack. And the generalized obligation of an Occupying Power to protect the civilian population is legally subordinated to its security needs, including military necessity, and so is generally of little practical use during an ongoing military operation.

 

What is evident in relation to the entrapped civilian population of Gaza is that no legal obligation exists to provide for safe havens either within the country experiencing the warfare or beyond its borders. At minimum, this horrible cauldron of violence and vulnerability reveals serious gaps in international humanitarian law, as well as the absence of self-imposed moral constraints that might limit belligerent violence. Such unattended vulnerability to atrocity urgently calls for a supplemental international agreement, perhaps taking the form of a treaty protocol to the Geneva Convention conferring an unconditional right of exit on civilians entrapped in a war zone. There is also a need to make any denial of the right of exit a species of war crime within the purview of the International Criminal Court. It should also be considered whether there should be conferred a right of internal displacement, imposing an obligation upon the Occupying Power, a territorial government, and insurgent actor to establish and respect enclaves set aside for displaced persons and to allow unimpeded civilian departure from war zones so as to take advantage of internal displacement. There are further complications that need to be addressed including whether the territorial government or Occupying Power can invoke security considerations to deny exit and displacement rights to those it has reason to believe are entitled to respect as civilians.

 

For the present it is enough to observe that the civilian population of Gaza finds itself totally entrapped in a terrifying war zone, and that Israel, the UN, and neighboring governments have refused to accept responsibility to offer some form of humane protection. It is one aspect of the unacceptability of the Israeli military operation from a moral/legal perspective and the related failure of international humanitarian law to lay down suitable rules and procedures that respect the human dignity of civilian innocence so entrapped. Yet, as almost always in such situations, it is the presence or absence of political will on the part of leading geopolitical actors that is the decisive factor in determining whether victimized people will be protected or not.And so it is with Gaza.