War Crimes In Gaza?
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai said:
We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages destroying all the infrastructure including roads & water.
Or as Haaretz puts it:
Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Israel’s operation in Gaza: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages ….”
Destroying civilian infrastructure is – of course – a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
The following are also war crimes under the Geneva Convention:
- The indiscriminate or disproportionate use of force
- Collective punishment for the acts of a few
- Targeting civilians
Targeted assassinations – such as Israeli’s recent assassination of a Hamas leader – are also likely war crimes.
Indeed, Israeli’s alleged policy of intentionally reducing caloric intake by Palestinians living in Gaza – if real – would be a a years-long, systemic and continuous war crime. (Israel has also restricted access to medicine to the residents of Gaza.)
Likewise, Israeli’s use of white phosphorous during “Operation Cast Lead”, and its alleged use of the substance this week – if proven – would also constitute a war crime. Specifically, Israel ratified Protocol III of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (“Protocol III”) – which outlaws the use of incendiary devices in war – in 2007.
Moreover, the 1925 Geneva Protocol (which is different from Protocol III) prohibits “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases”. The U.S. National Safety Council states that “White phosphorus is a poison . . . If its combustion occurs in a confined space, white phosphorus will remove the oxygen from the air and render the air unfit to support life . . . It is considered a dangerous disaster hazard because it emits highly toxic fumes. The EPA has listed white phosphorus as a Hazardous Air Pollutant. Indeed, it is interesting to note that the U.S. previously called white phosphorous a chemical weapon when Saddam used it against the Kurds.