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Home Articles General Time for Sanctions and the Prosecution of War Crimes in Gaza

Time for Sanctions and the Prosecution of War Crimes in Gaza

By Maureen Smith

Posted on August 27, 2014 by the Communications Committee

All of the information in this article is a summary of a larger article with more details referenced below. At the end of this article you will find links to a resolution passed on August 10th at the Peace and Freedom Party State Convention in Oakland, California and a letter to the International Criminal Court from several legal organizations.

While we know that US leaders aid and abet Israeli war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, we need to step up to the plate and demand an embargo on military aid to Israel and call for the prosecution of Israeli and US war crimes.

A summary of the war crimes can be found in the August 8th edition of the Jurist in this article by NLG Attorney and Law Professor Marjorie Cohn. They include the following crimes:

War Crimes

  1. Willful killing;
  2. Willful causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health;
  3. Unlawful and wanton, extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity;
  4. Willfully depriving a prisoner of war or a civilian the rights of fair and regular trial;
  5. Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population, civilian objects, or humanitarian vehicles, installations and personnel;
  6. Intentionally launching attacks with knowledge they will cause loss of life or injury to civilians to damage to civilian objects to long term severe damage to the natural environment, if they are clearly excessive to the anticipated military advantage;
  7. Attacking or bombarding undefended towns, villages, dwellings or buildings, or intentionally attacking religious, educational and medical buildings, which are not military objectives.

Genocide

  1. With the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group;
  2. The commission of any of the following acts:
    • a) killing members of the group,
    • b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part.

Crimes Against Humanity

  1. The commission of murder as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population;
  2. Persecution against a group or collectively based on its political, racial, national, ethnic, or religious character, as part of a widespread to systematic attack against any civilian population;
  3. The crime of apartheid (inhuman acts committed in the context of an institutional regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another racial group, with the intent to maintain that regime.

Collective Punishment is not included in the Rome Statute but it is considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime.

On July 25, 2014, a French lawyer filed a complaint with the ICC on behalf of the Palestinian justice minister. Citing Israel's military occupation of Palestinian territories, Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing military operations there, the complaint alleges that Israel committed war crimes and other crimes. The Palestinian government has not formally commented on this complaint.

On July 23, 2014, the UN Human Rights Council established a commission of inquiry into Israeli violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. The resolution also called on parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene and respond to the alleged violations. That convention requires parties to prosecute violators. Countries can bring foreign nationals to justice for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity under the well-established doctrine of universal jurisdiction. Genocide charges could also be brought under the Genocide Convention, to which both Israel and the United States are parties. That convention also punishes complicity in genocide; US leaders' provision of military aid would constitute complicity.

Although the Israeli and US governments continue to maintain that Israel has only acted in self-defense against Hamas' terrorism, the weight of world opinion points in the opposite direction. There is overwhelming opposition to Israeli aggression in Gaza and calls for justice and accountability.

Both Israeli and US leaders must be criminally prosecuted for committing and aiding and abetting these crimes.

References

  • Resolution on Israeli and U.S. War Crimes - Peace and Freedom Party, August 10, 2014
  • National Lawyers Guild and other organizations - Letter to International Criminal Court, August 22, 2014
  • Maureen Smith is chair of the Santa Cruz County Peace and Freedom Party


    For more on war crimes against Gaza, see

     
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