Joseph Brew: Punish war crimes in Mideast


Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 9:37 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 9:37 a.m.

The Israeli government admitted recently to having used white phosphorous during its military campaign in Gaza. This is a clear violation of Article I Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, as well as the Geneva Conventions.

Though Israel is not a signatory, the Geneva Conventions give universal jurisdiction to signatories (like the United States and Europe) and require them to prosecute war crimes (even those committed by non-citizens).

The recent conflict resulted in 13 Israeli deaths (of which three were civilian) and 1,330 Palestinian deaths (of which 150 to 940 were civilian, depending on whose count you use). Having destroyed U.N. buildings, relief organizations, schools, and other non-military institutions, these deaths constitute a violation of the principle of proportionality, as laid out in Article 8 of the Geneva Conventions.

Hamas has been accused of using human shields. There are also indications that Hamas has stored weapons in churches and mosques. If these accusations are proved, they would be in violation of international law and prosecutable by the world community.

Hamas rocket attacks on civilians in Israel are deplorable and illegal. World leaders should insist that these attacks end immediately. Hamas' leaders can and should be prosecuted under international law for targeting civilians.

Israel has been and will continue to be our strongest ally in the Middle East. Israel depends on U.S. support for its defense in an extremely hostile environment.

America should not abandon Israel. However, American military aid should never be given without strings attached.

President Obama should act quickly to encourage the investigation and prosecution of all suspected war crimes in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian.

Joseph Brew,

Gainesville

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