Friday, January 09, 2009

The Crime of Violence and War

Co-sponsor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican said before the vote: "The Israelis ... are responding exactly the same way we would."
Oh, for the power to make him eat those words. Is this, for example, the way we would respond?

The statement [of the ICRC] said a team of four Palestine Red Crescent ambulances accompanied by Red Cross representatives made its way to Zeitoun Wednesday where it “found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all, there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses.”

In another house, the statement said, the rescue team “found 15 other survivors of this attack including several wounded. In yet another house, they found an additional three corpses. Israeli soldiers posted at a military position some 80 meters away from this house ordered the rescue team to leave the area which they refused to do. There were several other positions of the Israeli Defense Forces nearby as well as two tanks.”

Because of berms built by Israeli forces, the ambulances could not enter the area so “the children and the wounded had to be taken to the ambulances on a donkey cart,” the statement said.
Israel, of course, says it does not target citizens. Hmmmm....

Katarina Ritz, the ICRC's head of mission in Jerusalem, said experienced Palestinian emergency workers wept at the scenes they were confronted with.

She said Israeli troops were within about 100m of the houses in question, and that the ICRC believes the soldiers "must have been aware" of the presence of the wounded people, because of repeated requests from aid agencies for access.

Under international law, she said, even if there are security concerns meaning the injured cannot be evacuated, "the minimum is to treat these people, to feed these people, give them water, and keep them in a safe place".
The ICRC is quite critical of Israel's actions:

The statement said the international Red Cross “believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was even more critical:

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, singled out the killing of 30 Palestinian civilians in a home in central Gaza that was shelled by Israeli forces, and their alleged neglect of young, starving children whose mothers died in the attack.

"I am concerned with violations of international law. Incidents such as this must be investigated because they display elements of what could constitute war crimes," Pillay told Reuters in an interview.
I can understand Hamas not following the Geneva Convention, frankly. Understand it, which does not excuse but rather condemns Hamas. They were elected to govern Gaza, and they have done a poor job of it simply by attacking Israel, rather than trying to work out a better arrangement for the citizens they are responsible for. But that doesn't excuse Israel one bit. I heard the children in this house interviewed on the BBC. No one listening could not imagine they will grow up happy to join Hamas in their attacks on Israel. Hearing their stories, it's almost hard to blame them.

Sadly, I'm afraid Sen. McConnell is right, and the US would have done exactly what Israel is doing in Gaza. That is not, however, the recommendation he imagines it is.

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