By Professor Louis René Beres
It is easy to feel sorry for the Palestinians in
Hamas commits other egregious violations of international law. It is always a codified war crime to use civilians as "human shields." This cowardly act even has a precise legal name - "perfidy." By persistently placing their most impoverished women and children in harm's way - especially in those areas from which they launch terrorist rockets into
There is more here than meets the eye. Several Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas, are forging conceptual and tactical bonds with al-Qaeda. These criminal organizations are now actively planning for mega-terror operations against
What government could be expected to sit back passively and render its population vulnerable to instantaneous mass-slaughter? Would we, in the
Although not widely recognized,
International law is not a suicide pact. Rather, it offers an authoritative body of rules and procedures that permits states to express their inherent right of self-defense. When terrorist organizations celebrate the explosive "martyrdom" of Palestinian children, and when Palestinian leaders unashamedly seek religious redemption through the mass-murder of Jewish children, the terrorists have no legal right to demand sanctuary. Anywhere.
Under international law terrorists are always hostes humani generis, "Common enemies of humankind." Even according to the most ancient sources of international law, such murderers must be severely punished wherever they are found. For their arrest and prosecution, jurisdiction is "universal."
Palestinian terrorism, even during its present "slow" period (when contending Hamas and Fatah factions are too busy attacking each other), is far worse than most people ever imagine. Using bombs filled with nails, razor blades and screws dipped in rat poison; the killers maim and burn Israeli civilians with abundant cheers from their neighbors and with warmest blessings from local clergy. As for those "commanders" who actually direct and control the suicide-bombers, they typically cower for protection in assorted hiding places. At times they issue loud calls for their wives, mothers and daughters to stand between themselves and the Israelis.
This is the documented "heroism" of Palestinian terrorism. What is unknown to most observers is that carefully trained IDF counter-terrorism units operate in exactly the opposite fashion. These Israeli soldiers always identify and target only the terrorist leaders. Always they seek to minimize collateral harms. There are times, of course, when such harms simply can't be avoided. Even the IDF, which follows its code of "Purity of Arms" far more stringently than any other nation's army, including our own, cannot undo the deliberate barbarism of Palestinian perfidy.
Deception can be legally acceptable in armed conflict, but The Hague Regulations forbid placement of military assets or personnel in heavily populated civilian areas. Further prohibition of perfidy is found at Protocol I of 1977 additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It is widely recognized that these rules are also binding on the basis of customary international law. Perfidy represents an especially serious violation of the Law of War, one identified as a "grave breach" at Article 147 of Geneva Convention IV. The critical legal effect of perfidy committed by Palestinian terrorist leaders is to immunize
International law is not a suicide pact. All combatants, including Palestinian terrorists, are bound by the Law of War of international law. This requirement is found at Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and at the two protocols to these Conventions. Protocol I applies humanitarian international law to all conflicts fought for "self-determination," the stated objective of all Palestinian fighters. A product of the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts (1977), this Protocol brings all irregular forces within the full scope of international law. In this connection, the terms "fighter" and "irregular" are charitable in describing Palestinian terrorists. These fanatics are plainly criminals who intentionally target civilians, and whose characteristic mode of "battle" is not purposeful military engagement, but primal religious sacrifice.
In the final analysis,
International law is not a suicide pact.
LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.