The laws of war forbid attacks in the following circumstances: (1) in situations “that intentionally target civilians or civilian property”; (2) in situations “that do not target a specific military objective or are otherwise indiscriminate”; or (3) in situations “that cause civilian harm disproportionate to the anticipated military gain.” For example, schools are “presumptively civilian objects that may not be attacked unless they are being used for military purposes, such as a military headquarters or to store weapons.”
Recently there were three Israeli attacks, which damaged schools and killed people in violation of the laws of war. The Human Rights Watch has investigated the three attacks. The attacks took place on July 24, July 30, and August 3, 2014. These attacks killed a total of 45 people, including 17 innocent children. According to Human Rights Watch’s investigation, two of the three attacks “did not appear to target a military objective or were otherwise unlawfully indiscriminate.” Additionally, the third attack was “unlawfully disproportionate if not otherwise indiscriminate.” When an illegal attack is carried out willfully, deliberately, or recklessly then this attack is considered to be a war crime.
According to Fred Abrahams, a special adviser at Human Rights Watch: “The Israeli military carried out attacks on or near three well-marked schools where it knew hundreds of people were taking shelter, killing, and wounding scores of civilians. Israel has offered no convincing explanation for these attacks on schools where people had gone for protection and the resulting carnage.”
The laws of war obligate Israel to inspect possible war crimes credibly and to punish those responsible. According to the Israeli military: “it has established a Fact-Finding Assessments Committee to examine exceptional incidents during the latest fighting, and that it had opened five criminal investigations.” However, Human Rights Watch has stated that: “Israel has a long record of failing to undertake credible investigations into alleged war crimes.”
Something needs to be done in order to protect these innocent children and civilians. A total of 45 people have been killed including 17 innocent children because of these war crimes. Human Rights Watch has stated: “National armed forces and armed groups should refrain from using schools for military purposes. Even if students aren’t there, using schools for military purposes makes them military objectives subject to attack.” Do you agree with Human Rights Watch? Why or why not? What necessary measures should be taken to minimize the harm to these civilians and children?
Additionally, Fred Abrahams stated: “Israel should go beyond sweeping justifications and provide detailed explanations for its attacks in and around these three schools housing hundreds of displaced people. And it should end its practice of impunity by punishing those who violate the laws of war.” Do you agree with Fred Abrahams? Why or why not? How should Israel punish those who violated the laws of war? What should Israel do in order to prevent this from happening in the future?
Source: Human Rights Watch
Image: Ya Libnan
Tags: Israel, Israeli Military, War Crimes, Children, Civilians, Schools, Attacks Near Schools, Human Rights Watch, Fred Abrahams