A United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday that Israel's military assault on densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a grave war crime.Let's be clear. The IDF went above and beyond in its attempts to minimize hurting the civilians of Gaza - phone calls warning civilians [and terrorists] to leave, dropping leaflets, rerouting rockets in mid-air to avoid innocents, risking soldiers' lives to avoid civilian deaths, the use of drones to watch where civilians were. No army in history has worked harder to avoid civilian deaths. The death of Gazans served the purpose of only one party: Hamas, which worked hard to endanger the people that Israel worked to save.
Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Geneva Conventions required warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians.
"If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law," Falk said.
For now, though, let us take Falk's statement at face value. He says that if it is impossible to distinguish between militants and civilians, then it is not only illegal to attack the terrorists to begin with - it is a "war crime of the greatest magnitude."
The Geneva Conventions, of course, say no such thing. They are clear that military targets within civilian areas are lawful to attack as long as the damage to civilians is minimized. It disallows:
an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.Geneva allows for a nation to do what is necessary to defend itself as long as it minimizes civilian casualties. One can argue over the definition of "excessive" but the basic legality of attacking legitimate military targets, even in civilian areas, is unquestioned. Falk, however, the supposed expert in international law, has now declared illegal what Geneva explicitly allows. Not only that, but he has given Hamas and other terror groups a formula to be able to operate against civilians at will.
According to Falk, Hamas can fire rockets and send suicide bombers into Israel with impunity and Israel is legally barred from defending herself as long as Hamas hides among civilians. To be sure, he would consider terror activity to be illegal as well, but terrorists by definition don't sign nor care about international agreements, so there is no legal recourse against terrorists as there is against nations being attacked by terrorists.
Falk, in his insatiable hatred for Israel, twists the law that he pretends to uphold, to transform it into an ugly club that is meant to bash a single target.