Tuesday, September 15, 2009

493. The reports received by the Mission suggest that it is likely that the Palestinian armed
groups did not at all times adequately distinguish themselves from the civilian population among
whom the hostilities were being conducted. Their failure to distinguish themselves from the
civilian population by distinctive signs is not a violation of international law in itself, but would
have denied them some of the legal privileges afforded to combatants. What international law
demands, however, is that those engaged in combat take all feasible precautions to protect
civilians in the conduct of their hostilities. The Mission found no evidence that members of
Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat in civilian dress. It can, therefore, not find a
violation of the obligation not to endanger the civilian population in this respect.

I already dealt with some of the claim that they found no evidence of Hamas and PIJ masquerading as civilians, and there is more where that came from. But it is curious that Goldstone says that disguising themselves as civilians is not a violation of international law.

Geneva protocol I article 37 paragraph 1 states:
1. It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy: (a) the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender; (b) the feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness; (c) the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and (d) the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.
Unless I'm misreading it, it sounds like the very act of a combatant pretending to be a civilian is prohibited under international law.

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