Hamas officials are praising Wednesday's deadly bombing of a bus station in Jerusalem -- a city they've vowed to conquer.Even if part of Jerusalem is considered occupied (and it clearly isn't,) that doesn't mean that the 'occupying power' has no right to arrest known terrorists in the territory. In fact, they have an obligation to.
Jerusalem is also a place where wanted Hamas members have found safe haven from Israeli authorities -- and they're getting help from one of the world's leading humanitarian organizations.
Although Hamas's main headquarters can be found in Gaza and Damascus, over the past several months, three officials from the terror group have also set up shop at the International Red Cross office in East Jerusalem.
Israel suspects these three Hamas legislators had a role in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It ordered them to be deported from Jerusalem last summer.
Instead, the three found refuge at the Red Cross, where they've set up a tent and held court on a daily basis, with no protest from their hosts.
The three Hamas officials have been living there since July. During that time, they've held a number of press conferences and met with foreign dignitaries, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Every Friday, dozens of East Jerusalem residents gather at the Red Cross to hold prayers as a show of support.
Red Cross spokesperson Cecilia Goin told CBN News that hosting the wanted Hamas officials is in line with the organization's humanitarian mission -- despite Hamas' long track record of terrorism.
"Under international humanitarian law, East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory," Goin said. "So the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are considered protected people."
Goin, who refers to Israel as an "occupying power" in East Jerusalem, said politics are not involved in the Red Cross's decision.
From a monograph called "US Army Doctrine and Belligerent Occupation" that interprets international law for occupation:
The first essential task is to restore public order and safety. ...If I am reading this correctly, the Red Cross is unlawfully interfering with Israel's obligations and allowances to create and enforce laws, under international law.
The third implied task is to review the local laws in order to enforce, suspend or repeal them and enact new laws in their place as needed. ...Although not commonly done, the
occupying power may also enact their own laws in the occupied country, as both Germany and Allied forces did during World War II. Clearly, certain procedures must be adhered to ensure any new laws are both effective and obeyed. Such procedures would include giving notice to the populace in their native language(s), publishing the laws in writing, and ensuring that new laws are not applied in an ex post facto fashion.
The fourth implied task to the restoration of public order and safety is supervision of courts, jails, and prisons. The Geneva Convention provides, “[t]he necessity of ensuring effective administration of justice, the tribunals of the occupied territory shall continue to function in respect to all offenses covered by the said laws.” The occupying power has considerable latitude to use a variety of courts, tribunals, and local government systems to adequately enforce and administer the law.
Moreover, while civilian occupants are considered protected people, Hamas is by any definition at war with Israel. It is less clear that these Hamas members have the status of combatants, but an argument can be made that Hamas does not distinguish between their own military and civilian infrastructures and that these three people are de facto militants.
So if the CBN article is accurate, and it appears to be, the Red Cross is helping to violate international law of the rights of the occupier, by its own definition of Israel as an occupier.
(Usual disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.)