Tuesday, July 08, 2014

  • Tuesday, July 08, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
Amnesty International, after the three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped but before we knew their fate, issued a statement that (after calling for the release of the Israelis) listed a litany of supposed Israeli violations of international law in the IDF's attempts to find the boys.

One of the supposed violations was this:
The Israeli authorities are also considering transferring Hamas officials or prisoners who are residents of the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. The Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits an occupying power from forcibly transferring or deporting people from an occupied territory.
An EoZ reader sent Amnesty a question about this:
In your [statement], you say that Israeli authorities are considering transferring Hamas officials or prisoners who are residents of the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, and that this would be forbidden since the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits an occupying power from forcibly transferring or deporting people from an occupied territory.

However, Amnesty International also claims that Gaza is currently belligerently occupied by Israel. If that is the case, transferring Hamas officials who are residents of the West Bank to the Gaza Strip is simply a reassignment of residence of persons within occupied territory that is explicitly permitted by article 78 of the Geneva Convention. In any event, transfer to Gaza could not possibly be a "deportation" from occupied territory.

Is Amnesty International now finally admitting that the Gaza Strip is not belligerently occupied by Israel?

For background, here is Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions:
If the Occupying Power considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take safety measures concerning protected persons, it may, at the most, subject them to assigned residence or to internment.
The ICRC's 1958 commentary adds:
Unlike the Articles which come before it, Article 78 relates to people who have not been guilty of any infringement of the penal provisions enacted by the Occupying Power, but that Power may, for reasons of its own, consider them dangerous to its security and is consequently entitled to restrict their freedom of action.
The security measures envisaged are "assigned residence" and "internment", which have already been considered in detail in connection with Articles 41 and 42 .
It will suffice to mention here that as we are dealing with occupied territory, the protected persons concerned will benefit by the provisions of Article 49 and cannot be deported; they can therefore only be interned, or placed in assigned residence, within the frontiers of the occupied country itself. In any case, such measures can only be ordered for real and imperative reasons of security; their exceptional character must be preserved.
It sure looks like Amnesty must indeed consider Gaza to be a different territory than Judea and Samaria, and not part of the "occupied territories," for its reasoning to have any legal weight. Article 78 is quite clear.

My correspondent received a reply from Gordon Bennett, Supporter Care Team, Amnesty International UK. (I am making the assumption, supported by knowledgeable people, that Bennett's responses on behalf of Amnesty are considered on the record.)

Bennett wrote a condescending and, frankly, outlandish response that completely moved the goalposts to keep claiming Israel is violating international law, while abandoning Amnesty's main argument completely:

Hi XXX,

Nice try, but no. Like the vast majority of the world's governments, NGOs and international institutions, we recognise that Gaza remains under occupation, despite the removal of settlers and ground troops (excepting the regular incursions of course), as Israel retains effective control over the territory.

Assigned residence, like administrative detention/internment, is permitted under international law only when absolutely necessary. The way both assigned residence and adminstrative [sic] detention/internment are used by Israel far exceeds what is permitted under international law.


Regards,
Gordon Bennett

In other words, Amnesty is saying to ignore their previous statement. At first, they claimed that moving a Hamas member to Gaza was a violation of Article 49. They agree that there is no violation of the Geneva Conventions if Israel decided to transfer a Hamas member to Gaza.  They now claim that Israeli behavior is illegal for a totally different and completely inconsistent reason -  that it violates their quite novel interpretation of Article 78, and that same logic blows up their earlier assertion that it is a violation of Article 49.

Yet they write "Nice try," as if a mere letter writer cannot possibly have the same intellectual prowess as an Amnesty spokesperson  - who just abandoned his own organization's previous legal reasoning.

Beyond that, Amnesty's original statement said "The Israeli authorities are also considering transferring Hamas officials..." In their response they say that "The way ...assigned residence [is] used by Israel far exceeds what is permitted under international law."  How can Amnesty make such a statement when they themselves say that the idea is only speculation? It seems that Israeli officials' very thoughts are now considered to be gross violations of international law before any action is actually done, before anyone can evaluate whether the theoretical people being moved are indeed a security risk or not!

Amnesty (and others) have accused Israel of "excessive" behavior in the past without being qualified to and without knowing all the facts, which is bad enough. But here it is accusing Israel of excessiveness before Israel actually does anything.

Amnesty is the prosecutor, judge and jury in pre-emptively deciding Israel is criminal, and its legal reasoning is not nearly as important as the pre-determined result.

To call this outrageous would be an understatement. This is the exact opposite of objectivity.



Who is Gordon Bennett, the "Supporter Care Team" member of Amnesty UK?

While working at Amnesty, he was also a member of the International Solidarity Movement, the pro-Hamas organization that has actively aided terrorists,. He has taken part in anti-Israel, pro-BDS demonstrations in London. He is as far from objective as someone can be.

Not that he is the first person Amnesty hired as an expert on the Middle East who has a long record of anti-Israel incitement- and who makes up facts as they go along in order to convey a consistently anti-Israel message.

In a sane world, being a member of an anti-Israel organization would disqualify someone from being part of a "human rights" organization that claims to be objective.

For Amnesty, it may be a prerequisite.

(h/t Mike et. al.)




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