[Marxism] U.N. says Israel is a war criminal

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 20 06:53:27 MDT 2006


NY Times, July 20, 2006
United Nations
Attacks Qualify as War Crimes, Officials Say
By WARREN HOGE

UNITED NATIONS, July 19 — The United Nations’ top human rights official 
said Wednesday that the killing and maiming of civilians under attack in 
Lebanon, Israel and Gaza and the West Bank could constitute war crimes.

“The scale of killings in the region, and their predictability, could 
engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved, particularly 
those in a position of command and control,” said Louise Arbour, the high 
commissioner for human rights.

Ms. Arbour is a former justice of Canada’s Supreme Court who, as chief 
prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the 
former Yugoslavia, indicted the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

“International humanitarian law is clear on the supreme obligations to 
protect civilians during hostilities,’’ she said. That same obligation 
exists, she added, in international criminal law, which defines war crimes 
and crimes against humanity.

“Indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and 
unacceptable targeting of civilians,” she said in a statement released by 
her Geneva office. “Similarly, the bombardment of sites with alleged 
innocent civilians is unjustifiable.”

The Swiss-based International Red Cross, the recognized guardian of the 
Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war, said Wednesday that Israel had 
violated the principle of proportionality provided for in the Conventions 
and their protocols.

It also noted that Hezbollah was firing rockets into northern Israel. 
“Hezbollah fighters too are bound by the rules of international 
humanitarian law, and they must not target civilian areas,” it said.

At the United Nations, there was support for the view that the only way to 
spare more victims was to halt the fighting, but there was also evidence 
that the United States would continue to dispute it.

“We think a truce is needed for humanitarian reasons,” said Jean-Marc de la 
Sablière, the ambassador of France, which holds the rotating presidency of 
the Security Council.

But John R. Bolton, the American ambassador, said the notion that a 
cease-fire would solve the problem was “simplistic.” “Among other things,” 
he said, “I want somebody to address the problem how you get a cease-fire 
with a terrorist organization.”

“This is a different kind of situation,” he added, “and I’m not sure that 
sort of old thinking, conventional thinking, works in a case like this.”

Mark Malloch Brown, the deputy secretary general, said that “on 
humanitarian grounds but also to enable ultimately a sustainable solution 
to this, one which allows Israel and its neighbors to live in peace with 
each other, continued conflict does not help.”

Secretary General Kofi Annan was returning to New York from Europe and was 
scheduled to brief the Council on Thursday on his call for a “cessation of 
hostilities” and a stabilization force for southern Lebanon.

“The need to bring this to a stop while we find a longer-term political and 
security solution is one that he will be stressing tomorrow in the 
Council,” Mr. Malloch Brown said.

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