Wednesday, August 19, 2020

An Israeli War Crime?

 Netanyahu cut off fuel for the sole power plant in the Gaza Strip. The denial of fuel to the Gaza Strip came in response to Hamas sending balloons and kites over Israeli territory with incendiary materials attached. The balloons have caused some brush fires. 

In retaliation Israeli fighter jets have bombed Gaza on several occasions during the past week. The Israelis have also stopped Palestinians from fishing. Now they will have electricity for only 4 hours daily.

The General Union of Worker Organizations in Gaza estimated that 90% of the Gaza Strip’s factories and workshops would be idled by the closure of the power plant. That is some 500 factories that will be left dark, leaving 50,000 workers unemployed.

Waste water treatment will also be impeded, meaning more raw sewage going into the Mediterranean.

Hospital patients are at special risk from lack of electricity. The spokesman for the Gaza ministry of health, Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, said that the lack of power poses a threat to premature babies nurseries, to patients in intensive care units, and to kidney patients (dialysis needs electricity). It will also halt surgeries and deliveries by Caesarean section.

While the incendiary balloons are condemnable and justify Israeli bombing of Hamas facilities, but cutting of diesel supplies to the whole population is not.

It is collective punishment on a mass scale.

After the Rwanda genocide, a special court was set up to judge war crimes and Shane Darcy notes, “The Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) enumerates collective punishment as a war crime…”

As Doctors without Borders notes, “International humanitarian law posits that no person may be punished for acts that he or she did not commit. It ensures that the collective punishment of a group of persons for a crime committed by an individual is also forbidden..."

Hamas has 30,000 activists in its military wing. The smaller Islamic Jihad, which is not affiliated with Hamas and often defies it, is thought to have 6,000 fighters. So there are like 36,000 combatants in Gaza and nearly 2 million noncombatants, i.e. persons who do not take direct part in hostilities.

No comments: