4-24-02 - Details: The Palestinians violated Geneva Convention - Israel honored it -


John Podhoretz - New York Post April 22, 2002

THE Palestinian big lie against Israel keeps shifting as the truth emerges.

The first big lie was that the Israelis had perpetrated a massacre in Jenin, killing more than 500 people and then stashing them in mass graves. Then, as aid workers and journalists uncovered no evidence of mass graves, the lie was that the Israelis had secretly transported the dead bodies in refrigerated trucks.

Now it's that the Israelis have violated international law relating to war. According to the BBC on Thursday, "International officials say some actions by [Israel's] troops, there and elsewhere, would appear to have breached the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civilians in war or under occupation."

Why? Well, "the convention forbids violence being used against civilians, as well as inhumane or degrading treatment . . . It is claimed that civilians died in Jenin when their houses were demolished. The convention prohibits the destruction of property except where military operations make it absolutely necessary."

Lies. Lies lies lies. Damnable, outrageous, unseemly lies.

The simple truth is this: International law relating to the conduct of the incursion exculpates the Israelis and convicts the Palestinian Authority. Period.

The Israelis went into Jenin and made a systematic search for bomb laboratories and terror cells that had been hidden among civilians. The purpose was to destroy the laboratories and take prisoner or kill those who had been building the suicide bombs and directing the suicide attacks.

The Palestinian intifada describes itself as an armed struggle, an uprising. The word that describes the leaders and planners of such an armed struggle, in legal parlance, is "combatants."

And international law could not be any more plain. On June 8, 1977, the Fourth Geneva Convention was updated. The document is called "Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts."

Article 37 outlaws the use of civilian populations as a shield for military actions. It explicitly prohibits "the feigning of civilian, noncombatant status; and 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."

What the leaders of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas and Islamic Jihad do is hide among civilian populations to make it as difficult as possible for their enemies to attack them. The Geneva Convention denounces this as "perfidy."

Peter Bouckaert, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in New York who sneaked into Jenin on Thursday, told the Washington Post, "It's been incredibly difficult to tell the difference between fighters and civilians. If a combatant uses the civilian population as a shield in this way, the deaths incurred are the moral and legal responsibility of those who are hidings out in this grotesquely cowardly fashion.

Previously, Palestinians and their apologists had claimed the Israelis were violating the Fourth Geneva Convention by refusing to allow ambulances operated by the Red Crescent Society to move freely between Israeli hospitals and the West Bank towns in which the incursions were taking place.

Article 38 specifically addresses the ambulance issue: "It is prohibited to make improper use of the distinctive emblem of the red cross, red crescent or red lion and sun." And yet this is precisely what the Palestinians have done. The Israelis have stopped and searched ambulances emblazoned with the Red Crescent and found suicide belts hidden in them. One of these incidents, on March 27, was captured on videotape.

By using this internationally accepted symbol as a diversionary tactic - in essence turning ambulances into tanks - the Palestinians thus bear the moral and legal responsibility under international law for the Israeli refusal to allow the free conduct of Red Crescent vehicles.

The violators of international law - the criminals in this war - are the Palestinians who devised these shameful tactics.