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Collective Punishment And The Blocked Of Gaza

By John Scales Avery

22 November, 2012

On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, Ahmed Jabari, leader of the military wing of Hamas, was assassinated by a targeted Israeli missile. Hours earlier, Jabas had received a draft of a permanent peace agreement with Israel. The assassination of Jabari must have been carefully planned in order for his whereabouts to have been known so accurately. The probable motive for the killing was to provoke the response that did indeed follow: the firing of Hamas rockets towards Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu's government responded to the rockets with a massive attack on civilian targets in Gaza, a response that also seems to have been carefully planned in advance, the timing being motivated by the nearness of elections in Israel.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, collective punishment is war crime. Article 33 states that “No protected person may be punished for an offense that he or she did not personally commit.” Articles 47-78 also impose substantial obligations on occupying powers, with numerous provisions for the general welfare of the inhabitants of an occupied territory.

Thus Israel violated the Geneva Conventions by its collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza in retaliation for the largely ineffective Hamas rocket attack which the Jabari assassination provoked. The larger issue, however, is the urgent need for lifting of Israel's brutal blockade of Gaza, which has created what Noam Chomsky calls the “the world's largest open-air prison”.

Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, states that “What we're seeing in Gaza now, is pretty much slow-motion genocide against the 1.5 million people who live in Gaza... If you read the 1948 Genocide Convention, it clearly says that one instance of genocide is the deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a people in whole or in part... And that's exactly what has been done since the imposition of the blockade by Israel. ”

Because of its limitless military and financial backing of Israel, the United States shares the blame for allowing Israel to create an Apartheid state even more gruesome than the one that the world unanimously condemned in South Africa.

John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004. http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm




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