Are Armed Paramilitary Settlers Civilians? A Response to David Samel

In the wake of the killings of several settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), there has been much handwringing from on high. A case in point is David Samel’s post Are the settlers civilians? On MondoWeiss.

Others, particularly Max Ajl, have already pointed out the immorality of condemning the acts of people who live under the heel of a criminal occupation in which we are all complicit. Indeed, one need only imagine the torrent of outrage that would ensue even today if Germans were to condemn the European antifascist resistance for their attacks on civilians under German occupation. The media in Nazi Germany in fact did carry such condemnations of the “barbaric” acts of the resistance. Would anyone today dream of citing these condemnations as proof of anything other than the revolting cynicism and hypocrisy of their authors?

In the following remarks, I would like to deal with an equally egregious defect in Samel’s piece – the way in which it deals with – or, perhaps, fails to deal with – international humanitarian law.

Samel’s post goes awry before he’s even done writing the title, which misstates the issue by conflating the different types of settlers in the OPT – commonly known as “lifestyle settlers” and “ideological settlers” (though he does touch on the distinction in the text of the piece, in a manner to which we will return) – and creates the impression in those unfamiliar with the applicable legal principles that the discussion is taking place on uncharted territory.

Even though the applicable legal framework – the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Protocols Additional – sets clear and mandatory standards for determining who is a civilian, and reams of doctrinal literature exist interpreting those and other related provisions, Samel does not even attempt to engage the legal definitions of the terms “civilian” and “combatant” – indeed, he never even cites the relevant provisions. Instead, he prefers to cloud the issue with red herrings about the upbringing of settlers (“They have been taught since birth that they are entitled to live on this land“) and absurd strawman arguments such as his question about “allowances for those who are retarded or autistic”. To make matters worse, he creates an express functional equivalency between those resisting a brutal, criminal occupation and those actively participating in one.

It only goes downhill from there.

International Humanitarian Law and Armed Illegal Settlers

International humanitarian law – the law of armed conflict – recognises exactly two kinds of people: civilians – who are entitled to the protections of the Fourth Geneva Convention (including, crucially, the right not to be shot at if they are not directly participating in hostilities) – and combatants – who enjoy the privileges and protections enshrined in the Third Geneva Convention (but can be shot at with impunity as long as they don’t surrender or become physically incapacitated). Combatants are members of military and paramilitary organisations, with the exception of the members of the medical services of those organisations, who bear arms openly, make themselves recognisable by affixing badges or other distinctive marks to their persons, and are subject to a fixed chain of command. Civilians are, basically, everyone else. Under international humanitarian law, they may not be targeted for attack except to the extent that they actively participate in hostilities, and even then, only for the duration of their participation in the hostilities (the latter restriction, it is worth noting, is expressly rejected by the Israeli government). The relevant definitions can be found in Art. 4 of the Third Geneva Convention, as well as Art. 43(1) and Art. 50 of the 1977 Protocol Additional.

How, then, do these definitions apply to the illegal settlers in the OPT?

The “lifestyle settlers” are Israelis who have moved to the illegal Israeli settlements (generally) in close proximity to the Green Line, so called because their decision to become settlers is based on the tax incentives and other subsidies that allow them to enjoy a living standard unavailable to them within Israel. While their presence is totally illegal and serves to render the robbery of Palestinian land a fait accompli, the “lifestyle settlers”, by and large, do not participate actively in hostilities (except, of course, for those who are active members or reservists of the Israeli military). As such, they clearly fall within the definition of “civilian” within the meaning of international humanitarian law (subject to the aforementioned qualifications).

There is, however, another type of settler: the paramilitary “ideological settler”. These are far-right, fanatical nationalists, who go out of their way to encroach on Palestinian territory. They are also armed to the teeth. With regard to this group, Samel writes:

Armed – Some have questioned whether the victims were armed, and suggested that if they were, they deserved their fate. This makes little sense to me. If they were armed, it seems it was purely for defensive purposes, as they were not engaged in any aggressive operation themselves. Considering what happened to them, their fears were not imaginary. True, if they and their fellow settlers were not living this illegal, immoral lifestyle that was choking the lives of their fellow human beings, they would have no need for armed defense, but here, their possession of weapons to use defensively in the case of hostility does not make them kill-worthy. There’s no reason to believe that the Palestinian gunmen even knew whether they were armed. (emphasis added)

There are two possibilities here: Either Samel is being extremely disingenuous, or he is almost impressively ignorant of the relevant facts. Either way, this paragraph alone should suffice to make clear that his comments are not to be taken seriously.

Samel’s claim here is that, assuming the settlers who were killed were indeed armed, it was “purely for defensive purposes”, because “they were not engaged in any aggressive operation themselves.” This is loopy. The fact that they were not involved in any aggressive operation at the time they were killed does not mean that they were never involved in such actions. Even John Wayne Gacy and Jürgen Stroop took some down time every now and then. However, even leaving aside this rather curious logic, there is ample evidence of the way in which these settlers use their weapons (for an extensive, but hardly exhaustive, list see Seham’s post on MondoWeiss).

The fanatical “ideological settlers” routinely and systematically engage in violent, sadistic attacks against defenceless Palestinians, including young children. These attacks range from harassment of Palestinian villagers, crop destruction, house occupations, and rock throwing to wanton murder. They knowingly and voluntarily take up positions in a war zone. They routinely kill and maim defenceless people (the only kind they are willing to confront), and have done for decades. Their weapons – which allow them to engage in their regular pogroms without fear of retaliation – are military-grade automatic assault rifles and the like.

These settlers make no secret of their violence. Indeed, they celebrate it as openly as they bear their arms, to the extent of building a shrine to Baruch Goldstein, who earned their undying adoration by massacring Palestinians as they worshipped in a Hebron mosque. They are part of an organised movement that has the specific objective of ethnically cleansing and settling every last bit of Greater Israel.

Paramilitary Settlers as State Organs

They commit their crimes with the knowledge of the Israeli government. Given that they conduct their terrorist operations in an area under complete occupation by Israeli military and police forces, and that their general objectives (at a minimum, the settlement and ethnic cleansing of Palestine) are entirely consistent with official Israeli objectives, it seems reasonable to say that they are operating not only with the knowledge of the Israeli government, but with its more or less active approval, as the government makes no effort to punish their crimes, disarm them, remove them from the OPT (as required by international law), or otherwise meet its duty to ensure that the occupied Palestinian population is safe from their depredations. Indeed, to the extent that Israel’s military get involved at all, it is to protect these settlers from any kind of retaliation from their victims.

As such, it is at least arguable that these paramilitary settlers meet the dependency and control test established by the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on State Responsibility and the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice. In essence, this doctrine holds that a person or group can be considered a de facto organ of a State – and its unlawful acts thus can be attributed to that State – where that person or group operates under conditions of complete control and dependency on that State. While it is not necessary to prove that the paramilitary settlers are de facto State organs in order to hold that they are not civilians under international law, it is useful to examine this question in order to fully understand their legal status.

The degree of control required in order for a person or group’s crimes to be attributed to a State as a de facto organ is a matter of some debate. In Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro (ICJ 2007), the International Court of Justice held that various Bosnian Serb paramilitaries operating within Bosnia could not be considered de facto agents of Serbia and Montenegro in the context of the massacre committed by them at Srebrenica. There, the Court found that the paramilitaries, which (at the time) were operating in territory not controlled by Serbia and Montenegro, and which answered not to the government of that State but to the quasi-state Republika Srpska established in Bosnia, were organisationally and operationally too independent of Serbia and Montenegro to be deemed de facto agents at the time of the Srebrenica massacre.

The situation of the paramilitary settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is fundamentally different in ways that suggest that they could validly be deemed de facto organs of the Israeli State. For one thing, they operate in territory that is under the complete and exclusive control of the State of Israel, which exercises that control through extensive occupying military and police forces. As Marko Milanović has noted, the ICJ in the Srebrenica case “all but hinted at the possibility that its demanding complete control test would indeed have been met for events taking place in 1992,” when Yugoslavia’s regular army was operating in Bosnia. This would seem to hold particularly true in the case of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, given that the Israeli government, which exercises civilian and military jurisdiction, as well as complete military control, over the OPT, has not made the slightest effort to disarm the paramilitary settlers or to remove them (along with the other illegal settlers) from the territory, as required by international law. Indeed, Israel protects the paramilitary settlers from any form of reprisal (or even protest) for their actions by the Palestinian civilian population.

In short, the Israeli government, through its military and police organs, not only refuses to take any action to curtail the activities of these settlers, but in fact takes decisive action to ensure that they can operate with impunity.

It is not saying too much to argue that, in these circumstances, the combination of deliberate actions and omissions of the Israeli armed forces, are what make the terrorist operations of the paramilitary settlers  – which are entirely consistent with the overall Israeli policy of settling and ethnically cleansing every useful bit of the Occupied Palestinian Territory – possible in the first place. Without the cover provided by the Israeli military, these notorious cowards would not even be in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, let alone engage in systematic attacks on the Palestinian population. They are only tough when there’s no risk.

Put briefly, given their open bearing of arms and organised, systematic violent conduct, crucially enabled by the full military force of the Israeli government, these “ideological settlers” look less like private individuals and a lot more like a semi-official paramilitary wing of the Israeli government on the model of the South Lebanon Army or the US death squads in Latin America, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  This description seems particularly apt in the light of the fact that they direct their military efforts against the same occupied population as the government of the state to which they profess allegiance. As such, there is at least a strong case to be made that they constitute part of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict within the meaning of Art. 43(1) of the First Protocol Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which provides that“[t]he armed forces of a Party to a conflict consist of all organized armed forces, groups and units which are under a command responsible to that Party for the conduct or its subordinates, even if that Party is represented by a government or an authority not recognized by an adverse Party”.

Indeed, the only open question that arises in determining whether the paramilitary settlers are combatants within the meaning of Art. 43(1) is whether there is any accountability for their actions at all, and that question only remains open because of the culture of impunity enforced by the Israeli government. However, even in the absence of serious efforts to hold the paramilitary settlers accountable, it seems reasonable to assume that the Party to the conflict in whose interest they act (Israel) would likely hold them accountable if they were ever to do something to which that Party seriously objected (though, given Israel’s standards, this could forever remain a theoretical question). Furthermore, the existence of a system of accountability is merely a prerequisite for POW status; it need not be met in order to establish that a person is a lawful military target. As such, it seems fair to assume that the paramilitary settlers are not entitled to the protections afforded civilians by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Samel makes much of his assumption that the Palestinians who killed the settlers could not know whether they were lifestyle settlers or (paramilitary) ideological settlers:

This was most probably all the gunmen knew about their victims – that they were settlers. Maybe they were indeed armed and fanatic members of the most racist strain of the settler movement. But they were anonymous settlers when killed. In my view, they were civilians, not engaged in any immediately threatening behavior, and therefore not subject to a death sentence.

That’s assuming a lot. First of all, the killings occurred near Hebron, a hotbed of paramilitary settler activity. Second of all, Palestinians would hardly have access to lifestyle settlers, who live a highly sheltered existence in gated enclaves and use the bypass roads to avoid any actual contact with Palestinians in the OPT. Third of all, the paramilitary settlers do not, as a rule, make any attempt to conceal their identities when they carry out their pogroms. Given the regularity of these attacks, and the fact that the attackers do not go far from home to commit their crimes, it does not seem particularly “out there” to suggest that the Palestinians would recognise at least their most frequent attackers on sight.

This is, unlike much of the rest of Samel’s assertions, a question of legal significance. Art. 50(1) of the 1977 Protocol Additional provides that “[i]n case of doubt whether a person is a civilian, that person shall be considered to be a civilian.” However, Samel has not provided any actual facts in support of his claim that “all the gunmen knew about their victims” was “that they were settlers”. The fact that neither Samel nor I can say what they knew at the time does not mean that there was actual doubt.

It is worth recalling at this point that Samel is a lawyer. As such, he can be expected to have at least some rudimentary understanding of legal analysis and research. Yet he makes no attempt to apply – or even cite – the legal provisions that are dispositive of the question his article is ostensibly supposed to answer.

Not only does he fail to analyse the question based on the controlling legal provisions, he blatantly mischaracterises the standard when he accuses those who doubt that the paramilitary settlers are entitled to the protections afforded to civilians of applying a standard that is “[obviously similar] to Alan Dershowitz’s ‘continuum of civilianality, one of his most morally reprehensible concepts” (which is also a blatant mischaracterisation of Dershowitz’s bogus continuum). By Samel’s reckoning, denying civilian protections to members of heavily armed paramilitary groups working closely together with a Party to the conflict – as the Geneva Conventions and Protocols Additional themselves do – is morally equivalent to a “continuum” that allows for the wilful killing of persons who never even remotely participated in hostilities. One gets the distinct impression from Samel that the Geneva Conventions allow the crucial question of who is entitled to civilian protections to hinge on the signature on a person’s paycheque.

One might object at this point that Samel’s article was published on a political blog frequented by the lay public looking for a brief, informative article and not a treatise, rather than a specialised journal of international humanitarian law. This is no excuse for two reasons. First of all, the Geneva Conventions and other international legal instruments are no stranger to MondoWeiss, as they come up frequently in discussions of Israeli crimes. Second of all, discussing the Geneva Conventions does not require a confusing foray into the world of fertile octogenarians and unborn widows. These are well-known legal instruments, written in fairly straightforward language, and, as noted above, this would hardly be the first time that the readers of MondoWeiss were confronted an analysis of the Geneva conventions. Samel’s failure to engage the legal standards contained in the Conventions and Protocols is at best intellectually lazy, and at worst a disingenuous attempt to shed darkness on a well-lit corner of the law.

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#4 David Samel on 09.21.10 at 20:36

I read with interest your critique of my essay, published on the Mondoweiss website, condemning the murder by Palestinian gunmen of four Israeli settlers in the Hebron area. I will agree with your complaint regading the title of my piece, something I already have conceded in my own comments on the site. Perhaps I should have chosen, “Are the Settlers Legitimate Targets for Death?” [Ed. Which still has the fundamental flaw of conflating the paramilitary settlers with the „lifestyle“ settlers.] Other than that, your complaints are frivolous at best and dishonest at worst.

As you note, my essay does not include any discussion of the implications of international law with respect to the killings, and you offer your own to fill the void. Assuming the validity of your legal analysis, you have constructed a defense for the perpetrators in the unlikely event they are ever hauled before some tribunal to face criminal or quasi-criminal charges. My essay was about something else entirely[Ed. Samel’s piece claimed to be about whether „the settlers“ were civilians. It did not even attempt to provide a serious answer to that question.]. I argued that it was wrong, both morally and strategically, to carry
out this operation[Ed. Cf. my comments on the fundamental hypocrisy of those complicit in aggression condemning the victims‘ efforts at self-defence.]. Even if I agreed 100% with your claim that under prevailing norms of international law, the killers should not be prosecuted, my opinion on their actions would not change.

Yes, I’m a lawyer, though not an international lawyer, and no, this was not a legal analysis, as was absolutely crystal clear[Ed. This is disingenuous. The title posed a legal question. The essay failed to even attempt to answer it in a serious fashion.]. What is your point – that Mondoweiss has presented such legal analyses in other articles, and I, as a lawyer, was dutybound to do so as well[Ed. My point was that, when evaluating legal questions like „Are the settlers civilians“, a modicum of seriousness is required.] ? I did not write the piece as a lawyer, and did not refer to my profession. I was expressing my opinions on non-legal matters[Ed. „Are the settlers civilians“ is not a non-legal matter. It is as legal a matter as they come.]. Sorry to disappoint[Ed. I’m not disappointed at all. So far, he has maintained the moral and intellectual level of the post I was critiquing. Consistency should count for something.].

The list of crimes committed by armed settlers is long and nauseating[Ed. And yet he claimed in the original article that the settlers‘ weapons were exclusively „for defensive purposes“.]. If a settler were shot while committing one of these crimes, I would not have engaged in the „handwringing“ you deplore. But this was an execution-style murder of four anonymous settlers. The question is
whether you think that the 500,000 settlers who populate the OPT illegally are committing a capital crime[Ed. This is dishonest. There is a clear distinction between the „lifestyle“ settlers and the settler-pogromshchiks, a distinction I made, stating that the former were clearly civilians, and the latter not so much.]. I think they are not.

Some of your other complaints are just plain silly. You ask how do we know what the gunmen knew about their victims[Ed. Actually, Samel asked this, claiming that all they likely knew was that they were settlers. I just pointed out that there are reasons to believe that they knew more than that.]. I suppose that’s true, and I’m assuming that they were not personally acquainted. Perhaps I’m wrong, though I have not seen, but you do not cite any evidence to the contrary. Certainly the public statements claiming responsibility for the murders do not indicate that there was anything specially known about these victims.

You concede that “lifestyle settlers” are non-killable civilians but claim that all “ideological settlers” are guilty of capital crimes[Ed. Did he even read the post he’s responding to?]. And how did the gunmen know these victims were in the latter category – their location near Hebron[Ed. Or one of the many other possible factors I mentioned in the original post, which he’s hoping his readers didn’t read. Note that I never said that they did know, merely that Samel was wrong in asserting, based on no evidence, that they couldn’t have known.]? It’s a reasonable guess, but what if they were wrong? What if children were in the car? Your analogy to Gacy and Stroop taking some down time is awful. We know these men to be serial murderers [Ed. More dishonesty. This was in response to Samel’s absurd claim that, if the settlers were armed, it was exclusively „for defensive purposes“ because they were not involved in any „offensive operation“ at the time. Obviously, Even the worst murderers in the world aren’t involved in „offensive operations“ all the time – does that make their weapons „defensive“?]. Did the Palestinian gunmen know that about these victims? You are suggesting it was all right to kill four random settlers because they may have committed terrible crimes warranting such punishment[Ed. Again, no. I was arguing, based on available facts and well-settled principles, that, to the extent that these settlers were involved in the paramilitary settler movement, they at least constitute combatants, and could very well be considered irregular forces of the Israeli government.]. I simply can’t believe you’re serious.

You accuse me of “creating an express functional equivalency between those resisting a brutal,
criminal occupation and those actively participating in one.” Later, you take issue with my statement that distinguishing among civilians as killable and non-killable bears “obvious similarities to Alan Dershowitz’s `continuum of civilianality, one of his most morally reprehensible concepts.” You claim I suggest a moral equivalence between Dershowitz’s view and the justification for killing settlers. I did not. The obvious similarities I was talking about involve expanding the pool of civilians whose deaths we can cheer[Ed. And how exactly does that differ from a moral equivalence? Plus, he’s bootstrapping here – whether they were civilians at all is what is at issue. Now he’s just asserting it, without any attempt at argument, as fact.]. Dersh does it, and so do you[Ed. Not that he’s trying to assert a moral equivalency between Dershowitz saying that people can be murdered who have never participated in hostilities, and me pointing out that the Geneva Conventions deny immunity from attack to members of paramilitaries who go around attacking civilians in close concert with the occupying army. Clearly, he’d never do that.]. I do not consider the killing of each side to be morally equivalent and have said so numerous times on the pages of Mondoweiss. But I think we should shrink the number of people who are killable[Ed. And he’d apparently start with some of the worst killers in the OPT. I guess you have to start someplace]. And condemning the crimes of each side does not create an “express functional equivalency” between the two. I condemn both impaired driving and forcible rape, but it’s not the same condemnation[Ed. Leaving aside that he apparently doesn’t condemn rape that isn’t „forcible“, this is a false analogy. The real analogy is between condemning the rapist and the victim who kills him to stop him doing it.]. The word “express” has a meaning, and should not be confused with “implied,” which would also be inaccurate but at least more justifiable.

As to the arguments that I did make, you ignore many of them. What about Israeli civilians who live within the green line[Ed. Irrelevant, obviously.]? Aren’t they electorally responsible for their countries’ racist, murderous policies, both in the OPT and within Israel itself[Ed. Yes, but that doesn’t stop them being civilians, obviously. If we follow Dershowitz‘ assertions, the result is different, but I’m sticking to black-letter international law.]? Are they all legitimate targets for summary execution[Ed. Red herring.]? After all, some of them may have done really bad things, like Gacy and Stroop and the worst of the settlers. And why shouldn’t US civilians be fair game, complicit in their government’s mass murder of more than a million people in the past decade alone[Ed. Another red herring.]? You think the international law makes distinctions between the settlers, Israel-proper civilians, and US civilians[Ed. I don’t think. It most clearly does. It distinguishes between those taking active part in hostilities and those taking no active part in the hostilities.]? Perhaps, but what about your own moral code? How do you distinguish between the culpability of these different categories? Isn’t it razor thin?

I have seen numerous comments by Israeli critics who speculate that these killings might have been false flag operations. While I don’t share this view, there is a widespread feeling that I do share that the incident was a gift to the Israeli government, regardless of what the Geneva Conventions have to say about the victims. If you think otherwise, you haven’t explained how these four corpses have contributed to the cause of Palestinian liberation[Ed. I never addressed the point because it wasn’t relevant to the question I was asking.]. Nor do you challenge my claim that Israel prefers violent resistance, and even stirs it up intentionally[Ed. No, I like to stick to what’s relevant. I wasn’t answering the moral question. Max Ajl already did that very well. I wasn’t answering the tactical or strategic question. I was asking and answering the legal question that Samel asked in his title and then refused to answer in an even minimally serious fashion.].

Finally, you cite with approval Max Ajl’s criticism of my right to articulate any criticism of Palestinians[Ed. Not any criticism. Moral condemnation.]. I do not see how my birth background as a white, Jewish American should restrict my tongue[Ed. Elementary moral sense would at least make him doubt that morally condemning (not tactically criticising) the actions of those in whose oppression he and I and Max Ajl and many others are directly complicit was the moral thing to do.]. If I were to support or even defend Israeli violence against Palestinians, or if I were to exercise my “right” under the Law of Return to emigrate to Israel and accept my “privilege” to rule over the indigenous population, it would be appropriate to accuse me of hypocrisy. But I don’t[Ed. No, he just creates a dangerous and dishonest moral equivalency that robs the Palestinians of their right to self-defence and armed resistance under international law, while financing the weapons used to murder them.]. I argue publicly that Israelis are guilty of mass murder based on racism, and that the only morally acceptable resolution requires equal rights for all, which means the end of the concept of the Jewish State. I have every right to explain what I refuse to condone. Your “hush up” argument is just as applicable to bombing a settlement school and killing 25 six-year-olds as it is to killing four adult settlers[Ed. Samel seems to have a fetish for bad analogies today.]. Violence works, sometimes, and miserably fails at other times[Ed. No shit. Any other insights?]. But some things we know for sure: Violence kills, and death is forever[Ed. Another brilliant revelation. Of course, violence does not always kill.]. You want to be a cheerleader for meaningless death, go ahead [Ed. More dishonesty. Wanting to approach a serious subject with serious consequences with an elementary level of moral seriousness and attention to facts and law is not the same as being a „cheerleader for meaningless death“.].

#5 Mark Richie on 09.24.10 at 00:26

Mondoweiss, like other fringe zionist blogs, specializes exactly in trying to shed darkness[Ed. Actually, I think there’s a lot of good stuff on there. Just quite a bit of crap, as well.]. Mondoweiss is much like the settlers in that its assumptions and attitudes,as seen in Samel’s article, can be seen as extensions of Israeli attitudes and extensions.

While it is true that ideological ??? settlers can’t be seen as combatants under the Geneva Convention, the situation is Israel is sui generis…the Convention was not developed with the idea of a settler colonial regime in mind [Ed. A. I think that those settlers can be legitimately seen as combatants under the Conventions, at least those many of them who are directly involved in paramilitary operations, and I argued as much. B. The Conventions do contemplate settler-colonial regimes, which is why they make it a crime to settle occupied territory, impose the occupying power’s laws on occupied territory, and many other things designed to prohibit annexation].

These settlers also often go about armed, and to the extent they can dispense with them, it is because Israeli land grabbing and road transport exclusions ensure they won’t have to carry them routinely.

Does ’successful‘ ethnic cleansing mean that the perpetrators, no longer needing to routinely carry guns, are beyond retaliation?

ARe the intellectual managers and authors of ethnic cleansing exempt from the consequences of their actions, while front line colonists who carry guns, but are probably not involved in planning the colonial projects are ‚fair game?‘

It may be that way under existing international law..but again, that law never envisaged a settler colonial type of physical force, but a ‚conventional‘ military conflict involving uniforms and professional soldiers.

Personally, I don’t think so.

#6 Mark Richie on 09.25.10 at 21:17

I still think the situation in the occupied territories is sui generis, not contmeplated by the Convention, which was at least in part a response to direct border changes and immediate mass expulsions of the population, as has happened in Eastern Europe repeatedly int he last century. That’s why they prohibit settling occupied territory [Ed. There’s nothing sui generis about it. There are plenty of historical analogues. And it is directly contemplated in the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations, which deal specifically with military occupations, not to mention the Protocols Additional. I don’t know what you mean by „contemplated“ – obviously, the conventions don’t name specific historical events, since they’re designed to apply to a wide variety of situations; but there’s nothing about this occupation that is not contemplated in some way by international law.].

The zionists for strategic reasons aren’t in a position to simply expel all the Palestinians from their territory, so we have a situation of ‚gradual‘ and ‚indirect‘ pressure on the Palestinians to leave, with tolerance of settler provocations as part of that ‚indirect‘ presure, not involving the official IDF for the most part.

In the light of this drawn-out and piecemeal approach to expelling the Palestinians, the existing Conventions are not adequate to address zionist strategy [Ed. The existing conventions directly address piecemeal expulsions – Art. 49 of the Fourth Convention prohibits both individual AND collective forced transfer; as for the outsourcing of military crimes to settlers, who are themselves illegally present on the territory, that, too is prohibited on various levels. It would be hard to find an aspect of the occupation of the Palestinian territories that isn’t directly addressed by some provision of international law, which includes much more than just the Geneva Conventions, e.g., the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights, ILO Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous peoples, the UN Charter, the UN Genocide Convention, the Convention against Torture, the Vienna Convention on the Status of Refugees, and many others.].

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