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The rights of the militant
post pubblicato in Diritto Internazionale Umanitario, il 29 luglio 2014
Despite the Israeli and U.S. propaganda are insistenty trying to argue the opposite, we must remember that the rules of international humanitarian law are valid even in the case of the Israeli attack against Hamas in Gaza. Firstable we have to remember that this attack is an "international conflict" according to the article 2 of the Geneva Convention, signed by Israel in 1951. The result is that the rules of IV Geneva Conventions concerning the protection of civilians must be respected by Israel even in this case. Primarily, the rule that only military objectives can be targeted. The recent news from Gaza clearly say us that this is not what is happening; moreover, the toll of civilians deaths show that those deaths cannot be considered reasonably "casualties", despite the statement of Israeli spokepersons. The real aim of this Israel military operation must be understood through the actions and their aftermath, not certainly through the official statements. But there's another issue on which I want to focus, the Israel behavior towards the Hamas members. Let me start by saying that the armed group "Hamas" constantly commits serious violations of human rights, not only against Israeli citizens, as they targeted not only israeli military targets but also, often, the houses of Israeli civilians. However those who suffer the worst violations are the same Palestinian civilians, first as Hamas advocates the resistance through a reinterpretation of Islam in a conservative key who violates the rights of women, apart from anything else. Above all, in many moments of its history Hamas did not hesitate to attack Israel in political moments in which the dialogue was still possible, cynically exposing Palestinian civilians living in Gaza to the inevitable Israeli response, plus knowing they did not have neither the means nor the organization needed to put these civilians sheltered from the Israeli attacks, probably without even thinking of defending them, in order to have other martyrs on which to base the pain of the Palestinians, leading them to move away from moderate positions of other Palestinian political forces, just to survive politically . However, these policies are the responsibility of the reckless leadership of Hamas. All that does not detract from the fact that Hamas militants are people, human beings with a precise legal status that makes them bearers of rights that must be respected by Israel. By now to say Hamas means say absence of any human right, absence of the need of a fair trial, Hamas has become the mark that empowers Israel to kill without explanation. Today it is sufficient to say Hamas and all of a sudden you can't ask where the attack took place or - equally important- what were the evidences that the objective targeted was a military objective. According to the international humanitarian law things are very different. The militants of Hamas are members of an armed group which has the requirements to be considered legitimate combatants under international humanitarian law. They have some duties, among which the most important is distinguish themselves from the civilians with what international humanitarian law calls signs of recognition. A rule that cannot help in the case of the Israeli attack on Gaza, given the difficulty of the Israeli Defence Force in distinguishing four little boys from for Hamas militants with their characteristic green belt on the head. But they have also some rights that must be respected. First, as members of an armed group non categorized as a regular army, they can be considered combatants only when they are participating in hostilities. When they are not fighting, for example if they are sleeping or also defending their own families by the enemy, they have not the status of combatants: in such cases they must be considered civilians and as such they cannot be targeted. But the conduct of Israel towards Hamas militants goes far beyond the contempt for the life of Hamas militants, almost like they were not human being protected by international humanitarian law. It is by now regular to hear that Israel has targeted the houses of Hamas members. Those are civilians objectives and they can't be targeted by Israel; targeting the houses of Hamas members Israel is not clearly trying to annihilate the Hamas power of fire: the rockets don't come from the houses where wives and children of Hamas militants live. To hit those people - children, wives, relatives of Hamas militants - is to hit innocents civilians protected by the IV Geneva Convention, exactly like any other civilian stricken in violation of the international humanitarian law. Lastly, each military operation must be conducted with the aim of annihilate the enemy power of fire. The lives of those innocents civilians don't even deserve that Israel calls them "casualties": Israel propaganda is trying to make us think that is in the respect of law killing the entire family to kill an Hamas militant. But the reality is that the deaths of those civilians are not in connection with the aim of annihilate the Hamas power of fire. Is the death of a wife or a little boy helpful to the safety of Israel ? Absolutely not. The killing of those civilians are violations of international humanitarian law and it cannot be called "casualties": Israel openly admits to target the houses of Hamas militants. It means that Israel openly admitted that they have committed , in such cases, war crimes.
Claudia Esposito
Bachelor in UN international law of armed conflicts and international humanitarian law
Post graduated with a thesis on the international terrorism in the italian jurisprudence

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