I used to be glad to learn President Saller and Provost Martinez’s denunciation of the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas upon harmless Israeli residents. They forcefully and unambiguously wrote of their Oct. 11 electronic mail to the Stanford neighborhood:
As an ethical matter, we condemn all terrorism and mass atrocities. This consists of the deliberate assault on civilians this weekend by Hamas. One of many advances in worldwide regulation within the twentieth century following the horrors of the Holocaust was the event of worldwide humanitarian regulation prohibiting warfare crimes, crimes towards humanity, and genocide. Such crimes are by no means justified.
Their assertion aligns with the Oct. 10 communication of the Workplace of the United Nations Human Rights Excessive Commissioner, with the important thing exception that the UN is even-handed in its utility of worldwide humanitarian regulation:
The Fee has been accumulating and preserving proof of warfare crimes dedicated by all sides since 7 October 2023, when Hamas launched a posh assault on Israel and Israeli forces responded with airstrikes in Gaza [emphasis added].
Experiences that armed teams from Gaza have gunned down a whole lot of unarmed civilians are abhorrent and can’t be tolerated. Taking civilian hostages and utilizing civilians as human shields are warfare crimes.
The Fee is gravely involved with Israel’s newest assault on Gaza and Israel’s announcement of a whole siege on Gaza involving the withholding of water, meals, electrical energy and gas which can undoubtfully price civilian lives and constitutes collective punishment.
Lest there be any ambiguity with regard to collective punishment — “the prohibition of collective punishments is acknowledged within the Hague Laws and the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions.”
Israel is heaping but extra struggling on the individuals of Gaza so as to punish Hamas. This act of collective punishment goes instantly towards the worldwide humanitarian regulation that Saller and Martinez invoke to sentence Hamas.
This collective punishment is being meted out towards a captive inhabitants, 80 p.c of whom are refugees, 60 p.c of whom are underneath the age of 18. In 2010 British Prime Minister David Cameron referred to Gaza as a “jail.” The Washington Submit has reported the loss of life rely of Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians — 1,537 killed, together with 500 kids and 276 ladies. Human Rights Watch has reported Israel’s use of white phosphorus on the Palestinian inhabitants — “White phosphorus … has a big incendiary impact that may severely burn individuals and set buildings, fields and different civilian objects within the neighborhood on hearth. Using white phosphorus in Gaza, some of the densely populated areas on the planet, magnifies the chance to civilians and violates the worldwide humanitarian regulation prohibition on placing civilians at pointless danger [emphasis added].”
The illegality of collective punishment takes place inside an unlawful blockade that Israel has imposed for sixteen years, on high of an unlawful occupation which has been in existence since 1967. Since Saller and Martinez predicate their assertion on worldwide humanitarian regulation, allow us to see what it says about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.
Not all occupations are unlawful. There are settled conventions and protocols for a way an occupying state should behave if it has positioned a individuals and their land underneath occupation. The Worldwide Pink Cross gives this account:
The duties of the occupying energy are spelled out primarily within the 1907 Hague Laws (arts 42-56) and the Fourth Geneva Conference (GC IV, artwork. 27-34 and 47-78), in addition to in sure provisions of Extra Protocol I and customary worldwide humanitarian regulation…
The principle guidelines of the regulation relevant in case of occupation state that:
- The occupant doesn’t purchase sovereignty over the territory.
- Occupation is just a short lived scenario, and the rights of the occupant are restricted to the extent of that interval.
- The occupying energy should take measures to revive and guarantee, so far as attainable, public order and security.
- To the fullest extent of the means accessible to it, the occupying energy should guarantee ample hygiene and public well being requirements, in addition to the availability of meals and medical care to the inhabitants underneath occupation.
- Collective punishment is prohibited.
- The taking of hostages is prohibited.
- The confiscation of personal property by the occupant is prohibited.
- The destruction or seizure of enemy property is prohibited, except completely required by army necessity through the conduct of hostilities.
Israel has violated every of those provisions. Allow us to merely go down the record:
Removed from being “non permanent,” the Occupation has been in impact since 1967. Fairly than guaranteeing the security and well-being of these underneath its occupation, Israel has disadvantaged (through its unlawful blockade) and is now in its actions of collective punishment depriving the civilian inhabitants of Gaza of hygiene, public well being, meals and medical care.
Palestinians underneath occupation are usually not tried in civil courts, however somewhat in army courts which deny primary constitutional rights to Palestinians, together with kids, who are usually not solely prevented from shortly acquiring authorized illustration, but in addition typically from seeing their mother and father, typically for crimes as minuscule as throwing rocks at army automobiles. This suspension of authorized protections and the abuse of minors is a type of hostage taking for the needs of silencing protest and resistance.
The unbridled appropriation of Palestinian property by Israeli settlers, armed and guarded by the Israeli state, has existed for many years, however has elevated exponentially underneath the rule of Israel’s far-right authorities, which tens of 1000’s of its personal residents have been protesting for months exactly due to its assaults on the Israeli courtroom system.
Whereas Israeli Jews have the appropriate to protest when Netanyahu deprives them of their constitutional rights, Palestinians are overwhelmed, incarcerated and killed for protesting the assault Israel has made on their lives and the rights assured to them by worldwide human rights regulation.
To silence the monitoring of violations of worldwide humanitarian regulation, Israel has declared civil society human rights organizations “terrorist” organizations. To the grave concern of worldwide regulation jurists it expelled former Stanford Regulation scholar Omar Shakir, who serves as Human Rights Watch’s director in Israel-Palestine.
In condemning the egregious violations of worldwide humanitarian regulation carried out by Hamas, however not acknowledging these of the opposite protagonist within the battle, the assertion by the president and provost, on the identical second it declares the significance of sustaining the College’s “neutrality,” successfully exonerates the State of Israel. This makes it inconceivable for the Stanford neighborhood to have any dialogue or debate on this matter — these vital of Israeli state insurance policies already run the chance of being labeled “anti-Semites.”
Saller and Martinez have made invisible exactly the premise for Palestinian claims to the rights assured to them by worldwide humanitarian regulation; they’ve exploited and desecrated the very regulation they use to promote their ethical goodness.
As soon as once more — whose lives matter? Whose lives deserve justice?
This text was written by David Palumbo-Liu, who’s the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford College, and a professor of comparative literature and by courtesy, of English.