Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

By Ted Belman

I have been looking for details as to the “siege” Israel has applied to Gaza. I read a lot of invective toward Israel such as this odious article in the International Herald Tribune, but little detail. Israel is always “guilty” regardless of whether she has committed a crime. It is always assumed that the law proscribes such conduct and that Israel has violated it. In most cases the “law” is misapplied. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”. In the case of the “siege” she is “guilty” of “collective punishment” according to the Human Rights activists.

In a current article in FrontPageMag, The Attempt to Annihilate Israel

    Israel is falsely accused of ‘collective punishment’ when it strikes back to defend its citizens. This propaganda has been repeated at the United Nations, right up to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon himself. He said late last month, for example, that “I would hope that the Israeli Government should not take such a collective punishment to the general public.”

    Yet it is the Palestinian and other Islamic terrorists who continually violate the Israelis’ human rights under the Geneva Conventions, which state that “Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited”.[1]


ARTICLE 33 of the IV Geneva Convention provides

    No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
    Pillage is prohibited.
    Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

On the other hand the Laws of War allow you to do what is necessary to achieve a “military objective” or because of “military necessity” i.e., like stopping the rockets. So it is a defense to the charge of committing acts of collective punishment to say it was necessary to achieve a military objective or due to “military necessity”. The “siege” is not an act of collective punishment. It is driven by the military necessity of stopping the rockets. These opposing principles bring into play the rules of proportionality.

The Guardian just brought us up to date with a report which was less hostile and more factual than their normal reporting,

    Israel has been blockading Hamas-controlled Gaza for the past eight months, strangling commercial activity into and out of the strip. The embargo has resulted in severe shortages of building materials, forcing about $215m-worth of development projects to be suspended. Some officials have warned of a looming public health disaster from unrepaired, leaking sewage and water facilities.

    Last month Israel stepped up the restrictions, cutting fuel and electricity supplies in an attempt to stop Palestinian militants firing rockets into its territory.

    Holmes demanded that the Palestinians cease their rocket attacks, but said Israel’s blockade was “collective punishment” which violated international humanitarian law. The blockade also appeared to be counter to Israel’s security interests, he said. “Are they changing people’s attitudes? It doesn’t look like it in any significant way. It’s hard to be sure.”

    But Olmert’s spokesman said the blockade was working. Olmert was under significant political pressure, especially from the traumatised residents of Sderot – a target of the Palestinian rocket attacks – to strike even harder against Hamas. “We think the international isolation of Hamas is a very important part of the changing the regime,” the spokesman said.

    Holmes indicated that he saw little prospect of a deal by the end of the year as anticipated by the US-initiated Annapolis peace process. “There’s a disconnect between the reality on the ground and the parallel peace process,” he said.

It seems to me that Israel has the right to apply the siege and that the extent of the siege is quite proportional.

Recently, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by human rights organizations to stop Israel from cutting supplies of fuel and electricity to the Gaza Strip, as part of a governmental decision authorizing punitive measures against the population of Gaza. The petitioners had claimed that cutting fuel and electricity supplies constitutes forbidden collective punishment and violates the international law prohibition against deliberately targeting civilians. The Court thought otherwise and permitted the cuts.

February 18, 2008 | 2 Comments »

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  1. Ted after making a pretty thorough search I found hundreds if not thousands of entries ; all negative, all using same anti Israel“““ well honed formula but almost nothing on the pro side.. Seems to be a vacuum in Pro Israel advocacy Unless the leftist Google people are are filtering out what they don’t want?

  2. The Geneva IV Convention was designed to prohibit the kind of mass suffering the Germans inflicted in the ghettos of Europe into which they sealed in the Jews and to prevent the execution of hostage communities like Lidice in Czechoslovakia as reprisals upon civilians for casualties inflicted upon the occupation forces. What Israel is doing in Gaza is a far cry from what the Germans did in Europe during the Second World – acts the Geneva IV Convention was drafted to make illegal in future wars.