Civilian deaths are indefensible by any excuse
The letter can be found here.
Alan Baker, the Israeli ambassador to Canada, finds that "no reasonable people can be expected to suffer constant, daily barrages of missiles and the deliberate murder of its civilians without the right to defend itself."
Does he think that the daily sonic booms and far-deadlier attacks by Apache gunships, Merkava tanks, naval vessels and F-16 fighter jets are not "indiscriminate," do not "terrorize a civilian population" and are "not merely illegal and immoral, but ... a violation of the most basic norms and principles of international law"? Does he think they do not constitute "a war crime of the first dimension, going against all accepted norms of civilization"?
The current high ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths belies the mantra that Israel doesn't target civilians. Israel does target civilians and civilian infrastructure. How else could one explain the deaths of so many children, and the destruction of hospitals, schools and homes?
"Defending itself" does not release Israel from its obligation to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian property during military operations. Israel has been acting outside the rule of law with impunity for far too long. The illegal occupation of Arab lands, targeted assassinations – effectively acting as prosecutor, judge and jury in a secret process where the death sentence can't be appealed – and collective punishment are all violations of international and humanitarian law.
It is ironic that Baker invokes the importance of international law for Palestinians, while seemingly putting Israel high above it. Civilian deaths, be they Israeli or Palestinian, must be condemned with the same vigour; human beings must be treated equally in death as in life. This is the only way to maintain our humanity and that of the victims, and to ensure that a just peace can be achieved.
Labels: War Crimes