> Israeli Attack On Gaza Hospital, What International Law Says

Israeli Attack On Gaza Hospital, What International Law Says

Israeli Attack On Gaza Hospital, What International Law Says
Israeli Attack On Gaza Hospital
Gazans thought Al-Ahli Al-Arabi Hospital safe in the face of constant Israeli attacks. Even if many places are attacked, at least the hospital will not be attacked - that's what they thought. So many took refuge there. There were injured and sick people. There were also doctors and health workers. But there was no last defense. Israeli forces also attacked this hospital last Tuesday night. One hundred and five people died.

Since the attack and casualties in the hospital, there has been a storm of protest and criticism as 'war crime', 'extreme brutality', 'violation of international humanitarian law'. Demonstrations are going on in the country against Israel's aggression. However, Israel says that it is not them, but "another party" is behind the attack. US President Joe Biden said the same during his visit to Israel. The accusations are clearly aimed at Islamic Jihad in Palestine.

Now the question is, how reasonable is it to attack civilians, especially hospitals and kill someone? What does international law say about this?

According to the United Nations, no single instrument of international law can explain all war crimes. For this we have to resort to various branches of international humanitarian, criminal and customary law. The organization says war crimes are committed during armed conflicts. And during war, the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law, known as the 'Law of War', are in force. In the case of war crimes, these two laws are violated.

These laws specify the protection of wartime victims. So the warring parties cannot attack and kill anyone on the enemy side at will.

On Tuesday, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Givir threatened to drop explosives indiscriminately on Gaza if the Palestinian organization Hamas does not immediately release the detained Israelis. According to international humanitarian law, an attack would be considered a violation of the law if the loss of civilian life outweighs the military gain.

500 people were killed in an Israeli attack on a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday. This number is expected to increase. Therefore, international non-governmental organizations are calling it indiscriminate killings considering the destruction and loss of life.

Fourth Geneva Convention

The Geneva Conventions remain in force during wartime. This law lays down the rules of war. Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. Therefore, the country is obliged to obey this international law.

The Geneva Conventions are a series of four international conventions between 1864 and 1949. The first ensures the protection of wounded and sick personnel of the military. The fourth convention was adopted in 1949. It addresses the protection of people not directly involved in combat, particularly children, the sick, and adult civilians.

Article 14 of the Convention designates hospitals as safe zones. Article 18 states that civilian hospitals and health workers must be protected. That is, attacking hospitals during wartime, killing health workers and civilians in hospitals is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) International Affairs Advocacy Officer Bassel Sourani said that Israel has attacked at least 10 hospitals, ambulances and health workers in Palestine. He also said, 'Attacks on protected civilian areas are not new. "After considering all the evidence and talking to witnesses, we are certain that Israel attacked the hospital in Gaza."

The bodies are lined up in white cloth. Al-Ahli Al-Arabi Hospital in Gaza
The bodies are lined up in white cloth. Al-Ahli Al-Arabi Hospital in Gaza

Hospitals are not targeted

Another agreement or protocol in 1977 addressed the issue of hospital security. Article 12 of the first of the three protocols adopted under the Geneva Conventions (Additional Protocol One) states that the protection of healthcare facilities must be ensured during wartime. Hospitals cannot be targeted under any circumstances.

Srinivas Burra, Associate Professor of International Humanitarian Law at Delhi's South Asian University, said that Israel has not ratified Additional Protocol One. An international fact-finding commission may therefore be activated to investigate violations of the Protocol.

The Hague Convention

Just as the Geneva Convention deals with the protection of victims of war, the Hague Convention details the conduct of war, what can and cannot be done to the enemy. Along with that, it has been told how to treat the people engaged in wartime medical services.

Article 27 of the Convention makes it clear that hospitals and buildings where the wounded and sick are sheltered; Those buildings must be avoided and protected during the siege and bombardment.

However, Israel has not ratified the convention; However, under customary international law, Israel is bound to comply with this provision of the Hague Convention even if it has not ratified it.

The ICC is responsible for the investigation

The Rome Statute is the treaty under which the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established. It is the responsibility of the ICC to investigate and prosecute any allegations of attacks on hospitals and historical structures, as well as violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Al-Ahli Al-Arabi Hospital in Gaza was established in 1882. It is one of the oldest hospitals in Gaza. There is a church next to it. According to Basel Sourani, many displaced people from Gaza took shelter here, believing that there was an old hospital and a church next door. Thought, at least there will be no attack here.

Israel does not recognize the ICC's proceedings under the Rome Statute. Palestine gave. Since the attack on the hospital took place in Palestinian territory, the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate the incident. The ICC also has jurisdiction to prosecute those responsible.

The silence is depressing

Bassel Sourani said his organization PCHR is trying to get the ICC's attention to open an ongoing war crimes investigation into Israel. The ICC's response to Russian war crimes in Ukraine has not been seen in this case. It's disappointing.

Sourani also said, "We have called upon the international community to hold the perpetrators accountable." But their silence has pushed us to despair.

In this regard, Srinivas Burra said, in view of Israel's war in Palestine, the ICC may be proceeding with a policy of 'wait and see what happens'. Hence the surprising delay in announcing the inquiry. This has not been seen in any case before.

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