'Hamas' war-crimes and crimes-against-humanity' - Canadian jurist, Hon. Irwin Cotler

There is "almost no comparable example" anywhere in today's world of a group that so systematically violates international agreements related to armed conflict, delineates Irwin Cotler - a former Canadian Justice Minister, MP and law professor at Montreal's McGill University.

Hamas is committing at least six violations of international law, Cotler explained in this exclusive, video interview filmed live in Jerusalem.

"First, the deliberate targeting of civilians is, in and of itself, a war crime," he noted, referring to the Hamas rockets fired at southern towns for eight years.

"A second war crime is when Hamas attacks [from within] civilian areas and civilian structures, whether it be an apartment building, a mosque or a hospital, in order to be immune from a response from Israel," he went on. "Civilians are protected persons, and civilian areas are protected areas. Any use of a civilian infrastructure to launch bombs is itself a war crime."

Third, he explained, "the misuse and abuse of humanitarian symbols for purposes of launching attacks is called the perfidy principle. For example, using an ambulance to transport fighters or weapons or disguising oneself as a doctor in a hospital, or using a UN logo or flag, are war crimes."

The fourth violation, "of which little has been made, is the prohibition in the Fourth Geneva Convention and international jurisprudence against the direct and public incitement to genocide. The Hamas covenant itself is a standing incitement to genocide. [Similarly,] just before this fighting started, I saw Hamas leaders on television referring to Israel and Jews as the sons of apes and pigs."

The fifth crime relates to the scope of the attack on civilians, which upgrades the violation to a crime against humanity. According to Cotler, "when you deliberately hit civilians not infrequently but in a systematic, widespread attack, that's defined in the treaty of the International Criminal Court and international humanitarian law as a crime against humanity."

The sixth war crime for which Hamas is responsible is the recruitment of children into armed conflict.

"Hamas is a case-study of each of these six categories of war crime," said Cotler. "There has to be moral and legal clarity as to responsibility. When Israel responds and civilians are killed because Israel is targeting an area from which rockets were launched, then it is Hamas which bears responsibility for the deaths, and not Israel, according to international law." (Print article written by Haviv Rettig Gur published in The Jerusalem Post

To read about the six violations, please click Read More below.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. I grew up in Prof. Cotler's riding and know him personally, but have not seen this video.

    I have great respect for Prof. Cotler and think he is mostly right here, but I would question the Hamas charter constituting a war crime. This is not to suggest that the charter somehow deserves to be ignored, but rather in the meaning of the law, it may not be prohibited.

    If I get a chance, I'm going to do some more research on these questions and blog about them myself.

    Again though, thanks for posting this.