. . . The targeting of civilians violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel cannot distinguish between civilians and military targets, they are illegal. But Israel’s air and ground attack in Gaza violates Geneva in four ways. First, it constitutes collective punishment of the entire population in Gaza for the acts of a few militants. Second, it targets civilians, as evidenced by the large numbers of civilian casualties. Third, it is a disproportionate response to the rockets fired into Israel. Fourth, an occupying power has an obligation to ensure food and medical supplies to the occupied population; Israel’s blockade has created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Israel’s airstrikes and ground assault on the people of Gaza have little to do with the Gazan rockets, which hadn’t killed any Israelis for a year before Israel’s current military operation. Israel’s leaders are bombing and attacking Gaza in order to gain an advantage in the upcoming Israeli elections in February.
This international law perspective to me is very helpful. Certainly as a pacifist, I oppose both the actions of Hamas and the state of Israel, but Cohn helps to articulate the severity of the wrong of Israel’s disproportionate response to the Hamas rocket attacks. Also if you read a few paragraphs further, Cohn explains that Israel is using F-16’s and Apache helicopters purchased from the US in this war and that the US is both directly (through its weaponry) and indirectly (through our government’s virtual silence and sometimes open support of the Israeli attacks).
In other words, we are all sinners. We all are guilty, and as such we all have the responsibility o try to right thing wrong.
(Also I should note that Marjorie is the current President of the National Lawyers Guild)