Israel’s Warnings, Collective Punishment and Killing Civilians

Much is made of Israel’s calling to warn victims before destroying their houses by bombing and missiles. This totally misses an important point. Israel only makes these calls when they are not targeting any militants (aka terrorists). At best they are destroying the militant’s family home as punishment, which is forbidden by article 33 of the 4th Geneva convention, which forbids collective punishment.

If Israel claims that they are bombing to prevent rocket attacks rather than to avenge them. This doesn’t help at all in fact likely the opposite. In essence Israel is then guilty of terrorism which is also prohibited by the same article. This is from the commentary to this article:

” During past conflicts, the infliction of collective penalties has been intended to forestall breaches of the law rather than to repress [p.226] them; in resorting to intimidatory measures to terrorise the population, the belligerents hoped to prevent hostile acts. Far from achieving the desired effect, however, such practices, by reason of their excessive severity and cruelty, kept alive and strengthened the spirit of resistance. They strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice and it is for that reason that the prohibition of collective penalties is followed formally by the prohibition of all measures of intimidation or terrorism with regard to protected persons, wherever they may be (3).”

Commentary – Art. 33. Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons #Section I : Provisions common to the territories of the parties to the conflict and to occupied territories

Again to be clear about warnings being issued. Warnings are only issued when Israel is not targeting militants. That is when they are blowing up a house, because they have reason to believe weapons are in it, or because the owner is related to a Hamas militant (which again would be against the Geneva convention, don’t know if that makes it a war crime).

If they are trying to kill a Hamas militant they don’t phone a warning. It doesn’t make any sense to phone in a warning to the guy you are trying to kill, 10 minutes before you drop the bomb. Therefore if the guy they are trying to kill is in a building with civilians, too bad for the civilians.

In fact one 4 story house was blown up killing 25 civilians, it looks like this was in order to get their Ramadan guest who was a Hamas militant:
The Atlantic – The Dangerous Logic Used to Justify Killing Civilians

25 Civilians Killed in Gaza in Attack on a Single House

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