Israel and Gaza; Palestinian 'Perfidy' and International Law

Article excerpt

Byline: Louis Rene Beres, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Israel has just completed an essential defensive operation against terrorists in Rafah. Although televised images of this Gaza operation suggested cruelty and indiscriminate action by Israeli forces, exactly the opposite is true. By deliberately placing young Arab children in the front of large mobs that advanced menacingly upon Israeli soldiers, Palestinian leaders openly committed major violations of the Law of War. There is, in fact, a precise legal term for these violations, a term that applies equally to the Palestinian tactic of routinely inserting scores of gunmen among the lines of children. This codified crime under humanitarian international law is called "perfidy."

Israel's leaders understand fully that several Palestinian terror groups are now actively planning for mega-terror attacks. These preparations underway in Gaza are partially directed by various elements in Egypt. Remarkably, although unrecognized, Israel has been willing to keep its counterterrorism operations in Gaza consistent with established legal rules of engagement. Palestinian violence, however, is consistently in violation of all civilized norms.

Israel has been blamed for blowing up Palestinian houses. These houses are not ordinary residences. Rather, they are critical exit points for smugglers' tunnels that begin in other houses on the Egyptian side. The tunnels are a primary conduit for the growing traffic of arms, heavy explosives, drugs and hostile operatives into Rafah. Left in place, they could soon become the source of chemical and/or biological terrorism against Israel. Indeed, these tunnels could even enlarge the prospect of a "dirty bomb" nuclear assault upon Israeli cities delivered by Arab suicide bombers.

Terrorism is a crime under international law. When terrorists represent populations that enthusiastically support such attacks, and when these terrorists also find easy refuge among hospitable populations, all blame for ensuing counterterrorist harms lies exclusively with the criminals. Understood in terms of ongoing Palestinian terrorism and Israeli self-defense, this means that the Palestinian side alone must now bear full legal responsibility for Arab civilian casualties.

International law is not a suicide pact. Rather, it correctly offers an authoritative body of rules and procedures that always permits states their "inherent right of self-defense." When terrorist organizations openly celebrate the explosive "martyrdom" of Palestinian children and unashamedly seek religious redemption through the mass-murder of Jewish children, they have absolutely no legal right to demand sanctuary anywhere. Under international law they are hostes humani generis, "common enemies of humankind," who must be punished wherever they are found.

Palestinian terrorism has become a barbarous goal unto itself. …