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06 January 2015


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Ken Halliwell

you are right. pl



And you're right. Collective punishment is under Geneva IV Art. 33 a war crime.

The ICR commentary is quite unambiguous about that.

"Article 33 is derived from Article 50 of the Hague Regulations: "No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they can not be regarded as jointly and severally responsible"
1. ' Prohibition of collective penalties '

The first paragraph embodies in international law one of the general principles of domestic law, i.e. that penal liability is personal in character.

This paragraph then lays a prohibition on collective penalties. This does not refer to punishments inflicted under penal law, i.e. sentences pronounced by a court after due process of law, but penalties of any kind inflicted on persons or entire groups of persons, in defiance of the most elementary principles of humanity, for acts that these persons have not committed.
This provision is very clear. If it is compared with Article 50 of the Hague Regulations, it will be noted that that Article could be interpreted as not expressly ruling out the idea that the community might bear at least a passive responsibility (2).

Thus, a great step forward has been taken. Responsibility is personal and it will no longer be possible to inflict penalties on persons Who have themselves not committed the acts complained of."


Two points:

#1: Geneva IV expressly rules out the idea that the community might bear at least a passive responsibility and can thus be punished.

It closes an interpretative loophole in Art. 50 of the Hague Regulations, that was invoked in defence of collective punishments carried out by the warring parties in WW-II, most notoriously and brutally by the Germans and the Japanese.

Israel's reprisals against families of terrorists by, for example, razing their houses (thus making the families homeless) are punishing not the culprits but the families i.e. they are punishing the community for acts of individuals. In Israel that is established policy, and a practice that they continued using just like the British before them.


#2: The other salient point is that in the house demolitions, the Israelis ignore that the penal liability is personal in character. Since the practice is policy, they ignore that on principle.

It gives testimony to the tribal outlook on part of the Israelis - us vs. them. Only from that point ov view it can be considered reasonable. Needless to say, that doesn't make it any less illegal.


interesting interjection, and I will answer to that in a separate post since replying would hijack this thread.


Ken Hallwell

For a long time O-7 and O-8 in the navy wore the same insignia and were both called rear admiral. Then DoD or someone told the navy to differentiate the two and the rank of Commodore O-7 was revived with the insignia of one broad cuff stripe. Then the navy bitched about that so much that they are now allowed to call an O-7 a rear admiral lower half with the same insignia that a commodore had. pl

Charles I

Robert Fisk has nicely disrobed the emperor in this rant at Counterpunch:


"But surely the most significant event of all is that the descendants of the PLO – excoriated only a quarter of a century ago as the most dangerous “terrorist” organisation in the world, its mendacious leader Yasser Arafat branded “our Bin Laden” by Israel’s mendacious leader Ariel Sharon – actually wants TO ABIDE BY INTERNATIONAL LAW!"

Now that's an existential threat to peace, well, to something, that must be sternly put down by all means necessary.

Charles I

One of my favorite lines is how the Chinese killed millions, took all Tibet we only kill a few thousands. . . morality by the numbers.


Charles I: No, I've actually had someone argue to me that "Israel could have killed many more--but didn't--so it's not a war crime."

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