Photo: Al-Jazeera
Hassan Nasrallah
Photo: Al-Jazeera

Don’t cave in to terror

It would be absurd to end this war without bringing these offenders to justice

The UN Security Council will decide in the near future to dispatch a special force under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. That chapter gives the UN the authority to enforce a cease fire to ensure the peace.


The world is uniting, trying to write the right text to set conditions for a cease fire and a future agreement that will return sovereignty to the Lebanese government and prevent Hizbullah from returning to south Lebanon.


What we have not heard to this point is the claim made by Israel, and other Western countries, that after and end to hostilities and the UN special force helps the Lebanese government realize its sovereignty over the southern region of the country – Hizbullah leaders must be called to account for war crimes committed against Israel.


Hizbullah has been intentionally firing missiles at Israel’s civilian population. Many years ago, international law defined this as a war crime or a crime against humanity. During the 20th century many countries - Japan, Germany, Yugoslavia, Rwanda- used ethnic criteria to slaughtered civilians.


The historical difference lies in the fact that for the first time we are witnessing a situation in which a terrorist organization is operating inside a country and waging war from that country against another sovereign state.


This is the first time the world has been asked to give its opinion about a special conflict, not between countries, but rather between a terrorist group working within one sovereign country and trying to destroy the citizens of another country on the basis of thier religion and ethnicity.


'Some may warn against such a move'


International law defines what Hizbullah is doing - intentionally targeting civilians in order to foster chaos - as terrorism. We must not "understand" Russia or the European Union, who for inappropriate political considerations have so far refused to declare Hizbullah a terrorist group. Missiles aimed at civilians meet the definition of war crime or a crime against humanity as defined by the 1949 Geneva Convention, as well as the International Criminal Court at The Hague that was established in 2000.


I would have expected Israel and her allies, namely the United States and Great Britain, to demand the Security Council to use its authority to instruct the International Criminal Court to investigate the responsibility of Hizbullah leaders, with an eye on bringing them to trial, as was done to those responsible for attacks on civilians in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.


Presumably, a call will be made to also investigate Israeli leaders for civilian deaths in Lebanon. We shouldn't lose too much sleep over this. I am confident that no Israeli leader or IDF officer has ordered strikes on civilians, and if -God forbid - I am wrong, then these leaders, too, should be brought to justice.


In the current fight against Hizbullah Israel is shouldering the fight against terrorism for the rest of the world. It would be absurd to end this war with a ceasefire without bringing these offenders to justice - the leaders of Hizbullah, and perhaps, even, those who dispatched them.


Some may warn against such a move, as it could well endanger the process of obtaining a cease fire. But I believe we must not give in on the issue of bringing terror leaders to justice, or on any issue that would appear to be caving in to terror, in this or any other region.


We must demand terror leaders be brought to justice.


Prof. Emmanuel Gross is an expert in criminal law at Haifa University 


פרסום ראשון: 08.06.06, 09:09
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