This AM someone passed along a link to an article in the on-line edition of Wired Magazine. It is about folks at the United Nations supposedly building a case that Israel, by the use of White Phosphorous artillery rounds, is guilty of war crimes. The Article is here. The origin of this item is an article in The Manchester Guardian, on Tuesday, the 13th.
Per The Guardian
The UN's senior human rights body approved a resolution yesterday condemning the Israeli offensive for "massive violations of human rights". A senior UN source said the body's humanitarian agencies were compiling evidence of war crimes and passing it on to the "highest levels" to be used as seen fit.I went to the UN website and read their announcement of the 12 January resolution. With a little persistence one finds the actual resolution. The result of the vote was 33 in favour, 1 against, 13 abstentions. Canada was the one who voted against the resolution. The upshot is that they are sending a team to investigate human rights violations in the territory.
The Wired article notes there are two areas being examined.
- First is the 1980 Geneva Protocol on Incendiary Weapons, which says, interalia, "It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons."
- Second is alleged violations of the 1949 Geneva Protocol, which requires combatants to "take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects"
My recollection of the second item is that the military force is expected to accept the risk involved in minimizing the danger to civilians. That is to say, if there are two ways to do the job and the first is riskier, but it minimizes civilian casualties, then the first is the one to pick.
That said, the use of smoke, which is what White Phosphorous is mostly used for, may in fact be about minimizing civilian casualties by providing cover to Israeli troops so they can maneuver against Hamas fighters without having to lay down a lot of covering fire.
On the other hand, regarding this second item, one wonders about Hamas' use of rockets to make life miserable in Israel, in order to achieve its goals.
All that said, this is a terrible mess and I, for one, hope that someone finds a solution, or at least a process that leads to a solution.
Regards -- Cliff