The International Committee of the Red Cross is now teaching terrorist groups in Gaza about the finer points of international humanitarian law, which concerns the protection of civilians during war. Since the main fighting method of organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad is the intentional, mass murder of civilians — by suicide bombers heading for martyrs’ paradise — one wonders what it is precisely that the good people of the ICRC hope to accomplish here.
The BBC writes about the story here. But the must-see report is an Al Jazeera video — which could easily be mistaken for a clip from Comedy Central — where hooded terrorists gather in a classroom with colored markers to debate international law and rights.
What exactly are they learning, though?
Iyad Nasr, ICRC spokesman, is quoted on the video as saying, “We’d like these armed guys to understand the civilian population, the target, the military targets that they can attack, and the ones they cannot attack.” The reporter tells how the fighters were “absorbing what was sometimes surprising new information, learning that the armed resistance they engage in is a right the law guarantees them.”
“I have rights,” exclaims one hooded fighter. “Who knew?”
While it is true that under the highly controversial 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions (never ratified by the U.S.) “organized armed groups” are accorded prisoner of war treatment, there is absolutely nothing in international law that condones armed aggression, by state or non-state actors, against civilian or military personnel.
Was the ICRC suggesting that certain Hamas attacks, like the one in June 2006 that killed or wounded five Israeli soldiers (including the captive Gilad Shalit), are not illegal?
Mr. Nasr and the ICRC would do well to clarify what it is exactly that they are teaching.