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Saturday, September 12, 2009

When is a war crime not a war crime?

I saw this post on Jules Crittenden's web site about an American medic killed in Afghanistan, which Crittenden implies is a war crime, and wondered the same thing. I knew that dozens of Israeli medics have been killed in battles and wondered: If killing an American medic is a war crime, why wasn't the killing of all those Israeli medics a war crime?

Soccer Dad explains why:
In the case of Israelis though, since the ICRC won't give protection to the Mogen David Adom, it's not a war crime. So killing Yochai Porat wasn't a war crime.
Sgt.-Maj.(res.) Yochai Porat, who was on reserve army duty as a medic, was killed while trying to help his wounded comrades. Yochai was coordinator of the Jewish Agency's Foreign Volunteers Program, which is jointly run with Magen David Adom. The foreign volunteer program took on new impetus after Yochai became its coordinator. In this capacity, just a week ago he met Senator Hillary Clinton during her visit to Israel, and was excited to take a picture with her during the presentation of diplomas for volunteers from abroad.
Kiling Shmuel Akiva Weiss - a medic who was going to tend to Matanya Robinson wasn't a war crime.

Because Israeli army medics aren't afforded the same international protections granted every other mecical corps due to Islamic intolerance, the killings of Yochai Porat and Shmuel Weiss weren't war crimes. They were evidence of antisemitism and its acceptability on the international scene.
Huh? You might ask.... Well, here's the relevant paragraph from the Geneva Convention (which as far as I know has not been amended since the Red Cross sort of agreed to recognize Israel's Magen David Adom in 2006).
Medical personnel, including medical and dental officers, technicians and corpsmen, nurses, and medical service personnel, have special protected status when engaged exclusively in medical duties and may not be attacked. Possession of small arms for self-protection, for the protection of the wounded and sick, and for protection from marauders and others violating the law of armed conflict does not disqualify medical personnel from protected status. Medical personnel may not use such arms against enemy forces acting in conformity with the law of armed conflict. Chaplains attached to the armed forces are entitled to respect and protection. Medical personnel and chaplains should display the distinctive emblem of the red cross or red crescent when engaged in their respective medical and religious activities. Failure to wear the distinctive emblem does not, by itself, justify attacking a medical person or chaplain, recognized as such. Medical personnel and chaplains falling into enemy hands do not become prisoners of war. Unless their retention by the enemy is required to provide for the medical or religious needs of prisoners of war, medical personnel and chaplains must be repatriated at the earliest opportunity.
If you're wearing a Red Cross or a Red Crescent and you're killed, it's a war crime. If you're wearing a Red Star of David (as Israeli medics do), it's not a war crime.

Are you outraged yet?


At 5:37 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - the Olmert government agreed to censor the Magen David in exchange for the dubious honor of Israel's being admitted to the ICRC.

The Magen David is still not co-equal with the Cross and the Crescent. Did Israel expect any different?



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