A total mockery of international law by Norman Pesch

Article 51 of the UN Charter clearly states that whoever is attacked militarily has such a right of defense. This is true in this case as well: Israel can defend itself against Hamas’ attack, but this comes with the caveat that such defense must always be proportionate.

“A total mockery of international law”

War on Gaza

On the right to self-defense, war crimes in the Gaza war, and the role of the FRG. An interview with Norman Paech

[This interview posted on 10/17/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.jungewelt.de/artikel/461212.krieg-gegen-gaza-eine-totale-verh%C3%B6hnung-des-v%C3%B6lkerrechts.html.]

Result of airstrikes: devastating destruction in the Gaza Strip (Jabaliya, Oct. 11, 2023).

Norman Paech is a lawyer and professor emeritus of political science and public law at the University of Hamburg

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated during a government statement last Thursday that Israel has a “right to self-defense under international law” in the Gaza Strip. Where is this laid down?

Article 51 of the UN Charter clearly states that whoever is attacked militarily has such a right of defense. This is true in this case as well: Israel can defend itself against Hamas’ attack, but this comes with the caveat that such defense must always be proportionate. If the Israeli army causes a real bloodbath in the Gaza Strip, which has been sealed off for decades anyway, this is in no way covered by the right of defense under Article 51.

Does Article 51 also apply to an occupying power in the territory it occupies?

Yes. But the principle of proportionality between means and ends is central. A defense must always remain within the limits of international humanitarian law, enshrined in particular in the “Hague” and “Geneva” Conventions. The attack has been successfully repulsed. If the army currently goes beyond this and declares, “We will destroy Hamas,” and cuts off energy and food to the civilian population, then this is already a transgression of the requirement of proportionality and therefore contrary to international law.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions invoke the “right to armed resistance against the occupation.” What is this all about?

jW-Shop: André Scheer, Class Struggle in the Ether.

From the point of view of international law, this is also a correct demand, because the Israeli occupation is illegal under international law and therefore like an attack. Now it is claimed that Gaza is no longer occupied after the settlers and the army withdrew from the area in 2006. This is not true. The blockade is regarded internationally – including by the German Foreign Office – as an illegal occupation. It is permissible to defend oneself against such an occupation. However, here, too, with the restriction that the rules of international humanitarian law must be observed. Civilians are absolutely taboo, and Hamas has violated that.

The Gaza Strip has been sealed off since 2007, and a complete siege of the population has been imposed in the current war. What is your assessment of that?

This is a war crime. Cutting off energy, food, etc. is also illegal. The blockade already was. These additional measures, which mean a violent deterioration in the living conditions of the civilian population in Gaza, even to the point of starvation, thirst, and disease, are war crimes and absolutely prohibited under international law.

The Israeli government on Friday ordered 1.1 million Gaza City residents to leave their homes for the south. How is this to be judged legally?

It is a total mockery of international law to invoke the UN Charter’s right of defense in this regard. The general public knows the situation on the ground. There are enough photos to show that there are in fact no retreat options at all for the people in the north. It is obviously preparation for Gaza to be reduced to rubble. This is a serious war crime, as the UN also sees it.

Is Germany complicit in these war crimes?

Morally, certainly. It is not yet clear to what extent this will be legally relevant. But in my opinion, we should not only have insisted that supplies be secured for the population during the upcoming ground invasion, but should have pulled out all the political stops to dissuade Netanyahu and his terrible cabinet.

Where is this going to lead? Even if you “destroy” Hamas and raze Gaza to the ground, you will not be able to break the resistance of the Palestinian people. Peace will never come to this region with such action. It is only possible through negotiations and withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories altogether.

Letter to the editor by Frank Pahlke from Ebersbach (October 19, 2023 at 5:07 pm)

“Is Germany complicit in these war crimes?” is asked Mr. Peach and he answers, “Morally, definitely. To what extent it becomes legally relevant is not yet clear.” I see it differently, because on June 30, 20002 the Völkerstrafgesetzbuch (VStGB) of the FRG came into force. Section 11(1) of the VStGB states, “Whoever, in connection with an international or non-international armed conflict … (5) uses the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects essential to their lives or obstructs aid deliveries in violation of international humanitarian law … shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than three years.” Cutting off the population of the Gaza Strip from all necessities of life, announced and implemented by the Israeli government, thus not only violates international humanitarian law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the United Nations Charter, but is punishable under federal German law. The territorial effect of the VStGB is determined by its § 1: “This Act shall apply to all offenses against international law designated therein, and to offenses under §§ 6 through 12 even if the offense was committed abroad and has no connection with Germany …” § Section 2 of the VStGB states: “The general criminal law shall apply to acts under this Act, unless this Act makes special provisions in Sections 1, 3 to 5 and 13(4).” Accordingly, Section 152 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also has effect, i.e. the principle of legality, prosecution ex officio. Likewise, Section 29 of the Criminal Code is relevant, where it says: “(1) Anyone who has intentionally assisted another in his intentionally committed unlawful act shall be punished as an aider and abettor …” So be careful with unconditional solidarity for the state of Israel! At least this is my humble opinion. Kind regards Frank Pahlke

Show 1 responses to this letter to the editor


Letter to the editor by Reinhold Schramm from 12105 Berlin (October 17, 2023 at 2:29 pm)

A completely different question: the feudal-religious class society of Islam. Why can the filthy rich Gulf monarchies spend more than 0. billion for the World Cup, but not 0. billion for five million Palestinian coreligionists of Islam? If only economic and social development were a prerequisite for equality between Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East! PS: Is there no material and social solidarity with the Palestinian brothers and sisters of Islam? After all, the Saudi royal family has a fortune of more than 1,000 billion dollars/euros and the royal princely rule of Qatar has more than 300 billion dollars/euros. Moreover, all the Gulf monarchies have billions in Western European and North American corporations! They need the opposition between Palestinians and Israelis to keep their feudal-religious power and domination over the Arab and Islamic world.

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