Laws

These are the international conventions and laws concerning the POWs world wide and concerning the Egyptian and Israeli POWs

The Geneva Conventions

The Geneva Conventions consist of 4 treaties that set standards for the international laws for preserving the rights of Prisoners of Wars and Civilians in the time of War.

Mainly they are four treaties, conventions that were held in Geneva in years 1864 , 1906, 1929 and 1949 1, 2

The 1949 Geneva Convention amended and extended all the previous treaties including the Hague Convention, the whole set of conventions are referred to now as Geneva Convention of 1949or just The Geneva Convention. Nearly all 200 countries of the world are “signatory” nations, in that they have ratified these conventions.

There were 3 protocols made in 1977 1and 2and in 2005 as amendments to the Geneva Conventions and later conferences had added provisions prohibiting certain methods of warfare and addressing the issues of civil wars.

Israel was among the countries that signed the Geneva Convention 1949 and according to the rules it had ratified the treaty in 1951, already since this year is obliged to its articles as according to the law a signature is not binding on a State unless it has been endorsed by ratification, and so any violation to any article is considered as a violation to an international law.

Strangely if you read the articles of the Geneva 1949 one by one you will be surprised that in 1956 and 1967 the IDF violated at least 90% of the articles in the treaty ,I read it many of the articles whether that is about the treatment of the civilians or the wounded or the unarmed combatants or even regarding the use of certain substance and weapons in the war , the testimonies of the people , the photos of mass graves and the wounds still have their marks on the bodies of the survivors make me wonder if there is a real use to this treaty!!!

Here are some of the articles of the convention, I recommend you to read them very well and compare them to what happened in 1956 and 1967 wars

  • (Article 4) “Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy”

1. “Members of the armed forces”

2. “Militias…including those of organized resistance movements…having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance…conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war”

3. “Persons who accompany the armed forces”

4. “Members of crews…of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft”

5. “Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.”

  • (Article 5): “Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act…” is a prisoner of war “…such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.”
  • (Article 13): “Prisoners of war must at all the time be humanely treated and protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.”
  • (Article 17): “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.”
  • (Article 25): “Prisoners of war shall be quartered under conditions as favorable as those for the forces of the Detaining Power who are billeted in the same area.”
  • (Article 27): “Clothing, underwear and footwear shall be supplied to prisoners of war”
  • (Article 33): “Members of the medical personnel and chaplains while retained by the Detaining Power with a view to assisting prisoners of war shall not be considered as prisoners of war. They shall, however, receive as a minimum the benefits and protection of the present Convention, and shall also be granted all facilities necessary to provide for the medical care of, and religious ministration to prisoners of war.”
  • (Article 39): “Prisoners of war, with the exception of officers, must salute and show to all officers of the Detaining Power the external marks of respect provided for by the regulations applying in their own forces.”
  • (Article 42): “The use of weapons against prisoners of war, especially against those who are escaping or attempting to escape, shall constitute an extreme measure, which shall always be preceded by warnings appropriate to the circumstances.”
  • (Article 60): “The Detaining Power shall grant all prisoners of war a monthly advance of pay…”
  • (Article 69): “Immediately upon prisoners of war falling into its power, the Detaining Power shall inform them and the Powers on which they depend, through the Protecting power, of the measures taken to carry out the provisions of the present Section. They shall likewise inform the parties concerned of any subsequent modifications of such measures.”
  • (Article 72): “Prisoners of war shall be allowed to receive … books, devotional articles, scientific equipment, examination papers, musical instruments, sports outfits and materials allowing prisoners of war to pursue their studies or their cultural activities.”
  • (Article 88): “Officers, non-commissioned officers and men who are prisoners of war undergoing a disciplinary or judicial punishment, shall not be subjected to more severe treatment than that applied in respect of the same punishment to members of the armed forces of the Detaining Power of equivalent rank.”
  • (Article 89): Provides for fines, discontinuance of privileges above those required by the Convention, fatigue duties up to two hours per day and confinement. “In no case shall disciplinary punishments be inhuman, brutal or dangerous to the health of prisoners of war.”
  • (Geneva Gas Protocol) “The use of asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gases has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world. . . [Signatory countries] accept this prohibition, agree to extend this prohibition to the use of bacteriological methods of warfare, and agree to be bound as between themselves according to the terms of this declaration.”

The Camp David accords

The Camp David accords aka the Camp David treaty in Egypt unfortunately for 20 years was like a chain holding the Egyptian government for 20 years from doing any legal action against the IDF for the crimes it committed in both wars of 1956 and 1967.

According to the accords

Each country is responsible for what happens to its POWs!!

Don’t even ask why and how Egypt approved about this point, because as far as I knew and read from the historians in Egypt that president Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat demanded 20 billion American dollars from the Israeli government as a compensation for its war crimes against the POWs and America at that time agreed to pay half of it, but then the Egyptian regime seemed not to be serious I don’t know why and so they just forgot it as it didn’t happen.

When the accords were valid, the Egyptian government couldn’t do anything yet the civil organizations could have used the international laws in order to sue the IDF but that didn’t happen either, of course from many reasons, the civil organizations were not as active like now due to the laws and the regime constraints on the human rights organizations back.

Any how there is important remark, the Camp David accords were not updated at least on the public level, and their duration was for 20 years only it began in 1977 and it ended in 1997, so the Egyptian government is liable with it any more, Israel now is just like any other county we have normal relations with and the government can demand a compensation and a punishment of those responsible of these terrible war crimes.

The international criminal court

The international Criminal court Unfortunately Egypt can use it because one the back draws of this court that it doesn’t pro The court can only prosecute crimes committed on or after July the 1st 2002, the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, entered into force.

Already I don’t think Egypt officially can use it because it is not from the States parties in the courts along with Israel, it turned out that Egypt signed the Rome Statue of the ICC in the 26th of December 2000 and till now it didn’t ratify on it but the Egyptian government put certain conditions to cooperate with the Court yet it is the end of the road because Egypt at any time can ratify it, it is up to the regime!!

Israel the same signed on the same date like Egypt but didn’t ratify, and the reasons are known to everyone, it already accused the ICC to be influenced with certain countries Arabic of course because it knows very well its criminal records, already this was the official justification of Israel

“Being an active consistent supporter of the concept of an International Criminal Court, and its realization in the form of the Rome Statute, the Government of the State of Israel is proud to thus express its acknowledgment of the importance, and indeed indispensability, of an effective court for the enforcement of the rule of law and the prevention of impunity.

As one of the originators of the concept of an International Criminal Court, Israel, through its prominent lawyers and statesmen, has, since the early 1950’s, actively participated in all stages of the formation of such a court. Its representatives, carrying in both heart and mind collective, and sometimes personal, memories of the holocaust – the greatest and most heinous crime to have been committed in the history of mankind – enthusiastically, with a sense of acute sincerity and seriousness, contributed to all stages of the preparation of the Statute. Responsibly, possessing the same sense of mission, they currently support the work of the ICC Preparatory Commission.

At the 1998 Rome Conference, Israel expressed its deep disappointment and regret at the insertion into the Statute of formulations tailored to meet the political agenda of certain states. Israel warned that such an unfortunate practice might reflect on the intent to abuse the Statute as a political tool. Today, in the same spirit, the Government of the State of Israel signs the Statute while rejecting any attempt to interpret provisions thereof in a politically motivated manner against Israel and its citizens. The Government of Israel hopes that Israel’s expressions of concern of any such attempt would be recorded in history as a warning against the risk of politicization, that might undermine the objectives of what is intended to become a central impartial body, benefiting mankind as a whole.

Nevertheless, as a democratic society, Israel has been conducting ongoing political, public and academic debates concerning the ICC and its significance in the context of international law and the international community. The Court’s essentially – as a vital means of ensuring that criminals who commit genuinely heinous crimes will be duly brought to justice, while other potential offenders of the fundamental principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience will be properly deterred – has never seized to guide us. Israel’s signature of the Rome Statute will, therefore, enable it to morally identify with this basic idea, underlying the establishment of the Court.

Today, [the Government of Israel is] honored to express [its] sincere hopes that the Court, guided by the cardinal judicial principles of objectivity and universality, will indeed serve its noble and meritorious objectives.”

Yet this is not the end of the road fortunately we can prosecute the IDF for committing crimes against humanity especially with the evidence from the mass graves and the testimonies in other countries courts like Belgium and Germany

The Israeli War crimes laws

The following is not about the international laws instead it is something old somehow that goes back to year 1995 when the confessions of the Israeli officers began to surface, In September 1995 Israel’s Attorney General back then “Michael Ben-Yair” had ruled that there was no basis for prosecuting soldiers for wars crimes or offenses as he had described in 1956 and 1967 war because of a 20-year statue of limitations on homicide charges!!

According to “Ben-Yair” the only war-Crimes law in Israel is related to crimes of genocide or crimes committed by Nazis during the WWII against the Jewish population according to the law no.5910 for year 1950, where as the shootings of the POWs despite their unlawful and intolerable nature are not the kind of crimes covered by the law on genocide!!