web analytics
June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Iranian Nuclearization, ‘Human Shields’ And Israeli Preemption: The View From International Law


Beres-Louis-Rene

Soon, Israel will have little choice but to preemptively destroy Iran’s developing capacity for nuclear weapons and nuclear war. Confronted by a declared enemy state that remains openly genocidal as it forges ahead with illegal nuclearization, Israel will face many tactical difficulties.

More precisely, in operationalizing anticipatory self-defense – which is international law’s formal expression for such a protective first strike – Israel will have to contend with Iran’s deliberate placement of nuclear materials, personnel and infrastructures in the midst of its civilian populations.

In essence, Iran – now led by a president who repeatedly calls upon the entire Islamic world to “wipe Israel off the map” – plans to dissuade Israel by deploying “human shields.” Apart from its obvious indecency, such practice is always a clear violation of humanitarian international law. Under the authoritative law of war, Iran’s placement of nuclear assets amidst noncombatant men, women and children represents a textbook example of “perfidy.”

Deception can be an acceptable virtue in warfare (and Iran considers itself at war with Israel), but there is a meaningful legal distinction between deception and perfidy. The Hague Regulations in the law of war allow deception but disallow perfidy. The prohibition of perfidy is reaffirmed in a law-making protocol of 1977. It is widely understood that these rules are also binding on the basis of customary international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention states plainly, that it is perfidy to shield military targets from attack by moving them into densely populated areas or by purposely moving civilians near military targets. Indeed, it is generally agreed by legal scholars that such treachery – precisely what President Bush warned about on February 10, 2003 in the case of Iraq – represents an especially serious violation of the law of war. This type of violation is known technically as a “grave breach” of the Geneva Conventions.

For Iraq, from which the current Iranian regime has drawn some of its lessons on perfidy, the insidious practice of human shields had been an ongoing strategy. Long before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam Hussein had engaged in this illegal behavior before and during the 1991 Gulf War, both in his abuse of U.S. civilians around Iraqi military targets and in his abuse of Iraqi civilians around Baghdad’s military command centers. On one occasion, when coalition forces attacked a civilian defense shelter in Baghdad that was also being used as a military command center, Washington had correctly explained the action by citing Iraqi perfidy.

In terms of international law, Israel and the world should take particular note of the following: The legal effect of perfidy is always exculpatory for the attacker, at least from the standpoint of Jus In Bello, or “justice in war” (it has no effect at all on Jus Ad Bellum or the “justice of war”). In essence, it creates an exemption for the attacker from the normally operative humanitarian rules concerning permissible targets. It follows that any Iranian-created link between protected persons (civilians) and nuclear operations, would place all responsibility for subsequent civilian harms upon Iran. Any harms that might be inflicted by an attacker upon Iran’s human shields, would certainly be tragic and regrettable, but the legal responsibility for such harms would lie squarely with the genocidal Iranian leader and his government. Indeed, even specific criminal charges (carrying precise penal sanctions) could be assigned to Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

International law is not a suicide pact. When a state such as Iran engages in perfidious violations of the law of war, other countries seeking to prevent Iranian nuclear aggression, are still entitled to longstanding rights of self-defense. This entitlement extends to both the customary right of anticipatory self-defense – the right to use military force preemptively when the danger posed is “imminent” – and the codified right of retaliation following an armed attack. Should Iran resort to human shields to deter an Israeli preemption, as now seems certain, such perfidy would not limit any country’s right of self-defense against Iran. It would mean only that full legal responsibility for any consequent Iranian casualties would lie entirely with Iran.

In the coming months, Iranian president Ahmadinejad could decide to place thousands of additional civilians directly around nuclear facilities and/or within clandestine storage areas and pertinent command structures. Should it allow itself to be deterred by this newest resort to human shields, Israel would effectively permit Iran to make preparations for a war that could ultimately kill millions. Such “humanitarianism” by Israel (and perhaps by its American ally as well), however well-intentioned, would turn out to be misplaced. Jerusalem should continue to be guided in such matters by international law, by a time-honored set of rules, that correctly calls the emplacement of human shields “perfidy,” and that is designed to assist self-defense.

International law prohibitions notwithstanding, Iran has now been allowed by the United Nations and the world community to develop into an intolerable global menace. In such a dangerous situation, the legal right of self-defense against this menace is substantial. This right should not,under any circumstances, be inhibited by the Iranian president’s willful acts of perfidy.

Barring a near-miraculous political settlement with Iran, an Israeli preemption is altogether indispensable and would be consistent with governing international law. When it is undertaken, such an heroic act of anticipatory self-defense, which really ought to have been undertaken by the United States, will deserve our full support.

Copyright, The Jewish Press. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with international law.

About the Author: Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is professor of political science and international law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and strategic studies.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Iranian Nuclearization, ‘Human Shields’ And Israeli Preemption: The View From International Law”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Pro-Israel Group: Tell Chuck Schumer Not to Cave [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
Matan Katzman. regional executive at the StandWithUs

No longer will delegitimization efforts go unchallenged. That’s a silence we will continue to break.

Flag of Sweden

Increasingly, Sweden is becoming a country where anti-Semitism & supporting terrorism is acceptable.

Community-Jewels-logo

Rabbi Pfeffer points out that at his site, there are no one-line answers. “We want to show the people we’re interested in their questions,” he says.

Menachem Zivotofsky sued the U.S. government because the U.S. refused to include "Israel" alongside "Jerusalem" as the place of his birth on his passport. So far the courts have sided with the government.

The problem with US treatment of Israel did not start with Obama but with birth of Jewish State

The pathetic failure of the Marianne to reach Gaza is the best thing that has happened to Israel since Hamas mis-fired a rocket on its own civilians.

Wonder why Israel has the world’s most insane rules of engagement imposed on its military? Read on..

Think political Islam’s a problem now just wait until an Islamist nuclear umbrella covers the region

Fiorina’s wrong about Islam which embraces our death&destruction confusing pc theories for hard fact

Bangladesh PM Hasina is fighting terror not only for her nation but for the entire civilized world.

No necessity to redefine marriage, just address equal rights for couples in non-nuclear families

PM Netanyahu has pledged the nation won’t rest until the hero Eli Cohen is returned home to Israel

“Palestinian armed groups” & “local authorities” are named in the report; Hamas’ absence stands out

Dating apps have really changed the way many young Jews approach dating.

The families of those slain even publicly forgave the murderer. Charleston was serene and at peace.

Changing plans needn’t be a frustrating experience. Sometimes the new path proves far more rewarding

More Articles from Louis Rene Beres

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Louis Rene Beres

President Obama’s core argument on a Middle East peace process is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Once upon a time in America, every adult could recite at least some Spenglerian theory of decline.

President Obama’s core argument is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Specific strategic lessons from the Bar Kokhba rebellion.

Still facing an effectively unhindered nuclear threat from Iran, Israel will soon need to choose between two strategic options.

For states, as for individuals, fear and reality go together naturally.

So much of the struggle between Israel and the Arabs continues to concern space.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/iranian-nuclearization-human-shields-and-israeli-preemption-the-view-from-international-law/2006/02/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: