War Crimes & Geneva Convention – go low, go high

Protecting the rights and lives of civilians is a basic tenet of the Geneva Convention. As Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, declared as a caution this week in Tel Aviv: “We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard, even when it’s difficult.”

 The Geneva Convention came into force on 21 October 1950, following from the earlier convention of 22 August 1864 and there have been various amendments since.

     The key directive is to distinguish between combatants and civilians and minimise harm to populations. Sites such as shops, hospitals, schools and places of worship are considered civilian installations where attacks either deliberate or as collateral damage would normally be prohibited. Attacks should be focused on militarily defeating armed opponents, rather than collective punishment of a wider group of people for casualties inflicted. Hostage-taking such as that carried out by Hamas is also a war crime. The use of civilians as human shields for combatants is forbidden. Even if a warring party is using civilian sites, its opponent still has a responsibility to minimise non-combatant casualties.

  The Geneva Convention’s 1977 additional protocols prohibit the use of starvation as a weapon of war. It is forbidden to “attack, destroy, remove or render useless . . . objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population”. These include “foodstuffs, agricultural areas . . . drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works”.

White phosphorus bombs are internationally prohibited under the 1980 Geneva Convention, which explicitly forbids their use as incendiary weapons against both humans and the environment. Their use in civilian areas is considered a war crime. Human Rights Watch says there have been documented civilian deaths from the use of white phosphorus in war zones in countries and areas such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Gaza.

  When the Convention came into force in 1950 there was a Libra Sun and Venus Mercury Neptune also in Libra sitting midway between a brutal/ruthless Pluto trine Mars. The Sun is labouring under tr Pluto square exactly at the moment and the Venus Mercury Neptune are catching today’s Solar Eclipse for an emotional upset, disagreements and confusion – with more come next spring’s Aries Solar Eclipse in opposition. Tr Uranus is also square the Pluto mid this December to mid March 2024. Plus an uncertain, undermining tr Neptune opposition the Saturn this year into early 2024. So war crimes will be in the spotlight over the coming twelve months.

31 thoughts on “War Crimes & Geneva Convention – go low, go high

  1. In this Time article about the spread of misinformation since the Hamas attack, the Palestinian vs Israeli casualty count was already at 1,400 to 1,300 (https://time.com/6323421/misinformation-about-the-israel-hamas-war-is-rife-on-social-media-especially-x/).

    Now, only four days later, it is 2,700 vs 1,400 (https://www.cnbc.com/2023/10/16/israel-hamas-war-updates-latest-news-on-gaza.html). These ratios are consistent for each conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

    And they don’t reflect all the times that IDF or the Israeli government has meted out collective punishment (against the Geneva Convention) against Palestinians (such as razing family homes, brutalizing children and young adults or setting up check points and erecting walls that ensure Palestinians who must work in Israel or need to visit West Bank must spend hours traversing through what should be short commutes.

    While Israel absolutely has the right to defend itself against terrorists attacks, these inhumane measures only heighten the misery and humiliation felt by the Palestinian populations and unnecessarily increase the tension between Israelis and Palestinians, thereby put Israeli lives at increased risk.

    And the disproportionate casualty counts continue to reinforce the message that the Israeli government does not regard Palestinian lives with the same value as that of Israelis.

    Given these repeated open and implicit abuses that Israelis would not tolerate for themselves, how can Palestinians truly trust that the Israeli government will negotiate for a two-state solution in good faith?

    If the international community really wants to see peace between Israelis and Palestinians, then we have to hold political leaders on both sides accountable for human-rights violations and stop excusing Israeli governments’ inhumane treatment of Palestinians while unreasonably holding Palestinians to saintly standards.

    EU’s decision to withhold humanitarian aide for Gaza (again, a form of collective punishment) as an immediate response to Hamas’ attack was an ugly reminder of this double standard.

    If we want to ensure that this latest conflict ends quickly, without regional or global escalation, then the international community must both ensure that it is treating both sides with an even hand and is itself adhering to agreed-upon international human-rights standards.

  2. In times like these Astrology helps me try to understand ,if that is even possible, the depravity. Thank you Marjorie.You mention that Netanyahu was ‘caught by surprise ‘ and the media points to intelligence failure . I find this difficult to reconcile given the sets of circumstances surrounding the event such as the Saudi – Israel talks where concessions would have to be made ,the missile attacks in Israel this past May that were put on the back burner and replaced with Netanyahu’s judicial fiasco causing splits among his nations people. Did the Mossad and the CIA really fail to warn of the attack last week ? Is the Egyptian warning really a rumor ? Would love to see the astrology here . My heartfelt condolences to all those who have suffered losses.

  3. Is this the elephant in the room??

    ‘For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces’ to undermine the Palestinian Authority and Abbas to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. (The Times of Israel headlines, 8 October 2023).

    Deja vue anyone?

    I bet I know what will happen to the land evacuated down the line. Do you think those people will be allowed back to their homes and land? Hmmm…..!

  4. I am not taking any sides. Astro input only.
    Using Vedic astrology, Lahiri’s ayanamsha and Vedic planetary aspects, the 4:00 pm birth time of Israel gives a Vedic ascendant of Virgo. A later time would give a Libra ascendant. Whenever Mars, North Node and Saturn aspect there is war. Currently Mars from Libra aspects the North Node in Aries. Saturn aspects the North Node from Aquarius. It is in the 8th house for Virgo ascendant or the seventh house for Libra ascendant. The seventh house indicates war.
    Israel has just entered the major rule of the North Node in Aries. This North Node in Aries is currently aspected by transiting Mars and Saturn. The situation is grim.

  5. Thanks Marjorie. I notice that the Geneva Convention has the same birthday day, one year later, as Benjamin Netanyahu. His Libran Moon aligns with the GC Mercury, his 24 Capricorn Jupiter squares the Libran Sun in both charts. As does the 25 Capricorn Sun for Mahmoud Abbas’ Presidency, and Abbas’ own natal Pluto 23 Cancer, square Mars 20 Libra. Both Capricorn Jupiter and the Sun in these charts could represent the leader, the military general, and the ambitious Capricorn strategist having to work things out with the laws and balance of Geneva Convention’s Libra, in its ideal interpretation.

    The United Nations chart brings further grit and challenge here with their obstinate Mars/Saturn conjunction at 23 and 24 Cancer. The UN Mars/Saturn offers further challenge to the Fatah/Hamas composite you’ve posted elsewhere on here. That has Uranus 23 Libra, Chiron 24 Aries suggesting painful revolutions and upheavals are part of their essence. They are, symbolically at least, both wounds and catalysts.

    This does resonate with the United States natal Pluto/Mercury opposition too, bringing in yet another layer of intensity. Pluto’s journey in late Capricorn is perhaps now revealing more to us all about its meaning and vital deeper lessons. Those Hamas tunnels in Gaza, and the ‘safe rooms’ in homes in Israel suggest secretive, underworld Pluto in an earthy, security-focussed sign – Pluto manifesting in one symbolic way, amongst many others in this terrible situation.

    It’s also worth noting that in the chart for the start of World War II, 1st September, 1939, there’s Mars at 24 Capricorn, trine Uranus 21 Taurus, and Neptune 22 Virgo. What can we see in the mirror of time here? I am very much hoping that the Uranus Return for this profound historical moment represents a genuine chance to change, to embrace something new and innovative instead of being mired in old, destructive patterns.

  6. I don’t intend for this comment to be a rant. I just wanted to share that I mentioned in a previous post that I don’t support how Israel is dealing with this tragic situation. They’re letting their rage guide them and it’s costing hundreds of Palestinian civilian lives each day. Even U.S. Military experts (like retired generals, etc.) have weighted in on this and have said they don’t see much of a strategy for carpet bombing residential areas, hospitals, etc. when it’s very likely that the Hamas pigs are hiding (like rats) in the tunnels they constructed in Gaza. So, it’s innocent civilians (including over 500 children) in Gaza who are being forced to pay the price for the brutal actions of Hamas.

    These constant bombings in Gaza remind me of what Erdogan is doing to the Kurdish and the Yazidi people (who have been perpetually ignored by both the West and the Global South) in Rojava and the Kurdistan Region.

    Seeing Palestinian civilians trapped and fleeing from one corner of the Gaza Strip to the other (like hamsters in a cage) is also very disturbing and it reminds me of the horrific siege of Mariupol, Ukraine last year when Russian pigs relentlessly carpet bombed Mariupol, refused to honor the ceasefires to allow Ukrainian residents to evacuate, and cutoff water and electricity to Ukrainians in that city (many had to drink filthy rainwater).

    According to The Jerusalem Post and the Haaretz, polls show that even though Israeli citizens have become united after the barbaric attacks on their communities last weekend, they are not necessarily rallying behind Benjamin Netanyahu. Less than 20% of Israelis support Netanyahu right now – they are furious with him for his incompetence and they want him to resign.

    I sincerely hope Benjamin Netanyahu is ousted soon; he’s been a disaster for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. His far-right divisive politics and his refusal to even consider a two-state solution contributed the crisis originally Israeli civilians are enduring at the moment. I say the same about Hamas for the Palestinians (and Palestinians in Gaza haven’t been allowed to caste a vote since 2006).

    All in all, I fully support the Israeli and Palestinian civilians in this crisis – not Hamas and not Netanyahu (neither of them have any empathy or compassion for the average people).

    • According to CNN Egypt has refused to open its border to allow those who were ordered by Israel to flee south during 6 hours today to get out of Gaza. They are sitting ducks, and I fear there will be an endless mass slaughter of Palestinians as this horrific situation unfolds.

  7. The truth is if Zeus sent down a thunderbolt to remove every last Hamas thug/psychopath off the face of the earth and the Palestinians were left an occupied people, within a few years another Hamas or Hezbollah would emerge. It is human nature. If you treat people badly some will turn to violence out of frustration and when you meet that violence with retaliating violence and get it bred into several generations and attract psychopaths it is monumentally more difficult to handle.
    For heaven’s sake go read the previous posts. This is not a simple – Chinese invade Tibet and are wrong, Russians invade Ukraine are wrong.
    This situation is a moral quagmire and splitting as you are doing is an emotive response which prevents you grappling with the impossible dilemma. You can blot out large chunks of the story to allow yourself to be filled with self-righteous anger but that resolves nothing.

    • I agree with you Marjorie.

      No one wants to look at the fundamentals of this situation, and if we not careful if we dare to have an viewpoint we must shut our mouth or suffer the warth. All reasoning has left the building.

      I recall someone commented recently that the Palestinian people are not Hamas and most don’t agree with their tactics. Yet that is not a reasonable thought to consider. Only women and children on one side count?????

    • I totally agree with you, Marjorie. I recently wrote a story for my local newspaper about a Palestinian -American gardener who has recreated a bit of his homeland through his California garden. He shared with me the book he wrote about growing up in a refugee camp, with few basic services including water, in Lebanon after his family was among the 750,000 Palestinians who were thrown off their land, without any compensation, to create the Israeli state in 1948. It helped me understand the roots of the rage that’s fueled the endless conflict in Palestine/Israel. I think a two-state solution is the only viable option, but the extremists on many sides will do the utmost to torpedo that concept to hold onto their “dream” of ultimately vanquishing and driving out the other side. I grieve for all the innocent civilians in the region and all conflict zones and wish that cooler heads will prevail soon. (Incidentally, growing up without water or sanitation systems he became a civil engineer, designing and building those systems in the US and Bahrain, as well as an excellent writer.)

      • I found and read your article, Nicole. What a lovely family, and their garden sounds like an oasis. How helpless they must be feeling right now with all that’s going on back home, thank you for shedding some light on their story. Hopefully the humanity of their plight and of all those in Israel as well will invite some more compassion here on Marjorie’s blog and less righteous finger-pointing and divisive rhetoric, especially for an astrology site. Again, wonderful article, Nicole

        For anyone who’s interested, Nicole’s piece can be found here: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/lifestyle/home-and-garden/story/2023-04-29/cultivating-remembrances-of-homeland-and-a-new-life-in-san-diegos-east-county

        • Thanks for searching it out and posting it, Ava! And thank you for the compliments. I just won a first place award on the local journalism competition for that article.

          It’s such a complex situation, with so much hatred and pain on both sides. I earnestly hope that eventually the peacemakers on all sides will be empowered to find an acceptable, lasting solution.

    • The most wretched thing about Western discourse at the moment is that the point you have just made now qualifies as ‘anti-semitism’. Calling out manifest warcrimes is ‘anti-semitism’. Reckoning Palestinian life at the same worth and value as Israeli life is ‘anti-semitism’. Simple human sympathy now has to be tied up and kept out of sight because, if seen, it’s leapt on and called ‘anti-semitism’.

      And quite frankly, those people who were quick to cheer on the baseless slurs against Jeremy Corbyn for political expediency, but now find themselves cagey about decrying Israel’s high-tech murder jamboree, ought to reflect on what they’ve contributed to.

      • I have always drawn a sharp distinction between criticism of successive Israeli government policies and actions and the anti-Semitism which led to centuries of pogroms and persecution long before Israel existed.
        The trouble was that Corbyn could never distinguish between the two. It does not matter that Israeli politicians over the years have waved the victim card in order to justify appalling behaviour and attempt to deflect criticism – the two are separate.

  8. Today is a Solar eclipse at 21 degrees of Libra. I wrote the underneath post today, with this Eclipse on my Saturn/Neptune mid-point in Libra in the 5th house – the house of children and with the power of the Libra scales – a symbol of balance. This mid-point degree is trine my Jupiter in the 12th in Gemini the: written word. The 12 house is the house of hidden secrets and to a certain extent Religion per se, as Neptune/Pisces is spirituality and the fish also the symbol of Christianity. I take no sides I wrote it from the heart, as I am a Leo. I have sat in healings circles during my life and sought to work for the power of good, not one religion, or god. Today I felt a huge urge to write the argument from the Isreal’s perspective of the pain they must be feeling. The huge loss of children. The Jewish ethnicity is just 0.2 of this world’s population and I can’t bear to see one small ethnicity bullied by so many.

      • BBC Verify has confirmed women and young children were killed when a strike hit their vehicles as they headed away from northern Gaza
        Analysis of images from the scene show some of those who died were aged between two and five

    • The beheaded baby story is FAKE: no less credible an organization than Human Rights Watch has VERIFIED that, the Israeli Army refuses to confirm it and the White House Press office corrected the President himself on it. This is how truth becomes the first casualty of war – when people who are not on the front line spread sensational rumours. Please also spare a thought for the pain felt by the 2 month-old Palestinian baby who was killed today when 20 other families were wiped out by a bomb dropped on their home complex in the middle of the night, as for the infant who was burned alive when Israeli settlers firebombed his family’s home in 2015. It is precisely to protect those who cannot fight and those who do not fight – on all sides – from the effects of war, that the Geneva Conventions of 1949 were created. By the way, Marjorie, there are 4 Geneva Conventions. It is the IIIrd one that deals with the protection of civilians. Common to all 4 and to the Additional Protocols are the basic principles of necessity, distinction and proportionality in warfare.

  9. These bodies are set up to deal with reasoning people. What is happening right now is raw emotions. Reasoning? When pain , anger and a ‘eye for an eye”is too palpable? How can any reasoning World Convention deal with baby beheadings? Burning people alive? Perhaps on the outside looking on, we can all strive to stay natural or to state one is not adhering to the Geneava Convention. Yet they are not on the outside, Israel is experiencing collective grieving, raw animal instincts and undiluted anger. Hamas has instigated an descending into hell. Have Israel’s beheaded the Palestinian children this week – No. I attempt to stay neutral, yet feel sickened to the core. Terrorist attacks are different from War, although what recent War has adhered to the Geneva Convention or Human Rights? As if they had, we would not be witnessing the pristine way these raw emotions are being judge by. I suggest that none of us are equipped to speak about what happened last Saturday- didn’t experience it. Even to imagine the inhumanity under the guise of “saving Gaza”, would not come near what those people experienced last weak. Conflating barbaric treatment with the Gaza cause is something that takes away the inhumanity of butchering children. The raw hatred by some. Babies of any ethnicity is a way of killing an ethnicity or sending the message out. Last week was a blight on humanity. A blight on this Earth.

    • Getting all wound up in this kind of situation is hardly helpful. See post below on The Modern Middle East: A century old mess.
      “On April 9, 1948, just weeks before the creation of the State of Israel, members of the Israeli Irgun and Stern Gang militias attacked the village of Deir Yassin, killing at least 107 Palestinians. According to testimonies from the perpetrators and surviving victims, many of the people slaughtered – from those who were tied to trees and burned to death to those lined up against a wall and shot by submachine guns – were women, children and the elderly. As news of the atrocities spread, thousands fled their villages in fear. Eventually, some 700,000 Palestinians would flee or be forcibly displaced at the outset of Israel’s creation, making the massacre a decisive moment in Palestinian history.” Those who live in the Middle East have long memories.
      The depths of human depravity are hardly restricted to Hamas or Arabs – the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, the Brits in Kenya, Belgians in the Congo, French in Algeria etc etc etc.

        • As what is the point of Astrology? Countries Charts and aspects, if those who study astrology takes sides? The planet’s speak, they alert us and test us.

          • No one is taking sides, least of all me, but the broader context is important otherwise you end up doing precisely what you accuse others of doing which is taking sides.

            I don’t notice any astro input from yourself. I suggest you take a couple of days out to wind down.

          • Helen, that is a powerful post you have written there and quite rightly so.
            Today I stand with Israel, with Jews everywhere, in their grief. They must do what they must. I am horrified by the what-about-ery and moral relativism from some in the face of the massacre by terrorists last weekend. It is misguided and shameful.

      • I am sorry Marjorie, this is your site, but on this you are wrong. We should take sides on this. There is no moral justification for what happened last weekend.
        After WWII we promised the Jews “Never again”, but it has happened again, 1,200 Jews have been massacred.

        • I’d suggest if humanity were to read the ‘never again’ promise after WW II more broadly as ‘never again ethnic cleansing’, ‘never again torture and suppression of human rights based on race’, one would be able to see the suffering of both the sides.
          The historical context sketched by Marjorie last week makes clear that Israel was established by European powers – by countries in which Jews were discriminated against and later slaughtered by the millions – by promising them a homeland in Asia. It was set up through ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
          No country or people have a perpetual monopoly on victimhood. The Palestinians have been reduced from 92% majority to a excessively policed minority within the span of a century. They are equally victims in this situation.

          I wonder about the number of babies and patients who might have lost their lives in hospitals, gasping for breath, when Gaza’s lone power station stopped functioning.
          Let’s not divide our sympathies in this situation.

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