Colonel Richard Kemp.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
“The laws of armed conflict require them [Hamas] to evacuate civilians if they are using an area as a military position,” explained Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, on a recent trip to Israel.
In the country to receive an honorary doctorate at Bar-Ilan University and speak at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, he told The Jerusalem Post that it is essential for the international community to hold Hamas responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip.
His comments are all the more relevant in light of the rocket that was fired
from the Strip and landed in an open area near Lachish on Tuesday.
As the governing power in Gaza, Hamas is responsible for actions emanating from its territory.
“Hamas is not blamed for using human shields. [According to the laws of war] they are not allowed to coerce civilians to come to where an attack might take place or where weapons are stored,” Kemp said.
Last summer’s war exposed Hamas operating from within civilian environments, firing rockets next to buildings and mingling with the civilian population in Gaza. The rocket fired Tuesday was similarly fired from an area proximate to civilians.
Kemp, who gave testimony to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s probe into 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, asserts that it is time for Israel to work with Western governments to apply pressure on the Palestinians in regards to Gaza.
“They must not finance UN schools that demonize Israel, not finance the tunnels [Hamas builds], not finance people who bring in weapons,” he said.
Furthermore, the international community can play an effective role to hold Hamas accountable for its egregious violations of international laws of war. It could even contribute to the blockade of Gaza, he said.
“More than symbolic gestures, [countries should] contribute to the military blockade of Gaza. Many countries say they want demilitarization. Well, let’s put the money where the mouth is.”
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