From incendiary kites to burning tires

Palestinians are violating international humanitarian and environmental law.

Palestinians prepare an incendiary device attached to a kite before trying to fly it over the border fence with Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Jabalia, on May 4, 2018.  (photo credit: MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Palestinians prepare an incendiary device attached to a kite before trying to fly it over the border fence with Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Jabalia, on May 4, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
As can be seen by the international outcry against Israel for reacting to the present bout of hostile demonstrations along the Gaza border fence, images of fatalities and injured Palestinians guarantee immediate and maximal media coverage and automatic condemnation of Israel by EU Foreign Affairs Representative Federica Mogherini, European leaders, the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
No one appears to be interested in the real motive behind such violence, and in the fact that Hamas utilizes civilians and children as human shields in order to conceal attaching explosive devices to the border fence; lobbing explosive devices at Israeli soldiers; and ultimately seeking to destroy the fence and penetrate into Israel to attack Israelis and “liberate Jerusalem.”
The Palestinian leadership has “jumped onto the Hamas bandwagon” with its own aggressive public relations campaign to accuse Israel in the international media, UN bodies and the International Criminal Court (ICC) of war crimes and violations of the Geneva conventions.
The flawed and one-sided UN General Assembly resolution condemning Israel, adopted by an automatic majority that included some European countries, not only exonerates Hamas from any responsibility for the incitement, riots, demonstrations and resulting fatalities and injuries, but also gives tacit encouragement to Hamas to continue, knowing that they can do no wrong in the eyes of the EU and the UN.
What is even more curious is the evidently deliberate disregard by all of the various leaders and organizations of the serious and flagrant international humanitarian, environmental and ecological crimes committed by Hamas and supported by the Palestinian leadership.
The fact that since January 2015, the Palestinians have been accepted by the international community as a state party to a large number of major international conventions, places full criminal responsibility and liability upon them for the violation of the obligations of the very conventions to which they are party.
So what international crimes are they committing?
Environmental Pollution: Stockpiling and burning thousands of tires creates mass pollution of the border area with caustic carbon fumes polluting the environment and damaging the health of the Palestinians themselves as well as the residents of Israeli communities near the border.
This is in utter disregard of major concerns of the international community for environmental protection, international anti-pollution conventions and resolutions. Strangely enough, no international leader or organization – environmental or other – has found it necessary to relate to these violations of international environment law.
Agricultural Terrorism: In dispatching incendiary kites and balloons in order to ignite vast swathes of agricultural land in Israel, to destroy crops and harm residents of towns and villages in Israel, and by arming them with explosive devises, the Palestinians are violating a major counter-terrorism convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997). This convention criminalizes intentional delivery, discharging or detonating of an explosive or other lethal device against a place of public use, to cause extensive destruction of such a place and economic loss.
Violating Children’s Rights: Sending children as human shields to the forefront of the violent demonstrations and attacks on the border fence in order to conceal the presence of Hamas terrorists is a cynical and cruel violation and abuse of such children. Encouraging and inciting children to build, arm and fly incendiary kites and balloons over Israeli territory, in addition to violating environmental norms, is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law regarding the protection of children from involvement in hostilities.
These activities violate treaties prohibiting involvement of children in warfare. Principally, the 1989 International Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the “state of Palestine” is party, prohibits the use of children under 15 from direct involvement in hostilities. Also, the 1977 Protocols to the Geneva Conventions and the ICC Statute list such abuse of children as a serious violation of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict.
That Hamas proudly advertises images of thousands of child soldiers trained in camps, and “graduation” ceremonies that include attacking mock Israeli bases and kidnapping and stabbing soldiers is all the more indicative of the blatant abuse and disregard by the Palestinians of their own solemn international obligations.
That the international community chooses to turn a blind eye to such flagrant abuse of basic international norms and prefers to accuse Israel is instructive.
Violation of the Oslo Accords: The Palestinians committed to “protect the environment and prevent environmental risks, hazards and nuisances including all kinds of soil, water and air pollution” as well as “to respond to events or accidents which may generate environmental pollution, damage or hazards.”
By encouraging, organizing and openly supporting caustic air pollution and the burning of Israel’s agricultural infrastructure, the Palestinian leadership, together with Hamas are violating the Oslo Accords. But sadly, the witnesses to the Accords – the EU, Russia, Norway, Egypt and Jordan, as well as the UN, which endorsed the accords, have found it neither appropriate nor sufficiently important to intervene vis-à-vis the Palestinians to prevent such violations.
To the contrary, they prefer to turn a blind eye to these and other Palestinian violations and instead accuse Israel.
The author, an Israeli international lawyer, served as legal counsel for the Foreign Ministry and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada.  He is head of the international law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.