Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Hans Lebrecht - The Right to Resistance According to International Law
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Let me quote and freely translate into English from a book, I wrote 15 years ago in Hebrew, HaPalestinaim - Avar veHoveh (The Palestinians- Past and Present, Tel-Aviv University Publishers, 1987). On page 219, regarding the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation, I reminded my readers:
According to international law, the people of a country, occupied by a foreign power, has the full right to fight for their liberation. The Palestinian people, inhabitants of the territories, Israel has conquered and is occupying by military means since June 1967, too have this briefed right. This right is based, among other reasons, also upon the guiding lines set for the International Tribunal in Nuremberg, which, after World War II, had been established to judge the main Nazi criminals. And let us never forget this fact!
The statutory argument in article 2 of the indictments (concerning transgressions against the laws on conducts of war) at the Nuremberg Tribunal was based upon the Den-Hague International Convention of 1907. Article 6 (b) of the Tribunal's rules relies upon articles 1 and 2 of the accompanying letters of the said Den-Hague Convention, which particularly lie down the right to popular resistance against military occupation, within the occupied territories themselves, as well as outside them. Further on is said there, that all the means of this resistance, political as well as military ones, are valid (as far as they do not hurt civilians who have no part whatsoever in the occupation regime and its forces). This determination was, at the time, important to forestall any claim by the Nazis that the partisans, Ghetto fighters, and other underground resistance forces in the territories occupied by them had allegedly been bandits and terrorists. In the Nuremberg Tribunal it was unequivocally set down, that resistance fighters, such as the partisans and underground activists (also such who struggled within Germany itself), Ghetto fighters etc., acted in accordance with the regulations of international law, and in case of their detention by the occupation forces or the police of the occupying power, have to be considered to be Prisoners of War.
International law - and the matter was upheld by the Nuremberg Tribunal - outlaws any expropriation of property, houses and landed property included, in the occupied territories, with the exception of property needed for defensive security needs of the occupying army. However, also such expropriations are only temporarily ones, and any such property has to be returned after the war, with any damages occurred to be compensated. Particularly, the law also forbids any form of collective punishment for resistance against the occupation, such as house demolitions, curfew upon whole populated locations and geographic areas (article 2 and 3 of the attached letters to the Hague Convention). The Nuremberg Tribunal considered all kind of those measures taken by the occupying power as serious violations of international laws and conventions, as crimes against humanity.
The sentences passed by the Nuremberg Tribunal particularly stated too, that not only those who designed and ordered such crimes against humanity, but also anyone who executed those crimes, are guilty for executing such illegal orders given by their superiors. In no case, the Tribunal accepted any kind of such arguments by defendants. It should not been forgotten that the rules and determinations of that International Nuremberg Tribunal of 1945/46 have been ratified in December 1946 by the UNO General Assembly and became part and parcel of the Charter of the United Nations with the Israeli representative voting for this decision.
At other pages of that book, I also condemned the establishment by the occupying power of settlements on soil, illegally expropriated in the occupied territories, as being obstacles to any effort to achieve peace with our Palestinian neighbors.
Until here quotations from my book. And please, let no-one come up with the idiotic remark that I try to equal the present Israeli regime with that of the Nazi criminal regime! I heard it before and reject it by all means.
Let me tell you that I was an active member of the anti-fascist underground movement against the Hitler regime already before WW II, at the age of 21-22 in 1936 through 1938 in Germany proper - and did my share. Furthermore, I am a Vice President of the International Federation of Resistance Fighters with headquarters in Vienna, and know precisely well to differentiate between all kinds of regimes. In my opinion, born out of experience of almost nine decades, most of them dedicated to political activity in Germany, Palestine and Israel, no regime, be it democratic, pseudo-democratic, dictatorial or fascist, does equal any other one. Every regime has its own particular characteristics.
With best regards to all of you,