Legal Experts: Israel’s invasion of Jenin amounts to “war crimes”

Legal experts have said that Israel’s assault on Jenin earlier this month undoubtedly “constitutes war crimes” under the Geneva Conventions.

Clinical professor at Boston University’s School of Law, Susan Akram, said “there’s no doubt” that Israel’s 48-hour invasion of Jenin which started on July 3 “constitutes war crimes.”

“The Geneva Conventions include as war crimes during the occupation, willful killings, willfully causing great suffering to an occupied population and extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity,” Akram said during a webinar on Thursday hosted by the Arab Center Washington, DC.

“There’s no doubt that what Israel carried out in Jenin constitutes war crimes,” she added.

The other panelists on the webinar, Daniel Levy of the US/Middle East Project and journalist Dalia Hatuqa, agreed that Israel’s actions in the occupied West Bank amount to war crimes.

Israel’s latest assault on Jenin started on 3 July, continued for 48 hours, and resulted in the killing of 12 Palestinians and wounding 100 others.

It also saw Israeli forces utilize air power with drones and Apache attack helicopters. More than 3,000 Palestinians were also displaced from their homes during the invasion.

Hundreds of armed Israeli soldiers and military vehicles stormed the Jenin refugee camp and adjacent areas in the early hours of that day, under heavy cover from helicopters. The camp was left in ruins following the assault, with infrastructure and buildings heavily damaged, leaving thousands of people without access to basic resources.

However, the Israeli occupation has stated that the raids are an attempt to root out groups responsible for attacks on Israelis.

But Susan said that the Israeli narrative does not stop its actions from being illegal under international law, noting that the West Bank is an occupied territory.

“Israel’s attacks on an occupied population are criminal in and of themselves because occupation law forbids the occupier to use military attacks against civilian targets in the territory it occupies,” she said.

Daniel Levy also examined the political side of the assault as related to the Israeli government and the Biden administration.

He stressed that the Jenin operation was not a new thing but a continuation of Israeli policy; except that the assaults have become more frequent.

Dalia Hatuqa discussed the Israeli military operation against the Jenin refugee camp, describing it as the biggest escalation since the army’s large-scale operation in 2002.

What was shocking, she said, was the obvious Israeli intent of harming civilians and infrastructure and the scenes of people leaving their homes like what happened in the Nakba.

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