Krauss in American Thinker: Legal Force and Collective Punishment

Professor Michael Krauss believes that the Israeli government's reduction of fuel and electricity exports to the Gaza Strip is a far cry from collective punishment as described in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Activists have argued that the fuel restrictions have resulted in power blackouts in the Gaza Strip that constitute collective punishment of Gaza's population.

Krauss points out in an article written for American Thinker that there is a distinct difference between legal force used for legitimate defense purposes and collective punishment carried out as retaliation, citing instances in which the U.S. has enacted trade sanctions of various types in response to aggression.

Collective Punishment and Newspeak, American Thinker, February 24, 2008. By Michael I. Krauss.

"Acts of war are launched daily against Israel from Hamas-run Gaza.  Bombs are lobbed against Israeli cities (especially Sderot), resulting in official government rejoicing when an Israeli civilian is killed or maimed.  Hamas denies Israel's right to exist, and has masterminded countless acts of war against military and civilian targets in Israel. 

"The Jewish state has the uncontested right to defend itself against such acts of war.  The bar on collective punishment forbids the imposition of criminal or military penalties (imprisonment, death, etc) on some people for crimes committed by other individuals.  But ceasing trade with a country is not  inflicting a criminal or military penalty against that country's citizens, not least because those citizens have no entitlement to objects of trade that they have not yet purchased.  If Canada tolerated and celebrated car-bombings of Buffalo from Fort Erie, Ontario, the United States could cease exporting cars to Canada - such cessation of trade was never contemplated as collective punishment, because it is not a military or a criminal sanction. The United States quite legally froze trade with Iran after that country committed an act of War against the USA following the 1979 Revolution. 

"Even prevention of access of goods coming from third parties is not collective punishment: the U.S. blockade of Cuba after they installed nuclear missiles directed at the United States was not a collective punishment of the Cuban people, it was a non-violent act of war in self-defense. In any case, Israel has made no effort to prevent Gaza from receiving electricity from Egypt; it has merely declined to furnish this assistance itself.  Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions clearly does not outlaw such acts.  The current misuse of the term in the Security Council would have exactly that effect."

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