Wednesday, August 02, 2006

War Crimes! War Crimes! Rah!...Rah!...Rah!

Jackie Northam adds her journalistic skills to the IDF's efforts to explain away its war crimes in this piece on today's Morning Edition.
Describing the Israeli assault on a HOSPITAL in Baalbek, Northam states, "Hezbollah says that the hospital that the commandos hit during this raid, the Dar al-Hikma, is only about 10 miles from Lebanon's border with Syria so it's a strategic area. Residents in Baalbek say that this hosptial is financed by an Iranian charity the Imam Khomeini Charitable Society and it has close ties to Hezbollah. By the way Renee, Israeli warplanes hit that hospital last night and destroyed most of it; it had already been evacuated...."

According to the NPR bio of Jackie Northam, she "is the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and the administration's policies on torture and the Geneva Conventions." Well, Northam seems to have missed a few key points of the Geneva Convention, so I'll provide them here (see this link for the source):
  • hospitals

Fixed establishments and mobile medical units must be protected and respected by all sides in a conflict. (Convention I, Art. 19)

Hospitals may have personnel who carry arms for self-defense or for the maintenance of order; may be protected by a picket, by sentries, or by an escort; may temporarily store small arms and ammunition taken from patients; may be associated with a veterinary unit; and may treat civilians. (Convention I, Art. 22)

Hospitals may not be used to commit acts harmful to the enemy. If they do, they lose their protections under the Geneva Conventions after due warning has been given and a reasonable time limit has passed. (Convention I, Art. 21)

Not terribly difficult to understand and interpret. Nothing in there about closeness to the border of a hostile country or being funded by charities from a country one doesn't like. And for those of you who think the assault on the hospital is only being reported by critics of Israel, here is what Haaretz had to say about it. And notice that they have the integrity to report on how the hospital got "evacuated" before it was destroyed:
  • "Witnesses in Baalbek said they saw dozens of IAF helicopters hovering over the city. They said the hospital in Baalbek, filled with patients and wounded people, was bombed by IAF helicopters late Tuesday. Plumes of burning smoke billowed from the hospital after it was directly hit, they said." (link here)
NPR needs to hear from its listeners on these types of irresponsible, distorted reports. See the link to the NPR Ombudsman over on the right side of the page under "Links."

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