January 15, 2013
The court then suggested that the petitioners submit a revised petition, which is being submitted Wednesday, via the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. That petition includes a legal opinion by Prof. Eyal Benvenisti, who argues that the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition on the forcible transfer of protected populations from occupied territory has become customary law, meaning it binds even countries that aren’t signatories to the conventions. As such, it supersedes the military commander’s orders.
Benvenisti also noted that this prohibition is one over which the ICC’s founding treaty explicitly grants it jurisdiction.
“The prohibition is absolute, without exceptions, and isn’t dependent on permanent residency,” he wrote. “The absoluteness of this prohibition derives from the dark history of World War II, in which deportations were widespread for various reasons.”
The Geneva Conventions do allow protected populations to be temporarily evacuated for the sake of urgent and temporary military needs, such as in the midst of battle, he added. But creating a live-fire training zone wouldn’t qualify.
Moreover, he argued, this would constitute a prohibited “forcible transfer” even if no physical force were used: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has already ruled that pressure tactics such as searching houses or disconnecting them from water and electricity suffice to make a transfer “forcible.”