Israel in Lebanon
The Report of the International
Commission to enquire into reported
violations of International Law by
Israel during its invasion of the Lebanon
Majority Note on Genocide and Ethnocide
One of the most serious allegations which can be made against a government is that it is either guilty of the crime of genocide or that its policies are genocidal in intent. The emotiveness of such an accusation, in the context of the invasion of Lebanon, is increased when it is recognised that the development of international rules and a moral sensitivity arose largely because of the experience of the Holocaust and the mass extermination policies of the Nazis towards racial or national groups.
The Commission is aware that Israeli policies towards Palestinians have been described as ‘genocidal’, either in relation to the overall policies of the Israeli State towards Palestinians in general or because those adopted in the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem since 1967 and the attempts to remove the Palestinian presence in Lebanon from 1967 onwards.
The particular form of genocide as applied to the Palestinians does not appear to be aimed at killing the Palestinians in a systematic fashion. It could be argued that if this was the intention, many more could have been killed. The specific form of genocide which can be said to apply is the adoption of all kinds of measures, short of killing, to destroy the national culture, political autonomy and national will in the context of the Palestinian struggle for national liberation and self-determination.
The definition of genocide is not limited to the formula adopted by the United Nations in of 1948. The legal concept of genocide is quite consistent with identifying policies designed to destroy the identity and will of a national group, as well as the Nazi paradigm of the Holocaust.
Governments rarely, if ever, declare and document genocidal plans in the manner of the Nazis. It is from the effect of governmental policies and, on occasion, articulated reasons for particular behaviour, that intent and objective can be identified. But the notion of genocide was never meant to cover simply the physical extermination of a people. Long before the adoption of the United Nations Convention on Genocide in 1948 Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word, explained that genocide was intended to signify a co-ordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of the essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.
The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal in 1946 saw the first international illustration of the use of the word, in the indictment constituting crimes against humanity. The General Assembly of the United Nations, in a resolution adopted unanimously (Res. 96-1, 1946), laid down that the crime of genocide could also occur independently of war crimes or a war of aggression.
The formal legal basis of the crime of genocide is that provided for by the United Nations Genocide Convention, adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 and ratified by Israel, among a large number of states. Genocide is confirmed as a crime under international law whether committed in time of peace or in time of war (Article I).
Article II defines genocide, for the purpose of this Convention (emphasis supplied), as the enumerated acts committed with intentto destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such. The acts enumerated are:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Article IV imposes liability on individuals ‘whether they are consti