Is Building Terror Tunnels a War Crime?

(Commentary) Jonathan S. Tobin - Gaza residents told the New York Times they live in fear that Hamas' massive tunnel-building project beneath their homes will bring down another round of death and destruction upon their families. They had no doubt that much of the aid and building materials that have been sent to Gaza to rebuild the homes that were destroyed the last time Hamas started a war with Israel are being diverted to tunnel-building. But when asked whether Hamas building tunnels in residential neighborhoods whose only purpose is to facilitate cross-border terror raids into Israel is a war crime, Human Rights Watch official Sari Bashi, described as an "expert on international law regarding warfare," told the Times that building terror tunnels is "not explicitly prohibited." Really? It would seem obvious, even to those who aren't "experts" in international law, that structures built solely to facilitate efforts to cross an international border to murder and kidnap are illegal. Indeed, terrorism, whether it is committed via a tunnel or with rockets shot indiscriminately at cities (as Hamas did several thousand times during the 2014 war), is always illegal. The Times article is a reminder that as much as Hamas poses a terrible threat to Israel, the people who suffer the most from its despotic rule are the citizens of Gaza, who must cope with the consequences of the armed conflict that the terror group will not give up. It should be recalled that the only reason why Hamas is free to create a tunnel system under the border with Israel is because in 2005 the Jewish state withdrew every soldier, settler and settlement from Gaza. Surveys of Palestinian public opinion show that most of the people of Gaza and the West Bank probably share Hamas' goal of destroying Israel rather than merely getting their own state alongside it. But the residents of Gaza understand that they are the ones to pay for this ideological obsession.

2016-05-24 00:00:00

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