Holding Hostages Is a War Crime

(Human Rights Watch) Hamas and Islamic Jihad are committing war crimes by holding scores of Israelis and others as hostages in Gaza, Human Rights Watch said on Oct. 19, 2023. No grievance can justify holding anyone hostage. The groups should immediately and safely release all civilians detained. "Civilians, including children, people with disabilities, and older people should never be treated as bargaining chips. Governments that have influence with Hamas, including Qatar, Egypt, and Turkey, should use their leverage to press for hostages to be released as soon as possible and treated humanely until then." Taking hostages is prohibited under Common Article 3 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) similarly defines hostage-taking as a war crime. Those who ordered or carried out hostage-taking or the holding of hostages can be held criminally liable. Hamas and Islamic Jihad commanders may also be prosecuted if they knew of crime and failed to prevent the crimes.

2023-11-30 00:00:00

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