Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination (Topic: Attack on Gaza may Constitutes War Crimes)

Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination

Current Affairs Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination

Topic: Attack on Gaza may Constitutes War Crimes

Attack on Gaza may Constitutes War Crimes

Why in News?

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said that Israel's deadly strikes on Gaza may constitute war crimes, and that the Hamas Islamist group had also violated international humanitarian law by firing rockets into Israel.


  • The office of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has verified the deaths of 270 Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including 68 children, during violence this month.
  • Hamas rockets had killed 10 Israelis and residents.

What are War Crimes?

  • According to the United Nations, a war crime is a serious breach of international law committed against civilians or “enemy combatants” during an international or domestic armed conflict.
  • A war crime occurs when superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is inflicted upon an enemy. In spite of the outrage caused by the bombing of a school or a country’s TV station, such actions do not necessarily amount to war crimes. Such bombing will only be a war crime if the extent of civilian casualties resulting from the attack is excessive compared to the military advantage gained from the attack.
  • In contrast with genocide and crimes against humanity, war crimes have to occur in the context of armed conflict.

Geneva Conventions

  • The meaning of war crimes was clarified in the four 1949 Geneva Conventions.
  • Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines war crimes as “wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including …wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person … taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.
  • The Geneva Conventions established that states could exercise jurisdiction over such crimes.
  • Over recent decades, international courts such as the Yugoslavia Tribunal and the International Criminal Court (ICC) have exercised jurisdiction over individuals accused of war crimes.
  • The Rome Statute of the ICC expanded the list of crimes that constitutes war crimes. The statute, for example, recognises forced pregnancy as a war crime.