The Genesis of a War Crime

The Genesis of a War Crime


FALLUJA, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 8—The assault against Falluja began here Sunday night as American Special Forces and Iraqi troops burst into Falluja General Hospital and sized it within an hour.

…Patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs.

American officials also say the hospital has been a haven for insurgents in what has been a “no go zone” for American forces for months. And they have made little secret of their irritation with what they contend are inflated civilian casualty figures that regularly flow from the hospital—propaganda, they believe, for the Falluja insurgents, whom they blame for much of the car bombings, beheadings and other acts of terror in Iraq.

In all, there were 160 Iraqis found at the hospital, according to the American special forces commander, and at least five people suspected of being foreign fighters, including one from Syria

Perhaps the most intriguing discovery of the night….were two cellphones found on the roof of the hospital. The Americans said this was clear evidence that someone was scoping out the area in front of the hospital.

New York Times

Nov. 8, 2004

Geneva Convention IV relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, Aug. 12, 1949

Article 18: “Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may under no circumstances be the object of attack but at all times shall be respected and protected by the Parties in conflict.”

Article 19: “The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy. Protection may, however, cease only after due warning is given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded.

The fact that sick or wounded members of the armed forces are nursed in these hospitals, or the presence of small arms and ammunition taken from such combatants and not yet been handed to the proper service, shall not be acts considered harmful to the enemy.”

Article 20: “Persons regularly and solely engaged in the operation and administration of civilian hospitals, including the personnel engaged in the search, removal and transporting of and caring for wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases shall be respected and protected.”


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