Iran is a‘War Crime’ Regime: A Legal Brief, Part I

Reminder: Iran is a signatory to the Geneva Convention even if Hamas and Hizbullah are not. The writer shows the legal implications.

Mark Langfan

OpEds Mark Langfan
Mark Langfan
Mark Langfan

Part I

On February 3, 2012, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei posted on his official website in English the exact English meaning of his February 2, 2012, Friday Sermon which he delivered in Persian.  Khamenei’s “Official” website posted the following English text:

Ayatollah Khamenei stressed: “Whenever we are involved, we explicitly declare it. We were involved in the anti-Israel events, which resulted in victories in the 33-day and 22-day wars. And from now on, wherever a nation or a group fights and confronts the Zionist regime, we will support and help it, and we are not at all afraid of saying this.”

The Supreme Ruler’s “Official” Website went on to cite that:

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution said the regional uprisings will bring about decline and isolation for the Zionist regime and stressed: “One of the outcomes of these movements is decline and isolation for the Zionist regime, which is very important, because the Zionist regime is truly a cancerous tumor in the region and it must be, and will be, cut off.”

For the record, the Supreme Leader Khamenei’s actual Iranian Government website also quoted virtually the exact same English language translation of the Supreme Leader’s Friday ‘sermon.’  See also,

This is not a new public position of Ayatollah Khamenei, the Washington Post “Fact-checker” quotes Khamenei as having stated in 2000 when he was also the ‘Supreme Leader’ that:

In 2000, Khamenei stated, “Iran’s position, which was first expressed by the Imam [Khomeini] and stated several times by those responsible, is that the cancerous tumor called Israel must be uprooted from the region.”

What is new about the Khamenei’s new 2012 “Israel is a “cancerous tumor”” quote is that it was stated by Khamenei in front of “millions of Friday prayers worshippers” and in direct linkage with the declaration of Iran’s direct support of Hizbullah’s 2006 and Hamas’ 2008 katyusha rocket wars on Jewish civilians.

The Iranian “semi-official” English language FARS news agency also reported on the actual public and religious context and factual elaboration of Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Friday ‘sermon’ proved the additional important factual predicate of “public incitement”:

"Wherever Iran interferes, it announces it in a very straightforward manner. For instance, we interfered in confrontations against Israel, which resulted in the (Lebanese) victory in the 33-day war and (Palestinians' victory in) the 22-day (Gaza) war," Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing millions of Friday Prayers worshippers on Tehran University Campus today.

Unlike the infamous October 2005 New York Times’ alleged mis-report of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s alleged “wipe Israel off the map” statement, here, the Iranian Supreme Leader’s “Official” website has published the official authoritative English translation corroborated by the official Iranian Government website.  So, there is no question that the officially posted English text is a 100% accurate English translation of what the Iranian Supreme Leader exactly  meant in English to have said in Persian to “millions of Friday Prayers worshippers” on February 2, 2012.  Also, FARS News Agency is also a “semi-official” news agency, so its news reporting that in physical fact the speech or ‘sermon’ was given to “millions of Friday worshippers” is not in factual doubt.

As a prefatory note, it is vital to understand that since November 2008, the legions of Iranian apologists in the President Obama’s White House and State Department have insistently cast Supreme Leader Khamenei as the “Good Guy, Iranian ‘moderate’” to President Ahmad’s “Bad Guy, Iranian “extremist.”  President Obama has based his entire Iran Nuclear ‘policy’ on the objectively delusional notion that Supreme Leader Khamenei will somehow, someway, save Obama’s halal bacon, and, at the 12th hour bring Iran to its nuclear senses.  Well I say, with ‘rational’ “Good guy, Iranian ‘moderates’” like Ayatollah Khamenei, who needs extremists!?!

Nevertheless, at core, the Iranian Supreme Leader’s Friday ‘sermon’ unambiguously publicly admitted, for the first time, that since at least from 2006, the past and present Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on pre-1967 Israel are explicitly Iran’s direct rocket attacks on Israel.

Hence, the Iranian Supreme Leader has now publicly asserted that all of Hamas’ and Hizbullah’s past and presently continuing casus belli against Israel since the summer of 2006 are Iran’s direct past and presently continuing casus belli against Israel.

Critically, with the Supreme Leader Khamenei’s explicit admission of Iran’s direct role in Hamas’ and Hizbullah’s rocket attacks on Israel, Iran, as a state, has legally directly assumed the ‘war crime’ liabilities of Hamas and Hizbullah under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention (“1949 Geneva Convention”)to which Iran is a “contracting party” signatory.  In specific, Hamas’ and Hizbullah’s targeting and firing of katyusha rockets at Israeli civilian populations inside the 1949 ceasefire lines (more commonly known as the “Green Line.”) is a war crime under the 1949 Geneva Convention.  Therefore, the Iranian Supreme Leader’s acceptance of Iran’s direct responsibility for those rocket attacks, is a direct Iranian assumption of Hamas’ and Hizbullah’s war crimes perpetrated in the firing of their rockets at Israeli civilian targets.

The 1949 Geneva Convention states in pertinent part in Article 3:

Art. 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;  (Bold added for clarity.  Author’s Note: “hors de combat,” means “outside of the fight or combat”)

The simple meaning of Geneva Convention Art.3 Section (1)(a) is a “Party cannot target civilians; and if you do, it’s a “war crime.”  In Hamas’ and Hizbullah’s rockets cases, it means “Hamas and Hizbullah can’t fire rockets at Israeli civilians,” and if they do it’s a “war crime.”  Hamas and Hizbullah clearly explicitly target Israeli civilians with their rockets.  

Neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas nor Hizbullah is a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, but Iran is a signatory to the Geneva Convention.  Iran’s Supreme Leader “publicly” in a Friday Sermon accepted full complicity with Hamas and Hizbullah for their rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.  Hence, Iran as a “Contracting Party” and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, in specific, are guilty of explicit Geneva Convention Art. 3 Section (1)(a) war crimes of committing “violence to life and person” against Israeli civilians.

  “Civilian Maiming by Katyusha Rockets - Israeli Boy Crippled By Palestinian Rocket Fire”