Red Cross training Palestinian "militant groups" in the finer points of international law

I wonder if they covered the fact that, as they have operated since their beginning, the Palestinian “militant” groups are in and of themselves violations of international law?

They don’t wear uniforms. They target civilians and launch unguided rockets at civilian targets including schools. They hide among their own civilians. They use civilian and religious sites to stage attacks and launch their rockets. These are all violations of international law in one way or another.

Thirty hooded gunmen sit at desks around a flip chart, pen and paper in hand, listening to a lecture on the laws of war by the international Red Cross.

All the Palestinian armed factions have signed up to the course, though they are being taught in individual groups.

The head of Gaza operations for the Red Cross, Anthony Dalziel, said the course was part of his organisation’s worldwide effort to teach international humanitarian law to all parties in armed conflict.

“We’ve taught regular armies and militia groups all over,” he said. “Congo, ex-Yugoslavia, Darfur, Colombia.”

“We see ourselves as the guardians of international humanitarian law.

“So wherever there are arms carriers, with the ability to influence who is a victim in conflict, these are the people we want to approach, who should know these laws.”

The Red Cross, whose own ambulances have been used to shuttle terrorists around battles, says it’s teaching the “militant groups” that they have responsibilities under international law.

Mr Nasr told me how surprised some of the gunmen were to find that groups like theirs have a status under international law.

“But then they also have to realise they have responsibilities. Legal ones. And if they don’t keep them, they can be prosecuted under international law.

“And that comes as quite a surprise to these guys, most of whom have always viewed themselves as the victims.”

These guys know they’ll never be prosecuted under international law. Arafat never was. He was toasted in the UN, and he had led the “militant groups” for years. If the mastermind of international terrorism was never prosecuted when the world had multiple chances to get him and try him, why should the militant minions ever worry about it?

The Palestinian groups claim that they’re taking the classes to show the world that they actually care about international law. Well, they probably do, to the extent that they can learn which international laws they can twist and turn back on the Israelis.

Their actual devotion to international law as it might regulate their actions comes through loud and clear.

I asked Abu Hotheifa, one of the gunmen on the course.

“There are things we learned here that surprised us. Things we weren’t aware of but as to whether our actions will change on the ground, that is up to our leaders. They decide. Not us.”

They decided to ignore international law decades ago, and most of the world has let them get away with it.