Collective punishment penalizes a whole group for the acts of an individual suspected to be part of the group, even though most of the people hurt had nothing to do with the act.
Collective punishment includes violence and sanctions against a group in retaliation for an act committed by an individual/s who are considered to form part of the group. Such punishment targets persons who bear no responsibility for having committed the act. Collective punishment has been used as a deterrence tool by occupying powers to prevent attacks from resistance movements.
International humanitarian law prohibits collective punishment of prisoners of war or other protected persons for acts committed by individuals during an armed conflict. Collective punishment is considered a war crime. - International Committee Of The Red Cross (ICRC)
Check the origins of collective punishment, its different forms and how it has been used for ethnic cleansing with this infographic.
British ethnic cleansing
During the Second Boer War of 1899-1902, the British rounded up more than a hundred thousand of the Boer civilian population, mostly women and children, and detained them in camps. Overcrowded, with little nourishment, and prone to outbreaks of disease, some twenty-seven thousand Boers and an unknown number of black Africans died.
Over 12 million Indians died of starvation, while under the control of the British Empire… as millions of tons of wheat were exported to Britain even while famine raged throughout India. In 1943, up to four million Bengalis starved to death when Winston Churchill diverted food to British soldiers and countries such as Greece while a deadly famine swept through Bengal. When asked about the famine Churchill said: “I hate Indians..." - CounterPunch
Israeli Collective Punishment
Collective punishment is the alluring call of the desperate tyrant. It is a shameless group stab that targets communities when a despot’s aim, at the few, falls short of their coveted mark. To them, how much easier it is to break a people’s step by spreading anguish among all… the young, the old, those waiting to take their turn.
The village of Balad al-Shaykh was attacked by Israeli paramilitary forces in 1948. They proceeded to blow up homes and execute 70 Palestinians as retaliation for an earlier battle elsewhere between Zionist and Palestinian fighters. With the establishment of Israel, over night, collective punishment took on a new, more odious, meaning as mass displacement became a prime weapon of choice throughout Palestine... some eight hundred thousand Palestinians fled, or were expelled, from their age-old homes, to become stateless refugees strewn throughout the Middle East. - CounterPunch
"It is really important that Israel, with all the anger and frustration... that exists, is that they operate by the rules of war" - President Biden
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