In an interview with Fox News Digital on Tuesday, retired Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn blasted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s accusations against Israel committing war crimes, saying members of Congress “bear an obligation to ensure that before they accuse soldiers and pilots” of committing said crimes, “they understand what the law is that dictates that accusation.”
On Sunday, AOC appeared on MSNBC’s The Mehdi Hasan Show and was asked whether Israel had a right to defend itself.
“War crimes do not constitute and are not an appropriate response for other war crimes. Hamas’ hostage taking, their hostage taking of children, of the disabled, elderly civilians, are a war crime,” AOC replied. “But when we are talking about the blockading of water, food, electricity to a population of 2.2 million Palestinians, it is unacceptable to think that 1,700 Palestinian children alone, that their deaths will somehow make up for, or justify, the violence of what we saw on Oct. 7.”
She went on to accuse Israel of committing an “indiscriminate bombing campaign” against Gaza.
Corn is the George R. Killam Jr. Chair of Criminal Law at Texas Tech University School of Law and previously served as the Gary A. Kuiper Distinguished Professor of National Security Law at South Texas College of Law in Houston after serving in the U.S. Army for 21 years as an officer, and retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2004.
After hearing the comments, Corn said, two things jumped out: first, she acknowledged the conduct of Hamas terrorists Oct. 7 were war crimes, yet failed to acknowledge that 8,000 rockets have been fired indiscriminately at Israel since that date.
“Every time one of those rockets is fired, it is a war crime because the law of war doesn’t focus on whether you kill civilians. It focuses on the fact that you’re trying to kill civilians,” he said.
Second, her characterization of the consequences of combat operations as collective punishment.
“Collective consequences of combat is not the same thing as collective punishment, and the prohibition on collective punishment is more focused,” Corn said. He explained that during World War II, the Germans would have a soldier killed by the French resistance, and in retribution, they would round up 50 civilians and execute them as a collective sanction.
“There’s no indication that the Israeli military operations are directed for that purpose,” Corn said. “Instead, they’re directed to destroy Hamas combat capability as a legitimate exercise of self-defense.”
But the most troubling aspect, he said, of AOC’s accusation is that it is “factually and legally invalid.”
“I think for somebody in a position of a member of Congress, they bear an obligation to ensure that before they accuse soldiers and pilots of committing war crimes, that they understand what the law is that dictates that accusation,” Corn said. “The fact that civilian casualties are inflicted during combat operations does not prove the commission of war crimes.”
“Candidly, it’s quite disappointing that a member of our Congress would make that allegation. And it also demeans the integrity and the honor of the IDF combatants who, in my opinion and based on my experience, are actually trying much harder than their enemy to take measures that mitigate the risks to the civilian population.”