This situation is very disturbing (especially for me, as I am scheduled to travel to Syria next week).
While Israel has not officially accepted responsibility for the attack on a convoy and/or research facility inside the Syrian border, it has made no attempt to disguise it either. The rationale – that the convoy was transporting weapons to Hezbollah – is unimportant. Israel knows full well the potential ramifications of a military assault inside the borders of another country.
We have to assume that the attempt to stir up the hornets nest is deliberate, and the the attack took place only a day after Tehran announced that it would view any attack on Syrian territory as an attack against Iran itself. This speaks for itself.
The only question left is ‘why is Israel so keen to start another world war?’. Tony Cartalucci offers a compelling explanation.
Israeli Attack: Desperate Bid to Save Failed Syrian Campaign
By Tony Cartalucci
Israel has conducted airstrikes in Syria based on “suspicions” of chemical weapon transfers, in a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, international law, and in direct violation of Syria’s sovereignty. The Guardian in its report titled, “Israel carries out air strike on Syria,” claims:
“Israeli warplanes have attacked a target close to the Syrian-Lebanese border following several days of heightened warnings from government officials over Syria’s stockpiles of weapons.”
It also stated:
“Israel has publicly warned that it would take military action to prevent the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon or “global jihadists” fighting inside Syria. Israeli military intelligence is said to be monitoring the area round the clock via satellite for possible convoys carrying weapons.”
In reality, these “global jihaidists” are in fact armed and funded by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel since at least as early as 2007. They are also in fact the direct beneficiaries of Israel’s recent aggression. The Israeli “suspicions” of “weapon transfers” of course, remain unconfirmed, because the purpose of the attack was not to prevent the transfer of “chemical weapons” to Hezbollah in Lebanon, but to provoke a wider conflict aimed not at Israel’s defense, but at salvaging the West’s floundering proxy terrorist forces inside Syria attempting to subvert and overthrow the Syrian nation.
The silence from the United Nations is deafening. While Turkey openly harbors foreign terrorists, arming and funding them with Western, Saudi, and Qatari cash as they conduct raids on neighboring Syria, any Syrian attack on Turkish territory would immediately result in the United Nations mobilizing. Conversely, Turkey is allowed, for years, to conduct air strikes and even partial ground invasions of neighboring Iraq to attack Kurdish groups accused of undermining Turkish security. It is clear the same double standard has long applied to Israel.
Israel, along with the US & Saudi Arabia, are Al Qaeda’s chief sponsors.
It must be remembered that as far back as 2007, it was admitted by US, Saudi and Lebanese officials that the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were intentionally arming, funding, and organizing these “global jihadists” with direct ties to Al Qaeda for the explicit purpose of overthrowing the governments of Syria and Iran.
Reported by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” it was stated (emphasis added):
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
Of Israel it specifically stated:
“The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.”
Additionally, Saudi Arabian officials mentioned the careful balancing act their nation must play in order to conceal its role in supporting US-Israeli ambitions across the region:
“The Saudi said that, in his country’s view, it was taking a political risk by joining the U.S. in challenging Iran: Bandar is already seen in the Arab world as being too close to the Bush Administration. “We have two nightmares,” the former diplomat told me. “For Iran to acquire the bomb and for the United States to attack Iran. I’d rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed.””
It may interest readers to know that while France invades and occupies large swaths of Mali in Africa, accusing the Qataris of funding and arming Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in the region, France, the US, and Israel are working in tandem with the Qataris to fund and arm these very same groups in Syria.
In fact, the US-based think-tank, the Brookings Institution literally has a “Doha Center” based in Qatar while US-Israeli citizen Haim Saban’s Brookings “Saban Center” conducts meetings and has many of its board of directors based likewise in Doha, Qatar. Doha also served as the venue for the creation of the West’s most recent “Syrian Coalition,” headed by an unabashed supporter of Al Qaeda, Moaz al-Khatib.
These are part of the brick and mortar manifestation of the conspiracy documented by Seymour Hersh in 2007.
The Wall Street Journal, also in 2007, reported on the US Bush Administration’s plans of creating a partnership with Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, noting the group is the ideological inspiration for linked terror organizations including Al Qaeda itself. In the article titled, “”To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers,” it states:
“On a humid afternoon in late May, about 100 supporters of Syria’s largest exile opposition group, the National Salvation Front, gathered outside Damascus’s embassy here to protest Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule. The participants shouted anti-Assad slogans and raised banners proclaiming: “Change the Regime Now.”
The NSF unites liberal democrats, Kurds, Marxists and former Syrian officials in an effort to transform President Assad’s despotic regime. But the Washington protest also connected a pair of more unlikely players — the U.S. government and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The article would also report:
“U.S. diplomats and politicians have also met with legislators from parties connected to the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Egypt and Iraq in recent months to hear their views on democratic reforms in the Middle East, U.S. officials say. Last month, the State Department’s intelligence unit organized a conference of Middle East experts to examine the merits of engagement with the Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt and Syria.”
It describes the ideological and operational links between the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda:
“Today, the Brotherhood’s relationship to Islamist militancy, and al Qaeda in particular, is the source of much debate. Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders cite the works of the Brotherhood’s late intellectual, Sayyid Qutb, as an inspiration for their crusade against the West and Arab dictators. Members of Egyptian and Syrian Brotherhood arms have also gone on to take senior roles in Mr. bin Laden’s movement.”
Yet despite all of this, the US, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, along with Israel and Turkey are openly conspiring with them, and have now for years been arming and funding these very sectarian extremist, terrorist groups across the Arab World, from Libya to Egypt, and now in and around Syria.
Israel’s fears of these terrorists acquiring “chemical weapons” is absurd. They have already acquired them with US, NATO, British, Saudi, Qatari and even Israeli help in Libya in 2011. In fact, these very Libyan terrorists are spearheading the foreign militant groups flooding into Syria through the Turkish-Syrian border.
What Israel’s strike may really mean.
Indeed, Israel’s explanation as to why it struck neighboring Syria is tenuous at best considering its long, documented relationship with actually funding and arming the very “global jihaidists” it fears weapons may fall into the hands of. Its fears of Hezbollah are likewise unfounded – Hezbollah, had it, the Syrians, or the Iranians been interested in placing chemical weapons in Lebanon, would have done so already, and most certainly would do so with means other than conspicuous convoys simply “crossing the border.” Hezbollah has already proven itself capable of defeating Israeli aggression with conventional arms, as demonstrated during the summer of 2006.
In reality, the pressure placed on Syria’s borders by both Israel and its partner, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey in the north, is part of a documented plan to relieve pressure on the Western, Israeli, Saudi-Qatari armed and funded militants operating inside Syria.
read the rest of this article here: www.info…
The following report was published in today’s Jerusalem Post. See my highlights. Did the US give Israel the “green light” to make these strikes? Surely somebody is lying.
Is it possible that the “green light” was given to Netanyahu by Senator John McCain when he visited Israel last month? It’s worth a question.
Report: Israeli strikes in Syria hit multiple sites
By JPOST.COM… STAFF
‘Time’ quotes Western officials as saying IAF jets hit several targets in Syria, US has given Israel green light to carry out more raids.
IAF raids overnight Tuesday struck multiple targets in Syria, Time magazine reported on Friday, citing Western intelligence officials.
Syria on Wednesday publicly accused Israel of striking a scientific research center northwest of Damascus, denying reports that the strike had targeted a suspected shipment of anti-aircraft missiles en route to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The description of the military research center that Syria claimed the IAF jets targeted fits the definition of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, which has been labeled a state organization responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons and transferring them to Hezbollah and Hamas.
Time quoted a Western intelligence official as saying that the IAF had targeted at least one or two more targets overnight Tuesday and that the US has given Israel a green light to carry out additional strikes.
According to the Time report, Israel is not only concerned about unconventional weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon, but that Jerusalem and Washington are also concerned with weapons falling into the hands of terrorist elements among the Syrian opposition forces, many of them linked to al-Qaida.
Time quoted one Western intelligence official as saying the US was prepared to carry out similar airstrikes in the Aleppo area if opposition forces threaten to take hold of sites believed to contain weapons of mass destruction in the region.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told AFP on Friday that Washington was growing increasingly concerned that, as the situation in Syria deteriorates, the likelihood that weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah terrorists was growing.
“The chaos in Syria has obviously created an environment where the possibility of these weapons, you know, going across the border and falling into the hands of Hezbollah has become a greater concern,” Panetta stated.
Panetta did not confirm the details of the alleged Israeli strike in Syria, but he stated that “the United States supports whatever steps are taken to make sure these weapons don’t fall into the hands of terrorists.”
He added: “Without discussing the communications that we have on a regular basis with Israel or the specifics of that operation, because that’s something they know more about, we have expressed the concern that we have to do everything we can to make sure that sophisticated weapons like SA-17 [anti-aircraft] missiles or, for that matter chemical biological weapons, do not fall into the hands of terrorists,” he said.
The UN report will help explain why Israel is suddenly escalating tensions with Syria and Iran.
Peace, Father Roy
UN Report: Israel Must Immediately Dismantle Settlements or Face ICC
‘Magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights’
– Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Israel must immediately stop without preconditions all settlements, “developed through a system of total segregation,” which consistently and on a daily basis violate the rights of Palestinians and are in violation of the Geneva Convention, a UN report published Thursday states.
The scathing findings are from the International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory from the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC), which notes that the illegal settlements, through systemic abuses, violate Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and could lead Israel to face the International Criminal Court.
“The magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights,” stated Unity Dow of Botswana, who joined Christine Chanet, Judge of the Court of Cassation of France and Asma Jahangir, leading Pakistani human rights lawyer and Trustee of the Board of the UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in the Mission.
“The motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand,” she added.
Jahangir stated that the group is “calling on the government of Israel to ensure full accountability for all violations, put an end to the policy of impunity and to ensure justice for all victims.”
The report documents a “multitude of violations” against Palestinians, including:
- discriminatory legal practices
- “arbitrary arrest and detention, including administrative detention and mass arrests and incarceration,” as well as the arrest of children
- impunity for settlers who engage in violence against Palestinians
- ongoing dispossession and displacement of Palestinians
- violent suppression of peaceful protest
- restricting Palestinian access to water, either through policies that give Israel the “predominance in the allocation of West Bank water resources,” the inability of Palestinians to transfer water due to fragmented territory and restrictions on movement or deliberate destruction of Palestinian water infrastructure by Israel
- destruction of Palestinian farmland and crops
The report adds that private businesses that are profiting from the settlements must terminate their activities there if they are contributing to rights violations against Palestinians.
Israel’s foreign ministry called the report, with which it did not cooperate, “counterproductive and unfortunate” and referred to the HRC as “one-sided.”
On Tuesday, Israel boycotted an HRC review of the country’s rights situation, marking the first time a country has been absent for its rights review since the HRC began them in 2007.
Israel cut ties with the HRC after the March 2012 announcement the body would embark on the fact-finding mission.
I have been a little concerned about some of the writings of Alan Hart in the past but this is an excellent essay.
The opening quote from Holocaust survivor, Hajo Myer, goes straight to the heart of the issue. Real anti-Semitism is a horrible form of racial prejudice and not a political position.
Anti-Semitism: What it IS and is NOT
Jan 30, 2013
QUOTE An anti-Semite used to be a person who disliked Jews. Now it is a person who Jews dislike. UNQUOTE
Those are the words of my dear Jewish friend, Nazi (Auschwitz) holocaust survivor Dr. Hajo Myer. They are taken from page 179 of his magnificent book An Ethical Tradition Betrayed – The End of Judaism (published in 2007).
Hajo was making a point in passing which had been provoked in his mind by an incident that happened in the Netherlands where he lives. Gretta Duisenberg, the wife of the former European Central Bank President Wim Duisenberg, hoisted a Palestinian flag at her home as a protest against Israel’s actions in the occupied territories. Her Jewish neighbours saw to it that their accusation that she was anti-Semitic went viral, and a Jewish lawyer not only sought to press a charge against her, he approached the Jewish World Congress in New York with the suggestion that Wim Duisenberg should be declared persona non grata in the United States. That affair, Hajo wrote, “reflects a caustic, contemporary definition of the term anti-Semite.” Then came his own redefinition as quoted above.
In the light of the false charges of anti-Semitism that were levelled against British Liberal Democratic MP David Ward for telling the truth, and then against Gerald Scarfe for his anti-Netanyahu cartoon in the Sunday Times which reflected (yes, in a grotesque way) the truth, I would expand Hajo’s definition as follows. An anti-Semite today is a truth-telling person Jews who support the Zionist state of Israel RIGHT OR WRONG not only dislike but want to silence.
That last statement of mine should not be taken to imply that I am a denier of the existence of anti-Semitism. It is on the rise due mainly to the Zionist (not Jewish) state’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians and on-going colonization of their West Bank land and water in open defiance of, and contempt for, international law and UN Security Council resolutions.
Also true is that a number of web sites which reflect mainly American and European views are alive and crawling with the most vile expressions of anti-Semitism. That said, I think it’s more than possible that some of the anti-Semitic excrement in comments on web sites is the work of Zionist assets for the purpose of discrediting by association those of us who seek to tell the truth. (The web site of Veterans Today is an example of what I mean. It is one of quite a few sites that publish my articles, but many of the comments under them do not engage with what I have written. They spew out hatred of Jews and deny the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust. As I wrote in Volume One of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, I think holocaust denial is as obscene and wicked as the great crime itself).
The main point I want to convey in this article is that it really, really, really is time for peoples of all faiths and none everywhere to understand that it is perfectly possible to be passionately anti-Zionist (anti Zionism’s colonial enterprise), and fiercely condemnatory of the policies of Zionism’s in-Israel leaders, without being in any way, shape or form anti-Semitic. The assertion of those Jews (a minority of the whole?) who support Israel right or wrong that criticism of Israel’s leaders and their policies is a manifestation of hatred for all Jews everywhere is c-r-a-z-y. It can only come from traumatized minds which have been brainwashed by Zionist propaganda.
In my view real understanding requires knowledge of the following.
There are two definitions of anti-Semitism in its Jewish context. One was born in real history and represents a truth. The other is part and parcel of Zionist mythology and was invented for the purpose of blackmailing non-Jewish Europeans and North Americans into refraining from criticising Israel or, to be more precise, staying silent when its leaders demonstrate their absolute contempt for international law and resort to state terrorism.
Anti-Semitism properly and honestly defined in its Jewish context is prejudice against and loathing, even hatred, of Jews, all Jews everywhere, just because they are Jews. (I say “anti-Semitism in its Jewish context” because there is another context. Arabs are also Semitic peoples. A real and true anti-Semite is therefore one who is prejudiced against and lathes, even hates, both Jews and Arabs).
Anti-Semitism as defined by Zionism, the colonial, ethnic cleansing enterprise of some Jews, has come to mean almost all criticism of Israel’s policies and actions. Put another way, anti-Semitism as defined by supporters of Israel right or wrong is anything written or said by anybody who challenges and contradicts Zionism’s version of events. In effect Jewish supporters of Israel right or wrong say, “If you disagree with us, you’re anti-Semitic.”
As a blackmail card to silence criticism of Israel and prevent informed and honest debate about who must do what and why for justice and peace in the Middle East, Zionism’s false charge of anti-Semitism has worked wonderfully well to date. Why? In the long (and still present) shadow of the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, a European crime for which, effectively, the Arabs were punished, there are few things Westerners in public life, politicians and media people especially, fear more than being accused of anti-Semitism. The charge – even when false as it most often is – can destroy careers.
Unable to refute the substance of documented and objective messages of challenge and criticism, Zionism’s policy always was, and is, to shoot the messengers, usually with smears for bullets.
For complete understanding of what anti-Semitism is and is not, it’s necessary to know what Zionism is and is not.
Zionism claims to be the nationalist movement of “the Jews”, all Jews everywhere. But this claim, like almost all of its claims, does not bear examination.
As I document in detail in my book, the truth is that from Zionism’s foundation and first dishonest mission statement in 1897 until the Nazi holocaust, its colonial enterprise was endorsed and supported by only a tiny minority of the world’s Jews and was opposed by many eminent Jewish leaders.
Also true is that from Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence in 1948 until the countdown to the 1967 war, many Jews of the world had no great affinity with Israel. They were in their chosen places as integrated citizens of many nations and Israeli Jews were in their chosen place, gained, mainly, by Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing. (During his time as prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, expressed dismay that not enough European and North American Jews wanted to move to Israel and become citizens of it).
For very many Jews of the world the 1967 war was a dramatic turning point in their relationship with Israel because they believed – were conditioned by Zionism and the mainstream Western media to believe – that poor little Israel was in danger of annihilation. Thus Israel’s survival (not to mention its conquest of more Arab land) against impossible odds was a source of great pride for most Jews of the world.
Though most Jews didn’t and still don’t want to know it, the truth was different. The Arabs did not attack first and were not intending to attack. The 1967 war was one of Israeli aggression. For Israel’s military and political hawks the grabbing of the West Bank including Arab East Jerusalem was the unfinished business of 1948. Taking the Syrian Golan Heights was a bonus.
Today much (meaning not quite all) of what supporters of Israel right or wrong claim to be anti-Semitism is actually anti-Israelism, which in my view is best described as anti-Zionism. And contrary to the assertions of Zionism’s spin doctors, anti-Zionism is not by definition anti-Semitism.
Short or long, any discussion of anti-Semitism should include the fact that Zionism needs it. The first to acknowledge this was none other than Theodore Herzl, Zionism’s founding father. In one of his diaries, not published until 1962, Herzl wrote (and probably said to some of his close associates) the following:
“Anti-Semitism is a propelling force which, like the wave of the future, will bring Jews into the promised land. Anti-Semitism has grown and continues to grow – and so do I.”
He was right. Without the anti-Semitism unleashed by Adolf Hitler, Zionism’s colonial enterprise would almost certainly have been doomed to failure for lack of enough Jewish support.
Today Zionism needs anti-Semitism, or what it can present as anti-Semitism, to go on justifying its policies and actions.
Any discussion of anti-Semitism should also take note of the words of Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel’s longest serving Director of Military Intelligence. In his book Israel’s Fateful Hour, he wrote:
“I believe it was a damaging error on Menachem Begin’s part to insinuate that criticism of Israel is a manifestation of anti-Semitism. There is a recklessness in the grandiose assertion that ‘the whole world is against us.’ If indeed the whole world is against Israel, its future is very bleak. Only those intoxicated with their own greatness can believe that they can succeed in overcoming the entire world.”
In the same book Harkabi gave this warning:
“Israel is the criterion according to which all Jews will tend to be judged. Israel as a Jewish state is an example of the Jewish character, which finds free and concentrated expression within it. Anti-Semitism has deep and historical roots. Nevertheless, any flaw in Israeli conduct, which initially is cited as anti-Israelism, is likely to be transformed into empirical proof of the validity of anti-Semitism. It would be a tragic irony if the Jewish state, which was intended to solve the problem of anti-Semitism, was to become a factor in the rise of anti-Semitism. Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world.”
From the mid 1980’s when those words were written, Israel’s “misconduct” has been the prime cause in the rise of what Zionism presents as anti-Semitism but which is actually anti-Israelism/anti Zionism.
Today the biggest danger to the Jews of the world is, as Harkabi warned, that anti-Israelism/anti-Zionism will be transformed into anti-Semitism, with the consequence at some point of another great turning against Jews.
My own view is that such a catastrophe will most likely happen unless the citizens of the mainly Gentile Western world among whom most Jews live are assisted to understand why it is perfectly possible to be passionately anti-Zionist (opposed to Zionism’s still on-going colonial enterprise) without being in any way, shape or form anti-Semitic.
If the day of understanding comes, it will mark the beginning of the end of Zionism’s freedom and ability to impose its will on the governments of the world that matter most (as well as on the Palestinians) and to remain above and beyond international law.
The following article by George Bisharat appeared in the New York Times.
Bisharat makes a case for Palestine taking Israel to the ICC. My feeling is that it is unlikely to do any good. Even if the ICC finds Israel to be guilty of various war crimes what will be the result? Israel will dismiss the findings of the courts as misguided and uninformed. The US will concur and sideline the ICC as an irreparably biased organization. Israel is already isolated from the rest of the world, and so nothing will change.
Mind you, if ‘lawfare’ it the only alternative to violence then let’s hope that Palestine pursues its legal options. The lesson from the latest Gaza invasion seems to be that violence is the only language that the Occupier understands. Let us pray that the alternatives to violence start to look viable again.
Why Palestine should take Israel to court in the Hague
Last week, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riad Malki, declared that if Israel persisted in its plans to build settlements in the currently vacant area known as E-1, which lies between Palestinian East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, “we will be going to the I.C.C.,” referring to the International Criminal Court. “We have no choice,” he added.
The Palestinians’ first attempt to join the I.C.C. was thwarted last April when the court’s chief prosecutor at the time, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, declined the request on the grounds that Palestine was not a state. That ambiguity has since diminished with the United Nations’ conferral of non-member state status on Palestine in November. Israel’s frantic opposition to the elevation of Palestine’s status at the United Nations was motivated precisely by the fear that it would soon lead to I.C.C. jurisdiction over Palestinian claims of war crimes.
Israeli leaders are unnerved for good reason. The I.C.C. could prosecute major international crimes committed on Palestinian soil anytime after the court’s founding on July 1, 2002.
Since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, the Israel Defense Forces, guided by its military lawyers, have attempted to remake the laws of war by consciously violating them and then creating new legal concepts to provide juridical cover for their misdeeds.
For example, in 2002, an Israeli F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in a densely populated Gaza neighbourhood, killing a Hamas military leader, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 others, including his wife and seven children under the age of 15. In 2009, Israeli artillery killed more than 20 members of the Samouni family, who had sought shelter in a structure in the Zeitoun district of Gaza City at the bidding of Israeli soldiers.
Last year, Israeli missiles killed two Palestinian cameramen working for Al Aksa television. Each of these acts, and many more, could lead to I.C.C. investigations.
The former head of the Israeli military’s international law division, Daniel Reisner, asserted in 2009: “International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal moulds. Eight years later it is in the centre of the bounds of legitimacy.”
Reisner is right that customary international law is formed by the actual practice of states that other states accept as lawful. But targeted assassinations are not widely accepted as legal. Nor are Israel’s other attempted legal innovations.
Israel has categorised military clashes with the Palestinians as “armed conflict short of war,” instead of the police actions of an occupying state — thus freeing the Israeli military to use F-16 fighter jets and other powerful weaponry against barely defended Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
It has designated individuals who fail to leave a targeted area after a warning as “voluntary human shields” who are therefore subject to lawful attack, despite the fact that warnings may not be effective and escape routes not clear to the victims.
And it has treated civilian employees of Hamas — including police officers, judges, clerks, journalists and others — as combatants because they allegedly support a “terrorist infrastructure.” Never mind that contemporary international law deems civilians “combatants” only when they actually take up arms.
All of these practices could expose Israeli political and military officials to prosecutions for war crimes. To be clear, the prosecutions would be for particular acts, not for general practices, but statements by Israeli officials explaining their policies could well provide evidence that the acts were intentional and not mere accidents of war.
No doubt, Israel is most worried about the possibility of criminal prosecutions for its settlements policy. Israeli bluster notwithstanding, there is no doubt that Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal. Israeli officials have known this since 1967, when Theodor Meron, then legal counsel to the Israeli foreign ministry and later president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, wrote to one of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s aides: “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Under the founding statute of the I.C.C., grave violations of the Geneva Conventions, including civilian settlements in occupied territories, are considered war crimes.
The next step for the Palestinians is to renew a certificate of accession to the I.C.C. with the United Nations secretary general. Assuming that I.C.C. jurisdiction is accepted, investigations of alleged Israeli war crimes would still not begin automatically, because the I.C.C. must next find that Israel’s own courts are failing to adequately review those charges. Palestinians, by inviting I.C.C. investigations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, also run the risk that their own possible violations — such as deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians — could come under I.C.C. scrutiny.
If Palestinians succeed in getting the I.C.C. to examine their grievances, Israel’s campaign to bend international law to its advantage would finally be subjected to international judicial review and, one hopes, curbed. Israel’s dangerous legal innovations, if accepted, would expand the scope of permissible violence to previously protected persons and places, and turn international humanitarian law on its head. We do not want a world in which journalists become fair game because of their employers’ ideas.
If the choice is between a Palestinian legal intifada, in which arguments are hashed out in court, and an actual intifada, in which blood flows in the streets, the global community should encourage the former.
Indeed, Palestinians would be doing themselves, Israelis and the global community a favor by invoking I.C.C. jurisdiction. Ending Israel’s impunity for its clear violations of legal norms would both promote peace in the Middle East and help uphold the integrity of international law.