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Israel’s High Court of Justice today ruled that Israel’s policy of ‘targeted killings’ does not categorically violate international law and must instead be judged on a case-by-case basis. The ruling is set to serve as a precedent in international law.

The judges ruled (.doc) that Palestinians engaged in hostilities against Israel, including members of terrorist organisations, are not combatants but civilians and so are protected persons under the law. However, they noted that under international law civilians lose this protection when they take part in direct hostilities. According to Art. 51(3) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions,

"Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities".

The judges went on to say that even if a Palestinian takes part in direct hostilities against Israel, he does not lose his status as a ‘civilian’. Rather, he loses the legal protection afforded to civilians for the duration of his involvement in direct hostilities. In the court’s words,

‘A civilian taking a direct part in hostilities one single time, or sporadically, who later detaches himself from that activity, is a civilian who, starting from the time he detaches himself from that activity, is entitled to protection from attack. He is not to be attacked for the hostilities which he committed in the past’.

However, the High Court went on to say that,

‘On the other hand, a civilian who has joined a terrorist organization and commits a chain of hostilities, with short periods of rest between them, loses his immunity from attack for the entire time of his activity.’

Here, it disagrees with the opinion of Amnesty International, which advises that,

‘Palestinians engaged in armed attacks against civilians or in clashes with Israeli forces are not combatants...They are civilians who lose their protected status for the duration of the armed engagement. They cannot be killed at any time other than while they are posing an imminent threat to lives. Proof or suspicion that a person participated in an armed attack at an earlier point does not justify, under international law, targeting them for death later on. Those who are not posing an imminent threat to lives may not be assassinated as punishment or as a preventive measure.’

I think Amnesty’s interpretation is the correct one. Both Amnesty and the High Court cite Article 51(3) of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (quoted above) to support their position. The article appears quite straightforward - civilians shall enjoy protection ‘unless and for such time as they take direct part in hostilities’. [my emphasis] The High Court of Justice justifies its qualification to the article thus:

‘For such a civilian, the rest between hostilities is nothing other than preparation for the next act of hostilities.’

However, it does not justify this statement. The law states that a civilian cannot be killed for offences he has committed in the past. It does not say that this no longer applies if the civilian has committed multiple past offences. Of course, if the IDF has concrete evidence to justify the belief that a civilian is preparing for future hostilities, it’s a different story. As it is, the law clearly states that civilians only lose their protection whilst they are directly involved in hostilities. The High Court seems to have contradicted this.

The High Court ruling establishes four conditions that must be satisfied for a targeted killing to be considered legal.

  1. A decision to classify a civilian as engaged in direct hostilities must be based on ’strong and convincing information’. ‘The burden of proof on the army’, according to the ruling, ‘is heavy.’
  1. A civilian, even if taking part in direct hostilities, cannot be attacked if ‘a less harmful means can be employed.’ So, for example, ‘if a terrorist taking a direct part in hostilities against can be arrested, interrogated, and tried, those are the means which should be employed’. Furthermore, a civilian taking part in direct hostilities is not an ‘outlaw’ - he retains his human rights. Thus, he must not be harmed ‘more than necessary for the needs of security.’
  1. After a targeted killing, a ‘thorough’ and ‘independent’ investigation must be carried out to determine the legality of the attack. Compensation should be paid, if necessary, to innocent civilians harmed during the course of the attack.
  1. The principles of distinction and proportionality must be respected. In other words, ‘every effort must be made to minimize harm to innocent civilians’ and ‘attacks should only be carried out if the expected harm to innocent civilians is not disproportional to the military advantage to be achieved by the attack.’

The ruling concludes that, because of the somewhat fuzzy application of the doctrine of proportionality, a categorical determination of targeted killings to be either legal or illegal is impossible. Rather, they must be judged on an individual basis.

No doubt there will be much heated debate amongst lawyers and experts over the ins and outs of the ruling. I am not in a position to contribute to such a debate. However, it is important to realise that, even according to this ruling, the vast majority of Israel’s targeted killings have been illegal.

According to the ruling, targeted killings are only permissible if a ‘less harmful means’ of preventing a Palestinian engaged in direct hostilities does not exist. Specifically, the ruling says that ‘if a terrorist taking a direct part in hostilities against can be arrested, interrogated, and tried, those are the means which should be employed’. Israel often argues that targeted killings are necessary because it is impossible for Israel to arrest Palestinians in the areas that fall under PA jurisdiction (as defined by the Oslo agreements). In reality, as Amnesty International notes, this is utter nonsense. The IDF has repeatedly demonstrated that ‘it can and does exercise full and effective control of the Occupied Territories, including the areas which fall under the Palestinian Authority jurisdiction.’ Israel’s ability to arrest Palestinians is evidenced by the 10,000 Palestinians currently rotting in Israeli jails. In the summer, the IDF had no trouble arresting 64 Palestinian lawmakers, and in the past the IDF has temporarily detained all males within a certain age bracket in refugee camps. Israel’s argument that it has no available measures less harmful than targeted killing to deal with Palestinian militants is therefore, in virtually all cases, incorrect.

The Caroline doctrine, reaffirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal, states that anticipatory action is only allowed when the "[n]ecessity of that self-defense is instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation." Thus, Israel would be justified in killing militants who are, for example, in a car full of missiles on their way to attack Israel. In reality, however, the majority of targeted killings are carried out against Palestinians who are not at that moment involved in direct hostilities (see, for example, the assassination of Sheikh Yassin). All of these targeted killings are illegal.

The High Court ruling also concludes that Israel must make every effort to ‘minimize harm to innocent civilians.’ A simple look through the record will illustrate that Israel regularly fails to meet this obligation. The death toll also testifies to this: out of a total of 339 Palestinians killed during the course of a targeted killing since September 2000, 129 were bystanders. The Court ruling also says that the principle of proportionality must be respected. Israel has violated this condition numerous times, for example when, in July 2002, an Israeli F-16 jet dropped a one-tonne bomb on a crowded Gaza City apartment block with the aim of killing militant Salah Shehada. He was killed, along with seven children and nine other adults. 70 bystanders were injured and six neighbouring houses were damaged.

The High Court ruled that any classification of a Palestinian as engaged in direct hostilities must be based on ‘strong and convincing information’, and that the ‘burden of proof on the army is heavy’. In fact, the Israel’s political and military leadership has shown an extraordinary willingness to label civilians as terrorists, regardless of the evidence. For example, on December 7 Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated before a government committee that "[s]ince June, more than 400 members of terrorist organisations have been killed." In reality, 387 Palestinians had been killed, 206 of whom were not taking part in hostilities when they were killed. In the Lebanon war, Israel openly declared that everyone remaining in southern Lebanon "is a terrorist". This despite the fact that, thanks to Israel’s extensive bombing of and repeated threats to target all moving vehicles, around 100,000 civilians remained trapped in southern Lebanon. According to Amnesty International, ‘the Israeli army has not offered evidence that the Palestinians whom it has assassinated were about to, or on their way to, carry out attacks.’ All such targeted killings are illegal according to the High Court ruling.

In their 2006 annual report, Amnesty International concluded that ‘Israeli soldiers, police and settlers who committed unlawful killings, ill-treatment and other attacks against Palestinians and their property commonly did so with impunity.’ B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organisation, has likewise written of an ‘atmosphere of immunity’, describing how only a ‘very small percentage of cases in which Palestinians were killed [by IDF soldiers] have been investigated.’ Thus, contrary to the requirements laid out in the High Court ruling, the vast majority of targeted killings have not been subsequently investigated by an independent organisation.

In summary, the High Court ruling essentially says that there are conceivable hypothetical situations where a targeted killing would be legal. However, the reality is that virtually all the targeted killings carried out by Israel have been illegal. On this day in 1981 the Knesset passed the Golan Heights Law, which annexed the Golan Heights to Israel in direct contravention of international law, which prohibits the acquisition of territory by force. This should remind the Israeli public of the monumental contempt successive Israeli governments have had for the rule of law. Olmert’s government has proved time and again that it cannot be trusted to use force lawfully. The Israeli public must therefore do what the High Court did not: they must demand an end to Israel’s policy of targeted killings.

Cross-posted at The Heathlander

Originally posted to Heathlander on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 12:11 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I guess it depends on how one defines (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul in Berkeley, redcardphreek

    "an imminent threat to lives."  

    •  For the purposes of international law (5+ / 0-)

      imminent really means imminet (as is evidenced by the other two conditions: that there is no time to use other means or to deliberate). So if a group of Palestinian militants were in a car with some Qassams and were about to fire rockets into Israel, that's an imminent threat. If you're a militant but are not currently involved in attacking Israel (as in the first example) then you pose no imminent threat. You can be arrested, but not be made the subject of a targeted killing.
      That's my understanding of it, anyway.

      •  That still leaves an awful lot of in-between (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Paul in Berkeley

        territory.

        How about a bomb-maker with ten bombs who briefly surfaces?  

        My take is that if you sign up for an armed struggle/organized violence, you should be treated just like a legal combatant.

        Amnesty would give superior protections to terrorists than it would to armed soldiers.  I can't sign on to that, for obvious reasons.

        •  Right (3+ / 0-)

          there is a 'grey' area in terms of what defines 'direct hostilities'. The High Court ruling gives a basic idea, but admits there are grey areas. Hence, it  said it couldn't categorically rule targeted killings illegal, but that they would have to be looked at case by case.

          Terrorists lose their protection when engaged in hostilities. They regain it when they stop. That protection does not give them immunity from punishment - it just means they retain their basic human right to life.

          The idea is that since all Palestinians are civilian and not combatants, they are protected persons. Therefore, whilst killing militants is occasionally absolutely necessary to protect Israel's security, mostly it is possible to simply arrest the criminals (as with other civilians).

          •  I guess I can see this legal precedent applying (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Paul in Berkeley

            to an urban setting where police action is plausible.

            In the mountains of Afghanistan?  Not so much.  The larger concern for me is the precedential value.

            •  I think the precedent is an important one (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Paul in Berkeley, curmudgiana

              The distinction between civilians and combatants is an important one. What this ruling basically does is say that targeted killings are forbidden except in cases where it can be shown that they are absolutely necessary to protect Israel's security. That's exactly how it should be.

              •  At what point does someone cease to be (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Paul in Berkeley

                a civilian and become a combatant--what does it take for a person to be considered a combatant?

                •  There are specific conditions required (0+ / 0-)

                  to be considered a combatant. Here's what the summary court statement said:

                  "The Supreme Court decided that members of the terrorist organizations are not combatants. They do not fulfill the conditions for combatants under international law. Thus, for example, they do not comply with the international laws of war. Therefore, members of terrorist organizations have the status of civilians."

                  One law of war would be, for example, to wear a recognisable uniform.

                  •  So, they reward illegal conduct? That can't be (0+ / 0-)

                    right.

                    •  It's not a 'reward' (0+ / 0-)

                      to say that, when not actively engaged in direct hostilities, they have certain basic human rights, such as the right to life.

                      The aim, I would venture, is to ensure that killing is used only as a last resort, when it's absolutely necessary.

                      •  The key is probably that this only applies to the (0+ / 0-)

                        Occupied Territories.  I would expect that it would not apply to Afghanistan, since Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters never actually cease their activity in hostilities.

                        •  Right (0+ / 0-)

                          Incidentally, here are the details of the distinction between civilians and combatants:

                          " To accomplish the first prong of distinction--the distinction between civilians and combatants--a line must be drawn between what constitutes a combatant and what constitutes a civilian. An individual can hold only one status of the two under the law of war: combatant or civilian. A combatant is one who has "the right to participate directly in hostilities." For example, members of the Armed Forces of a party to the conflict are combatants. The right to participate in hostilities provides them with two important rights on capture: POW status and combatant immunity.

                          POW status affords the individual certain privileges while being detained by the enemy: humane treatment, equality of treatment, protection from insults, free medical care, and immunity from reprisals. Combatant immunity is immunity from prosecution for precapture or warlike acts. However, unlike POW status, which is accorded to certain civilians, combatant immunity is available only to combatants.

                          The Third Geneva Convention (Geneva Convention III, relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) also identifies members of militias and organized resistance movements belonging to a party to the conflict as having a right to participate in hostilities. Under international law, however, these militia members and members of resistance organizations must meet four conditions to be regarded as combatants:

                          1. They must be commanded by a person responsible for subordinates.
                          1. They must have a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance.
                          1. They must carry their arms openly.
                          1. They must conduct theft operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

                          Regardless of titles, however, all combatants "are obligated to distinguish themselves from the civilian population while they are engaged in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack."

                          On the other hand, the term "civilian" is defined under international law in the negative. In essence, a civilian is any person who is not a combatant. Article 50 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions states, "In case of doubt whether a person is a civilian, that person shall be considered to be a civilian." Unlike combatants, civilians do not normally receive or require POW status, as they are protected under a different set of international roles--the Fourth Geneva Convention, relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons.'

                          •  That speaks more to status than to (0+ / 0-)

                            whether a person is engaged in hostilities.

                            An AQ fighter in Afghanistan is probably a civilian, but is deemed to be actively participating in hostilities until he leaves the theater of combat.

                            A Hamas terrorist is never in a theater of combat, and so is probably presumed to not be engaged in hostilities if he's at home.

                          •  Surely its all about status (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            curmudgiana

                            A civilian is a civilian even when engaged in hostilities. With that civilian status comes certain legal protections, certain rights and so on.

                            I'm not sure about 'theatre of combat' - what defines a theatre of combat? When it comes to civilians, they are legally protected at all times except when they are actively engaged in direct hostilities. If by 'theatre of combat' you meant this, then fine. but if you mean some geographical location where the fighting takes place, then I don't think that determines anything with regards to civilians.

                          •  The question is when the civilian ceases to be (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            heathlander

                            actively engaged in hostilities.

                            If they are armed and en camp in the mountains, they're actively engaged in hostilities.

                            They don't have to be firing a weapon in order to be actively engaged in hostilities.

                            By contrast, a member of Hamas can be said to have ceased to be actively engaged in hostilities when in his civilian role he goes to by groceries for his family.

                          •  Oh right (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Geekesque

                            sorry, I misunderstood. Yes, I agree with you.

                      •  Or, perhaps, the right to due process? (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        heathlander
              •  The Principle is very nice (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                curmudgiana

                However, it will all come down to who has the expertise to determine security risks.  So far on every issue (from house bulldozing to administrative detentions) Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the military commander (of the occupied territory) has the ultimate discretion.

                •  You're correct that things like (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  curmudgiana, callmecassandra

                  'proportionality' and so on are left to the Israeli generals to decide. Hence the argument from some NGOs that the High Court should have issued a blanket ban of targeted killings, since the Israeli military leadership has a long and unblemished history of using force unlawfully.
                  The High Court tried to correct for that by insisting that there must always be a thorough and independent investigation of all targeted killings, but it is unlikely to have much effect. That is why I call on the Israeli public to demand an end to the policy.

        •  The question is: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          heathlander

          how do you identify such persons?

          In a conventional war, the opposing armies wear uniforms, to identify them.  You get to shoot at the guys in the other uniform.

          But this situation involves civilians.  iirc, the court decision refered to "civilians carrying concealed weapons" as legitimate targets.  But if the weapons are concealed, how do you identify the carrier?  What is the standard of reasonable doubt?

          afaik, there is none.  Suspicion = guilt = death penalty.

          •  Right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            curmudgiana

            there are difficulties fighting a non-state organisation. No-one doubts that that is so. But it is a fundamental pillar of international law that where there is doubt that someone is a civilian, one assumes that he/she is. Obviously, a quick look through the historical record will confirm that Israel regularly fails to respect this basic principle of international law (that of distinction).

          •  I should note, though (0+ / 0-)

            that AFAIK, throughout the intifada, there has been only one case where even the [i]Palestinians[/i] claimed the target* was innocent.

            *note I'm not referring to bystanders here

            •  Innocent of what, though? (0+ / 0-)

              Armed resistance to a military occupation is not, in itself, a crime.  It is a right guaranteed by international law.

              •  Innocent of being "militants" (0+ / 0-)

                You can't have it both ways. Under international law, only combatants may attack other combatants. So there are two options - either they should be treated as combatants - in which case they are "fair game" for military attack. Otherwise, they are civilians, and have the protections thereoff (though the Court decision states that for the duration of their participation in hostilities, they have forfeited their noncombatant immunity) but any attack they make is a crime.

                •  Except that they do have the protection (0+ / 0-)

                  of civilian status if they are home in bed, not engaged in militant activity.

                  The problem is that the situation is midway between a state of war and a state of law.  If the militants are to be treated as combatants, then they should have the protections of combatants according to the Geneva Conventions - yet Israel treats them as criminals, which is trying to have it both ways.

                  •  Conversely, if they're to be treated as combatant (0+ / 0-)

                    then they don't have the protection of civilian status when at home asleep, any more than a soldier does.

                    What this ruling does - something which is long overdue - is to try to figure out how to resolve that contradiction.

                    •  Gideon Levy (0+ / 0-)

                      doesn't agree:  http://www.haaretz.com/...

                      The Israel Defense Forces assassinating unhindered is one reality, and an IDF that assassinates with the High Court's blessing is an even worse reality. The right's moaning about these rulings is therefore just a manipulation: It should be very pleased.

                      This last ruling is also the worst of them. Barak's crescendo will echo for many years: The court has laundered the executions. All the restrictions the High Court of Justice placed on targeted assassinations are no more than a collection of hollow words. A failed method of warfare, intended for thwarting 'ticking bombs,' has become unbridled and a matter of routine. In fact, 339 Palestinians have already been killed this way since the start of the current intifada; only 210 were intended targets and it is doubtful that all of them deserved to be executed. The rest were innocent bystanders.

                      ...

                      And who will determine what is "well-founded, strong and persuasive information?" The Shin Bet security services. And who will supervise the assassinations? The executioners. Instead of making clear and bold statements, that, for instance, assassination is permissible only in the case of terrorists en route to a terror attack, the court is being disastrously - and typically - ambiguous and, is essentially passing the responsibility to the IDF and the Shin Bet.

  •  Once again Israeli Supreme Court (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geekesque, rsquire, zemblan

    is meddling in affairs in which it has no expertise and no business.

    Who is going to judge whether "less harmful means" are available?  Who is going to judge if investigation was "thorough and complete"?  This is nonsense.  No judiciary anywhere is competent in military tactics to determine, post-factum, in the sterility of judicial chambers, whether the military's investigation was "thorough" and "complete."

    On a related note, AI's interpretation is very dubious.  Taken to its logical conclusion, it means that a terrorist is always a civilian except at the very moment of the commission of terrorists acts.  In other words, if we find where bin Laden is hiding, we would prohibited from launching missiles into that place because at that very moment he is not committing terrorist activities, and he is a civilian since he has not donned any uniform.  That is ludicrious.

    Similarly, Israeli policy of killing leaders of terrorist groups, like Ahmed Yassin, or al-Rantissi, or the perpetrators of the Munich massacre, is fully justified.

    •  By both definition (4+ / 0-)

      a terrorist is a civilian at all times. However, he loses his civilian legal protection when he is engaged in direct hostilities.

      That doesn't mean that when he isn't, Israel can't deal with him (for example by arresting him). It does mean he is legally protected and so can't be bombed.

      •  So no killing the terrorist (0+ / 0-)

        when he is say on vacation?

        •  That's when you just arrest him. n/t (3+ / 0-)
          •  that's convenient of course (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Democritus

            Israel can't arrest anyone in Gaza (or in Syria or in Lebanon or elsewhere) because it's outside of Israel's jurisdiction and you'd be the first to yell "imperialism" if/when Israel tries. The local authorities will not arrest terrorists either because they by and large support their activities and Israel is not allowed to assasinate them. The international community does not give a shit and at best pays lip service, the international law does not address the issue and does not explain what's Israel to do under the circumstances and Israeli civilians keep getting murdered by terrorists operating from non-cooperating neighboring countries.

            None of us is an international lawyer but if that's what the law implies - it is not worth the paper it is written on.

            •  Israel does 'arrest' (4+ / 0-)

              many people from Gaza and the West Bank. The point is that the argument that Israel has no 'less harmful' means than targeted killings of dealing with militants is, for the most part, plain false, because Israel has demonstrated repeatedly that it has the ability to arrest whoever it wants in the OPT.

              •  are you willing to put yourself on record (0+ / 0-)

                and state that Israeli incursions into the West Bank, Gaza and other foreign countries to arrest suspected terrorists are in fact legal?

                The issue is not what Israel does cause it does both targeted killings and arrests, the issue is what "legal" options are allowed under the international law and it does not look like there are any realistic options.

                •  No, of course not (5+ / 0-)

                  the occupation is illegal and must end. But since it hasn't ended, Israel cannot claim that it does not have the ability to arrest militants.

                  The point is that the legal options would change if the occupation ended, because the legal relationship between two states is entirely different from the legal relationship between an occupier and the people it occupies.

                  •  Thanks; (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    curmudgiana, heathlander

                    your first paragraph would have been my response had I not been at lunch.

                    Perhaps dvo could also divulge why (s)he mentioned "Syria or in Lebanon or elsewhere"--after all, Israeli attacks of any kind on the sovereign territory of other nations is an act of war, and certainly (s)he isn't intending to pre-emptively justify all such acts? </snark>

                  •  LOL, You called them militants (0+ / 0-)

                    I did not, if they are militants they are NOT civilians.

                    Anyway besides your freudian slip calling them militants I kind of agree that Israel should arrest when it can. Moreover that's exactly what Israel does, it arrests when it can, targeted killings is Israel's last not first option. But Israel does not control Gaza any more, Israel does not control significant parts of the West Bank and even in the parts that it does control it can't realistically have a cop on every corner and whatever else it need to have to conduct law-enforcement activities.

                    So while I do agree with you in principle that arrests should be the first option it's really dishonest to claim that israel has "the ability to arrest militants". Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not.

                  •  I appreciate your thoughtful exposition of (0+ / 0-)

                    the High Court of Justice's opinion. I am curious to know on what basis you hold that the occupation -- not the settlements or particular occupation policies but the occupation as such -- is illegal.

                    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

                    by another American on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:23:52 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Can you point to any one of these principles (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      heathlander

                      that have not been violated by Israel? It has in fact gone beyond illegal in the sense of these principles in that what started out as a military occupation has now become a colonization.

                      "...based primarily on the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and customary international humanitarian law.

                      http://www.hrw.org/...

                      Question: What are the basic principles of international humanitarian law underlying military occupation?

                      International humanitarian law provides that once an occupying power has assumed authority over a territory, it is obliged to restore and maintain, as far as possible, public order and safety. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, the occupying power must also respect the fundamental human rights of the territory's inhabitants, including refugees and other non-citizens.

                      Four basic principles of international law underlie an occupation:

                      1. The occupying power does not, through occupation, gain sovereignty over the occupied territory.
                      1. Occupation is considered a transitory phase in which the rights of the population must be respected by the occupying power until formal authority is restored.
                      1. When exercising authority, the occupying power must take into account the interests of the inhabitants as well as military necessity.
                      1. The occupying power must not use its authority to exploit the population or local resources for the benefit of its own population and territory."

                      You can read the whole thing at the link.

                      •  Having read your post -- reproduced below -- (0+ / 0-)

                        I question your good faith. That said, I'll first give you a brief answer: I distinguish between whether Israel, under present circumstances, has a right to occupy the West Bank pending implementation of a peace treaty, on the one hand, and the ways in which the occupation is carried out, on the other hand. It is possible that

                        • neither is lawful at all;

                        • both are entirely lawful; or

                        • Israel has a right to occupy but some of the ways it carries out the occupation are unlawful.

                        For reasons I believe I've stated previously, my best judgment is that third choice describes the current situation.

                        Now, as to your good faith.

                        In another thread, a comment suggested reading your hidden comments. I did and found the following exchange that, to my mind, reeks of antisemitism. You'll notice, by the way, it's not an I-P post. I've bolded your comment.

                        Primary on 6/6 (3+ / 0-)
                        Vote against Feinstein. I did. I felt good.
                        by Use Common Sense on Thu May 25, 2006 at 11:11:21 AM EST

                        Another Lieberman? (2+ / 1-)

                             I haven't tallied her total votes but in terms of going against labor and especially computer and engineering professionals, she has a track record of betrayal. I believe the ITAA heavily funds her campaigns. I hope someone checks her overall voting record and she just how "Democratic" she really is.
                        http://www.noslaves.com http://forum.noslaves.com
                        by BobOak on Thu May 25, 2006 at 11:28:24 AM EST

                        Do you think she is Jewish perhaps and that's.. (1+ / 16-)

                        her problem: another Lieberman, another Neocon, another Democrat in name only? If so, can;t disagree more.
                            Watch Peace, Propaganda, The Promised Land

                        by shergald on Thu May 25, 2006 at 12:34:00 PM EST

                        "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

                        by another American on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 06:26:44 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

      •  but like i said that is ludicrious (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geekesque, redcardphreek

        on its face.

        A terrorist whenever he is not actively throwing bombs, is still engaging in a terrorist activity by planning for the next round, or even offering support to his terrorist group.  

        Once a person becomes a terrorist he stops being a civilian.  One cannot seamlessly transition from one to another.

        •  I'm afraid your assertion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          curmudgiana

          is just flat-out contradictory to the law. Both Amnesty and the Israeli High Court recognise that all Palestinian terrorist are civilians.

          •  The status isn't so important as the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rsquire

            legal protections.

            Two examples:

            1.  Lebanon and Israel are at war.   A Lebanese fighter plane has an absolute right to drop a bomb on IDF soldiers, and vice versa.
            1.  NATO is engaged in hostilities with Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan.  NATO does not have the right to drop a bomb on a group of armed terrorists as they move through the mountains on their way to conduct a raid against a target.

            Why should Al-Qaeda terrorists enjoy such a legal privilege?

            •  Well firstly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rick, curmudgiana

              I'm not sure al-Qaeda terrorists count as civilians. I'm not a lawyer and I can't talk about that without reading it.

              What I know in this case is that there is no controversy - the NGOs and the High Court all agree - Palestinian terrorists are civilians. With that comes certain legal rights.

              It is true that actions that are legal are not always the most efficient way to fight people. But, as Justice Aharon Barak said in an earlier ruling,

              "We are aware that this judgment of ours does not make confronting that reality any easier.  That is the fate of democracy, in whose eyes not all means are permitted, and to whom not all the methods used by her enemies are open.  At times democracy fights with one hand tied behind her back.  Despite that, democracy has the upper hand, since preserving the rule of law and recognition of individual liberties constitute an important component of her security stance.  At the end of the day, they strengthen her and her spirit, and allow her to overcome her difficulties"

              Democracies fight with one hand behind their backs, because democracies respect human rights and the law.

              •  How is that that a-Qaeda terrorists (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rsquire

                are NOT civilians, while Palestinian terrorist (e.g., Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, etc.) ARE civillians.  What specifically gives Palestinian terrorists this privilege?  The distinction is patently ridiculous.

                •  I didn't make the distinction (0+ / 0-)

                  I said I didn't know. Since I'm not a lawyer, I'm always hesitant to comment on legal matters before having read about them.

                  Why not just stick to the topic: targeted killing of Palestinians.

                  (but I can imagine that the same goes for al-Qaeda terrorists, and actually that's probably a good thing also. They are civilians but lose their right to civilian legal protection when involved in hostilities.)

                  •  Again, you run into the ridiculousness (0+ / 0-)

                    problem.

                    Under your view of the law, a terrorist, i.e., someone who by definition acts contrary to laws of war, is entitled to greater protection then a soldier.  Under your view, a terrorist can commit his crime and then go and live in peace intil such time as he is good and ready to commit the next crime.  And there is nothing anyone can do.  

                    Sure, you argue that Israel can go and arrest the Palestinians.  But that of course is no answer to the larger question.  Surely, if one is a civilian, one does not lose such status simply because he cannot be arrested.  So by your logic, if a Palestinian terrorist is hiding say in Syria or Lebanon or Iran, where he is unreachable to Israeli law enforcement, he must be left alone to live peacefully and plot his next attack.

                    That simply cannot be the law.

                    •  Again (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      curmudgiana

                      the distinction between a terrorist and soldier is an absolutely artificial one.
                      The important distinction to be made is that between civilians and combatants. Civilians are absolutely entitled to more protection than combatants.

                      According to the law, when a civilian engages in hostilities he loses his protections. When he stops, he regains them. That is to ensure that there is no unnecessary killing of civilians. Of course people can be arrested for past crimes, but killing someone who is no longer engaged in direct hostilities against you (and so poses no immediate threat) is unnecessary. Hence, it is illegal.

                      •  So, again (0+ / 0-)

                        someone who commits terrorist acts and then retires into his safe haven for saya  month until the next terrorist act is immune?!

                        A person who engages in terrorist activities is a combatant at all times even in between his terrorist acts.  Just like a soldier is a combatant at all times, not just when he fires a gun.  A sleeping soldier is still a legitimate target even though he is not "battling" anyone at that particular moment.  A soldier on a LOA is a legitimate target.  So too with terrorists.

                        •  No, he's not immune (0+ / 0-)

                          he can be arrested, for example. He should be safe from being bombed, although regrettably that is not the case in reality.

                          •  In effect he is immune if he is (0+ / 0-)

                            in a "safe haven."

                            I take it your view is that we cannot bomb bin Laden then.  

                            Explain to me why someone who intermittenly attacks is not a "combatant."  Explain to me why a sleeping soldier is a legitimate target for attack, but a sleeping terrorist is not.

                          •  A 'sleeping soldier' (0+ / 0-)

                            is only a legitimate target for attack if the army he belongs to is attacking someone. The reason why a sleeping civilian is not a legitimate target for attack is because civilians have rights under international law that combatants do not.

                          •  You are begging the question (0+ / 0-)

                            You assume that a terrorist is not a combatant, whereis I assert that by virtue of engaging in terrorist acts he is a combatant, though an illegal one.

                          •  I do not 'assume' anything (0+ / 0-)

                            it is an unconstested fact that, under the law (which is the only framework worth discussing this under), a terrorist can be either a civilian or a soldier. Fact.

                          •  That is absolutely NOT uncontested (0+ / 0-)

                            Nor is it a FACT.  Whether someone is a civilian or a combatant is a question of law (or at best a mixed question of law and fact), not a purely factual question.

                            A terrorist can perhaps be a civilian if he committed one act and then decided not to do it anymore.  However, a person who continues to commit and/or plan such acts remains a combatant throughout.  He does not get a pass simply because he is "on vacation" and "recharging his batteries."

                          •  There is no contradiction (0+ / 0-)

                            between a question of law and of fact. I'm not saying that 'person x' is a civilian/soldier/terrorist/whatever. I'm saying that, legally, a terrorist can be either a civilian or a soldier. That is a fact - just check any authoritative legal ruling or advisory opinion there is. Check the Geneva Conventions. Check any relevent legal document and you will see that is uncontested.

                            Now, the application of law in specific circumstances in contested. But the law itself - on this issue, it isn't.

                          •  Even if he is a civilian it does not (0+ / 0-)

                            follow that he is a non-combatant.

                          •  The definition of a civilian (0+ / 0-)

                            is a non-combatant.

                          •  Not necessarily (0+ / 0-)

                            A civilian is not a soldier.  But a civilian can be a combatant if he engages in hostilities but does not wear a uniform.

                          •  No (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            curmudgiana

                            a civilian is defined in the negative. International law defines a combatant. It then says that a civilian is anyone who is not a combatant, and that if in doubt always assume civilian.
                            Hence, by definition, a civilian is not a combatant.

                          •  Well, then a career terrorist is a combatant (0+ / 0-)

                            and not a civilian.

                          •  In the mountains of Afghanistan, OBL and (0+ / 0-)

                            his crew are a militia-like military force which never leave the theater of combat.

                            They are fair game at all times.  Whether they're lawful or unlawful combatants is another issue.

                          •  So if OBL moved from (0+ / 0-)

                            Afghanistan to say, Somalia, he would no longer be a legitimate target?

                          •  I'd say legitimate, because Somalia is another (0+ / 0-)

                            place where there is no civilian authority.  

                          •  And if he moved to Iran (0+ / 0-)

                            or Lybia?  Or North Korea?  Does his location really matter?

                          •  If he stopped taking part in hostilities (0+ / 0-)

                            he would regain his civilian rights, yes. If there was strong evidence that he was continuing to plan new hostilities, then he would still be counted as engaging in direct hostilities.

                            Also, with OBL there is the very real issue of being unable to arrest him. Therefore it may be justifiably claimed that targeted killing is the only way to stop him. This isn't the case with Palestinian militants.

                          •  My hypothetical presupposed (0+ / 0-)

                            that he would continue doing what he was doing before except in a different location.

                            Also, ability to arrest cannot possibly affect someone's status of combatant or non-combatant.  That status is a pre-existing condition.  Lack of ability to arrest does not go to someone's status as a civilian, but to the "proportionality" of response.

                          •  Right (0+ / 0-)

                            I didn't say it did. I just mentioned it because it is relevent to the issue of whether OBL is a legitimate object for a targeted killing (hence I started that paragraph with 'also').

                            But obviously if he continued to engage in direct hostilities then he would continue to be unprotected.

                          •  Which is precisely my point (0+ / 0-)

                            Any terrorist who is simply "on a break" between his various terrorist acts, he remains a legitimate target.

                          •  Not if he's a civilian (0+ / 0-)

                            and in any case, that wasn't your point. You said that you were assuming that OBl continued whatever he was doing. In other words, that he didn't 'take a break'.

                          •  As far as I can tell (0+ / 0-)

                            at this very moment OBL is not bombing or shooting anyone.  So he did "take a break," under your logic.

                            A terrorist who takes breaks between his terrorist acts remains a combatant throughout much like a soldier in the army who takes a break remains a legitimate target.

                          •  I think there's very strong evidence (0+ / 0-)

                            he is actively involved in attacks and/or preparing attacks.

                          •  So too with most other carreer terrorists (0+ / 0-)

                            And also, surely he is not preparing anything when he is sleeping.  Does sleep convert him into a civilian?  Are we not allowed to bomb him when he is sleeping?!

                          •  Yes. Going into a civilian, peaceful area (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            curmudgiana, heathlander

                            and wearing civilian garb is an act of ceasing to take active part in hostilities.

                            Now, they can conspire to commit illegal acts there, but that's what police are for.

                          •  Right, because Iranian and North Korean (0+ / 0-)

                            police would be falling all over themselves to arrest someone liek bin Laden and turn him over to the US.

                          •  Well, then declare war on North Korea (0+ / 0-)

                            or Libya for sheltering someone actively engaged in hostilities against the US.  

                          •  Except then he'd also have to advocate (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            curmudgiana

                            the bombing of Washington, for there is no doubt that the U.S. shelters terrorists (for example).

                          •  If those terrorists were actively engaged in (0+ / 0-)

                            terrorist plots, as opposed to being retired has-beens.

                          •  Yes, OK (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            curmudgiana

                            I didn't see that difference between you said and the famous Bush Doctrine (you said 'actively engaged'). The U.S. is harbouring terrorists, though: for example, few could argue that Bush (or whoever is responsible in the chain of command) is not a terrorist, considering all the state terrorism the U.S. has funded.

                          •  Depends on how one defines terrorism from a legal (0+ / 0-)

                            point of view.  Without exceptions, it is states that craft international law, and I doubt they want to leave themselves open to accusations of terrorism--which still isn't a working term under international law and likely won't be in our lifetimes.

                          •  There are indeed many definitions of terrorism (0+ / 0-)

                            but all of the serious ones I 've seen can be applied both to states and non-state actors. So for example:

                            • in 2004 a UN panel defined terrorism as any act 'intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.'
                            • The U.S. definition found in the Federal Criminal Code:

                            '..activities that involve violent... <or life-threatening acts>... that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and... appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and ...<if domestic>...(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States...<if international>...(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States...'

                            • For the U.S. Department of Defense, terrorism is the 'calculated use of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies in pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.'
                            • Terrorism is defined in the British Terrorism Act 2000 as any act of violence '(a) designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, AND (b) be done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.'

                            (definitions found here).

                            In other words, terrorism is a tactic that can be employed both by states and non-states. In fact, contrary to state propaganda, terrorism is primarily a weapon of the strong, not the weak. This is an important fact to recognise.

                          •  It is defined under national law, but under (0+ / 0-)

                            international law there is no agreed-upon definition.  There is no treaty, and certainly no customary international law defining it.

                            Moreover, it is worth noting that those criminal codes are applicable to individuals, and are not meant to be applied to sovereign states.

                          •  That seems pretty silly to me (0+ / 0-)

                            You are arguing that it would be impermissible to assasinate bin Laden because he is a "civilian," but permissible to start a war where many more civilians will die (despite best efforts to prevent this) so that we could then go and eitehr arrest or kill bin Laden (because he would be in a theater of hostilities).  Doesn't that sound absurd to you?

                          •  I didn't say impermissible, I just said it would (0+ / 0-)

                            violate int'l law under this theory.  

                            I really wouldn't give a rip if killing OBL was against int'l law.  

                          •  Well, I disagree that it would violate (0+ / 0-)

                            international law.

                            But even if we take your view, why should there be any more concern for Palestinian terrorists then for OBL.  If you "wouldn't give a rip if killing OBL was against int'l law," shouldnt the same hold for other terrorists?

                          •  Different facts require different treatment. (0+ / 0-)

                            Any number of reasons to treat AQ differently.  The main one being that their primary base of operations is/was in an area without any kind of civil authority.  

                            To the extent that their activities take place inside areas with civil authorities, intelligence work and police cooperation are not only legally more palatable, but operationally preferable as well.

                          •  That may be but it is irrelevant to the question (0+ / 0-)

                            of whether it is either legal or morally permissible to kill terrorists.

                          •  Well, that depends on the law and the moral (0+ / 0-)

                            theory you're applying.  

                            International law makes it a crime to attack any person who is "taking no active part in the hostilities."

                            If you withdraw from a theater of combat, that strongly evinces an intent to take no active part in the hostilities.  

                            Morally, the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist, but that's just me.

                      •  Again, was the French Resistance forces (0+ / 0-)

                        in WWII a terrorist organization?

                    •  Would you make the same argument for (0+ / 0-)

                      the German soldiers who occupied France in WWII?

                  •  I would say: the Palestinians are in their own (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    heathlander

                    home territory, al-Qaida militants in general are not.

                    Palestinians can be said to be engaged in a legitimate resistence movement against a military occupation, which is protected by international law;  al-Qaida militants are none of these things.

                    Thus the distinction.

                •  There are no such things as Palestinian (0+ / 0-)

                  terrorists. Militant organizations set up specifically to fight military occupations are just not considered such by any definition. Just because it is Israel does not mean that Israel gets to call people that resist its occupation, colonization, actually, something different.

                  Israel is the perpetrator here and the Palestinians the victims. Let's hear anyone argue it differently.

                  •  Shergald (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    heathlander

                    if you mean by this that the Palestian resistance members do not have the status of terrorist, you are correct for the technical reason that "terrorist" is not a defined status.

                    And it is plainly the case that the Palestinians have the right to legitimate armed resistance against the military occupation.  It is definitely not the case that engaging in such armed resistance is per se terrorism.

                    However, it is also plainly the case that some of these resistance members have committed acts which fall under the usual definition of terrorist acts.

                    The question has to be:  in the course of a legitimate armed resistance, are there acts which are not legitimate because they are terrorist acts?

                    But terrorism is not the real question when it comes to the issue of killing civilians engaged in resistance.  If a member of the legitimate resistance is engaged in firing at a member of the military occupation, it is entirely legitimate for the occupying military to fire back and kill this person, under the rules for combatants.  Terrorism is not at issue.  It is the rules of war that apply.

                    So the real question has to be:  when do the rules of war apply to members of a resistance, and when do the rules of law apply?  Because the situation is one that partakes of both kinds.

          •  Which is why I said (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pumpkinlove

            that AI's interpretation is "dubious."  As in, "I don't think that they are right on the law, since their interpretation leads to preposterous results."

            As for Israeli High Court, I hold them in very low esteem as well, in part because their former Chief Justice explicitly stated that he believes that he can overrule not just regular laws, but the Basic Law itself (Israeli proto-Constitution) if it conflicted with his own notions of "justice."  I don't know about you, but to me that sounds preposterous.  If the Court is unwilling to be bound by ANY law, save its own understanding of "right" and "wrong," then it is no longer a court of law.  

            Furthermore, Israeli High Court is not just not representative of the Israeli public, it is not even representative of the Israeli legal thought.  In Israel, sitting justices get a say in who joins the court.  Chief Justice Aharon Barak flatly refused to approve appointments of several eminent law professors who disagreed with his own interpretation of the Court's place in society and power.  Thus, any real legal debate about the propriety of the Court's actions is foreclosed within the Court.  An institution that is so afraid of criticism within its own walls does not command respect.

          •  You keep using the term, "terrorist." (0+ / 0-)

            Are you certain that you don't mean something else for a people who are fighting against and resisting a military occupation, while their lands are being stolen from them?

        •  There are no terrorists in the West Bank or (0+ / 0-)

          Gaza.

          It is almost rediculous to use such a term with a people that are under military occupation, and an illegal one at that. To discuss these issues about people resisting it violently or nonviolently as terrorists in fact is silly. I'm sure that any European reading some of these posts is asking just what are they talking about.

          Americans have been snookered through Israeli propaganda into believing that Israel is fighting the war on terrorism, when in fact is in the act of colonizing, i.e., stealing, land belonging to a people it has under a military occupation. The same new article CNN writes for American consumption about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that contains the term "militant" or "resistance fighter," it changes to "terrorist."

          Are we stupid to buy into this nonsense?

        •  "Once a person becomes a soldier (0+ / 0-)

          he stops being a civilian."  So, since almost every Israeli citizen is drafted into the military and remains in the reserve until retirement age, the adult population of Israel retains the status of soldiers, not civilians, and are thus legitimate military targets.

          Which means that targeting them is therefore not an act of terrorism, but an act of war.

          Or so your logic implies.

      •  That gives terrorists a special privileged status (0+ / 0-)

        That just seems incredibly stupid.

        •  What 'privileged status'? (0+ / 0-)

          That of being civilian? That's hardly privileged. In any case, there's no controversy over that matter - they are civilian.

          When a Palestinian is not currently engaged in hostilities but has been in the past, Israel can still take measures against him. It can arrest him. What it can't do is violate his human rights by firing a missile at him.

          •  A soldier in uniform doesn't ever get (0+ / 0-)

            the protection of civilian status.  However, a terrorist does--even if he's engaged in exactly the same kind of activity.

            •  Soldiers can be terrorists (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              curmudgiana

              you're making an entirely artificial distinction here.

              The distinction is not between soldiers and terrorists, but combatants and civilians. It is a fundamental pillar of international law that there is a distinction between the two.

              •  Okay. Why should Al-Qaeda terrorists in (0+ / 0-)

                Afghanistan get superior protections to NATO troops?

                •  Why are we talking about al-Qaeda? (0+ / 0-)

                  For all I know, there may be some additional factor that means they don't whereas Hamas militants do. As I said, I haven't read about that and so can't really comment.

                  •  Here's the court's reasoning, which is truly (0+ / 0-)

                    bizarre:

                    The Supreme Court decided that members of the terrorist organizations are not combatants. They do not fulfill the conditions for combatants under international law. Thus, for example, they do not comply with the international laws of war. Therefore, members of terrorist organizations have the status of civilians.

                    In other words, if you don't comply with the international law of war, you are granted privileges from attack unavailable from those who do follow those laws.

                    •  That's just an example (0+ / 0-)

                      The law has certain conditions that are required to be designated a combatant. Those who do not fulfill those requirements are therefore not combatants, and so are civilians.

                      (There is, incidentally, a logical reason why Hamas militants aren't combatants. They are a non-state oorganisation that is fighting a resistance against an occupier. It makes sense to treat them differently from the soldiers of the occupying army.)

        •  The problem with this argument (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          heathlander

          is that it involves a category mistake.

          "terrorist" is the wrong word to use.

          Anyone - soldier or civilian - can commit an act of terror and thus become a terrorist.  The distinction is not between soldier and terrorist, it is between soldier and civilian militant.  Some of these may, others may not be terrorists.

          Terrorist is not a category in the definition of the law.  What the law addresses is civilian militants, "legitimate armed resistance."  The law explicitly legitimatizes armed resistance to a military occupation.

          The law concerns itself only with the limits with which the military occupation can address an armed resistance.

      •  In theory, (0+ / 0-)

        this arrest is part of a due process of justice, in which the individual has the right to defend himself against legitimate charges in a court of law.

        None of this is possible in an assassination.

    •  They take out civilians almost (5+ / 0-)

      everytime.

      None dare call it "apartheid".

      by mattes on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 01:18:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bouwerie Boy, Geekesque

    I commend you for taking a more thorough and reality-based look at this issue than the last diarist (who resorted to name-calling and blatant lies).

    I do not necessarily agree with you that Amnesty's opinion is the best.  They seem to imply that if a person engages in a terrorist attack, then goes about their business, then somehow they are back to being a civilian.  I don't agree with that.  That is kind of like saying that once a rapist stops raping then they're no longer a rapist.  Doesn't work that way.  Personally, i agree with the targeted killings.  They are a tool that is used to fight terrorism and are targetted against members of organization that have openly declared war on Israel.

    Further, the Golan issue is a non-starter.  Every nation in the world has, at one time or another, taken territory by force.  It's just how its done.  War's arent fought in stadiums. (Some info about the Golan: Here )

    Still, I do not want to start a flame war on this diary as well, so I will leave you with that.

    •  asdf (8+ / 0-)

      "I do not necessarily agree with you that Amnesty's opinion is the best.  They seem to imply that if a person engages in a terrorist attack, then goes about their business, then somehow they are back to being a civilian.  I don't agree with that.  That is kind of like saying that once a rapist stops raping then they're no longer a rapist."

      Of course this is true, but the appropriate way of handling rapists is to arrest them, not to blow up the building in which they (and others) live, or anyone in a car they happen to occupy at a given moment.

    •  You won't start a flame war with that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, hypersphere01

      it's a reasonable comment.

      Both Amnesty and the High Court agree that Palestinian terrorists are always civilians. However, they both cite the law that a civilian loses his protection whilst he is engaged in direct hostilities.

      As to the Golan, declaring it a non-starter is meaningless. The Golan is occupied Syrian territory - that's just a fact. Israel has absolutely zero sovereignty over any of it.

      •  If both Amnesty and the High Court talk (0+ / 0-)

        about people resisting a military occupation as terrorists, then Israel has done an excellant propaganda job on Americans and Israelis.

        I don't think any European reading this material about "terrorists," when noting that you are actdually referring to a people being victimized while under a military occupation, would understand what you are talking about, especially the French, whose resistance fighters fought the Germans bravely during WWII.

        •  Shergald, what definition (0+ / 0-)

          of 'terrorism' are you using? I accept (as you know) that the Palestinians fighting against Israel are the resistance. Israel, when it fights, fights to preserve the occupation.

          However, this doesn't mean that Palestinians don't use terrorism. Terrorism (basically - see comment above) is defined as violence against civilians with the aim of persuading their government to do or not do something. It surely cannot be denied, then, that suicide bombings are acts of terrorism. One can recognise the Palestinian right to resist whilst at the same time recognising that there are certain methods of resistance that are illegitimate. Or even if you think the Palestinian's use of terrorism is legitimate, you can still accept that it is terrorism.

          No?

          •  You are correct. I posted some definitions (0+ / 0-)

            earlier today which I will attach to this post. Before 1980, the PLO was a terrorist organization, engaging in terrorism, of which the classic example is Munich, to get political recognition for their cause. After Hamas developed during the first Intifada, and during the 1990s up to 1998, they engaged in sporadic attacks inside Israel. During Oslo, they were out of Arafat's control. Between 1998 and 2000 there were none.

            Now I don't have figures for how many Palestinian civilians died during this period, so that it is hard to determine the motivation for those attacks. Certainly it was not to gain recognition of a cause, but it is not clear if they were revenge/retaliatory in nature, which makes them quite different from terrorism, which is motivated by other goals.

            During the second Intifada, suicide bombings in Israel were distinctly revenge/retaliatory for the killings of civilians. I posted data earlier showing that IDF were killing Palestinian civilians, including 27 children a month before any suicide bombers went into Israel. An Time interview with Rantisi, the Hamas bomber coordinator (apparently), made clear that his volunteers were revenge motivated. That is not terrorism as such: it is eye for an eye, civilian for civilian, vengence.

            If your criteria is killing civilians, then Israel is five times more terrorism than the Palestinians. You also have the problem of explaining the actions of a people under a military occupation.

            •  Terrorism definitions. (0+ / 0-)

              Although Palestinians certainly had nationalistic goals, they just did not apply to the post2000 suicide bombings. The earlier sporadic attacks/bombings 1990s as well could simply have been another tactic to fight the military occupation. So tell me, how does the MILITARY OCCUPATION fit into all of this? A lot of commentators seem to take it for granted as if it is a normal state of affairs.

              Wikipedia

              Terrorism is a term used to describe violence or other harmful acts committed (or threatened) against civilians by groups or persons for political, nationalist, or religious goals. As a type of unconventional warfare, terrorism means to weaken or supplant existing political landscapes through capitulation, acquiescence, or radicalization, as opposed to subversion or direct military action.

              Free Dictionary

              terrorism - the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear

              Proposed Definitions of Terrorism

              1. League of Nations Convention (1937):

              "All criminal acts directed against a State and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public".

              1. UN Resolution language (1999):

              criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them". (GA Res. 51/210 Measures to eliminate international terrorism)

              •  My point is not to justify these attacks, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                heathlander

                but rather to stop the false premise that Palestinians are part of the war on terror, that Israel is now the victim of these terrorists, and that it has no culpability for stimulating these attacks.

                In a word, it's all about the MILITARY OCCUPATION, and the killing of thousands of Palestinians, 80% innocent civilians including children, by Israel, while it is undertaking the colonization of their land.

                •  Of course Israel has culpability (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  shergald, curmudgiana

                  and of course the terrorism is reactionary. It is a reaction to the occupation. Terrorism is, in this case, a form of resistance (in my opinion, an illegitimate form of resistance).

                  I agree with you that we should not focus our energy on Palestinian terrorism. Because, as you say, the Palestinians are the primary victims of this conflict, not the other wat around. As I have said many times on these comment boards, there is no symmetry here. Israel is the occupier, Israel is the runaway military superpower and it is Israeli criminal violence that has claimed the most lives and done the most damage. But, when the issue comes up, there is no need to deny that (for example) suicide bombings were acts of terrorism, that's all.

                  •  It is not denial of the horrific nature of (0+ / 0-)

                    suicide bombings as any intentional killing of civilians probably is. But revenge/relatiation does not fit the concept of terrorism. It lacks its goals or wider purpose. The suicide bombings of 2000+ seem to be focused on the victims, the killing for revenge. The acts look the same, and that is all one can say about them. Violent acts that do not involve killing can also be terrorism, if the purpose is there.

                    So we differ on this point.

            •  The criteria is not the killing of civilians (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              curmudgiana

              although, of course, that is a necessary component. The motivation for the killing of civilians has to be to create fear, in order to persuade the government to either do something or refrain from doing something.

              Whilst the individuals actually blowing themselves up may have been motivated by revenge (perhaps a fmaily member had been killed, for example), the organisations recruiting and equipping them were of course doing so for political reasons. They wanted to create fear in the Israeli public so as to change Israeli public opinion to force an end to the occupation. That's terrorism by the book.

              But I don't disagree that Israel is guilty of state terrorism against the Palestinians. Moreover, as you say, Israel's terrorism is of a far larger scale. That doesn't, on the other hand, mean Palestinian terrorism is not terrorism.

  •  Already diaried.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bouwerie Boy, borkitekt, heathlander

    ...with over 200 comments here.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 12:23:26 PM PST

  •  this is a duplicate diary (0+ / 0-)

    please delete

    First posted:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    What would prevent Captain America from being a hero "Death, Maybe"

    by Doughnutman on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 12:47:57 PM PST

  •  Did they deal with assassination of Sheikh Yassin (5+ / 0-)

    The man was a paraplegic in a wheelchair so its hard to say he was an imminent threat but Israel assassinated him with a missile, as I recall.

    •  Not in the summary, no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shergald

      although they may have mentioned it in the full ruling.

      However, they did give an example of what would constitute a 'proportionate attack'. They said:

      "For example, shooting at a terrorist sniper shooting at soldiers or civilians from his porch is permitted, even if an innocent passerby might be harmed. Such harm conforms to the principle of proportionality. However, that is not the case if the building is bombed from the air and scores of its residents and passersby are harmed."

      That example of a disproportionate attack seems an awful lot like the July 2002 targeted killing of Salah Shehada.

    •  Yassin would fall under (0+ / 0-)

      the "command & control" elements of the organizatio, which according to the ruling are also fair game

  •  Article 51 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geekesque

    I say that if they know for sure a person takes part in:

    1. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:

    (a) those which are not directed at a specific military objective;

    (b) those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or

    (c) those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.

    Then feel free to nail them.  I don't see a problem with it.

    •  Are these rules for the military occupier (0+ / 0-)

      or the resistance fighters or militants fighting back?

      •  I think that the bulk of international (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shergald, curmudgiana

        humanitarian law is intended for states and not non-state organisations. A lot of the rules simply make no sense when applied to non-states actors, and I don't think they were ever meant to be so applied.

        Resistance fighters are still bound by those basic laws of war that are considered to be universal. They are, however, much less strict than things like the Geneva Conventions. The basic, fundamental idea is that of military necessity. People fighting in self-defence have a right to use violence, but only as much violence as is necessary for self-defence. In other words, no killing for the hell of it.

        In contrast, all violence perpetuated by the occupier is illegal, because , of course, it is the occupier who is the aggressor.

      •  All sides (0+ / 0-)

        must try to adhere to it.  So, "resistance fighters" who blow up bombs in market areas intentionally are in violation too.

        •  Why the scare quotes (0+ / 0-)

          around resistance fighters? One can be a resistance fighter and be a terrorist. There's no contradiction.

          But yes, I agree - it is important for everyone to adhere to the law. The only people in the mainstream who disagree are the 'supporters' of Israel.

  •  You seem to be under a misapprehention (0+ / 0-)

    regarding the feasability of arrest.

    Yes, you are correct that Israel has and does use arrests. However, this does not demonstrate that arrests are practical in all situations.

    If you would review assassinations geographically, you will see that since Israel reoccupied the West Bank in Operation Defensive Shield, assassinations have been mostly limited to Gaza. That is because the IDF lacks the control and deployment it has in the West Bank, and any arrest would require a major military operation which, even if successful, would leave dozens of dead and injured on both sides, including many bystanders.

    •  No, not in *all* situations (0+ / 0-)

      I never said that it was. For example, if there are a group of militants in a car on their way to fire rocket at Israel, I doubt arrest would be a feasible option. It may be that the only option would be to bomb the car, although that should be accompanied by efforts to minimise the risk of civilian casualties.

      The point is that in the vast majority of cases, Israel is able to use arrests, as it has amply demonstrated (in both Gaza and the West Bank). This is because in most cases, Israel is not targeting a militant on his way to carry out an attack, or who in some other way poses an immediate threat to Israel's security. Mostly, it targets those who have commited acts in the past or who Israel suspects might commit some in the future. In these cases, targeted killings are illegal.

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