The beginning of the end to Israel’s impunity for war crimes against Palestinians?

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We should all welcome last week’s International Criminal Court decision to formally open an investigation into allegations of Israeli war crimes in Palestine. War crimes will continue until those perpetrating them are held to account.

During the “Great March of Return” protests in Gaza in 2018, for example, Israel’s brutality towards unarmed Palestinian protestors reached new levels of savagery.

A United Nations Independent Commission found that from March 2019 to the end of that year, Israeli snipers injured 6,106 Palestinians with live ammunition while another 3,098 Palestinians were injured by bullet fragmentation, rubber-coated metal bullets or by hits from tear gas canisters.

Thirty five of these fatalities were children while three were clearly marked paramedics, and two were clearly marked journalists.

Meanwhile four Israeli soldiers were injured at the demonstrations.

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The Commission noted the Israeli claim that the protests by the Gaza separation fence masked “terror activities” by Palestinian armed groups. However, the Commission found that the demonstrations were civilian in nature, with clearly stated political aims. Despite some acts of significant violence, the Commission found that the demonstrations did not constitute combat or military campaigns.

It is sickening violence such as this against unarmed protestors which the ICC has decided to investigate in Palestine alongside alleged war crimes committed by Hamas supporters.

The ICC decision has been a long time coming and there will be further hurdles ahead but this should mark the point when Israel impunity comes to an end. Unfortunately, the investigation will only cover events since June 2014, the date when Palestinian leadership accepted ICC jurisdiction over Palestinian territory but its an important step forward.

Predictably Israel is furious and even more predictably Prime Minister Netanyahu says the ICC decision is anti-semitic. Behind closed doors however Israel has reportedly compiled a list of around 200 officials and individuals who are likely to be indicted for war crimes as a result of the ICC investigation. These people will face detention if they travel abroad to ICC member countries who will be required to arrest them and send them for trial at the Hague.

In this regard New Zealand has a shameful history.

In 2006 former Israel military commander Moshe Ya’alon visited New Zealand. This man is known as the “Butcher of Qana” and is wanted for prosecution on charges of war crimes.

In 1996 Ya’alon was identified as the person behind the shelling of the United Nations compound at Qana in Southern Lebanon in which more than 100 civilians were killed. In the ensuing investigation the United Nations found the Israeli military had violated international law.

Then in 2002 Ya’alon directed the bombing of the densely populated Al Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza City to assassinate Hamas commander Salah Shehadeh. 15 were killed and 150 injured. Seven died in Mr Ra’ed Mattar’s household when his house was completely destroyed. Mr Mattar was a war crimes complainant against Ya’alon.

Detailed evidence against Ya’alon was presented to the Auckland District Court and after three days consideration Judge Avinash Deobhakta found a prima facie case was established of a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, which is a criminal offence in New Zealand under the Geneva Conventions Act 1958, and International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000.

Deobhakta said there were “good and sufficient” reasons” for Ya’alon to stand trial for war crimes and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Unfortunately, the arrest warrant was never enacted because in an act of political cowardice, Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney General at the time, Michael Cullen, quashed it and Ya’alon was free to leave.

It’s all very well to talk the talk about respect for international law and to hold war criminals to account for their crimes. But we have to walk the walk. Whenever the ICC finds evidence of war crimes we must follow through and send the suspects for trial at the Hague.

39 COMMENTS

    • My impression is that Palestinian crimes are done out of the desperation of a people suppressed by a brutal military regime. Whereas Israel’s are committed on a vastly greater scale, like the genocidal bombings of Gaza and the deliberate murder and maiming of unarmed protesters at the separation fence. Also the tactical nuking of Beirut’s dock area targetting the Lebanese government to split from its only effective military defence against Israel, Hezbollah. Also the illegal bombing raids against Syria’s sovereign territory. And add the insane hostility t’wards Iran by Israel a nuclear armed in effect terror state Like its Big Daddy the Zionist controlled U$$$ of America with it’s insane War of terror with Israel being its Middle eastern sheriff. Both the U$$$ and Israel need to be brought to International courts and prosecuted for their War crimes.

    • Don’t be too quick to repeat your usual racist gloating and claims of Zionist immunity Gaby. There are plenty in Israel who are already feeling the heat: “Within hours of the announcement, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz was reporting Israeli plans to brief hundreds of senior security officials, past and present, over the risk of their exposure to prosecution”. (https://www.theguardian.com/law/2021/mar/03/israeli-officials-start-to-feel-the-impact-of-icc-investigation). ICC arrest warrants may not apply in Israel but immunity isn’t universal.

      Even IDF conscripts will need to take care for the rest of their lives, in the same way. Don’t forget that lowly Nazi concentration camp guards are still facing trial for ‘acting on orders’ over seven decades ago. What is good for the war crimes goose is also good for the war crimes gander.

    • The ICC has jurisdiction over human rights abuses by whatever party in Gaza and the West Bank. The UNSG directed the ICC to this course when accepting the PA’s request to be a party to the ICC.

      Israel can deflect this only where its own courts have dealt with the issue – which is what this article says.

      https://www.timesofisrael.com/the-hague-vs-israel-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-icc-palestine-probe/

      So Israeli courts have a lot of cases to process just in case the ICC takes them up.

  1. Empire Files: Inside Palestine’s Refugee Camps

    In her first on-the-ground report from Palestine, Abby Martin gives a first-hand look into two of the most attacked refugee camps in the West Bank: Balata and Aida camps.

    With millions of displaced Palestinians around the world, hundreds of thousands are refugees in their own country—many have lived packed into these refugee camps after being ethnically cleansed from their villages just miles away. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxvNZisaB8E

    Abby Martin: Gaza’s fight for freedom needs global solidarity

    The Empire Files’ Abby Martin and Mike Prysner discuss their new documentary “Gaza Fights For Freedom,” a vivid account of the Great March of Return against the Israeli siege of Gaza, and the urgency of global solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV6prKVkexk

    Documentary 2018 – War Between Israel and Palestine – The Gaza Conflict
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAqpMtvfqB4

  2. Israeli Soldier’s Explosive Tell-All: “Palestinians are Right to Resist”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkxJd88xkBU

    In a rare, candid conversation, Abby Martin interviews a former Israeli Army combat soldier who served as an occupier in Palestine’s Hebron City. Eran Efrati spent years as a sergeant and combat soldier in the Israeli military, but has since become an outspoken critic of the occupation of Palestine and Israeli apartheid.

    Efrati gives explosive testimony on the reality of his service and explains how war crimes are institutionalized, as well as how systematic the oppression against Palestinians really is in a war of conquest that will no-doubt be accelerated under the Trump Administration.

  3. Ross Kemp: Middle East – Ross Investigates the Issues in Gaza | Ross Kemp Extreme World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7jmkbc8twE

    This two part special sees Ross visiting both Gaza and Israel to investigate what life is like for people who are living either side of the Middle East. In the first part, Ross is in Gaza one year after Operation Cast Lead to interview the police, the families who have been affected by the conflict and

  4. Ross Kemp: Middle East – Ross Investigates the Issues in Israel | Ross Kemp Extreme World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEFWo8DgWf8

    After visiting Gaza, Ross now travels to Israel to investigate the divided country. Whilst there, he interviews victims of militant attacks as well as the police force to understand how they are trying to stop more from happening.

  5. Israeli airstrikes on Syria are testing Moscow’s patience, Jerusalem would do well not to poke the Russian bear
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56411.htm

    In an official statement last week, the special envoy of the president of Russia to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, indicated that Moscow was rapidly losing patience with Israel over airstrikes against alleged Iranian targets on Syria soil. “Sooner or later, the cup of patience, including the Syrian government, may be overflowing, and a retaliatory strike will follow, which will accordingly lead to a new round of tension. These attacks must be stopped, they are counterproductive. We hope that the Israeli side will hear our concerns, including concerns about the possible escalation of violence in Syria.”

    The language, though diplomatic, leaves little room for misinterpretation. By using the term “including” about the Syrian government losing patience, Lavrentiev left no doubt that the other “inclusive” party was Russia. This linkage carries over into the not-so-veiled threat of a “retaliatory strike” and “possible escalation of violence.” In short, Lavrentiev’s warning was as blunt a threat against Israel that could be made short of stating the obvious – if Israel continues to bomb Syria, Russia will have no choice but to shoot down their planes.

    • You have posted this link before Gaby and it has no more cache now than then. Obviously you failed to follow the advice given last time. Check out the dubious credentials of your source! Not very impressive.

      • Zionists love them some military strong men. I think all of their Prime Ministers have been former terrorists and militarists – enough to make a tin-pot dictatorship envious. Some Highlights:
        • Ehud Barak took part in a death squad in Beirut, killing two women, two Lebanese policemen and a Christian poet.
        • Menachem Begin involved in the Deir Yassin massacre and other acts of terrorism such as the bombing of the King David Hotel.
        • Golda Meir threatened to destroy the world with nuclear weapons in an interview with the BBC’s Alan Hart, which you can read below. “Mother Israel” also ordered Operation “Wrath of God,” which resulted in the civilian deaths attributed to Ehud Barak’s death squad (described above) and other botched assassinations such as the one in Lillehammer, Norway that resulted in the death of an innocent waiter.
        • Yitzhak Shamir had Britain’s Lord Moyne and Sweden’s Count Folke Bernadotte assassinated, and was also involved in the Deir Yassin massacre and other acts of terrorism. He was a leader of a Jewish terrorist group called the Stern Gang, which carried out a string of assassinations.
        • David Ben-Gurion presided over the ethnic cleansing of approximately 750,000 Palestinians, said that “without Deir Yasin there would be no Israel.”
        • Yitzhak Rabin signed an order for the children of Lydda to be “expelled” (ethnically cleansed), planned the ’67 attack on Egypt
        • Ariel Sharon was in charge of the Qibya massacre and the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres.
        • Benjamin Netanyahu called for “mass expulsions among the Arabs of the occupied territories” and presided over multiple Gazan massacres.
        • Moshe Sharett was a staunch advocate of compulsory population transfer (ethnic cleansing).
        • Levi Eshkol presided over the displacement of 250,000 Palestinian refugees, most of them unarmed noncombatant farmers and their families.
        • Yigal Allon served in the Haganah’s underground Special Night Squads, which specialized in ambushes, torture and killing “without compunction.”
        • Ehud Olmert presided over the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which left 1,300 people dead and more than a million people displaced.
        • Shimon Peres created the Israeli nuclear weapon program that is still being denied despite Olmert’s slip of the tongue.
        Nice bunch among whom Kemp would feel at home.
        Friend of mine, a NZ Army Lieutenant Colonel (ret) told me that every U.N. peacekeeper he knew went to the Levant sympathetic to Israel and came away sympathetic to the Palestinians.

        • Verification questions for Gaby:
          1. Can you produce evidence to verify Kemp’s on the ground observational research for his Zionist presentation?
          2. If not first hand, what was the source of his information?
          3. What is UN Watch and what is their political stance on Palestinians?
          4. What evidence do you have to verify the UN Watch headline, ‘British commander silences the UN over Gaza protests inquiry’?
          5. What is the background of PragerU, Kemp’s sponsor and who established and finances the operation?
          6. WTF do you mean by, “Here’s one you can’t get out of, unless, of course, you claim the UN doesn’t exist.”?
          7. Why would anyone deny the existence of the UN and its agencies such as UNHCR?
          Your responses are awaited by myself and others who want to establish that you might not be suffering from FITH Syndrome.

          As an addendum: Instead of your usual name calling and non-sensical bluster, how about responding to Brewer’s allegations with evidence to the contrary.

  6. Since the ICC has totally betrayed its original mandate and become a toxic, politicised body with no credibility (where is this ‘state of Palestine’?) this is what Israel needs to do NOW.
    Expel UN personnel
    Defund the PA
    Annex Judea and Samaria
    Sanction foreign-funded NGOs like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence that demonise Israel.
    The legal/diplomatic approach has failed. Gloves off, Israel!

    • Annexing the West Bank without accepting all residents as citizens would end reocognition of Israel as a democracy.

      Annexing the Jewish settlement area only and calling that Judea and Samaria would fool no one – but hat tip the world that other areas not yet settled would later be taken once enough people had been oppressed out of living there.

      What would the call such a programme – cultural genocide?

      • What you meant to say is, you have no answers to my indisputable truths. if your only counter argument is to close your mind, you are a hopeless bigot. I rest my case.

        • FITH Syndrome is winning the battle for your pitiful soul Gaby. Indisputable truths? Get real! You only ever produce opinions from your bubble of Zionist propagandists, as is demonstrated with sound evidence every time you post something. Do you ever wonder why you are now the only Zionist sympathiser who frequents TDB? You obviously even embarrass your fellow travellers.

          Yes – ‘an avowed anti-semite’ plus all your usual predictable invective is itching to be typed. Don’t bother responding as we have endlessly seen it all before, unlike your evidence in support of the indefensible.

            • When you make you ethnic cleansing intentions public, you should expect trouble. You seem to have forgotten:

              “[We Zionists will] spirit the penniless population across the border [of the Jewish state] by denying it employment … Both the process of expropriation [theft of land] and the removal [ethnic cleansing] of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”—Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the planned expulsion of native people [from Herzl’s since-published diary, in an entry dated June 12, 1895]

              “We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.”…. Settlement can thus develop under the protection of a force that is not dependent on the local population, behind an IRON WALL which they will be powerless to break down. ….a voluntary agreement is just not possible. As long as the Arabs preserve a gleam of hope that they will succeed in getting rid of us, nothing in the world can cause them to relinquish this hope, precisely because they are not a rubble but a living people. And a living people will be ready to yield on such fateful issues only when they give up all hope of getting rid of the Alien Settlers.
              Ze’ev Jabotinsky 1923

              What did you expect? Floral tributes?

  7. Why is Israel the U$ and EU and Nato Sheriff in the mid East?
    What is the real reason the USA, Europe and Britain keep defending Israel?
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56423.htm

    ” It is a symbiotic relationship of an ugly type. The Western powers prop up Israel with military funding and supplies to use against hostile neighbours, and Israel in return uses some of those resources to ward off intermittent threats from those same neighbours to Western oil supply lines. (Large Israel-sympathising Jewish communities in Britain and the USA make protecting Israel an easy choice for any ‘democratic’ leader wanting an easier ride in Elections too.) Israel spares the West the enormous practical difficulty of transplanting, and finding a suitably large base for, a large army permanently in the eastern Mediterranean. This support for British strategic interests was even explicitly promised by prominent figures in the Zionist lobby, such as Chaim Weizmann, during the long and protracted negotiations that led slowly to Israel’s resurrection. “

  8. The weight of evidence surrounding the tremendous ordeal of generations of Palestinians is evident on The Daily Blog and in the groing global awareness.
    For a people who have historically suffered and continue to endure a level of anti Semitism, to treat the Palestinians in a cruel and degrading manner brings shame to a increasing number of empathetic and humane Jews worldwide.
    Perhaps the ICC will bring some sanity to this horrific example of how not to live in harmony on this planet.
    Thanks again for your post JM.

    • They could have been accountable for their own state….8 times. Instead they opted for war, terrorism, and playing to a gullible international community. People like you.

      • People who have been dispossessed at gunpoint amid rape and massacre are reluctant to settle for a pittance and tend to get a bit testy after years of bad faith negotiations.
        “if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David” – Shlomo Ben Ami.
        “Taba ended officially when Barak withdrew his negotiators.”
        https://www.democracynow.org/2006/2/14/fmr_israeli_foreign_minister_if_i

        In any case, it is not negotiable. International Law is clear. The refugees are either returned to their property or compensated – at their option.

      • We ain’t the same you and I. I don’t want to hold a delusional belief that what Israel is doing to Palestinians is highly illegal.

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