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 COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The Dilemma of Israel's High Court of Justice:
The Battle for Human Rights in Times of War

Israel Gilead
Dean, Faculty of Law
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

During the last two decades, despite continuing threats against national security and numerous terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of many innocent civilians, the Israeli judiciary has managed to develop a variety of constitutional and legal tools needed to defend basic human rights. This effort has been guided and inspired by the Supreme Court of Israel, sitting as the High Court of Justice (HCJ). The HCJ has extended the rules of standing in cases of public importance, stating that the rule of law requires that every person be allowed to petition the Court in matters of concern to the public. Human rights organizations and, in particular, organizations that represent Palestinians both in Israel and in the Territories have made extensive use of these liberal rules of standing. In 1992 the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom constitutionalized and entrenched the rights to life, bodily integrity, liberty, property, dignity, and privacy. This principle is exemplified by the much debated, landmark decision of the HCJ regarding the use of force by Israel痴 security services in interrogating detainees suspected of terror activities. The HCJ ruled that the use of physical pressure is unauthorised and constitutes criminal offense, even in cases of a 鍍icking bomb where there is an imminent threat of a terrorist attack, subject only to the general defense of 渡ecessity. The HJC further ruled that the 渡ecessity defense, even in a 鍍icking bomb cases, could only be established as an ex post defense to a criminal charge, not as an ex ante immunity afforded to the interrogators beforehand. In the public debate that followed it was argued that this ruling may actually expose civilians to deadly terrorists attacks that could have been prevented if the interrogators were not vulnerable to criminal indictments. Yet, thus far, suggestions to amend the law in a way that will legitimize the use of physical pressure in such cases have been rejected.

How did the outbreak of the 都econd intifada in 1999 and the escalation since then affect what seemed to be a clear trend toward the strengthening and fortification of human rights in Israel? To understand the effect of the tremendous pressures of the current, deteriorating crisis, one must first realize how most Israelis perceive both the terrorist attacks aimed at civilians in the center of Israeli towns, as well the military operation 泥efensive Shield that followed as a reaction in an attempt to dismantle the infrastructure of terror in the territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Terror attacks are perceived not as acts of despair, frustration or revenge but rather as a well-devised strategic weapon aimed at undermining Israeli society. Many see terror as threatening the very survival of the State of Israel. The military operation has therefore gained wide approval, often characterized as 鍍he battle for our homes, as soldiers actually fight to protect their children, wives and parents at a time when every school and kindergarten in the country must be guarded by armed security forces, and people are afraid to ride on a bus, go shopping and go to restaurants. Documents attesting to the deep involvement of senior figures in the Palestinian Authority in supporting and encouraging terrorist attacks have contributed to these widespread feelings.

These recent developments have put the HJC under tremendous pressure. On the one hand lies its long-standing commitment to the protection of human rights and the rule of law, even in times of grave emergency and war. On the other hand, no one can ignore the atmosphere of existential threats, and the deep- rooted conviction that the present military operation aimed at uprooting terror and dismantling its support structure is a legitimate, defensive must. Facing tough decisions, the HJC does its best to strike the correct balance between these conflicting forces.

The recent fighting in the Jenin refugee camp illustrates this tragic conflict. Fierce fighting erupted in this camp, known as the 田ity of suicide terrorists, a hard-core center of terrorist activity. Palestinian fighters, entrenched in the houses of the innocent civilian population throughout the camp, refused to surrender, and killed and injured many Israeli soldiers while other were in danger of being fired upon or of going 澱lind into alleys and houses that were booby-trapped with bombs. To put an end to the fighting, refugee houses from which there was shooting, as well as houses that blocked the Israeli military痴 access to battle areas, were demolished after their inhabitants were given a 60 to 90 minute warning that they should leave the premises. As a result, civilians unfortunately were killed or injured in the process, in addition to the property damage that was inflicted.

Should the HCJ order the army to stop or postpone the demolition of houses, as it has been asked to do in petitions filed by Palestinian human rights organizations? The HJC refused to issue such an order. Its reasoning was that in actual time of war it is simply impossible to exert effective judicial review over a military operation and to provide effective remedies while the fighting continues. Operational considerations may well justify the demolition of houses from which shots are fired at Israeli soldiers by those who refuse to surrender. The HCJ also refrained from intervening in the treatment and evacuation of injured Palestinians, given that on some occasions the ambulances of Palestinian medical services have been used to surreptitiously transfer weapons, ammunition, bombs, and fighters, and after it was assured that the Israeli military has been instructed to comply, and does comply, with humanitarian standards.

On the other hand the HCJ did issue an initial order prohibiting the Israeli army from burying the corpses of dead Palestinians from the Jenin camp, only to make a ruling two days later that would allow this after an agreement was reached that representatives of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent will participate in the burial. The HCJ also made it clear that the prohibition against using physical pressure in interrogations is valid in times of war as well, and that this should be enforced.

On another contentious issue, the Supreme Court has ruled that Palestinians are entitled in principle to tort compensation for damage suffered during the first Intifada, and that the state does not enjoy a blanket 殿ct of state immunity in this regard. Whether such immunity applies should be decided on the circumstances of each case.

Has the High Court of Justice succeeded in this difficult task of striking a proper balance between the protection of human rights and Israel痴 right to defend itself against existential threats? Many think it has failed. Palestinians and Israeli human rights organizations claim that the HCJ gave in to populist, militant public opinion, and did not find the courage to withstand the dangerous tendency toward legitimize the infringement of basic human rights. Right-wing criticism, on the other hand, accuses the HCJ of endangering the lives of Israeli soldiers and ruling against Israeli interests just for the sake of preserving its reputation abroad as a defender of human rights. A former Cabinet member has recently demanded that the Chief Justice be removed from office. In my view, the HCJ is doing the best that can be done under these very difficult circumstances. The detention and other measures that were put in place and others even more Draconian that were seriously proposed in the U.S. in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, indicate that few courts in other countries, if any, could have done better than this under similar conditions.

Israel Gilead is Dean and Bora Laskin Professor of the Faculty of Law, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

April 16, 2002

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What are your views on the issues raised by this JURIST column?

  • Tuesday April 16, 2002 at 6:29 pm
    Dean Gilead's defense of the Israeli High Court of Justice is generally well taken, and I wonder if the US Supreme Court would even do as well if it were in the same situation as the HCJ. However, I would hold both the Israeli HCJ and US Supreme Court to a higher moral standard than what is normally to be expected of judges in difficult situations. For example, how do we know that it is Palestinian terrorists who are firing at Israeli soldiers who are advancing menacingly toward Palestinian homes? If the Jews in Warsaw in 1942-43 had been armed with personal weapons, it is likely that vast numbers of them would have been saved from the Nazi Order Police if they had fired on individuals who tried to oust them from their homes. If ordinary Polish Jews--not "terrorists"--had fired from their homes upon advancing individual Nazi soldiers who shouted orders for all Jews to leave their homes and assemble peaceably in the town square, the vast and totally evil slaughter of Jews in Warsaw might have been checked. Shouldn't the same lesson be applied to Palestinian refugees who are trying to save the wretched homes that are all they own on earth? Is it impossible for the HCJ to contemplate that if the Israel soldiers meet with the degree of resistance they met in Jenin, they should back off instead of bulldozing ahead? Why does Dean Gilead assume that the Israeli soldiers have no choice but to plow ahead? Isn't that a false dichotomy that de-legitimizes his argument from the outset? Is there no balm in Gilead?

    Anthony D\'Amato
    Northwestern Unversity
    Illinois, USA

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 12:39 am
    Athony D'Amato's comparison of Israeli soldiers attacking sources of murderous bomb and gun attacks against Jewish civilians with Nazis attacking the Warsaw ghetto is obscene. The Nazis after coming to power in 1933 inculcated in their society a burning desire to kill Jews. So has the Palestine Authority since coming to power in 1993. The Nazis initiated systematic violence against Jews after 1934. So did the Palestine Authority after 1994. To paint the Palestine Authority and the supporters of its policy of terror as innocent victims is to turn reality on its head.

    Myer Rosen
    Ontario, Canada

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 6:11 am
    Anthony D'Amato asks: "Is it impossible for the HCJ to contemplate that if the Israel soldiers meet with the degree of resistance they met in Jenin, they should back off instead of bulldozing ahead?" In other words, Mr. D'Amato is advocating judicial review not only of the conduct of a military operation, but of the very existence of the operation -- and as a function of enemy resistance. Would Mr. D'Amato grant the U.S. Supreme Court veto power over American military operations? Should the U.S. court have the power to order American commanders to "back off" if they meet fierce Taliban resistance? Terrorists from Jenin to Kabul would be heartened to learn that by hiding behind civilians and offering strong resistance, a soft-hearted (and headed) judge somewhere will come to their rescue. A clearer example of the yawning gap between legal academia and the real world could hardly be imagined. Mordechai Haller, Adv. Jerusalem, Israel

    Mordechai Haller
    Jerusalem, Israel

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 6:24 pm
    Professor D'Amato's comparison between a Jewish hypothetical armed resistance to the Nazis and the methods currently used by Palestinian terrorists is unfortunate at best. The Israeli army --directed by the Cabinet-- felt a compelling need to enter the camps after Israel, as a sovereign society, could no longer turn the other cheek in the face of everyday homocide/suicide bombers. If the distinguish professor would recall the writings he once so loved to teach (Hobbes, Locke and other Social-Contract essayists) he will surely remember that the government has not only the right, but in fact a primal duty to defend and protect its citizens from such acts of Terror. Had the professor would not been able to walk the streets of Chicago, or send his kids to play ball in the park for the fear of (yet anohter) bomb, he, too, would understand the clear and present danger --both legally and morally--that sent the IDF into Genin. For these reasons, no supreme court on earth (as one Israeli Supreme Court Justice recently observed)would have intervened in the very actions now taken by the IDF. With that, as Dean Gilad rightly stated, the Israeli Supreme Court and its CJ are doing above and beyond their line of duty, in particular due to the extreme, unique and unfortunate circumstances in which they are required to operate.

    Doron Kalir
    New York, NY

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 7:03 pm
    The respondents are to wordy. I have to ask of the people of all World, what Israel have to do if every day there are the homicide bombers killing innocent people? Surrender to terrorists? It is simple as 2x2=4

    Vladimir Shneyer
    N/A
    USA

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 7:17 pm
    The responses to D'Amato's observations are entirely predictable. Instead of grasping D'Amato's point, the defenders of Israel have repeated the age-old rationalizations for war-crimes. The atrocities in Jenin are not legitimate defense against the very real threat of terror, they are war-crimes. And as the details of these atrocities emerge in the press, despite the IDF keeping reporters out, international opinion of Israel and Sharon in particular will sink to a new low. It will sink so low that _this_ time, when people call for Sharon to be tried in the Hague, Sharon will have nowhere to hide.

    matthew johnson
    CA/US

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 7:57 pm
    Let me start by stating that I think it is clear propaganda and an insult to Jews everywhere when Palestinians and Arabs attempt to subvert the Nazi/Holocaust metaphors with Israel as the Nazis. In response to Mr. D'Amato, I feel there is a clear difference between the Nazis whose goal was the elimination of ALL Jews in Warsaw and the Israelis who simply want to stop being attacked. It is a known fact that terrorist networks operated in Jenin. It is a known fact that these networks were responsible for attacks on Israelis. Negotiations had not stopped the attacks - ceasefires were either not adhered to or ultimately violated. From a national defense perspective, it was necessary to go into Jenin and uproot these networks. If demolishing a house is what was required, regrettable as it was, how could the HCJ stand in the way? Furthermore, fundamentally the concept that individuals can individually take up arms against perceived (or actual) unfair/illegal activities by the government does not have a role in democratic societies (of which Israel is and the PA is not). To claim otherwise is to provide legal justification for any militia or individual who disagrees with the government. If the police come to arrest me for a crime, do I have the right to shoot them, even if I am innocent? Mr. D'Amato forgets the role of the courts in resolving disputes with the state when he advocates the use of force in protecting one's home.

    Tim Evans
    Toronto, Canada

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 8:33 pm
    It is refreshing to see that a debate exists in Israel with respect to the level of "activism" that should be employed by the HCJ in restraining the IDF's operations. I challenge any reader to present a comparable debate on the Palestinian side. Does the Palestinian Supreme Court consider the legality of State Sponsored suicide bombings, or, for that matter, extending tort rights to Israelis killed or maimed by Palestinian suicide bombers? Or is there even such a thing as a Palestinian Supreme Court?

    Ilan Heimanson
    Los Angeles, CA

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 9:43 pm
    There's no Palestinian Supreme Court, State, Army, or, at the moment, safety, and thus no comparable debate. The comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany are valid to the extent that each employs/ed a methodical system of wresting property, opportunity, and basic rights from those it oppresses. This has been a practice in Zionism before the beginning of the State. That Israel has colonized Palestinian land in larger and larger amounts increases the the stupidity of comparing Israel's "defense" with Palestine's legitimate fight for freedom. Israel's war is not one of national security, it is a colonial war. The civillians in "settlements" in Palestine constitute an occuppying force, and the legal and just way for Israel to defend them is to remove them from the foreign country they illegally inhabit. Israel has the responsibility to protect its citizen's human rights, and sending them unarmed or armed into another country for the purpose of settlement simply shows it's willingness to violate its own laws. This is the atrocity of the crisis, and if any special circumstances are to give any state body enlarged powers, Israel's Supreme Court has the reponsibility to take increased measures to curb the terrorism (against Jews and Palestinian Arabs) practiced by the state. The "very existence of the military operation" is at the core of the human rights violations, and should be under judicial review. If the debate remains only about "the conduct," then war will always violate human rights, and we have no issue. The conduct of Palestinians and Israeli's killing each other should be reviewed, but these are symptoms of the real problem. Israel was founded on Palestinian land, created from life, property, land, and opportunity taken by force from Palestinians, and enlarged through 17th century-style colonial occupation. In response to the math whiz, "what Israel have to do if every day there are the homicide bombers killing innocent people," is drag the homicide bombers and the "innocent" colonials they defend out of Palestine. If it takes a court order to do it, so be it.

    Daniel Vilato
    DPR Partnership
    NJ/US

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 9:55 pm
    Quick response to Tim Evans: If the Detroit Police come to arrest you in Toronto, with no approval from Canadian authorities, yes, you (innocent or not)have a right to shoot them, especially if they're riding in tanks, followed by an armored bulldozer. Depending on Canadian law, you might even have a responsibility to do so. The UN tried to pass a resolution which upheld the rights of the native people of a colonized area to resist and defend themselves, by any necessary means. The US used its security council veto to block the resolution.

    Daniel Vilato
    DPR Partnership
    NJ/US

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 9:58 pm
    How sad that all the Israeli supporters can talk about the atrocities of the Nazi's and the suicide bombers but do not seem to care about the atrocities committed by the Israeli government and the militant settlers against an occupied and impoverished population. Rewind back to Oslo. For six years after Oslo, there were more Israeli settlements, less freedom of movement, and worse economic conditions for the Palestinians. Rewind to September 2000 when the Israeli army slaughtered unarmed Israeli Arab citizens for protesting Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. Rewind back to November and December 2000 when the Israeli military murdered rock-throwing protesters. After Sharon came into power, they conducted extra-judicial killings of Palestinians including women and children. In the March 20, 2002 issue of the Washington post the article titled "Another Arab Population Grows Angry at Israel" describes how the Israeli government poisoned 3,000 acres of wheat planted by Israeli Bedouins because it was planted "without authorization" on the Bedouin's land stolen by the Israelis. What cave have you and the HCJ been hiding in all these years? So give us a break from your racist ranting. The atrocities committed by the suicide bombers can never be justified. But neither can your support and justification for the actions of a racist and colonialist regime. If you want to display your morality, why don't you ask the HCJ to grant the same rights to Israeli Arabs and Bedouins as are enjoyed by Israeli Jews? I believe it was Martin L. King who said, "Those of us who have been victims of racism and hatred do not have a God given right to practice it."

    Ben Goodman
    San Francisco

  • Wednesday April 17, 2002 at 11:44 pm
    Perhaps the legal issues would stand out more clearly if people could temporarily set aside their views on who is right in the overall dispute. To simplify things further, we can try to imagine that the Palestinians had a state (this simplification may need to be given up). The question then is this: Country A has a significant grievance against its neighbor, country B. B is more powerful militarily than A, but A hits upon a strategy to hurt B--i.e., suicide/homicide bombing of innocent civilians. A's leaders do nothing about the bombing--they even express support and encouragement ("Let me be such a martyr!") and they create a culture atmosphere that celebrates such bombing. Soon evidence emerges that A's leadership is deeply involved in funding and facilitating the bombing. B believes that the grievance is invalid or that it needs to be resolved in another way (negotiations). But B will not simply give in to A. QUESTION: What is the right thing for B to do? I suspect that looking at legal codes will not answer this question--they do not envision these circumstances. It requires moral reasoning. We also can try to factor in this fact: A has distributed its terror operations in civilian centers. All in all it seems to me that B has no choice but to go on the offensive.

    Jerry Samet
    Brandeis University/Philosophy
    Massachusetts,/USA

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 12:38 am
    The whole family of my grandfather was killed by Nazis in the fall of 1941 in Kharkov, Ukraine. The youngest was 3 months old. They were killed not during battles, not as a "collateral damage", but in a clean and well planned operation. Their body fat and hair was collected for industrial purposes, etc. It is sad to see people who are not able to see obvious difference between Israel's conduct and Nazi atrocities. I believe that people loose their humanity when they start using lightly such an emotionally charged words in a wrong context. In the same token, how can one deny deep historical bond of Jews to West Bank? Open the bible, Hebron, Beitlehem, etc. are Hebrew names - for thousand of years. Don't you think that the term "colonization" does not adequately describe the situation here? This is not to say that I am against creation of Palestinian State on these territories - I, as a vast majority of Israelis, am ready for it in exchange for real PEACE. However, Israel can not allow creation of another Iraq or Iran on its doorsteps. Not only Israel, but also Palestinians (and Mr. Goodman as well) do not have a God given right to practice racism and hatred.

    Also A Goodman
    Jerusalem

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 12:59 am
    Colonization accurately describe the situation from the British Mandate onward. Palestine, even under Ottoman rule, was a place were Semitic people practiced Judaism, Islam, and even Christianity. The 10% Jewish population around 1920 did not constitute a colonial occupation - they had lived peaceably with Arab Semites. The agreement between a colonial European nation and a European Zionist corporation was the starting point of the colonial occupation. The influx of Europeans and the prohibition of Arab labor and land purchase were the means, enforced by the British military. That the Jewish 10% of native Palestinians were spared the cost of this colonization does not mitigate its simple injustice. Likewise, the injustice suffered by European Jews in Europe does not mitigate the injustice in the occupation of Palestine. The places Goodman mentions are Jewish places, but they are also Muslim and Christian places. Taking them by force from people living there peacefully is only slightly removed from taking European cities and neighborhoods from peaceful European Jews. Somewhere in all this, anti-Semitism stopped being applicable to all Semites. That's were the racism and hatred in the Middle East really began: at the hands of Weisman and Balfour, tearing through the League of Nations' Covenant.

    Paul
    Starbuck\'s
    WA/US

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 1:23 am
    The humiliation of palestinians must cease and all acts of terrorism must be equally condemned for peace and justice to triumph in the Middle East, including the killing of innocent palestinians and the destruction of their homes and towns by the israeli army.

    F. Martin
    Spain

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 1:29 am
    Paul, do I understand correctly that your point has nothing to do with details of Israel's conduct and that you believe Israel does not have the right to exist in the first place? That Arafat who was born in Cairo has stronger claim to this land than Sharon who was born and lived his whole life in Israel? P.S. Let me also, please, remind you that Nazis not just occupied european cities (occupation as a result of war is not in itself illegal and generally is not an atrocity). There is a big difference between occupation and well planned genocide, which it seems to me you guys are trying to sweep under the rug when insisting on equating Israel with Nazi Germany.

    Also A Goodman
    Jerusalem

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 7:35 am
    I've given some comments. It seems that my comments were intentionally deleted due to my criticism of Jews. I feel that this site is not promoting any healthy discussion and is basically a one-sided affair in which whatever the shortcomings of Israel, is strictly prohibited to be discussed.

    Heizel Idi Nadzan
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 11:39 am
    It is laughable to claim that the HCJ is independent. They are appointed by the state and as such often show bias in favour of Israel. For example, In Jenin they did nothing to prevent the IDF stoping ambulances reaching the ill, dying and dead - a crime under the Geneva Convention. Neither have they done anything to stop Israel torturing prisoners - indeed, they have encouraged it.

    Andi Ali
    England

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 2:17 pm
    To: Also A Goodman - To brand those of us who speak out against the actions of the ISRAELI GOVERNMENT as racists is a trick that we no longer accept or fear. We're not anti-Semites or "self-hating" Jews, or terrorists! Indeed we are the promoters of PEACE. We wish PEACE for both Israel and Palestine. So if you wish for PEACE, then visit the refugee camps of the West Bank and see for yourself what COLONIZATION is doing to the Palestinians. Ask your GOVERNMENT and the HCJ why why the Jenin Camp isoff-limits to journalists and the International Humanitarian agencies. Ask why 250,000 Palestinians in Hebron must live under a 23 hours per day curfew so that 500 Israeli COLONIZERS can move about freely? Ask why Israeli COLONIZERS must get 80% of the water to feed their swimming pools and their lush green lawns and why Palestinians should live with the other 20% which is polluted by the Israeli COLONIZERS? And, finally ask why the Israeli GOVERNMENT supported the South African White Apartheid regime while the rest of the world was supporting the ANC and Nelson Mandela? Finally, as an American, why should I support your RACIST and HATEFUL GOVERNMENT with my hard-earned dollars? So get off of your butt and do something about promoting PEACE and JUSTICE instead of defending your GOVERNMENT's unjust policies! I'll make you a deal - go visit the Bedouins whose crops were poisoned. If you're unmoved by their plight, you'll never hear from me again. If however, you think that they have been wronged, let's work together to correct their situation and to promote a fair and peaceful existence of all the people in the region. My e-mail id is below.

    Ben Goodman
    San Francisco
    CA

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 3:00 pm
    On evidence of Israel's contempt for the Geneva Convention, see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,685594,00.html On the hypocrisy of exempting the Israeli military's violence against Palestinian civilians from the definition of terrorism and Israel's repeated violation of existing UN resolutions, see international law professor Richard Falk's "Ending the Death Dance": http://www.thenation.com/docPrint.mhtml?i=20020429&s=falk

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 3:11 pm
    To Daniel Vilato: Those are mighty fine words for someone sitting on Lenape land. Perhaps your gaze should be directed inward. If a Lenape "activist" blew himself up in the midst of your favorite Starbucks, would you still sign on to the UN resolution calling for: ". . . upholding the rights of the native people of a colonized area to resist and defend themselves, by any necessary means." ?

    Ilan Heimanson
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 4:55 pm
    Israeli military occupation into West Bank and Gaza violate international human rights law particularly Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions, 1977, PART IV: CIVILIAN POPULATION, Section 1: General Protection Against Effects of Hostilities, Chapter 2, Article 50.3: "The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character." Articel 51.5.b: "Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate ... "An attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated." Article 54.2: "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive."

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 6:15 pm
    Military occupation is illegal under the United Nations (UN) charter. The whole purpose of the founding of the United Nations was to prevent colonial wars, military occupation and the violation of the territorial integrity of nation states, which were the causes of World War II. The UN was founded to prevent another world war. The UN Charter states in Chapter 1: Purposes and Principles, Article 1.1: "To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace." Article 2.4: "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." Chapter VII: ACTION WITH RESPECT TO THREATS TO THE PEACE, BREACHES OF THE PEACE, AND ACTS OF AGGRESSION, Articles 39-51 discuss the protocol for the Security Coucil and UN Members for dealing with acts of aggression that violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a nation. No where in the UN Charter does it say that permanent military occupation of a state or terrirory is legal even if it is the party that is acting in self-defense from aggression.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday April 18, 2002 at 7:25 pm
    Ilan: Yes, I'd still support a resolution upholding the rights of indigenous people to defend themselves. The genocide in the Americas is no more excuseable than the Holocaust, but the fact that there are no more Lenape, Delaware, Susquahanna, Ohlone left to "defend" only proves my point. Colonization in the "New World" violated human rights before such rights had been acknowledged by most of the world. The failed resolution was to acknowledge the right of those still rising up against colonial powers, such as Africans rising up against European empires. If the international community had acknowledged the rights of the indigenous Americans, the Lenape might still be around, and we wouldn't have all those cursed Starbuck's. The colonization in America was as lawless as the one in Palestine (so, yes, the resolution would have hit very close to home), but the US (and Europe) has stopped colonizing (though the forced rise of global capitalism undermines any sense of righteousness about the whole thing) and should make reparations to survivors. Israel, on the other hand, continues its colonial occupation and cruelty against an ongoing uprising (ongoing, not cafe bombs 300+ years after the fact). The Geneva Convention, Amnesty International, the UN, and the League of Nations (with a big dash of hypocrisy) have all acknowledged the illegality and immorality of colonialism, but Israel is the only country funded by the US to continue this destruction. Yes, the Jews have a right to settle in Palestine, and should have a right to stay there, but the rights of Jews are not the rights of Israel or its army, and neither group has the right to violently implant a settlement and then call it "peaceful". Suicide bombs are not a just way to stop this injustice, but they are the only support given to the legitimate freedom fighters. Nor are the Israel's destruction of homes a just way to stop suicide bombers, but Israelis truly have more options (withdraw, make reparations, focus military action on the few who aren't really fighting for human rights, accept a little responsibility, allow repatriation, etc.). As Miranda points out, the militants within Palestine (and Israel) do not erase the prohibitions which are to protect civillians from such terror. Israel not only bears responsibility for the destruction of Palestinian lives and homes, but the responsibility of making an occupying force of its "settlers" and thus jeopardizing their protections as "civillians". The mandatory enlistment of its youth in the military which "develops" these illegal settlements also seems quite irresponsible. We can't stop the English of the seventeenth century from burning villages, but stopping 21st century Israelis from bulldozing homes is possible. Until the international community prevents the continuing Israeli colonization of Palestine, Palestinians are left with only the most violent groups defending them. The resistance of the Lenape is over because nobody intervened and the Lenape were wiped out, in part by people who, like the Jews, fled real injustice. The Palestinian resistance will last until their rights are secure or until they are wiped out. We can choose which comes first, and for how long the atrocities of colonialism will be repeated.

    D V
    NJ/US

  • Friday April 19, 2002 at 1:54 pm
    For a compassionate and humanitarian perspective on what it takes to the make the peace in the Middle East (i.e, compromises needed by both the Israelis and Palestinians), please see Tony Judt's "The Road to No Where" in the New York Review of Books: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/15340

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Saturday April 20, 2002 at 6:29 am
    As everybody knows, the Security Council unanimously adopted a U.S. resolution welcoming the dispatch of a UN team to find out what happened in Jenin during the Israel Defense Forces sustained attacks. The real question is why did the HCJ not order an enquiry? Twice they were informed a massacure had taken place and twice they rejected calls to investigate. Why?

    Andi Ali
    England

  • Saturday April 20, 2002 at 12:43 pm
    Jenin story is a good example of people eager to twist facts to feed their ideology. The camp indeed was off-limits and in my view should be off-limits even today. Since it was opened, several people were wounded after stepping on the booby traps (http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/international/international-mideast-camp.html). Isn't it conceivable that camp was closed for the simple reason that it is heavily booby trapped? Ben Goodman et al ignoring this obvious alternative to their theories is in my view a good evidence of ideology-induced blindness. I am not saying that no abuses took place - I was not there. But I am sure that those of us who are interested in the TRUTH for the sake of all of us, will know the facts pretty soon. And I am interested in Israeli army not doing anything immoral not less than Yassir Arafat is. My understanding is that 23 Israeli soldiers were killed in Jenin, and that so far 48 bodies of Palestinians have been recovered - 45 in fatuges and 2 with explosive belts (and that there were women among combatants). Israel did accept UN fact finding mission, and I am sure is going to cooperate fully with it. Israel is a transparent democratic society and our government can not afford to lie (while, btw, Palestinians/Arab world governments and media and their routinely make Goebbels-scope accusations against not only Israel, but also Jews in general, whithout suffering any consequences to their credibility and for some reason voices of conscience like above never utter a single word about it).

    Also A Goodman
    Jerusalem

  • Sunday April 21, 2002 at 5:39 am
    Is Israel a democracy? I understand they are refusing 250,000 Palestinians the right of return. In doing so they are refusing them the right to vote. I cannot speak for anybody else, but when you deny people the right to vote you do not have a democracy.

    Andi Ali
    England

  • Sunday April 21, 2002 at 8:17 am
    Israel would like to portray Yasser Arafat as a terrorist. The truth however is quite different. A terrorist is somebody who inflicts terror because they are attacking democracy. Bin Ladern, Saddam and Hitler all fall under this category Arafat does not. For over 30 years Arafat has fought against Israeli tyranny and oppression. He has fought against those who have used terrorist methods to enforce their will on his people - often murdering them in their thousands, (See Sabra and Jenin.) For this stance Arafat was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. However, we in the west must take this one step further. Those of us who are Christians like myself must petition the church and campaign to have Arafat made a Saint. After all, we have made Saints of others who have stood against tyranny and oppression - such as Joan of Ark.. Saint Yasser of Palestine ィC let the campaign begin

    Andi Ali
    England

  • Sunday April 21, 2002 at 12:19 pm
    I think Dean Gilead's article raises the larger issue of how the Israeli HCJ can protect civil liberties in a nation that (1) has existed in a constant state of military emergency since 1948, (2) has no written constitution, and (3) has a bill of rights that can be trumped by legislative fiat. The U.S. experience has shown that the courts will defer to the executive on matters of military necessity, even where human rights are violated. Hence, I question--even with the HCJ's activism--whether Israel can achieve the full flowering of her democratic potential while perpetually existing in various levels of warfare.

    John Snethen
    Indiana, USA

  • Tuesday April 23, 2002 at 5:25 pm
    Israel withdrew its agreement to allow UN fact finding mission of the Jenin refugee camp. Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer claim that the members of the UN team are biased against Israel. See Reuters article: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=586
    &ncid=721&e=1&u=/nm/20020423/wl_nm/mideast_dc_1714 Sounds to me like they fear that many civilians will be dug out of the rubble of the collapsed buildings.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday April 25, 2002 at 7:36 am
    Me too. This is why the IDF are refusing to send heavy digging equpiment to Jenin - despite reports people may be burried alive. Sick isn't it?

    Andi Ali
    University of Central Lancashire
    England

  • Tuesday May 14, 2002 at 4:15 pm
    Everyone seems to ignore the proud announcements of the Jenin terrorists of how sucessfully they boobie trapped buildings and people in Jenin. Additionally, the United Nations is complicit in maintaining and funding the terrorist infrastructure that was in Jenin refugee camp. Read the Geneva conventions again.....Israel is the "occupying power" in Judea and Samaria as the result of defensive war. Jordan and Egypt, who had ILLEGALLY occupied this territory since 1948, refused to accept return of these territories. Israel , according to 242, holds these territories until secure and recognized boundries will be NEGOTIATED. The Arabs seem to feel terrorist violence are a legitimate means of "negotiating". The Arabs goal is to coerce Israel to unilaterally withdraw, BEFORE negotiating what they consider peace.

    Cindy Charleston
    USA

  • Thursday May 16, 2002 at 7:35 am
    People like Cindy Charleston are more to be laughed at than pitied. Cindy conveniently ignores the fact that Israel has not only been occupying Palestinian land for over 30 years but using terrorism to maintain this illegal occupation. For example, planning bombs outside schools, firing missiles into civilian populations - both of which constitute a war crime. The idea that Palestinians are terrorists because they are resisting this occupation is a non-sense. To describe the Palestinians as terrorists is to say that those who fought against Hitler are also terrorists because they stood again occupation and terrorism to.

    Andi Ali
    England

  • Wednesday May 22, 2002 at 6:32 pm
    A defensive war still does not justify nor make legal territorial occupation under the UN charter. In fact, Israel grabbed far more land than it was alloted in the original UN partition resolution in 1947. All of the present Arab states in the Middle East were arbitrarily created by Britain after World War I to break up the Ottoman Empire just as Israel was arbitrarily and unilaterally created by the UN because of European guilt over their role in the holocaust, which Palestinians were made to pay with their homeland.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday July 04, 2002 at 8:30 am
    There is so much BS here that it is difficult to know where to begin.

    Contrary to Mr. Miranda's propaganda, Israel didn't "grab" land in 1948, it was attacked by numerous Arab armies bent on its destruction. Nor was it created due to European sympathy after the Holocaust. The establishment of a Jewish state dates back to 1917. It's possible that WW II delayed this.

    Mr. Ali contends that Israel isn't a democracy on the flimsy basis that it denies some people the purported "right of return" and thus precludes them from voting. By that standard, the US isn't a democracy, either. British Loyalists who fled to Canada during the American revolution were not allowed to "return" after the war and their descendents who live in Canada are still "denied" the vote. Oddly, according to a Palestinian Arab survey/research center, the Arabs of the territories rate Israeli democracy higher than that of the US and France.

    Let me skip back to two points regarding the "massacre" in Jenin. It is especially odd in a legal forum to see people advocating that Israel is guilty of a massacre unless it is proven innocent (as if one can prove that something didn't happen). Nor is it true that we can't know what happened because the UN didn't field a fact-finding mission. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch conducted extensive investigations which failed to yield any evidence of a massacre. Some have pointed out that the UN canceled its mission precisely because it would have vindicated Israel.

    The second point that becomes clear regarding Jenin is that this was not a case of "civilians" who were "defending" their homes from the IDF. To the contrary, according to an interview with a terrorist in an Egyptian paper, "collaborators" (i.e. civilians who didn't want their homes blown up by the 1000-2000 bombs scattered in their own homes by the terrorists) cooperated with the Israeli army to defuse these bombs.

    Lastly, the charge that Israel refused to send rescue teams when people might have been burried alive is also false. It should be noted that the Israeli bulldozers required about half-an-hour to bring down a building, affording plenty of time for anyone inside to vacate if they opted not to do so when warned prior to the start of demolition. If anyone was burried alive (or killed) it was likely by the bombs of the terrorists (some as large as 250 lbs). In any event, Israel sent its highly respected rescue teams into the area (same teams that have been dispatched to earthquakes and terrorist bombings in Africa).

    Recommended reading on Jenin:

    http://web1.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2002/582/6inv2.htm
    http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/
    meast/04/22/jenin.fighter/index.html
    http://www.time.com/time/2002/jenin/story.html
    http://www.cnn.com/interactive/world/
    0204/jenin.destruction/frameset.exclude.html
    http://www.metatronics.net/jenin.jpg
    http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0ll60
    http://slate.msn.com/?id=2065250
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/
    Public/Articles/000/000/001/194lzmsh.asp
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/
    A24668-2002May2.html


    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

  • Monday July 15, 2002 at 2:00 pm
    Israel was indeed attacked in 1948 by its Arab neighbors. Palestinians did reject the creation of the state of Israel. However, the orginial land granted to Israel in the 1947 UN resolution was less than half of the size of present day Israel. A defensive war still does not justify territorial occupation nor expansion under the UN Charter, not in 1948, not in 1967 nor in 2002. Theodor Herzl and the Zionist movement had been attemtping to create the state of Israel since 1917 and promoted Jewish immigration to the holy land. However, the state of Israel was not founded nor recognized until after UN sponsorship in 1948 when the British turned over the Palestinian mandate to the UN. The British did not recognize the state of Israel back in 1917 while the Palestinian mandate was under its jurisdiction. We will not know what the facts were in Jenin because Israel refused an investigation. Everyhting is speculation and hearsay. Obviously you cannot prove guilt nor vindicate innocence if no investigate or legal process occurs. Another possible explanation of why the investigation did not happen is that Israel and the US brokered a deal so that it would not happen given similar geopolitical goals and interests.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Tuesday July 16, 2002 at 12:16 pm
    Amnesty International: "There is credible evidence of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by Israeli forces in Jenin. To allow that to pass uninvestigated is an insult to the victims who deserve justice. There must be an inquiry not only in Jenin, but also in Nablus and Hebron. By the same token the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian armed groups must be determined. Deliberately targeting Israeli civilians violates the fundamental right to life. Those responsible for the suicide bombings, including those who assisted these heinous acts must be held to account and brought to justice." Source: http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/pages/iot_home Human Rights Watch: In its forty-eight page report, "Israel, the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority Territories: Jenin: IDF Military Operations," Human Rights Watch identified fifty-two Palestinians who were killed during the operation, of whom twenty-two were civilians. Many of the civilians were killed willfully or unlawfully. Human Rights Watch also found that the IDF used Palestinian civilians as "human shields" and used indiscriminate and excessive force during the operation. "The abuses we documented in Jenin are extremely serious, and in some cases appear to be war crimes," said Peter Bouckaert, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and a member of the investigative team. "Criminal investigations are needed to ascertain individual responsibility for the most serious violations. Such investigations are first and foremost the duty of the Israeli government, but the international community needs to ensure that meaningful accountability occurs." Source: http://hrw.org/press/2002/05/jenin0503.htm

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday July 18, 2002 at 2:33 am
    If I'm not mistaken, AI & HRW's information is based on interviews with some of the very same people who lied about the "massacre" in the first place.

    http://www.time.com/time/2002/jenin/story.html

    A senior Palestinian military officer tells Time it was probably the gunmen's own booby traps that buried some civilians and fighters alive.

    More Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting than Arab non-combatants. Surely the claims of a massacre, 3000 (later only 500) executed (which was what the UN was to investigate) were ugly fabrications and a call to investigate this a fishing expedition. When it became clear that there was no massacre, the investigation evaporated.

    Israeli journalist Ze'ev Schiff recently wrote the following:

    http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=187479&contrassID=2& subContrassID=5&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

    Toward the end of the fighting, the army sent three large refrigerator trucks into the city. Reservists decided to sleep in them for their air conditioning. Some Palestinians saw dozens of covered bodies lying in the trucks and rumors spread the Jews had filled trucks full of Palestinian bodies.

    Some Palestinians went to the Civil Administration to ask. When it turned out the rumors of executions were baseless, the myth of the Jenin massacre evaporated on its own. But Palestinian Minister Saeb Erekat continued lying, though he lowered the number of dead from three thousand to five hundred. At the same time the Arab and European media began writing about a massacre. Some described monstrous Israeli war crimes that Israel was trying to cover up for two weeks. Others compared Israel to the Qaeda and Taliban. None has since retracted the mendacious claims nor tried to find out how they were misled.

    Many of these details came out during a conference held by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies on Israel's media strategies, with the Jenin episode used as an example. Lt. Col. Fuad Halhal of Shfaram told the most fascinating story, about serving as the Civil Administration officer in Jenin. Previously he had been in Tul Karm and Hebron. He illustrated his talk with photographs, including meetings with International Red Cross and Red Crescent representatives, who were surprised to see the pictures after they claimed the meetings never took place.

    After 13 soldiers were killed in Jenin, there was indeed a tendency on the part of some soldiers to be quick on the trigger. Nonetheless, even during the combat and explosions there were efforts made to assist the civilian population, including supplying food, oxygen canisters and an Israeli generator to the Palestinian hospital, the transfer of 83 patients from that hospital to Israeli hospitals, sending technicians from the Jerusalem Electric Company to fix damaged lines in Jenin, repairs to the drinking water pipes, and repairs to a well that ceased to function. This was all documented, and sometimes photographed by Lt. Col. Halhal.

    Of course, some will continue to propogate the myths because they rather stick their heads in the sand and claim that despite all the facts that have come to light, we don't know that Israel isn't guilty and thus it has not been cleared, as if it is guilty until proven innocent.

    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor
    MI

  • Thursday July 18, 2002 at 12:43 pm
    Mr. Kopelman, do you deny that the IDF attacks terrorists who are hiding among civilian populations and that civilians get caught in the crossfire? Do you deny that IDF destroyed the infrastructure of Palestinian cities? Under the Geneva Conventions, the fact that terrorists are hiding among civilian populations does not deprive the civilian population of its civilian character. Attacking terrorists while knowing that there is a high probability that incidental loss of civilian life will occur is considered an indiscriminate attack on the civilian populations, which is a war crime. Destroying civilian infrastructure to make survival more difficult or cause people to flee as refugees are also war crimes under the Geneva Conventions. First you were quoting that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch exonerated Israel completely. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that there was no massive massacre, but there were war crimes and human rights violations. Now you are claiming that the eyewitnesses they interviewed lied. Western legal systems routinely use eyewitness accounts as testimonial evidence, which is presumed to be true until proven otherwise. It sounds like you are so self-righteous that anything you believe is a fact and anything you disagree with is a myth, which is not very objective or open-minded. Israel could have laid all of the accusations to rest had it allowed the UN mission to investigate if nothing really happened. Israel had something to hide and that's why they fought tooth and nail not to let it happen.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday July 18, 2002 at 1:45 pm
    Under the rules of war in international law, soldiers are legitimate military targets; civilians are not as they are noncombatants. Mr. Kopelman distorts the actual Time article, "The Battle of Jenin," by Matt Rees. Here is a quote from the article: "A Time investigation concludes that there was no wanton massacre in Jenin, no deliberate slaughter of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. But the 12 days of fighting took a severe toll on the camp. According to the U.N., 54 Palestinians are confirmed dead. An additional 49 are missing; it is unclear how many of them perished in the fighting and how many either fled or were captured by Israeli troops. In the final count, there may well be fewer dead in Jenin than the 78 killed in Nablus Casbah in a battle that took place at the same time. But it is Jenin that has attracted worldwide attention because of the widespread destruction of property and because some of those who died during the fighting were mere spectators. Human Rights Watch, which in a published report last week also concluded that no massacre took place, nonetheless documented 22 civilian deaths and said the Israelis used excessive and indiscriminate force during the operation. Time found that as Israeli soldiers moved from house to house, they sometimes compelled Palestinian civilians to take the dangerous job of leading the approach to the buildings. On the other hand, a senior Palestinian military officer has admitted to Time that some of those who died were killed by rubble from the exploding booby traps with which Palestinian fighters had honeycombed the camp." Notice that the article said that it is unclear how many of the 54 dead and 49 missing were killed in the fighting, fled or were captured by Israeli troops. The article also states that some who died were mere spectators. Rees also cites Human Rights Watch that the Israelis used excessive and indiscriminate force. The senior Palestinian military official admitted that SOME NOT ALL of the Palestinian civilians were killed by the booby traps. Using civilians as human shields are a violation of international law and the rules of war in which militaries are not supposed to involve or target civilian populations in hostilities.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday July 18, 2002 at 11:47 pm
    Mr. Miranda once again pushes the red herring that the inadvertant death of a small number of civilians is a war crime. Surely this "standard" has not been applied anywhere else in the world. Otherwise the UN would certainly be investigating Arafat's role in Palestinian Arab terrorism, attacks that have targetted the civilian population of Israel.

    Where was Mr. Miranda and the UN when Assad the elder murdered 20,000 to 60,000 civilians in Hama?

    Yet 20 deaths in Jenin, in a pitched battle and with the possibility that many of these civilians were killed by terrorist bombs and not Israeli fire is a war crime? Had Mr. Miranda referenced the sources I provided on July 4th, he may have also learned that much of the destruction was caused by terrorist bombs. Between 1000-2000 of them, some as large as 250 pounds. As Time noted, these could bring down a building instantly, killing those inside -- unlike the Israeli bulldozers that would require about half an hour to do the same, allowing anyone who refused to leave prior to demolition plenty of time to exit safely.

    I have also already provided links to aerial photos which properly frame the limited extent of the destruction, contrary to Mr. Miranda's claims.

    Mr. Miranda also seems to be confused by an article of the Geneva Conventions he himself previously quoted. First he neglects that it was the terrorist fighters who were hiding behind the civilian population (against the wishes of a significant percentage of that population, which is why many of the civilians of Jenin "collaborated" with the IDF and helped disable bombs in their homes by pointing them out to Israeli sappers).

    Nor do the conventions forbid a military from entering a civilian area in pursuit of illegal combatants (or in open warfare). What the conventions do stipulate is that there cannot be "incidental loss of civilian life... excessive in relation to the... military" objective. [Article 51-5b of the Protocols Additional.]

    One can only wonder what motivates Mr. Miranda to turn both the facts and international law on their head.

    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor
    MI

  • Friday July 19, 2002 at 11:49 am
    I believe Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are experts on international law, human rights and war crimes and they seem to be agreeing with me that Israel has engaged in war crimes during its military incursions into the West Bank. Yes, Mr. Kopelman the politics of power dictate that the defeated and the weak such as the Nazis, Japanese, the Milosevics and the Rwandans of the world get tried for war crimes while the victors of war and those who have U.S.-backing such as the Sukarno's, the Pol Pots, the Pinochets, the Somozas, the Shahs of Iran, etc. escape prosecution for war crimes/crimes against humanity (of course, during the cold war the Stalins and the Maos also escaped prosecution because they were powerful). Do you remember Sharon痴 track record in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon back in the early 80s whose main witness against him in the Belgium war crimes proceedings mysteriously was assassinated not to long ago? I condemn Palestinian terrorism, Al-Qaeda terrorism, Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan terrorism as well as U.S. or Israeli terrorism. According to figures provided by Reuters (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=574&ncid=721&e=1&u=/
    nm/20020719/wl_nm/mideast_dc_3013) 1,447 Palestinians have died compared to 559 Israelis since the Second Intifada began預lmost a three to one ratio. Israel routinely uses excessive and indiscriminate force in using tanks, jets and helicopters to attack a people who don稚 even have a conventional military force, killing civilian Palestinians and destroying the infrastructure of Palestinian cities not just in the Jenin refugee camp, rather throughout the West Bank and Gaza. This seems excessive to the military advantage gained. I would not be so sure that the Palestinian terrorists don't have popular support among the desperate and humiliated Palestinian civilian population. That's why they can continually recruit suicide bombers. A democracy that respects human rights and due process does not engage in presuming people痴 guilt and undertaking pre-emptive assassinations without attempting to arrest and put people on trial. Would you say that firing a missile at the car of a suspected terrorist is attempting to arrest that person? How is firing missiles, tanks and helicopter gunships at buildings or people on the streets in residential cities not an indiscriminate attack on civilians? I am for ending the illegal occupation, a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, for a single standard for human rights and equal enforcement of international law regardless of the country or perpetrator. Your argument that no one should stand trial because they are only responsible for murdering 20 innocent people is like saying a common criminal should not stand trial if he only kills one person. I guess I value human life more than you do.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Friday July 19, 2002 at 12:14 pm
    By the way, there is no such thing as an illegal combatant in international law. That is a fiction of the Bush Administration to hold Al-Qaeda fighters indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to skirt international law on treatment of prisoners of war.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Friday July 19, 2002 at 1:35 pm
    No, Mr. Miranda, you do not value human life more than I do. You simply are selective about when and which lives you choose to value. Again, I don't hear you calling for an investigation of Arafat's complicity in terrorism. Again, I don't hear you condemning the Arab death squads that kill "collaborators" with impunity. (In the first intifadah, nearly half of all deaths were not at the hands of Israelis but of these Arab death squads. In this intifadah, nearly 200 such murders have been recorded to date.)

    If you read through the Geneva Conventions, I'm sure you will see that it discusses not only human rights, but under what conditions people may engage in combat and what form that combat may take. Those who do so outside of the "rules of war", who do not wear uniforms (or use specifically prohibited perfidity such as wearing IDF uniforms) and who engage in terrorism -- targeting civilians -- are illegal combatants.

    Lastly, the ratio red-herring must be addressed. It is true that about 3x as many Palestinian Arabs have been killed as Israelis since the start of Arab violence in September 2000. Using this figure, though, to conclude "excessive" use of power is ludicrous. To the contrary, it suggests that some people may value this life less than the next and are thus willing to "sacrifice" themselves. It should first be noted that the Arab death toll includes not just innocent non-combatant civilians inadvertently killed by the IDF, but those Arabs murdered by Arab death squads and executed by the PA, and also Israeli Arabs (civilians and soldiers) killed by Arab terrorists and the Arab terrorists themselves (suicide bombers, suicide attackers, those engaged in armed battles with the IDF, those killed while mishandling explosives, etc.)

    Indeed. Despite the asymmetric total death toll, a new comprehensive study by the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) reveals some startling trends by breaking down the death tolls into sub-segments -- e.g. age, sex and combatant status. It turns out that more Israeli women, children and elderly have been murdered than Arabs killed -- and in absolute, not relative terms. For example, only 61 Arab women have been killed (5%) vs. 160 Israeli women (30%).

    If Israel was truly engaged in the types of activities you allege (indiscriminant bombing of civilians), one would expect as many women as men to have been killed. Clearly this is not the case.

    For more information, see:
    http://www.ict.org.il/researchreport/researchreport.htm http://www.ict.org.il/researchreport/projectsummary.htm

    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

  • Monday July 22, 2002 at 11:54 am
    I am not arguing that all of the Palestinians killed by the IDF were civilians. I am arguing that many civilians are killed indiscriminately in the hunt for suspected terrorists. Together Palestinian terrorist suspects and civilians killed by the IDF amount to almost a three to one ratio compared to Israeli soldiers and civilians killed by Palestinian terrorists. It is pathetic to get into bean counting as far as which side has killed more women and children as if this means that one side is less egregious than the other even though both sides are killing civilians. I recognize that Palestinian terrorists directly target Israeli civilians while Israel recklessly disregards the safety and lives of Palestinian civilians. Using a conventional military force (tanks, helicopters, jets and missiles) against an occupied people (occupation is illegal) who have no conventional military force of its own, destroying the civilian infrastructure of Palestinian cities (a war crime on its own), let alone killing civilians and using them as human shields while undertaking pre-emptive assassinations that deny suspected terrorists due process constitute the use of excessive and indiscriminate force that is excessive to the military advantage gained. This is the perspective of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and world opinion. I am all for Sharon and Arafat both standing trial for war crimes. Both Israeli and Palestinian societies would be better off and the prospects for peace would be greatly enhanced with new leadership for both sides (as long as the new leaders are not Islamic fundamentalists and Netanyahu). I am for ending the cycle of violence, the illegal occupation and an immediate two-state solution. As far as the illegal combatant fiction, international law only defines combatants and noncombatants. Mr. Kopelman show me the international law citation where an illegal combatant is defined. Noncombatants who commit crimes against humanity can be tried by a UN-sponsored tribunal, the International Criminal Court, or through the criminal justice system of the country where the act was committed. See Human Rights Watch's letter to Condoleeza Rice regarding the Guantanamo Bay Al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners on this "illegal combatant" issue. Every fact that Mr. Kopelman disagrees with is a red herring in his own subjective mind; it's just his way of dehumanizing Palestinians in order to justify Israel's repeated violation of human rights and international law.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Monday July 22, 2002 at 4:55 pm
    Mr. Miranda, you keep presuming that which you need to prove: "many civilians are killed indiscriminately in the hunt for suspected terrorists... Israel recklessly disregards the safety and lives of Palestinian civilians." If it were true, then the "beans" would not be spread as they are. If the IDF was "indiscriminately" killing civilians, there would be roughly the same number of women as men killed. There aren't, precisely because your premise is incorrect. (This is one of the two points I made in my previous post. Apparently both were lost on you.)

    Furthermore, you once again demonstrate that you have no understanding of international law. You state: "occupation is illegal". You do realize that the Geneva Conventions spell out how an occupation should be conducted rather than prohibit it, right? Of course, under these Conventions (Article 2) the territory occupied must belong to another state. I'm sure you know that in a defensive war in 1967, Israel gained control of the disputed territories from Egypt and Jordan who had seized them illegally by aggressive force of arms in 1948. Both have since relinquished their claims on the territories. The disputed territories are not occupied in the sense defined by the GC (if any of the Arab states disagree, they could take this matter to the International Court of Justice for an opinion. That for 35 years they have pursued political rather than legal venues suggests that even they understand that their legal arguments are unlikely to carry the day.

    Note also that the UN Security Council has effectively authorized Israel to retain administration of these territories until a peaceful settlement of the conflict (see UNSCR 242, which does not demand an immediate nor an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from these territories).

    Lastly, Mr. Miranda's tirade about "illegal combatants" is humorous. He claims that only "combatants" and "non-combatants" are defined. Yet he does not dispute that the rules of war specify what combatants may and may not do. One can only wonder what he calls combatants who don't follow those rules -- "non-combatants"? "civilians"?

    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

  • Monday July 22, 2002 at 7:12 pm
    Quotes from Dr. Frances Boyle (Harvard University J.D.), Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois: "Right after General Sharon instigated the Al Aqsa Intifada on 28 September 2000, the United Nations Human Right Commission condemned Israel for inflicting a war crime and a crime against humanity upon the Palestinian People. The Nuremberg crime against humanity is the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide ConventionAs a condition for its admission to the United Nations Organization, Israel formally agreed, inter alia, to accept General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) (1947) (on partition and Jerusalem trusteeship) and General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) (1948) (Palestinian right of return). Nevertheless, the government of Israel has expressly repudiated both Resolution 181 (II) and Resolution 194 (III). Therefore, Israel has violated the conditions for its admission to U.N. membership and thus must be suspended on a de facto basis from any participation throughout the entire United Nations systemAny further negotiations with Israel must be conducted on the basis of Resolution 181(II) and the borders it specifies; Resolution 194 (III); subsequent General Assembly resolutions and Security Council resolutions; the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949; the 1907 Hague Regulations; and other relevant principles of public international law." Source: http://www.counterpunch.org/boylebiglie.html. See also Professor Boyle's recommendation for a war-crimes tribunal for Sharon for Israel's West Bank incursions and occupation: http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle0606.html.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Monday July 22, 2002 at 7:27 pm
    Today's report (7/22/02) in Reuters states that Israeli in assassinating the leader of the military wing of Hamas in Gaza City killed nine other people, three of whom were children and four of whom were women according to doctors at Gaza's Shifa hospital. Eyewitnesses said that an F-16 jet fired a missle that reduced five houses to rubble. For full story see: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=574&ncid=721&e=1&u=/
    nm/20020722/wl_nm/mideast_airstrike_dc

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Tuesday July 23, 2002 at 12:14 am
    Mr. Boyle's impartiality can be seen from his statement that Sharon "instigated" the Al Aqsa intifadah -- which is contrary to the findings of the international Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Commission. (Note also that Prof. Boyle is in the employ of the Palestinian Authority. He is not speaking as a scholar but as a party to the conflict.)

    Israel was accepted into the UN on its second attempt, only after signing the 1949 Armistice agreement with the Arab aggressors that had violently rejected UNGAR 181 and attacked the newly founded State of Israel (which was declared in accordance with 181). Israel did accept UNGAR 194 -- it was the Arab League, again, that rejected it. The so-called "right of return" was but one point in the document, and didn't limit itself to Arab refugees. (There were more Jewish refugees than Arab refugees. They were resettled.)

    UNGAR 194 also called for "agreement by negotiations... with a view to the final settlement of all questions outstanding between them." And thus it was rejected by the Arabs.

    Note further that UNGAR 194 does not demand that Israel withdraw to the proposed 1947 partition plan (one part of UNGAR 181) which was DOA following Arab rejection (including the Arab representatives of Palestine). Neither does UNSCR 242, as I've already discussed.

    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

  • Tuesday July 23, 2002 at 11:44 am
    Excerpt from Mary Robinson's, UN High Commissioner Human Rights, testimony at the Conference of High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention on 5 December 2001 in Geneva: "Mr. Chairman, Since my last visit to the region in November 2000, I have been following closely the developments in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. I can honestly say that not a day goes by without my following events in detail, and I do so with growing anxiety. The serious deterioration of the situation has had a terrible cost in terms of human lives. Since the end of September 2000, over 830 Palestinians, including many children, have been killed and 16,500 injured. More than 230 Israelis have been killed over the same period including in the horrific attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa only last week-end. Most of those killed and injured on both sides have been civilians. It is important to emphasize that neither the Israeli policy of targeted assassination of Palestinian civilians, nor Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians, can be reconciled with provisions of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. Articles 27 and 32, in particular, seek to protect the lives of persons not taking a direct part in the hostilities. These practices also violate human rights norms that affirm the right to life and the prohibition on execution of civilians without trial and fair judicial process. Collective punishments such as prolonged siege and closures of the territories and destruction of homes and agricultural land, has also led to increased poverty and a steady economic decline in the West Bank and in Gaza. The consequences of collective punishments are manifold: Palestinian workers cannot reach their places of work in Israel, Palestinian producers are prevented from exporting their products, unemployment increased, pupils and students are denied their right to education, and injured and sick people are deprived of their right to health-care. All of this has had grave effects on economic, social and cultural life in the Palestinian territories in general. It has adversely impacted on an already weak Palestinian economy. There has been a dramatic loss of income for a large section of the population, and medical and humanitarian aid has been impeded. These actions on the part of Israeli authorities cannot be reconciled with several articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention, nor with international human rights law, namely the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights." See UN Human Rights Commission Press Peleases: http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/newsroom (on left hand side of web page click on country: Israel and then Next to find press release "05/12/01 HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CALLS FOR SETTING UP INTERNATIONAL MONITORING PRESENCE IN OCCUPIED TERRITORIES")

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Tuesday July 23, 2002 at 11:53 am
    23 July 2002 United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson today added her voice to that of Secretary-General Kofi Annan in condemning Israel's latest air attack in the Gaza Strip. "I join with the Secretary-General in deploring the Israeli action on the night of 22 July, which left 11 people dead and more than a hundred wounded", Mrs. Robinson said. "Under international human rights and humanitarian law the reckless killing of civilians is absolutely prohibited, regardless of the military significance of the target being attacked." Mrs. Robinson went on to point out that Israel, as a democratic society, "must not abandon its core standards and values, even in the face of the serious security threat to its own civilian population". She added that the assassination policy being pursued by Israel is in conflict with democratic standards and unlawful under international law. The High Commissioner, who has strongly condemned suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, said she was worried the air attack would serve to feed the ongoing violence. "The current cycle of savagery must end", she said. "In the eyes of the world, this requires responsible action from both sides of this tragic conflict".

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Tuesday July 23, 2002 at 1:11 pm
    Excerpt from International Law Professor Richard Falk's "Ending the Death Dance" (The Nation, April 29, 2002): "Similarly, the widespread contention in American circles that Arafat opted for terrorism is also seriously misleading. Such thinking deforms perceptions of what is reasonable. Arafat was up against more militant forces in the Palestinian movement throughout this period, and was generally viewed as the most moderate voice among the Palestinian leadership, and had even shown an early willingness to incur the wrath of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militias by taking seriously his duty to prevent the territories under the administration of the Palestinian Authority from being used against Israel and Israelis. Beyond this, it was Sharon's own provocative visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque that started the second intifada. This visit proceeded despite fervent warnings about the explosion likely to happen, given privately to the Barak leadership by the most respected Palestinians, including the late Faisal Husseini, head of Orient House in Jerusalem. The Palestinian demonstrations that followed were notably nonviolent at the outset. Israel countered from the beginning by using excessive force, killing and seriously wounding demonstrators in large numbers, and by its practice of extrajudicial assassination of a range of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. At this point the escalatory spiral was initiated, with Israel acting with ever more force at each stage, ratcheting up the stakes to such a level that the Palestinians were being attacked with among the most sophisticated weapons of warfare, including very modern tanks and helicopter gunships. It was in the course of this process that Palestinian resistance gradually ran out of military options, and suicide bombers appeared as the only means still available by which to inflict sufficient harm on Israel so that the struggle could go on. I was a member of a human rights inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Commission a year ago; our report fully supported this line of interpretation in its study of the second intifada, as did the overwhelming majority of the Security Council membership. The basic conclusion of these efforts at impartial understanding was that Israel was mainly responsible for the escalations, and that its tactics of response involved massive violations of international humanitarian law. There is the closely related matter of continued Israeli effective occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, a reality that has been fully re-enacted in the past few weeks. It poses the question of what sort of right of resistance is enjoyed by an occupied people when the occupying power ignores international law and refuses to withdraw. Such a right of resistance does not permit unrestricted violence, but it certainly would seem to legitimize some armed activities. It puts in a different light the furor raised in January by the intercepted arms shipment that was evidently intended for Palestinian use. Should the opposition, in the context of the sort of struggle that has gone on for decades, have no right to gain the means of self-help while the occupying power can arm itself to the teeth, all the while denying international accountability and refusing UN authority It is important to appreciate that on virtually every issue in contention, the Palestinians have international law on their side, including the Israeli duty to withdraw from land taken during a war, the illegality of the settlements under Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the right of refugees to a safe return to the country that wrongfully expelled them and the generalized support for a Jerusalem that belongs to everyone and no one."

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Tuesday July 23, 2002 at 1:27 pm
    Excerpt from Columbia University Professor Edward Said's "What Israel Has Done" (The Nation, May 6, 2002): "The monstrous transformation of an entire people by a formidable and feared propaganda machine into little more than militants and terrorists has allowed not just Israel's military but its fleet of writers and defenders to efface a terrible history of injustice, suffering and abuse in order to destroy the civil existence of the Palestinian people with impunity. Gone from public memory are the destruction of Palestinian society in 1948 and the creation of a dispossessed people; the conquest of the West Bank and Gaza and their military occupation since 1967; the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, with its 17,500 Lebanese and Palestinian dead and the Sabra and Shatila massacres; the continuous assault on Palestinian schools, refugee camps, hospitals, civil installations of every kind. What antiterrorist purpose is served by destroying the building and then removing the records of the ministry of education; the Ramallah municipality; the Central Bureau of Statistics; various institutes specializing in civil rights, health, culture and economic development; hospitals, radio and TV stations? Isn't it clear that Sharon is bent not only on breaking the Palestinians but on trying to eliminate them as a people with national institutions? In such a context of disparity and asymmetrical power it seems deranged to keep asking the Palestinians, who have no army, air force, tanks or functioning leadership, to renounce violence, and to require no comparable limitation on Israel's actions. It certainly obscures Israel's systematic use of lethal force against unarmed civilians, copiously documented by all the major human rights organizations. Even the matter of suicide bombers, which I have always opposed, cannot be examined from a viewpoint that permits a hidden racist standard to value Israeli lives over the many more Palestinian lives that have been lost, maimed, distorted and foreshortened by longstanding military occupation and the systematic barbarity openly used by Sharon against Palestinians since the beginning of his career. There can be no conceivable peace that doesn't tackle the real issue, which is Israel's utter refusal to accept the sovereign existence of a Palestinian people that is entitled to rights over what Sharon and most of his supporters consider to be the land of Greater Israel, i.e., the West Bank and Gaza. A profile of Sharon in the April 5 Financial Times concluded with this telling extract from his autobiography, which the FT prefaced with, "He has written with pride of his parents' belief that Jews and Arabs could be citizens side by side." Then the relevant passage from Sharon's book: "But they believed without question that only they had rights over the land. And no one was going to force them out, regardless of terror or anything else. When the land belongs to you physically...that is when you have power, not just physical power but spiritual power." In 1988 the PLO made the concession of accepting partition of Palestine into two states. This was reaffirmed on numerous occasions, and certainly in the Oslo documents. But only the Palestinians explicitly recognized the notion of partition. Israel never has. This is why there are now more than 170 settlements on Palestinian land, why there is a 300-mile road network connecting them to each other and totally impeding Palestinian movement (according to Jeff Halper of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, it costs $3 billion and has been funded by the United States), and why no Israeli prime minister has ever conceded any real sovereignty to the Palestinians, and why the settlements have grown on an annual basis. The merest glance at the accompanying map reveals what Israel has been doing throughout the peace process, and what the consequent geographical discontinuity and shrinkage in Palestinian life has been. In effect, Israel considers itself and the Jewish people to own all of Palestine. There are land ownership laws in Israel itself guaranteeing this, but in the West Bank and Gaza the settlements, roads and refusal to concede sovereign land rights to the Palestinians serve the same function. What boggles the mind is that no official--no US, no Palestinian, no Arab, no UN, no European, or anyone else--has challenged Israel on this point, which has been threaded through all of the Oslo agreements. Which is why, after nearly ten years of peace negotiations, Israel still controls the West Bank and Gaza. They are more directly controlled by more than 1,000 Israeli tanks and thousands of soldiers today, but the underlying principle is the same. No Israeli leader (and certainly not Sharon and his Land of Israel supporters, who are the majority in his government) has either officially recognized the occupied territories as occupied or gone on to recognize that Palestinians could or might theoretically have sovereign rights--that is, without Israeli control over borders, water, air or security--to what most of the world considers Palestinian land. So to speak about the vision of a Palestinian state, as has become fashionable, is a mere vision unless the question of land ownership and sovereignty is openly and officially conceded by the Israeli government. None ever has and, if I am right, none will in the near future. It should be remembered that Israel is the only state in the world today that has never had internationally declared borders; the only state not the state of its citizens but of the whole Jewish people; the only state where more than 90 percent of the land is held in trust for the use only of the Jewish people. That Israel has systematically flouted international law (as argued last week in these pages by Richard Falk) suggests the depth and structural knottiness of the absolute rejectionism that Palestinians have had to face. This is why I have been skeptical about discussions and meetings about peace, which is a lovely word but in the present context usually means Palestinians are told to stop resisting Israeli control over their land. It is among the many deficiencies of Arafat's terrible leadership (to say nothing of the even more lamentable Arab leaders in general) that he neither made the decadelong Oslo negotiations ever focus on land ownership, thus never putting the onus on Israel to declare itself willing to give up title to Palestinian land, nor asked that Israel be required to deal with any of its responsibility for the sufferings of his people. Now I worry that he may simply be trying to save himself again, whereas what we really need are international monitors to protect us, as well as new elections to assure a real political future for the Palestinian people. The profound question facing Israel and its people is this: Is it willing to assume the rights and obligations of being a country like any other, and forswear the kind of impossible colonial assertions for which Sharon and his parents and soldiers have been fighting since day one? In 1948 Palestinians lost 78 percent of Palestine. In 1967 they lost the remaining 22 percent. Now the international community must lay upon Israel the obligation to accept the principle of real, as opposed to fictional, partition, and to accept the principle of limiting Israel's extraterritorial claims, those absurd, biblically based pretensions and laws that have so far allowed it to override another people. Why is that kind of fundamentalism unquestioningly tolerated? But so far all we hear is that Palestinians must give up violence and condemn terror. Is nothing substantive ever demanded of Israel, and can it go on doing what it has without a thought for the consequences? That is the real question of its existence, whether it can exist as a state like all others, or must always be above the constraints and duties of other states. The record is not reassuring.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Tuesday July 23, 2002 at 7:47 pm
    Rejection of UN resolutions does not mean that they are not legally binding under international law just as occupations are not legal under the UN Charter even though they occur. It just means that international law is not being adhered to by the offending country nor enforced by a UN peacekeeping force. UN Resolutions 181 and 242 are still legally binding. Arab countries are not the legal representative of the Palestinian people in the UN; the Palestinian Authority is. Noncombatants who commit crimes against humanity are civilian criminals not illegal combatants (a fiction of the Bush Administration); they are entitled to due process either under a UN-sponsored tribunal, the International Criminal Court or the criminal justice system of the country where the act was perpetrated. Combatants are soldiers of conventional military forces under international law.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Wednesday July 24, 2002 at 4:19 am
    Mr. Miranda, I must commend you on your vehemence in distracting the discussion from specifics and regurgitating lengthy if irrelevant quotes. Suffice it to say that I can provide quotes that state the opposite (and largely from legal experts, not politicos).

    Nonetheless you cannot sweep under the carpet the core of basic truths I have presented:

    1. The disputed territories are not "occupied" as defined by the Fourth Geneva Conventions (see Article 2).

    2. Occupations are not against international law. To the contrary, the Fourth Geneva Conventions specify how such occupations shall be conducted.

    3. UNSCR 242 allows Israel to hold on to the territories until a final peace settlement is reached.

    4. UNSCR 242 is the basis of treaties signed between Israel and the PA (UNGAR 181 is not).

    5. Israel's "occupation" of the disputed territories was a result of defensive action. Spare us the justification of armed resistence. Had the Arabs agreed to a peace settlement in 1949 or 1956 it never would have happened. (Why wasn't a Palestinian Arab state created between 1948-1967, when these territories were under Arab rule?)

    6. As stipulated in the G.C., civilians who engage in hostilities lose the protection afforded to civilians. Combatants are those who engage in hostilities. Those who engage in hostilities forbidden by the G.C. are illegal combatants. (Surely you wouldn't argue, or maybe you would, that Al Qaida soldiers are civilians and not combatants.) You never answered my question: what do you call combatants that violate the rules of war, "civilians", "non-combatants", or "illegal combatants"?

    7. Tanzim chiefs interviewed by western journalists state that Arafat ordered them to prepare for violence prior to Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. Again, the Sharm Commission confirmed that Sharon's visit did not instigate the violence (indeed, it had already begun at that point).

    8. A thorough analysis of Palestinian Arab deaths refutes your claim that Israel is indiscriminantly or recklessly bombing civilians.

    9. Surely if the legal case against Israel was as clear as you suggest, the Arabs would be better served pursuing their case in the International Court of Justice rather than at the UN and recruiting "useful idiots" via the media.

    The reason Arab states pursue their anti-Israel vendetta in the UN and other POLITICAL bodies, rather than in LEGAL venues -- in the halls of Justice -- is because they know their LEGAL case is smoke and mirrors.

    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

  • Wednesday July 24, 2002 at 1:51 pm
    According to Mr. Kopelman, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Commission and are not experts on international law, human rights violations and war crimes nor are they credible sources. For that matter even the mainstream press such as Reuters is not a credible source. Any facts that he does not like are politically motivated lies. Unfortunately for Mr. Kopelman, the United Nations is an international law-making body. If it were not for UN Resolution 181 in 1947, the state of Israel would not have been founded in 1948. No legislative body in any country is immune to politics; in fact they are inherently political by nature. However, that does not mean that legislation or resolutions passed by a legislature are not legitimate laws because in democracies the majority rules. You may not like a law, but that does not mean it is not legitimate and legal or that it cannot be enforced. The purpose of the Fourth Geneva Conventions was to protect civilians in war time. Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions states that the rights of civilians must be protected even in the event of occupation. It does not say that occupation is legal. To quote Article 2: "The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance. Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations." The Geneva Conventions are additional protections afforded in international law in addition to the UN Charter. Article 1.2 of the UN Charter states that the purpose to "develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace." Article 73 of Chapter XI of the UN Charter (Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories) states "Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end: a. to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social, and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses; b. to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement." In the Oslo Accords of 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements Article I states: "The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is, among other things, to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the "Council"), for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. It is understood that the interim arrangements are an integral part of the whole peace process and that the negotiations on the permanent status will lead to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338." So under the Oslo Accords, Israel and the Palestinians are agreeing to abide by UN Security Council Resolutions to 242 and 338 in devising borders for a permanent two-state solution. Dr. Said is right. Mr. Kopelman is committed to Greater Israel and does not want to recognize the right to statehood for the Palestinian people. Finally, regarding the illegal combatant nonsense which Mr. Kopelman cannot seem to understand (terrorists are civilian criminals-i.e., noncombatants who commit crimes against humanity-- because combatants are defined as soldiers of conventional militaries who are entitled to immediate release after a war is over unless they commit war crimes), Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions (1977) Chapter II Article 50.3 states: "The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character." Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: "Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State. Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention. In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be." Nowhere in international law does it say that pre-emptive assassinations are allowed. Terrorists too are entitled to a fair trial. Mr. Kopelman spare us of your conspiracy theories and poor reading of international law.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Wednesday July 24, 2002 at 2:38 pm
    Oslo Accords of 1993 Article V TRANSITIONAL PERIOD AND PERMANENT STATUS NEGOTIATIONS "1. The five-year transitional period will begin upon the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area. 2. Permanent status negotiations will commence as soon as possible, but not later than the beginning of the third year of the interim period, between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian people representatives. 3. It is understood that these negotiations shall cover remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest. 4. The two parties agree that the outcome of the permanent status negotiations should not be prejudiced or preempted by agreements reached for the interim period." The goal of Ariel Sharon and Mr. Kopelman are to renounce the Oslo Accords in practice and to make sure that Palestinian statehood never happens.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Wednesday July 24, 2002 at 4:11 pm
    I am sure that anyone who is still reading this noticed that rather than respond to the specific points I enumerated Mr. Miranda chose to attack me.

    Contrary to Mr. Miranda's assertions, I support the two-state solution envisioned at Oslo and the Clinton/Barak compromise of Camp David 2000. (Is a two-state solution mentioned in UNSCR 242? Hmmmm.)

    I guess this charade of discussion is over, which is just as well since it is futile to discuss issues of international law with someone who believes that the UN is a body that makes international law and who claims that occupation is illegal because the Geneva Conventions do not state that it is legal. Tthat it does not state that it is illegal is more relevant, and that it states how such an occupation should be conducted... ah, but all that is lost on Mr. Miranda. I'm fairly sure that California law does not state that visiting a library is legal, but Mr. Miranda may want to risk doing so.

    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

  • Wednesday July 24, 2002 at 6:38 pm
    There are rules of war in international law, but does that mean war is legal? Occupation violates territorial integrity of nation states and non-self-governing territories are entitled to self-government. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. I am glad Mr. Kopelman is for a two-state solution. Peace in the Middle East.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Wednesday July 31, 2002 at 10:47 am
    Good Gracious - only minutes ago--young and old college students - 7 dead, 14 seriously injured, 70 wounded in a suicide bomb explosion just yards away from this computer station in the Frank Sinatra Building lunch area here at Hebrew University which caters to Muslim, Jewish, Christian and non-secterians -- This is WAR on humanity and civilization, a war against humanity

    N/A N/A
    Jerusalem, ISRAEL HEBREW UNIVERSITY CAMPUT NEAR THE FRANK SINATRA BUILDING

  • Wednesday July 31, 2002 at 4:35 pm
    Mr. Kopelman was right that the UN is not an international legislature; therefore, UN resolutions are not legally-binding international laws per se. I am not an attorney. However, the UN Charter is a treaty signed by its members and therefore is legally binding on its signatory members under international law just like the Geneva Conventions. The UN does have international law-enforcement powers to uphold the Charter (that is where politics comes into play in terms of which countries are targeted for enforcement). War and acquisition/annexation of territory by force are illegal under international law because they violate the territorial integrity and political independence/self-determination of nation states (Chapter I, Articles 1.1 and 2.4 of the UN Charter). Acquisition/annexation of occupied territories is not allowed in international law even in self-defense from a war of aggression. As already noted above, under Chapter XI, Article 73 of the UN Charter, non-self-governing territories are entitled to self-government and political independence. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring "parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." According to Israeli Major Ishai Menuchin of the IDF, "Since October 2000 [through March 9, 2002 when his article in the New York Times was written] more than 850 Palestinians have been killed by my army: 178 were minors, and 55 were executed." (Source: http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0309-07.htm)

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Wednesday July 31, 2002 at 8:15 pm
    According to B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, from Sept. 29, 2000 through July 29, 2002, 1,067 Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israeli Security Forces of whom 243 were minors under the age of 18. 256 Palestinian security forces personnel were killed by Israeli security forces' gunfire, including One minor age 17. 148 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians, 26 of them were minors under the age of 17. Inside Israel, another 227 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians, residents of the Occupied Territories. 46 of them were minors under the age of 18. 52 members of the Israeli security forces were killed by Palestinian civilians residents of the Occupied Territories. For a full and impartial analysis of civilian deaths on both sides, by age, perpetrator and extrajudicial executions (B'Tselem does not claim that all deaths are a result of human rights violations), see: http://www.btselem.org/ (Click on Statistics, Fatalities, Partial Summary Data until July 29, 2002). For B'Tselem's methodology, see: http://www.btselem.org/ (Click on Statistics, then Clarifications).

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Saturday November 09, 2002 at 4:45 am
    I'm glad Mr. Miranda has verified that much of what I've told him is indeed true, but I fear that he still doesn't get it when it comes to casualty stats.

    1. How many, or rather how few Arab deaths does B'Tselem claim were a result of human rights violations?

    2. Note that terrorists, by definition, are civilians.

    2a. Doesn't B'Tselem categorize as "civilian" even suicide attackers (who are not members of the PA Police)?

    2b. How many of the Arab "civilian" deaths have been illegal combatants who were attacking innocent Israeli civilians?

    3. For a more comprehensive analysis of the data, see my comments from Friday July 19, 2002 at 1:35 pm.

    Leeron Kopelman
    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

  • Monday November 18, 2002 at 8:44 pm
    Mr Kopelman is speculating on human rights violations based on ratio of women to men killed. How about the ratio of minors killed? According to B'tselem's data through Nov. 16, 2002, 289 Palestinians minors were killed with their age ranges as follows: Fifty Five minors were age 17, Forty Four were age 16, Forty Four were age 15, Thirty Nine were age ranges as follows: Fifty Five minors were age 17, Forty Four were age 16, Forty Four were age 15, Thirty Nine were age 14, Thirty Four were age 13, Fifteen were age 12, Eight were age 11, Ten were age 10, Five were age 9, Nine were age 8, Three were age 7, Five were age 6, Three were age 5, Three were age 4, Four were age 3, Four were two years old, Two were One year old baby girls, One was a 6 month old baby girl and One was a four month old baby girl. On the Israeli side, 51 minors were killed. Their age ranges were as follows: Eight were age 17, Nine were age 16, Thirteen were age 15, Five were age 14 (six including one inside the Occupied territories), One was age 13, One was age 12, One was age 11, One was age 10, One was age 8, One was age 7, One was age 5, Two were age 4, One was age 3, One was a 14 month old baby, One was a two years old baby, One was a Eighteen month old baby, One was a nine month old baby, and One was a seven month old baby. B'tselem also does document Israel's human rights violations including over 80 extrajudicial assasinations.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Tuesday November 19, 2002 at 12:11 pm
    Quote from B'tselem's web page: "The IDF has substantially increased the restrictions on movement of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories during the al-Aqsa intifada. Many of those harmed by these restrictions have been persons requiring medical treatment. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that emergency medical cases are allowed to cross at checkpoints. The reality is different. The sick are often prevented from moving along the roadways, both by physical obstacles (such as concrete blocks and piles of dirt) and by soldiers at checkpoints. The procedures for allowing the ill to cross checkpoints are not implemented. In many cases, the ill have to travel long distances and undergo much hardship to bypass the checkpoints and physical obstacles to reach a medical center." B'tselem then provides a partial list of at least 35 people who died because of delays in receiving medical treatment due to restrictions in movement.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Tuesday November 19, 2002 at 12:32 pm
    Quote from B'tselem's web site on house demolitions: "In October 2001, during its invasion of territory under Palestinian Authority control, Israel renewed its activity of demolishing houses as punishment. Israel had ceased its house-demolition-as-punishment policy in late 1997. However, unlike previous cases, this time the army acted without an order in accordance with Regulation 119, and without giving the owners the opportunity to petition the High Court of Justice to prevent the demolition. As in prior cases, the army demolished houses in which suspected Palestinian perpetrators of attacks in Israel lived. As a result, the suspects' family members who lived in the houses were left homeless." B'tselem then documents 60 demolitions and one partial demolition of homes since October 2001, which were done without justification on administrative grounds. Once again Israel is violating Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions (1977) Chapter II Article 50.3. The record is clear that Israel systematically violates human rights, international conventions on due process and uses excessive force in using a conventional military to indiscriminately attack Palestinian civilians.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Thursday December 05, 2002 at 7:51 pm
    I fear Mr. Kopelman still just doesn't get it about Israel's human rights record: Ha'aretz Daily Editorial, December 6, 2002. "The cheapening of life." Fatma Obeid, 95, was killed on Tuesday by Israeli soldiers. She was a passenger in a taxi that was fired on as it drove away from an IDF unit in the Jelezun area, near Ramallah. There were no suspects in the taxi, and although it was traveling on a road that had been declared a security route and was off limits to Palestinians, nobody's life had been in danger. The IDF claims that the shots were aimed at the tires, but the bullet struck the passenger and killed her. Military sources admitted the soldier acted in violation of orders and with bad judgment. Iain Hook, a British UN official, was shot to death in Jenin while inside the UNWRA compound from which he was conducting the rehabilitation of the refugee camp, during a gunbattle between the IDF and several wanted men in the neighborhood near the compound. A sniper fired a single shot at Hook, apparently believing he was an armed Palestinian. The mistaken identity cost Hook his life. Last week, in Nablus, IDF troops killed a young man running away from them while they conducted a search for wanted men. The soldiers feared he was armed, but it turned out he was holding a club used to beat pots to waken people for early morning prayers. These cases join more than two hundred Palestinian children and youths below the age of 16 and dozens of other cases in which Palestinian civilians, including innocent women and the elderly, who have been killed by IDF fire since the start of the intifada. The IDF has been conducting some very complex missions lately involving patrols and searching for wanted people in densely crowded Palestinian cities. The level of threats and risk to the soldiers is extremely high, and the determination of the militias and terrorists to harm the soldiers demands a very high degree of caution. Under such conditions, the rules of engagement were loosened, to allow opening fire sometimes without the usual practice of calling for the suspect to stop. The flip side of those loosened rules is the proliferation of cases of innocent people being killed. It also turns out that where there was no clear threat to lives, soldiers' fingers were sometimes too quick on the trigger. Apparently, the intensive military activity often blurs the distinction between an innocent resident and a terrorist. Such blurring is dangerous. It widens the cycle of suffering and conflict, contradicts the IDF's basic code of behavior and Israeli and international moral values, and is an expression of the army command's loosening grip on its soldiers. The IDF does not appear to be making an effort to impress upon the soldiers this critical distinction. There appears to be no effort to inculcate this in the soldiers, nor give out deterrent punishments. Only in rare cases are indictments filed against soldiers who violated the rules of engagement. The IDF did not receive permission to fight the civilian population, and its commanders cannot be allowed to give their soldiers the feeling that such permission has been granted. In the complicated war the IDF faces in the territories, the effort to carefully filter out legitimate targets from the general population is the real test of the army's ability to foil attacks. The killing of innocent people without any strict disciplinary or legal controls that place a clear boundary between what is permitted and prohibited, could undermine the public's recognition of the legitimacy of the war on terror.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA

  • Monday December 23, 2002 at 6:51 am

    There is no end to the different views; differing views which prompt differing action(s) from the main sides, of an age old saga, which may possibly one day be the focal point of a larger war. We just have to live with the conflict that threatens to spill over.

    Yi Ling Lu
    Malaysia

  • Tuesday February 17, 2004 at 7:21 am
    I feel that both the Palestinians & the Israelis see themselves as such 'totems' of suffering that they both believe the rules of human decency are suspended. This is ironic, seeing how they have so much suffering in common. The Arab world regards the Palestinians as 'pushy, smart, Canaanites that you got to keep in 'their place'(probably secret Baal worshippers to boot). Shades of the old Tsarist Pale? Pre war Poland? Israel makes life, socially & economically, hell for Palestinians. Baron Hirsch must be rolling over in his grave at the sight of Jews creating Starvation Ghettos & pumping raw sewage into the Gaza water supply. This wasn't his vision. The Muslim world minimizes the suffering of Jews in the 20 century, & proposes an impossible solution. Israel is not going to vanish. Israel needs defensible borders, & secure access to the water of Mount Hermon. So, Israel gives up the southern two thirds of Golan, & a connecting strip of land to the West Bank, south of Yam Kinneret, to the new Palestine state. Israel retains the Northern Golan as far as Mount Hermon.& annexes a defensive strip from the former West Bank, & gets out of the Gaza strip. This may seem unfair to Syria, however, 18 years of unprovoked artillery barrages into the Hula Valley has its costs. Bashir & Dad Assad are a long way from the tolerant Abbasid caliphate. Then live with each other for sixty years. Look people, MY PEOPLE were forced out of the Crimea in 1920, after Wrangel's glorious doomed revolt. We made new homes, & we have no claims against the present Ukraine. Walk away from the ghosts of history. King Abdullah of Jordan had a vision from 1948 to 1952 of peace with Israel, then an alliance of Semitic talent & resources that would free the Middle East. 50 years later, I feel the 舛anaanites; Jewish & Muslim, should get with his peace. Does this make sense? Please advise. Reg Saretsky rsaretsky@shaw.ca (Please...if you respond, - real names are polite!)

    Reg Saretsky
    Calgary
    Canada

  • Wednesday February 25, 2004 at 7:48 pm
    Mr. Saretsky, both the UN Charter (Chapter I, Articles 1.1 and 2.4) and the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 49) prohibit the annexation of occupied territory. As history has shown, the politics of power dictates that the strong country annexes occupied territory illegally at the weak country痴 expense through formal treaties to end wars precisely because of the defeat and lack of power of the weak country and because only the UN Security Council has the power to enforce territorial-integrity disputes under international law. The U.S. and Israel have consistently ensured through the U.S.痴 veto power on the Security Council that international law not be enforced in Israel/Palestine and that痴 why 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242 (ordering Israel to completely withdraw from Sinai, Gaza, West Bank, and Golan Heights) has still not been complied with by Israel nor enforced by the UN by sending peace-keeping troops. Israel is interested in unilateral withdrawal from the occupied territories or a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians and Syria because it does not want to comply with international law, which requires complete withdrawal from the occupied territories. Israel痴 military superiority provides it with a bargaining position of strength in any negotiated settlement in which the weaker parties (Syria and the Palestinians) must concede some of their land to Israel in order to achieve peace and self-determination despite international law. I don稚 see how Israel痴 strategy will improve relations between Jews and Arabs nor make Arabs more sympathetic to the historical plight and suffering of Jews. The cycle of violence and terror will continue as long as Israel insists on taking advantage of its position of strength in any negotiations. The defeated will always resent their conquerors if they feel cheated and not made whole.

    Ricardo Miranda
    Los Angeles
    CA, USA

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