Israeli Extrajudicial Assassinations
by Stephen Lendman
They're willful, premeditated cold-blooded murder. They're official Israeli policy.
Killers get impunity. Investigations rarely happen. Occasional ones are whitewashed. In May 2007, former Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said:
"We decided to carry out more physical liquidation operations against (Palestinian) 'terrorists' "
"I think this will eliminate the damage caused to Israeli territory due to the launching of Palestinian rockets."
Just cause for murder doesn't exist. Claiming otherwise rings hollow. International law is clear and unequivocal.
Article 23b of the 1907 Hague Regulations prohibits "assassination, proscription, or outlawry of an enemy, or putting a price upon an enemy's head, as well as offering a reward for any enemy 'dead or alive.' "
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
UDHR recognizes the "inherent dignity (and) equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family."
The 1980 Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders condemned "the practice of killing and executing political opponents or suspected offenders carried out by armed forces, law enforcement or other governmental agencies or by paramilitary or political groups."
On December 15, 1980, the General Assembly adopted resolution 35/172.
It urged member states abide by the provisions of Articles 6, 14 and 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.
They cover the right to life and various safeguards. They mandate fair and impartial judicial proceedings.
The 1989 UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions states:
"Governments shall prohibit by law all extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions and shall ensure that any such executions are recognized as offences under their criminal laws, and are punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account the seriousness of such offenses."
"Exceptional circumstances, including a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of such executions."
"(They) shall not be carried out under any circumstances including, but not limited to, situations of internal armed conflict, excessive or illegal use of force by a public official or other person acting in an official capacity or by a person acting at the instigation, or with the consent or acquiescence of such person, and situations in which deaths occur in custody."
"This prohibition shall prevail over decrees issued by governmental authority."
These international law principles apply to occupied populations. So does Fourth Geneva.
Its Article 3 affords them special protections. They cover all actions related to "(v)iolence to life and person, murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture."
"The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees (is) recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."
Article 32 states:
"(T)he High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands."
"This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents."
"Article 85 refers to "Grave Breaches." They're defined as "(a)cts committed willfully and causing death or serious injury to body or health…"
They subject civilian populations or individuals to "indiscriminate attack(s) affecting (them) or civilian objects…"
The International Criminal Court's Rome Statute calls these violations war crimes. Under Article 8, they include:
• "Grave" Geneva Convention breaches;
• "Willing killing..."
• "Intentionally launching an attack" knowing it will "cause incidental loss of life..."
• "Killing or wounding" combatants who've laid down their arms;
• extrajudicial killings; and
• "Killing or wounding treacherously a combatant adversary..."
On May 31, Haaretz headlined "Israeli military hiding targeted killing investigative panel," saying:
"The Defense Ministry and Israel Defense Forces recently formed a committee to investigate allegations of war crimes raised after recent targeted aerial strikes against Palestinian militants."
"The names of panel members, however, were not disclosed." Officials called doing so too sensitive.
A retired judge heads the panel Other members include a "veteran general, retired Shin Bet commander and an expert (on) international law."
An IDF spokesman didn't surprise. No incident reviewed so far was illegal, he said. According to Haaretz:
"Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Danny Efroni publicly commended the establishment of an external body to probe into the legality of targeted killings…"
He "avoided commenting on" member names. He was silent on whether they were to examine claims "about civilian harm."
Potentially they could constitute crimes of war or against humanity.
The current panel follows two earlier ones. The initial one followed Sheikh Salah Mustafa Shehade's 2002 assassination.
Fourteen Gazans were killed. In February 2013, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered an "independent military investigative body."
According to Efroni, "(t)oday we open an investigation for every incident in which a civilian, unaffiliated with insurgent activities, is killed in Judea and Samaria during a (military) operation that is not an official campaign."
Gaza and neighboring Arab countries policy differs from West Bank practices. Judea and Samaria are largely under Israeli control. Aerial killings aren't used.
Gaza, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria "operate under the shelter of civilian populations and from within them," Israel claims.
Doing so justifies the unjustifiable, it says. Aerial killings are standard practice.
Haaretz discussed Israel's targeted killings code. It listed 10 "partially vacuous" 10 commandments.
(1) Israel claims it's permissible to attack combatants and anyone called belligerent civilians.
(2) It calls aerial attacks constrained. Civilians killed are called combatants.
(3) Arrests must be considered before ordering targeted killings. Israel says one thing. It does another.
(4) Israel claims it exceeds the proportionality principle. Sometimes aborting attacks. Minimizing collateral damage.
Longstanding Israeli practices are polar opposite duplicitous claims.
(5) "Operational processes" control aerial attacks. "Procedures and standing" orders decide things.
Mumbo jumbo jargon conceals Israeli ruthlessness. Commanders kill without constraint.
So do pilots and rank-and-file soldiers. They're taught Arabs are violent gun-toting terrorists.
Killing them violates no law. Truth is turned on its head.
(6) Operational planning for preplanned air strikes isn't practicable "in real time" when threats exist. Israel invents them out of whole cloth.
(7) According to Israel, its military and government officials needing to know are trained in international laws.
Anyone able to read can understand them. Israel spurns them repeatedly. It does what it wants with impunity.
It calls legitimate self-defense terrorism. It claims crimes or war, against humanity and genocide are justified. It turns truth on its head saying so.
(8) According to Israel, military commanders "properly implement the principle of discrimination, the principle of proportionality, and the imperative to take necessary safety precautions, both in relation to the decision to carry out the attack and in the way the attack is to be carried out (e.g. at what time, the kind of weapon used, etc.)."
Military commanders, pilots and rank-and-file soldiers operate without restraint. They do so with impunity. They get away with murder repeatedly.
(9) Israel claims investigations follow war crimes accusations. Virtually always they're whitewashed. Victims are blamed for Israeli crimes.
(10) According to Haaretz, (t)he 10th commandment deals without detail, with the committee of assassinations."
Israel calls it "a special test process…(It) was established in accordance with the ruling of the High Court on targeted killings and is an extra-military committee, which looks into the legality of targeted killings."
The committee's existence and charter "are beyond" what international law requires, claims Israel.
It's makeup is kept secret. Doing so reflects its independence as well as legal and operational professionalism, Israel says.
It bears repeating. Israel does what it wants. International law, its own and High Court decisions don't matter.
Rogue states operate this way. Israel and America are by far the world's worst.
State terror is standard practice. Anything goes is policy. So is cold-blooded murder.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III." http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour