- Extrajudicial assassinations are willful, premeditated,
cold-blooded murder. Nonetheless, they're official Israeli policy. Killers
get impunity. Investigations rarely happen. Occasional ones absolve crimes,
letting new ones repeat freely. Israel's Turkel commission sanctioned the
Mavi Marmara massacre. A previous article discussed it, accessed through
the following link:
- Israel's internal 2008 - 2009 Cast Lead investigation
absolved brazen Gaza crimes of war and against humanity, explained through
the following link:
- Israel's July 22, 2002 Al-Daraj massacre is discussed
below. Belatedly, its Special Investigatory Commission (SIC) whitewash
followed, exonerating 16 murders, including eight children. More details
- Relevant International Law
- Portions of a previous article on extrajudicial assassinations
are repeated below.
- They're indefensible, morally abhorrent, and illegal
under international laws and norms. 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 that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security
of person." UDHR also recognizes the "inherent dignity (and the)
equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family."
- So do "just war" principles that rule out gratuitous
violence, assassinations, (especially premeditated ones), war against civilians,
and so on, despite the difficulties of distinguishing between combatants,
those who've laid down their arms, and innocent civilians in times of war.
- In 1980, the 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," supported by official forces
- The General Assembly also acted in response to arbitrary
executions and politically motivated killings. On December 15, 1980, it
adopted resolution 35/172, urging member states to abide by the provisions
of Articles 6, 14 and 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
rights, covering the right to life and various safeguards guaranteeing
fair and impartial judicial proceedings.
- The first provision of the 1989 UN Principles on the
Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary
- "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 articles and provisions apply to occupied civilian
populations. So does Fourth Geneva. Its Article 3 affords occupied populations
special protection, covering all actions related to "(v)iolence to
life and person, Murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture."
In addition, "The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions
without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court,
affording all the judicial guarantees....recognized as indispensable by
- Its Article 32 states: "the 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."
- Its Article 85 refers to "Grave Breaches" and
defines them as "Acts committed willfully and causing death or serious
injury to body or health....making the civilian population or individual
civilians the object of attack (or)launching an indiscriminate attack affecting
the civilian population or civilian objects...."
- The 2002 International Criminal Court's Rome Statute
also 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
- Israel's Al-Daraj Massacre
- On July 22, 2002, an Israeli jet bombed a three-story
apartment building in densely populated Al-Daraj, a residential Gaza City
neighborhood. Suspected Izzidin al-Qassam Brigade leader Salah Shehade
was killed. So were 14 civilians, including eight children, Shehade's wife,
son, daughter, and bodyguard among them. Eight nearby apartment buildings
were completely destroyed, nine others partly, and 21 more sustained significant
damage. In total, 150 civilians were injured, some seriously.
- At the time, Haaretz writer Amira Hass quoted the pilot
describing a "good strike." One of his crewmen said he didn't
know or want to know the identity of those killed. Their mission completed,
they flew home and went to sleep.
- On January 23, 2008, Israel appointed a three-member
Special Investigation Commission (SIC) to "investigate," including:
- -- former Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. (Res.)
Tzvi Inbar, chairman;
- -- Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak Eitan; and
- -- Yitzhak Dar, former head of Shin Bet's Jewish section.
- After Dar died on August 31, 2009, retired Supreme Court
Justice Tova Strasberg-Cohen took his place.
- Like for all Israeli "investigations," their
mandate was circumvent the law, cover up and absolve, no matter the crime.
They didn't disappoint.
- On February 27, SIC's findings were released, an official
statement accessed through the following link:
- The "investigation" "focused on the legality
of the decision-making process" to attack and kill lawlessly. All
issues "were investigated in light of legal, normative, moral and
ethical criteria, according to Israeli and international law, and the values
and norms of the State of Israel and its security forces."
- In fact, past investigations of Israeli actions by independent
commissions and human rights groups found clear evidence of serious crimes
of war and against humanity, including targeted assassinations.
- Israel flaunts international law and its own. It respects
no "legal, normative, moral and ethical criteria." It does what
it wants because no accountability follows, including for conducting targeted
assassinations. Since September 2000 alone, the start of the second Intifada,
Israel killed hundreds extrajudicially, including many women and children.
- Once again, Israel's SIC sanctioned murder, releasing
a sanitized report of findings, excluding "facts that cannot be disclosed
for reasons of national security." In fact, it's to suppress important
evidence too embarrassing and potentially indictable independently to reveal.
- It called assassinating Shehadeh "imperative,"
despite killing and injuring many civilians as well as causing disproportionate
destruction uncompensated for.
- Israel bombed a densely populated civilian neighborhood
at midnight when residents were inside sleeping, knowing maximum casualties
would result. Yet SIC outrageously claimed that:
- "targeted killing was selected as a measure that
would guarantee Shehadeh's elimination, with the expectation that this
would not cause disproportionate harm to uninvolved civilians." Only
"in hindsight" was it "clear" that many "uninvolved
civilians, mostly women and children" would be harmed. Doing so "was
unintended, undesired and unforeseen. It did not stem from disregard or
indifference to human lives," an outrageous statement showing contempt
for non-Jewish ones.
- SIC's entire statement defied responsibility and belief,
claiming Israel answers to a higher power, its own depraved authority to
do what it wants, including committing targeted or mass killings.
- A Final Comment
- Avi Dichter, Israel's former Internal Security Minister
(2002 - 2005), now an MK, was in charge at the time, one of many unindicted
Israeli war criminals. He knowingly and willfully ordered indiscriminate
murders, injuries and residential destruction - crimes of war and/or against
humanity, besides many others during his tenure. The Washington Post once
quoted him saying, "After each success, the only thought is, 'Okay,
who's next?' "
- In Matar v. Dichter, the Center for Constitutional Rights
filed a federal class action lawsuit against him. On April 16, 2009, the
US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed it, granting him immunity
under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). In so doing, it absolved
him of mass killings. In Al-Daraj alone, they included:
- -- Salah Shehadeh, his wife, son, and young daughter;
- -- Ra'ed Matar, his wife Eman Ibrahim Hassan Matar, and
their three children, aged 1 and a half, three and five;
- -- Matar's sister (aged 10), niece (two months), and
- -- Mahmoud Al Huweiti's wife, Muna Fahmi Al Muweiti,
and their two sons (aged four and five).
- Marwan Zeino was among the 150 wounded, his spinal vertebrae
crushed. He also sustained other multiple injuries, remains disabled and
can't work. The killers and co-conspirators got off scot free to this day.
They never then or now said they're sorry. Only Arabs died. According to
Israel's moral code, only Jewish lives matter.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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