State: Ha­mas ad­mis­sion in­val­i­dates NGOs’ pe­ti­tion

Rights groups as­serted IDF’s rules had led to killing far too many Pales­tini­ans

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By YONAH JEREMY BOB

Due to Ha­mas’s ad­mit­ted in­volve­ment in the Gaza border con­flict, the High Court of Jus­tice should dis­miss a pe­ti­tion by hu­man rights groups ask­ing to de­clare the IDF’s rules of en­gage­ment there il­le­gal, the state said on Thurs­day.

The pe­ti­tion was filed last month by Yesh Din – Vol­un­teers for Hu­man Rights, Adalah – The Le­gal Cen­ter for Arab Mi­nor­ity Rights in Is­rael, the As­so­ci­a­tion for Civil Rights in Is­rael and other groups, as­sert­ing that the IDF’s rules had led to killing and wound­ing far too many Pales­tini­ans, over 100 have been killed to date, and that in­di­vid­ual cases proved that war crimes were be­ing com­mit­ted.

In a le­gal brief, in­clud­ing an up­date by OC IDF Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­torate Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon and signed by IDF In­ter­na­tional Law Depart­ment head Col. Eran Shamir-Borer, the state men­tioned sev­eral points to prove its ar­gu­ment.

It noted the Ha­mas of­fi­cial who was in­ter­viewed on Pales­tinian ra­dio this week ad­mit­ting that 50 out of the 62 Pales­tini­ans killed by the IDF dur­ing Mon­day’s blowup on the border were mem­bers of Ha­mas.

Alon added that IDF in­tel­li­gence has in­for­ma­tion to con­firm that dozens of those 50 were not merely mem­bers of Ha­mas, but were mil­i­tary op­er­a­tives.

The ma­jor-gen­eral gave new de­tails about ex­act num­bers of more dan­ger­ous in­ci­dents on the border com­ing from the Gaza side.

He said that on Mon­day there were at least four sep­a­rate in­ci­dents of Ha­mas op­er­a­tives open­ing fire on IDF border po­si­tions, in­clud­ing one ma­jor in­ci­dent re­gard­ing which the IDF has al­ready dis­trib­uted video footage of eight Ha­mas op­er­a­tives fir­ing on an IDF po­si­tion all at once.

Alon said that eight bombs were used against the IDF on Mon­day, as well as sev­eral more that were found ly­ing nearby the next day.

He added that Pales­tini­ans sent 15 fire kites into Is­raeli ter­ri­tory, burn­ing nearby fields.

His state­ment men­tioned other sim­i­lar vi­o­lent ac­tions by Gazans, though on a smaller scale, in some of the other con­fronta­tions in re­cent weeks.

Based on the vi­o­lence, the idea that the IDF le­gal divi­sion and the Jus­tice Min­istry care­fully en­sure that the IDF’s rules of en­gage­ment fol­low in­ter­na­tional law, and the prin­ci­ple that courts should not try to sec­ond-guess com­plex war cir­cum­stances on the ground, the state said the pe­ti­tion should be dis­missed.

ONE IS­SUE the state did not specif­i­cally re­spond to was the hu­man rights groups’ ci­ta­tion of a Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights 2008 rul­ing against Turk­ish-Cyprus for its rough and deadly han­dling of Greek-Cypriot pro­test­ers as a prece­dent for declar­ing the IDF’s con­duct il­le­gal.

The de­ci­sion refers to a highly dis­puted 1996 in­ci­dent in which a com­bi­na­tion of Greek-Cypriot civil­ians, Turk­ish-Cypriot civil­ians and Turk­ish-Cypriot po­lice came to blows, and ac­cord­ing to some claims, led to open­ing fire.

One of the main claims which the Turk­ish-Cypri­ots made to de­fend the killing of one of the Greek-Cypriot pro­test­ers, aside from self-de­fense, was that their forces were act­ing to pre­vent a broader dan­ger and riot and that the slain man was an or­ga­nizer and in­citer.

In some in­stances, the IDF and the state have ap­peared to ar­gue that the dan­ger of Gazans breach­ing the border fence and in­vad­ing nearby vil­lages could jus­tify fir­ing on some Gazans even if they did not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent an im­me­di­ate dan­ger.

Part of this jus­ti­fi­ca­tion has also been that par­tic­u­lar per­sons were or­ga­niz­ers or in­citers, and the NGOs say that the Is­raeli High Court should take the 2008 Euro­pean Court de­ci­sion as guid­ance for re­ject­ing the IDF’s ra­tio­nale for al­low­ing open­ing fire ab­sent an im­me­di­ate, spe­cific dan­ger.

It was un­clear why the state did not re­ply to this ar­gu­ment, though at an April hear­ing be­fore the High Court, the state’s gen­eral view was that there are no cases where other states have faced sim­i­lar lev­els of vi­o­lence and ri­ot­ing on their border.

Ear­lier in the week, the NGOs also de­manded that the High Court make its de­ci­sion im­me­di­ately, to avoid fur­ther Pales­tinian deaths, and ap­peared to up­braid the court for de­lay­ing its de­ci­sion past Mon­day – the day that was cor­rectly pre­dicted to be the most deadly.

A court rep­re­sen­ta­tive replied sim­ply that the case was still pend­ing and that the sides should wait for a de­ci­sion.

(Amir Cohen/Reuters)

SOL­DIERS DE­FEND the Gaza border on Tues­day.

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