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Out-of-Control Israeli State Terror

Israeli air strikesHaving friends in high places in Washington lets Israel get away with murder.

On October 31, Ma'an News said continued Israeli air strikes so far killed 12 Gazans. Others were wounded, some severely.

Overnight Sunday, the IDF confirmed additional air strikes. Another ceasefire took effect at 10:00PM. Nonetheless, early Monday attacks continued, targeting Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. Israel overflights continue.

Given its propensity for violence, expect more attacks any time for any reason or none at all. On Sunday, Netanyahu relished having them, saying:

"There is no ceasefire." Israeli forces will "protect the residents of the south and wipe out the rocket launchers. I promise that the other side will pay an even heavier price than it has up to now until it stops firing."

No matter that Gazans respond defensively to premeditated Israeli attacks. Netanyahu inverted truth, blaming victims of IDF crimes. Since Cast Lead ended in January 2009, Hamas rigorously observed ceasefire terms. So do other resistance forces except when attacked.

Israel violated Egypt's brokered truce. Islamic Jihad (IJ) and other resistance groups said ending violence depends on stopping Israeli attacks. IJ's Sunday statement said:

"Islamic Jihad is committed to the truce as long as the occupation commits to it."

However, if Israeli attacks continue, further comments said resistance will respond defensively.

Premeditated Israeli attacks initiated conflict. Militants were falsely blamed. Gazan resistance responds defensively. Israel calls it terrorism. International law clearly legitimizes defensive responses to external attacks.

On October 31, the International Middle East Media Center said Sunday Israel air and ground attacks killed Islamic Jihad and National Resistance Brigades members.

On October 30, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said Israel escalated attacks on Gaza. Nine deaths were reported. As of midday Monday Gaza time, it's at least 12, including civilians.

”Resistance training sites and a police station were destroyed. Other buildings also sustained damage. PCHR "warn(ed) of further escalation of such attacks, and expresse (d) concern for the lives of Palestinian civilians, especially because the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world."

Gazans killed included:

  • Ahmed Khalil al-Sheikh Khalil in Rafah;
  • Mohammed Ahmed 'Aashour in Khan Yunis;
  • Abdul Karim Mousa Shatat in Khan Yunis;
  • Bassem Mohammed Abu al-'Ata in Gaza City;
  • Hassan Mohammed al-Khudari in Gaza City;
  • Suleiman Mahrous Abu Fatma in Rafah;
  • Sami Hamad Abu Sabt in Rafah;
  • Mardi Nahidh Mohammed Hajjaj in Gaza City; and
  • Suhail Ibrahim Jundiya in Gaza City.

Three others were killed after PCHR's report. Palestinians near attack sites are terrified, especially children.

All Israeli attacks violate Israeli and international law. Besieged Gazans live in the world's largest open air prison. Israel maliciously makes it a war zone. Human lives and welfare are non-starters. State terror defines Israeli policy.

On Sunday, MK Shaul Mofaz, Knesset chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Israel must commit itself to targeted assassinations. Press TV reported that he stressed targeting Gaza-based "high-ranking figures within the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement and Hamas."

Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and other MKs share his view. Targeted assassinations are longstanding Israeli policy. Others call it cold-blooded murder. Under international law, it's a war crime. More on that below.

Israel remains unaccountable. Washington and other Quartet members stay silent. Fundamental international law principles are ignored, including obligations under Fourth Geneva's Article 146 stating:

"The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention."

Fourth Geneva guarantees protection of civilians in time of war. Israel, Washington, Britain, France, and other Western belligerents systematically spurn all international law. Rogue violence defines their agenda. Mass deaths, injuries and destruction are military objectives. They all get away with murder.

Targeted Killing

Geneva's Common Article 3 prohibits:

"(a) violence to life and person, in particular to murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;" and

"(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions with previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

Under Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):

"Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."

Other international laws are also relevant, including provisions of the 1907 Hague Convention.

Nils Melzer's book, titled "Targeted Killing in International Law" discussed the practice. His definition includes lethal force against anyone not in custody with premeditated intent to kill.

He used two normative paradigms:

  • the "hostilities paradigm" against combatants, including civilians directly participating in hostilities; and
  • the "law enforcement paradigm" against noncombatant civilians, including during armed conflict.

He believes "law enforcement paradigm" targeted killings must conform to domestic law, be preventative, not punitive, and have protecting human life from lawless attacks its sole purpose.

Under the "hostilities paradigm," combatants are legitimate targets to achieve specific military objectives, provided civilian lives and property are protected from harm.

Distinction and proportionality principles apply to distinguish between combatants and military targets v. civilians and non-military ones. Attacking latter ones are war crimes except when civilians take direct part in hostilities.

Proportionality prohibits disproportionate, indiscriminate force likely to cause damage to or loss of lives and objects.

Fourth Geneva also requires giving "effective advance warning" and "neutralized zones" so noncombatants can be as protected as possible.

Washington, its NATO partners, and Israel violate these and other international law principles with impunity.

International laws protect human life. Killing is always a last resort, never against noncombatants. Premeditated killing is lawless. Meltzer says it's impermissible when non-lethal alternatives exist.

In "The Public Committee against Torture in Israel v. Gov't of Israel et al (2005)," Israel's High Court ruled that "a civilian taking a direct part in hostilities cannot be attacked....if a less harmful means can be employed." 

In paragraph 40 it added:

"(I)f a belligerent were allowed to fire at enemy civilians simply suspected of somehow planning or conspiring to plan military attacks, or of having planned or directed hostile actions, the basic foundations of international humanitarian law would be seriously undermined."

"The basic distinction between civilians and combatants would be called into question and the whole body of law relating to armed conflict would eventually be eroded."

It entirely eroded in all Israeli conflicts since 1948. Its own standard holds human life inconsequential to achieve military objectives.

Moreover, its "Dahiya Doctrine" targets civilians as official policy. Named after a Beirut suburb attacked in 2006, Israel's then Northern Commander Gabi Eisenkot said:

"What happened in Dahiya....will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy's weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction."

"From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities). They are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved."

It prioritizes damaging or destroying assets, economic interests, and centers of civilian power. Israel wages all wars and armed interventions this way, no matter how in violation of fundamental international law.

Israel's High Court called it illegal. Israel notoriously ignores its own highest legal authority with impunity. As a result, Palestinians most of all suffer, largely out of sight and mind from Western media.

A Final Comment

On October 31, UNESCO admitted Palestine as a full member, despite intense Washington and Israeli opposition.

UNESCO member states voted 107 in favor, 14 against, and 52 abstaining.

Israel called it a "tragedy." Ahead of the vote, Washington called admitting Palestine "counterproductive (and) premature." Retaliatory measures followed America's usual response.

Its UNESCO funding was suspended. The organization will get along fine without its blood money. The UN would greatly improve without its membership.

Palestinians hope theirs in UNESCO will boost their full UN recognition chances. At best, call it a baby step forward.

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