Israel Tries Hezbollah Fighters As Common Criminals
Yesterday, brought news that Israel is taking the extraordinary step of prosecuting Hezbollah fighters for, er fighting against Israel. In other words, three grunts Israel captured during the war in Lebanon will be tried by a civilian court for their “crimes” in fighting against Israeli forces there:
Three Hezbollah operatives captured by the Israel Defense Forces during the war went on trial for criminal charges at the Nazareth District Court yesterday.
Hussein Suleiman of Beirut, Maher Qurani from the village of Yatar, and Muhammad Sarur of Aita al-Shaab stand accused of membership in a terrorist organization. All three were Hezbollah fighters…
Suleiman is also charged with murder and kidnapping due to his alleged involvement in the July 12 operation at Moshav Zarit in which 8 IDF soldiers were killed and two abducted. Suleiman belonged to one of several cells whose job was to ambush the IDF troops who entered Lebanon in pursuit of the kidnappers.
All three are also charged with attempted murder, attempted kidnapping and conspiracy to commit a crime for their alleged involvement in previous efforts by Hezbollah to carry out similar operations…
Gee, I thought that’s what soldiers were supposed to do–to fight the enemy. I thought that’s what IDF troops do–follow military orders and fight Israel’s enemies.
Apparently, Israel is no longer satisfied by conventional definitions of what it means to be a soldier. In its view, the IDF is doing God’s work and everyone who fights against it is committing a crime for doing so. It will be very interesting to see if an Israeli civilian court buys this new-fangled approach to definitions of war.
This strange legal initiative also begs the question: what does Israel expect will happen to every IDF soldier kidnapped from here to the end of time? That they will be treated strictly according to the Geneva Convention? With respect and dignity? Have they not thought about the precedent this would create for IDF soldiers being paraded before a Lebanese or Syrian court and tried for crimes against the citizens of those countries? I’d say Israel is playing with some serious fire here and that it ought to put down the match before it gets severely burned by its own stupidity. I thought they were trying to free Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev and not see them standing before an Arab dock of justice.
The charge against the Lebanese that they are members of a terrorist organization are also interesting. How do you invoke Israeli law against citizens of another country who never stepped foot in your own till you captured or kidnapped them and brought them there? It is certainly not illegal to belong to Hezbollah in Lebanon (just the contrary). So how do you apply Israeli law in this circumstance? It seems beyond ridiculous.
This colloquy between defense and prosecuting attorneys proves beyond a doubt how flimsy the Israeli case is:
Smadar Ben-Natan, who represents Suleiman and Qurani, and Itai Hermelin, Sarur’s lawyer, argued that the defendants are not subject to Israeli law, and are entitled to be treated as prisoners of war.
State Prosecutor Mirit Stern countered that the men are not legally prisoners of war, since they do not operate according to the laws and customs of war.
Oh I see. Hezbollah is not an army. Doesn’t have a military hierarchy. Fighters don’t take orders from their superiors. They don’t fight using the tactics of military forces the world over. The defendant’s response tells it all:
“We are not terrorists. We are fighters in a resistance movement and act in the defense of our homeland,” Suleiman said. “We act under directions from Nasrallah
If you try to read through the Kabuki-like performance here I suppose one could say that this prosecution is mostly for domestic consumption as Olmert tries to shore up his right flank after the severe shellacking he’s taken from the public for his handling of the war. It can also be read as yet more posturing for the sake of Hezbollah like a rooster puffing out its chest to make itself appear bigger and bolder than it has any right to claim. In other words, you kidnap our soldiers, we’ll not only kidnap yours–we’ll try them as common criminals for murder.
In truth, it’s all hollow and empty legal maneuvering–‘full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.’
Meron Benvenisti wrote a powerful Haaretz commentary on the issue of Israel’s attempt to criminialize resistance to the Occupation:
The ideological basis for these legal steps is the definition of the suspects as terrorists. In other words, criminals. Their supporters are defined as traitors. Israel has taken it upon itself to define what legitimate violence is, and it is claiming a monopoly on the use of force, demanding that others accept its unilateral definitions. If they do not, they will be accused of being hostile, or worse. All practical resistance to Israel, whether violent or political, is an act whose purpose is illegitimate. Therefore, the definition of a “terrorist act” is not limited to the murder of innocents; it includes any use of “illegitimate” force. This definition encompasses “incitement” and “abetting the enemy.” One could say, on the basis of this mainstream outlook, that a person can be either a Zionist or a terrorist….
The trial of the Hezbollah fighters only heightens the absurdity and stains the legal system, which is ready to subserviently serve a military establishment that aims to humiliate an imprisoned enemy. According to the state’s representative, “these are not prisoners [of war], because Hezbollah does not abide by the rules of war.” Does Israel strictly adhere to the rules of war? Whoever denies his enemies the status of prisoners of war exposes his own imprisoned soldiers to the same treatment…
The attempt to describe the second Lebanon War as a police action, in which a number of criminals were caught and are now being tried for murder and attempted murder, is so pathetic that it should be abandoned immediately.
6 thoughts on “Israel Tries Hezbollah Fighters As Common Criminals – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Since their actions were illegal, they’re being tried as criminals. They were not part of any declared war and their actions, invading and kidnapping, are the actions of criminals.
As for them being ‘grunts’ what part of ‘following orders is no excuse’ didn’t you learn?
If the Lebanese fighters “actions were illegal” then the actions of any IDF soldiers serving outside Israel are also illegal. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Israel started the war fella. And it most certainly was one whether you or Israel say it was or not. Whether a war is declared or not has nothing to do w. whether it is a war under international law & whether the actions of the soldiers fighting it are covered under such law.
“Following orders” is a perfectly lawful position for a member of a military force to take whether it be the IDF or Hezbollah. As far as I can tell, Israel cannot prove (& isn’t even claiming) that these men attacked or killed Israeli civilians (which WOULD be a violation of international law). They are being charged for attacking fellow military personnel (Israeli). That is definitely NOT a violation of any international law & probably not even a violation of Israeli law. It will not stand up to scrutiny, probably not even in the Israeli Supreme Court which is, with few exceptions, in the pocket of the intelligence/military establishment when it comes to security issues.
Neither you nor Israel has a leg or even a toe to stand on.
Israel started what war? Oh never mind, you’re not even bothering to pretend anymore.
Legitimate liberals try for some evenhandedness. This is just terrorist propoganda.
You’re right. I was imprecise. Hezbollah engineered a commando raid which captured two soldiers & killed eight & Israel unleashed the Mideast equivalent of WWIII (minus the nuclear weapons or course). I should’ve rather said that Hezbollah made the first move & Israel turned it into a war, which it needn’t have become if Israel had treated the situation the same way Ariel Sharon did when it happened during his regime.
Use the term “terrorist” one more time associated w. me & you’re banned here.
So Israel started a war when it responded to an invasion and an attack against it.
Just so we’re clear on that.
No need to ban me, happily leaving on my own, along with all the non-existant commenters who aren’t commenting on your blog it would seem. Better market yourself to the Al Jazeera crowd. You won’t have much luck with Jews.
Just so we’re clear: an invasion is sending 10,000 troops 15 miles into a foreign neighbor’s territory & occupying it for several months; while flying several thousand sorties, & dropping several thousand rockets, & tens of thousands of cluster bomblets on said territory killing 1,200 (mostly civilians), causing $1 billion worth of damage & sending 1/4 of the population into internal exile.
An incursion is when you send a score or 2 of troops several hundred feet into a foreign neighbor’s territory on a commando raid which kills 8 & kidnaps 2. And just to be even more clear–I don’t condone the raid & in fact would’ve supported a conventional military response to it in proportion to the severity of the original provocation. But it cannot be compared in catastrophic impact to the subsequent Israeli invasion.
And I’m happy too. Isn’t it nice when someone can make themselves & others happy with their own disappearance?
You’re truly ignorant. This blog has had nearly 3,000 comments in the four years it has existed along w. approx. 250,000 unique visitors in the past 12 months. How ’bout yours? And my blog is blogrolled in scores of Jewish blogs, my feed is offered at the major Jewish blog aggregator sites, and hundreds of Jews have written supportive comments here. You’d know some of this if you’d bothered to read what’s here. But I guess that’s too demanding a chore for you.