Haaretz reports a bombshell finding by human rights group B’Tselem that the murder of four Palestinian militants a few weeks ago in Bethlehem was not as it was reported by the IDF. The latter had allowed the media and public to believe that the victims died in a gun battle or resisting arrest.
B’Tselem reports the shocking finding that they were killed while sitting in a car, execution style. Not only that, the driver was wounded in the initial attack and subsequently, while lying on the ground, was shot at close range. After the other three had been shot inside the vehicle an IDF executioner fired another round into each to ensure they were dead. Are these people hit men or soldiers of a democratic nation engaged in defense of its territory–a rhetorical question I assure you?
When you add to this the fact that several of the victims had applied for amnesty–under a joint PA-Israeli program under which a militant agrees to renounce violence and involvement in militant activities–and been refused; then something even more sinister rears its ugly head.
B’Tselem is rightly demanding a criminal investigation of the executions. This stinks to high heaven. If an IDF officer can be severely reprimanded for shooting and wounding an innocent Palestinian in cold blood as happened recently, al achat kama v’kama this incident deserves even more severe examination and justice. And if the IDF cannot investigate this matter and adjudicate it properly, then either the Israeli Supreme Court or, failing that, the International Court of Justice should take the matter up. If the perpetrators of this brutal murder don’t face Israeli justice then they should face some justice.
It is interesting that no Israeli newspaper originated the reporting of this incident. Instead, this was done by an NGO like B’Tselem. This is certainly different than what would happen in the U.S. where investigative journalism turns up such massacres and reports the hell out of them. I’m not sure whether the reason Haaretz did not do original reporting is due to military censorship or a lack of coverage of the West Bank. At any rate, it is sad that Israeli journalism was not capable of originating this story.
And this fact reinforces the immense significance of the presence of human rights groups like B’Tselem. Without them we would have the Shin Bet and IDF literally getting away with murder.
For the benefit of my opponents let me say that I’m not making a judgment on the alleged crimes of the victims. They may indeed have been guilty of terror actions against Israeli civilians. My point is that liquidating them was not the way to achieve justice. This was the law of the jungle. And in case Defense Minister Ehud Barak, no doubt the evil author of this action should remember that two can and will play at that game.
So the next time someone calls out the Palestinians militants for their “subhuman” behavior in attacking defenseless Israelis, just remember that these crimes do not happen in a vacuum.
This extrajudicial assassination looms large not just because of the heinousness of it. In the aftermath of the killing of 130 Gazans during an IDF action there, this alleged anti-terror action further inflamed Palestinian opinion. The result has been a total rejection among Palestinians of further negotiations with Israel and a concomitant rise in popularity of Hamas. Perhaps this is what Barak, the author of the Bethlehem murders wanted all along. He wants war to burnish his hawkish credentials in preparation for future elections. He judges the road to power lies through the gun and not the negotiating table. Ironic that the Labor pol takes this path while the erstwhile rightist prime minister seems to be taking a different approach–though indecisively and ineffectively so.
It’s all just sad as hell.
Aussie Dave says
Once again, your dishonesty is manifest. B’Tselem have raised suspicions that there was a confirmed killing – based on testimonies from palestinian witnesses (including the family of one of the terrorists, whose honesty can be questioned). You, on the other hand, post it like this:
Last year Richards wrote:
Today he says
It’s not about justice, It’s about defence.
What is shocking about that? It’s not the first time and wont be the last time. It’s just another extra-judicial killing, a targeted assassination, whatever one wants to call it instead of a “cold-blooded murder”. It’s certainly not justice, it’s a policy of lynching, with Israel as self-appointed prosecutor, judge and executioner. Nor is it about defense – certainly no such right is granted to those accused of alleged crimes. No proof for their guilt is ever provided – nor demanded by those who applaud or tolerate the practice.
But I guess since the Israeli propaganda machine keeps telling us how Palestinians raise their kids to be terrorists and how they are all terrorists at heart, we are also asked to believe that the murder of any Palestinian can be justified as “self-defense” – or in the case of children, a “preemptive strike?”
There is a war going on and both sides are killing innocent people, but there is such a blatant double standard as to how these actions are presented. That is what is shocking.
Richard Silverstein says
As for Aussie Dave’s bile. Yes, B’Tselem uses the word “suspicion” because, unlike him, they’re careful when they make accusations. And isn’t it interesting that the man who claims he doesn’t hate Muslims or Palestinians (lies all) automatically mistrusts a Palestinian eyewitness account of the incident. He certainly would never mistrust an IDF or Israeli eyewitness account of such an incident.
Here is what the B’Tselem press release says. I assure you that B’Tselem not only had eyewitness accounts, but they asked forensic specialists to go over the photographs & other evidence before making the following statement.
That’s an assassination, execution whatever you want to call it. If it isn’t then provide evidence to dispute it. Provide actual statements from the soldiers involved saying what they did or did not do (Israel would never do that).
Aussie Dave is one of the saddest, most pathetic of the hard-right Israel First bloggers. Would you quote that in yr blog when you write about me please, Dave L? There’s an interesting pathology going on here. Dave regularly when he posts here writes in disgust that he’s so offended that he’ll never return. Yet he always does like a moth to flame. And so he has once again. He takes it as his personal crusade to point out the “truth” about me to the thin niche of fellow Israel Firsters who read his swill. And when I ban him he always comes back using a new IP address to circumvent my banning. When you write more lies about me, Dave, do me the favor of including a link so your readers can visit and confirm their and your prejudices.
@Amir: Killing militants in cold blood is not “defense.” It’s among the most OFFENSIVE behavior Israel could engage in. And I said Israel could “pursue” militants, not summarily execute them. Besdies, these individuals were not planning or executing terror attacks & had instead offered to turn away from their violent past which the IDF had rejected. You do remember the Jewish principle of teshuvah which says that anyone who sincerely offers to repent must be taken at their word & allowed to do so? Or have we Jews decided we no longer need to honor our own sacred religious principles?
And btw you’re conveniently neglected the fact that when I first wrote about this incident you claimed the victims were killed in a firefight. Would you care to retract that statement now?
According to the B’Tselem website there were three witnesses that they report: Ibrahim Abu Rashed, Muhammad Abu ‘Ahour, and Fadi al-Balbul. According to their own testimony, two of them were INDOORS when the gunfire began so they could not possibly see what preceded the gunfire or who opened fire first.
Muhammad Abu ‘Ahour:
Ibrahim Abu Rashed claims he saw the whole thing but his testimony contradicts that of Muhammad Abu ‘Ahour. They both claim that someone called out the name Imad but Muhammad Abu ‘Ahour claims that the man who called out the name “was standing on the street next to an orange minibus with Palestinian plates” AFTER Imad was shot Muhammed saw six soldiers approach the Daihatsu and open fire. Muhammed also testified that there was gunfire BEFORE Imad’s name was called out. Ibrahim doesn’t testify about any gunfire BEFORE Imad’s name was called out (contradicting Muhammed) and testified that the soldiers came out before Imad’s name was called out, and that the soldier’s were the ones who called out his name (again contradicting Muhammed).
Muhammed confirmed that there were weapons in the Daihatsu, so the men were, according to him, armed. According to Fadi, his uncle Ahmad HAD been given amnesty and so was supposed to lay down his weapons. His presence in the car with these terrorists and weapons clearly shows that he violated the terms of the amnesty.
So even if these witnesses aren’t purposely lying, and it certainly is possible that they are, their testimony is very unreliable. I have not seen any reason to doubt the IDF’s claim that they were on a mission to arrest these men, certainly not this unreliable B’Tselem report.
Richard Silverstein says
Amir, really this is beyond pathetic. Being an apologist for the intelligence apparatus is one thing. But what they did is criminal. I’ve read all 3 sets of testimony. Nothing any of the 3 said contradict ea. other. And they agree in most of the essentials. This was cold blooded murder. Murder most foul. The perpetrators are fiendish, evil men. I could only say this after reading the eyewitness testimony. Normally, I would never say this about another human being. But this is different.
I would like you to present a single instance in which a report or claim of B’Tselem’s has been proven to be wrong. They are one of the most reliable human rights groups I’ve ever seen. And I’ll tell you, I trust B’Tselem’s judgment far more than yours & even far more than the IDF. Further, if the report was wrong or a lie the IDF would be all over this story denying it at the top of their lungs. The fact that they have not, so far, said a word is very telling.
You judgement about the unreliability of the witnesses is questionable as usual. While some of them may not have seen the beginning of the incident, they all say that they ran to see what transpired so they certainly saw some of the incident & enough to make a judgment of what happened. Not to mention, as I wrote, that the forensic evidence would clearly show where the bullets came from and whether the victims had taken any offensive action.
And are you saying that because a man’s request for amnesty had been accepted by the Israelis (not a fact verified in any other story I’ve read about this incident btw) and he was in a car that contained weapons that this justified his liquidation???
You are pathetic to justify this brutal killing.
The beginning is the most important part. If they were given a chance to turn themselves in and decided not to, it really doesn’t matter to me what angle the bullets came from.
So present the forensic evidence or the coroner’s report.
The IDF obviously had good intelligence here, why not just strike the car with a missile from a helicopter? I can think of only two reasons. Either they wanted to minimise the risk of civilian casualties or they wanted the men arrested, Either way you should be proud of the IDF.
Obviously, yes. Especially if he was given a chance to turn himself, and even if he hadn’t he could have turned himself in whenever he wanted to.
We obviously differ on what constitutes legitimate defensive measures. When the suicide bomber is at the entrance of a shopping mall and some poor immigrant earning a minimun wage is blown up as he tries to stop him, then it’s too late.
You’re case is falling apart fast. You said:”When you add to this the fact that several of the victims had applied for amnesty–under a joint PA-Israeli program under which a militant agrees to renounce violence and involvement in militant activities–and been refused”
I already pointed out that one of them was apparently granted amnesty and was in violation of the terms of amnesty. Another, Shehade, the most dangerous of the terrorists rejected amnesty:
from the maan news agency (12/03/08)
Richard Silverstein says
Go back & read the testimony. EVERY SINGLE WITNESS says the assassins were shooting from behind the car. How could the victims have realized they were being attacked, turned around & fired back at their assailants? No one says that the victims used a weapon. EVERY SINGLE WITNESS saw only IDF assassins firing. EVERY SINGLE WITNESS viewed the bodies in the car & noted they were still seated next to each other, one with his head resting on his friend’s body. Does that sound like 3 men who were resisting their attackers? Or like three men ambushed before they had a chance to do a thing to defend themselves. In other words, pls. find a single shred of evidence FROM THE TESTIMONY that justifies a supposition that they resisted in any way.
That does it. You’re banned. I can’t stand your ugly amoral smugness. PROUD??? I’m disgusted & how dare you tell me I should be proud of butchery. You’ve really gone beyond the pale this time, Amir. If you wanted to get a rise out of me you did. You’re no longer welcome here. You can keep finding new IP addresses to get access but I’ll delete yr comments as quickly as you post them.
As far as the reason the assassins attacked and did not use a missile, the demolition of the family home of one of the victims the previous week points to revenge as being the motive–plain cold revenge. Not a desire to protect civilians & certainly no desire to arrest them since they were ambushed from behind & not a single witness notes any effort to attempt to arrest them.
The Israeli press gives less attention to what happens in the West Bank and in Gaza since Israelis don’t care about what’s going on there.
Many Israeli hardly care about what’s happening in the nearby city. We are less involved. Less people have faith that they have any influence about what’s happening outside their houses. This is sad indeed.