IDF Cancels Military Exchange for Fear of War Crimes Arrest
Israel’s impunity for possible Gaza war crimes slowly recedes, drawing the circle tighter and tighter around IDF officers who might be implicated for their command roles in the Gaza war. The inestimable Didi Remez offers this coverage of the story from the Israeli media:
At the last minute, Israel canceled a work visit of Israeli officers to the UK due to concern that arrest warrants would be issued against them.
The Israeli delegation, comprised of officers ranking colonel, lieutenant colonel and major, was invited by the British army to examine military cooperation. Due to concern that warrants of arrest would be issued, Israeli officials contacted British government officials in advance and demanded that they guarantee that the officers would not be arrested. This is after two weeks ago, a warrant of arrest was issued against Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and earlier there were attempts to have a similar warrant issued against Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
To the great astonishment of the Israelis—the British announced last week that they could not guarantee that the officers would not be arrested. Consultations were held in Israel among the top echelons and it was decided: under the present circumstances, no risk should be taken, and the visit was canceled.
This is how culpability is gradually established through a nip here and a tuck there until finally there is nothing left but to bring the matter to a head. That is when an arrest will finally be made and a trial held.
Israel seems to believe that because it is a nation like all others that it deserves special treatment to ensure it’s officers will not have to face such unpleasantness:
Israel views this matter very seriously and officials say that it directly harms the security cooperation between the two countries. High-ranking officials also say that the situation that has been created in Britain is completely unacceptable and requires immediate legislative rectification.
…The Israeli officials intend to make it clear to Baroness Scotland that Israel expects a change in British legislation that would ensure that officers and Israeli personages cannot be arrested in Britain because of lawsuits against them for their part in IDF operations. “The risk to senior Israeli figures does concrete and immediate damage to bilateral relations,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. He said “organizations that are hostile to Israel try to exploit the legal channels and legal tools to threaten the Israeli and British decision-makers, including the authorities of the attorney general herself, and to thereby create political facts that should be determined around the diplomatic negotiating table.” Ayalon warned that the situation created in Britain also caused damage beyond its borders, since it increased similar initiatives in other places in the world.
But the truth is it is a nation not quite like others in that it has numerous charges of war crimes for the Gaza and Lebanon wars and other acts of terror against civilians to answer for. But minister Ayalon needn’t worry about the Brits setting an example to be followed elsewhere around the world, other legal venues don’t need Britain’s example to follow suit since they are already preparing their own courses of action should opportunities present themselves.
In a subsequent post, Didi reports that Yediot reveals the names of two of the officers who were put in herem:
Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that Brig. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Colonel Itai Virob were part of the military delegation that was supposed to leave for Britain last week.
Brig. Gen. Herzi Halevi
As reported yesterday, Israel canceled the planned visit by the military delegation to the UK after British authorities said they could not guarantee that the IDF officers would not be arrested. Brig. Gen. Halevi was the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade during Operation Cast Lead, and Colonel Virob, formerly the commander of the Kfir Brigade, also entered the Gaza Strip in the course of that operation with one of his battalions.
Didi provides further background about Virob, noting that he is the IDF commander who testified in a trial of a soldier accused of military misconduct in abusing a Palestinian that such behavior was a normal and accepted part of IDF routine in enforcing the rules of the military Occupation.
The British attorney general seems to have taken her marching orders from the Israeli foreign ministry:
British Attorney General Patricia Scotland said last night in a lecture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem: The government understands the urgent need to change the system in order to prevent lawsuits against Israelis, and is determined to enable Israeli leaders to travel freely to Britain.
But she seems to acknowledge a slight problem in that the Israelis may actually be legally culpable under international law for their deeds. Hmm, that does pose an awkward complication:
The British attorney general said that there should not be a safe haven for war criminals in any democratic country, but it should also be ensured that the law would not be used for the sake of one political campaign or another. Scotland emphasized that until the law was amended, the policy according to which judges could issue arrest warrants against senior Israeli figures would not change.
The last I checked international laws of war didn’t make any distinction between a “political campaign” and a legitimate legal redress. So to call efforts to bring Israelis officers and political leaders to heel for their actions “political” begs the question: what are Israel’s acts if not political as well? Let’s take these issues out of the realm of the political and bring them before a court of justice. And in order to ensure that the campaign isn’t seen as one-sided let’s include figures on both sides who may’ve strayed from acceptable norms of conduct. Let’s Goldstone the whole bunch! Of course, the Israelis and their supporters know that Israel stands much more to lose from this since it has killed far more civilians and has far more political, military and intelligence officials with some form of blood on their hands. That is why this is a bargain Israel cannot afford to accept.
32 thoughts on “IDF Cancels Military Exchange for Fear of War Crimes Arrest – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Poor guys. At least those war criminals will always be welcome at Harvard: http://harvardwarcriminals.blogspot.com
Since Harvard Business School trained Doron Almog & Halutz, who are both wanted for war crimes, perhaps HBS should create a sub-specialty for business degrees for putative war criminals. They could certainly charge a bit higher tuition for the special treatment they’d have to accord them. And perhaps they could tailor the course work to the special work that’s involved in perpetrating war crimes on the type of scale the IDF engages.
One comfort though of the course would be a farewell dinner with that other defender of war criminals, Alan Dershowitz, an outstanding member of the Harvard faculty. Just think of the toasts they could come up with. Another great idea, Der Dersh could begin preparing for the war crimes trials and become lead defendants attorney. He got Claus von Bulow off after all. If you get one guilty man off sure you can get other REALLY guilty men off. Actually, to be fair we have to presume these officers are innocent till proven guilty, so I strike that last wisecrack.
Interestingly, Israel expects countries to accept that warrants they may issue against Israeli war criminals are “politically motivated” and not based on fact or legal evidence – yet it arbitrarily accuses Palestinian groups of terrorism and expects to be taken at its word. The incredible chutzpah of asking the Brits to change their laws so that Israeli war criminals can visit without threat of arrest just infuriates me
Not to worry, Mary. God will punish them in the afterlife.
If Israel accepted the Statute of Rome (creating the International Criminal Court) AND it brought the soldiers (and leaders up the command chain) up in a real, fair and open trial within Israel, AND if they were acquitted, they could under international law probably quash a warrant in Europe.
In other words, the Statute of Rome encourages countries (and quasi-states like Hamas has established in Gaza) to air and clean their own dirty linen. Strictly speaking, a UK court (or Spanish, to add the other “activist” judiciary in Europe) isn’t supposed to issue a warrant unless an EU national is involved, BTW, and there was indeed such involvement in Gaza and in nearby Israeli towns.
Same goes for Hamas personnel and their backers/funders — they are theoretically liable for tossing rockets at civilians, too.
And US (and probably UK) politicos, for giving the IDF a blank check on use of US technology.
So, surprise! All sides buried the Goldstone Report. So we should support any warrants against all these folks. It doesn’t stop the terrorism and the reprisals, but it reduces the resources available for everyone to do bad things to civilians on huge scale.
I agree completely. It would be my preference for Palestinians & Israelis to try their own. Goldstone himself as much as said if they would ea. do this respectively & find the accused innocent or acquited, then an international criminal court referral would be much less likely. That would be the smart thing to do. But unfortunately, Palestinians & Israelis are not being very smart about this or many other matters.
Did you know that Augusto Pinochet was a Jew? Because you know, these universal jurisdiction cases are always aimed against Jews by antisemitic leftwingers. So when Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón issued an arrest warrant against Pinochet it must have been because the dictator was Jewish.
Now seriously, the outcome of the Pinochet case is a strong precedent for what is likely to happen with Israeli war criminals. High-profile figures from friendly countries are not arrested. As Baroness Scotland promised, a solution will be found and the cynical Col. Itai “It’s OK to beat prisoners” Virob will be able to freely walk down the streets of London. The only one who might get into trouble (with the state comptroller, not with human-rights judges) is Gen. Barak, if he insists on keeping the sybaritic lifestyle that has characterized his foreign trips.
All Israeli leaders are sybarites when it comes to foreign travel. That was part of the indictment that cost Olmert his job. Bibi went to London during the Lebanon war ostensibly to buttress Israeli hasbara efforts & spent tens of thousands on hotel rms alone.
Let’s not forget Harvard’s own lawyer/war criminal who now sits in the White House. One of his recent war crimes in December–a cruise missile strike on Yemen that left dozens of civilians, mostly women and children, dead–provoked the detroit airline incident.
Of course, massacring Yemeni civilians is not an atrocity.
No–an atrocity is when Americans on a passenger jet become alarmed about their safety for 20 minutes. THAT’S a major atrocity, worthy of a month of 24/7 news casts painting us as the victims of some horrendous act.
We have learned a great deal from the Israeli “people.”
To be precise, the Dec 17 attacks were supposedly on Al Quada camps and supposedly to head off attacks by Al Quada. If true, then under international law the attacks were arguably “legal.” The analogy is that you can’t fire at combatants hiding behind civilians unless the combatants directly threaten you. Also, the force has to be proportionate. Cruise missiles, which have very large warheads, might not be a proper response in this case when, say, smaller missiles from drones are available or a ground attack is possible.
At any rate, all the situation above is worthy of being investigated as an atrocity but certainly not worthy of being called an atrocity, at least not yet.
Deliberately trying to blow up a civilian airliner far from the theater of combat IS AN ATROCITY.
Equating the two and claiming cause-and-effect (What? the underpants bomber would NOT be on the plane? He’d been in preparation for six months, which is long before the Yemen attack) is to me intellectually dishonest. It also is unreasonable enough to provide cover for those who don’t want the Dec 17 strike investigated.
Surely you can’t be serious? Those slightly alarmed Americans came within a hair’s breath of being blown out of the sky. Are you for real? I’d like to have seen you sitting on that plane & watching that explosion & then see you writing this kind of tripe. Really…
The alleged attackers immediately announced that the attempt on the airline was in response to Obama’s massacre in Yemen. There were huge protests in Yemen and angry calls for the perpetrators of this horror–namely the United States–to be brought to justice. Everyone knows the chances of that are zero, so some of the more militant elements decided to retaliate against OUR civilians. Perfectly within their rights and entirely predictable. What are they supposed to do, having had their villages destroyed and their children torn to pieces?
In plain English, Obama very nearly caused the deaths of US air travelers, through a massacre launched against a sovereign nation with whom we are not at war.
The Jordanian who recently killed the CIA and Blackwater monsters in a brave and laudable attack in Afghanistan became radicalized after Israel’s massacre in lebanon and the detroit bomber became radicalized after Israel’s massacre in Gaza, according to reports.
Just because they announced it, doesn’t make it so. In fact, it is a provable lie — the bomber was flagged by his own father a month before the Dec. 17 attack.
The sites attacked were NOT villages. They WERE Al Quada bases. As with our own military bases, there is family there, and thus civilians, and thus it may still be a violation of international law, but these places were not normal villages with unassociated folks around.
The cause-and-effect scenario you state is clearly at variance with known facts. Protesters in Yemen, of course, do not know all the facts, but you supposedly know more than they do.
I repeat that this may or may not excuse the US attacks. It is for investigators and courts to decide. But to say that Obama “very nearly caused” the detroit attack seems far-fetched from what we know at the moment.
Saying that the airliner attack was in retaliation for a previous event that occured a week or so before is ridiculous. Plots like this are prepared months in advance if not longer.
When you say that attacks on U.S. civilians are “perfectly within their rights” you’re dangerously close to having yr own comment privileges modified. It is NOT legitimate or justified to bomb a civilian airliner period. Yr claims come dangerously close to either making you a hardline leftist loon or agent provocateur/troll for the hard right.
Sorry..had that slightly wrong. Both the jordanian suicide bomber and the detroit bomber were outraged over Israel’s abominations in Gaza (not to mention US atrocities in Afghanistan and more recently, Yemen).
It was Mohammad Atta of 9/11 fame who became radicalized as a result of Israel’s 1996 massacre in Lebanon.
in short, claims by the US and Israel that they are attempting to combat terrorism are transparently preposterous. These two rogue states are plainly the source of global terrorism.
That’s another thing I despise about people like you. YOu act as if you know everything & are smugly sure of everything, but you’re entirely ignorant. What Israeli massacre in 1996? Are you talking about Sabra & Shatilla? If so, you’re off by only a decade or so.
Yr future comments will be moderated.
I’m not a fan of Richard’s apologetics for airline terrorists, but the 1996 massacre is a reference to what Israel did at Qana in that year–they also killed civilians there in the 2006 war. That got very little attention in the US, if I recall correctly. I probably found out about it reading either Chomsky or Fisk–I can’t remember.
I meant the 1996 killings got very little attention here. 2006, of course, did.
Here is a Human Rights Watch report on the Israeli crimes in Lebanon in 1996 (which I’d read some years back and forgot about, but Wikipedia had the link).
We can simplify this debate i think, because broadly speaking, there are two possible explanations for attacks against the United States like 9/11, the COLE bombing, the airline incident recently launched on Christmas day, etc.
Explanation 1 was put forward by GW Bush and remains the standard mantra under the Obama administration: They hate our freedoms. Oh–and they want to hang out with 72 virgins in heaven.
Explanation 2: They are outraged at the never-ending atrocities committed by the US and Israel in violation of every law imaginable and at incalculable human cost to civilians in the Occupied Territories, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Obviously, I find explanation 2 the more plausible.
How about you?
Neither explanation is plausible. Since terrorists have targeted civilians in other countries as well, I don’t buy number 2. No one but right-wing yahoos buy number 1 — it is a straw man.
Religious nuts are religious nuts, no matter what tree they fall from. My father always said never to argue politics or religion, especially religion. Yeah, our dumb (and probably immoral and possibly illegal, certainly illegal sometimes) actions help the nuts recruit the fruitcakes.
But I reject the idea that it is all cause and effect with us always being the cause. Also, I repeat: As Eli Wessal said, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and soon everyone is blind and can’t eat.”
Eli Wiesel is a professionaly Holocaust victim and as a humanitarian exemplar he is a pretender and a bloody hypocrite. And if he claimed to have originated that saying he is also a liar and a plagiarist. It was Ghandi who said that, not the despicable pretender Eli Wiesel.
But eli weisel hasn’t any objection to “an eye for an eye” so long as the people (often children) being blinded are arab! he’s one of the most insufferable war mongers around.
The argument you seem to out forward is that we are repeatedly getting attacked to to the extremism inherent in Islam, but this doesn’t hold any water. Everyone is aware that it is US crimes that cause attacks on the US. The phenomenon has been well understood by our own intelligence services, who coined the term “blowback” to refer to the predictable retaliations we could expect as a result of our shameful and criminal foreign policies. I just don’t see anything I’m saying as particularly controversial. Stop murdering people in foreign lands where we have no business, prosecute war criminals including American and Israeli war criminals, pay reparations where appropriate–that’s what we should do if we are serious about reducing terrorism. instead, we are doing everything possible to encourage terrorism. That’s good for the arms industry and the Blackwaters of the world. It’s just not very good for the rest of us.
If everyone knows it, then why terrorist attacks and attempted attacks in Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Mumbai, UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey… and on and on.
A good hypothesis is that the terrorists and their funders don’t need much of an excuse.
Again, this is not an excuse for some of the stunts we’ve pulled.
As you know, I push “rule of law.” Bring the wealthy backers and the nasty politicos in all countries into court, and terrorism and reprisals and dumb military actions wither.
We have to be careful about what attacks we’re talking about. You mention Spain, which to me, is quite a good example of what I’m talking about. The country WAS attacked, for its disgraceful involvement in the Iraq war. The right wing government was quite aware that Spanish civilians had been killed as a direct result of the government’s fawning allegiance to the Nazi monster George Bush. Fearing a political fallout after the Madrid attack, the govt immediately claimed the attack was from Basque separatists! Soon, this was revealed as nonsense, their rightwing govt was toppled and replaced by the new, leftwing Spanish leader who immediately announced the withdrawal of all Spanish troops from iraq.
No more attacks on Spain. Problem solved.
It’s not all that complicated unless one makes it complicated.
Actually, 300 terrorists have been arrested in Spain since that bombing, and convictions came last month on a 2008 plot to bomb the Barcelona subway (although no exact date had been set so the 11 terrorists were not convicted of that, exactly).
I had that in mind, not the railway bombing. But either way, it doesn’t sound like a solved problem to me.
I don’t understand the blindness to stupidity on one side and not the other. Stupidity is stupidity. Evil is evil. Regrettably, all sides do it and all sides have a holier-than-thou attitude about doing it.
“300 terrorists have been arrested in Spain since that bombing”
Don’t you mean 300 terrorist suspects?
About half have been tried and convicted, and the other half have trials in progress or pending but yes, “suspected” is correct for many of the 300.
The quote came from Spain’s Interior Ministry when the Barcelona group was convicted in mid-December. They did not count about 700 others arrested and released without trial or already tried and acquitted of all serious charges, which suggests a fairly high level of nervousness/harassment on the part of authorities after the Madrid rail bombing in 2004 and an upswing of Basque/ETA activity.
It is harder to convict for what amounts to “conspiracy” in Spain than in the US, so the 700 likely include some serious plotting along with a lot of “mouthing off” about acts no one has any real intention of carrying out.
BTW, to be clear, the Spanish press calls these “Islamic” terrorists, to differentiate from Basque nationalists.
more on our noble, peacekeeping efforts:
I don’t necessarily disagree.
I simply say that if we are serious about combatting the scourge of global terrorism, it seems reasonable to go after the major kingpins in Israel and the United States before bothering with inconsequential small fry like Bin Laden, or (even more absurdly) this unfortunate fellow from Nigeria.
Clearly, launching an unprovoked war of aggression in Iraq, based exclusively on lies, which tore the country to shreds and killed upward of a million people renders even a crime like 9/11 utterly trivial in comparison.
It is very important to go after all enablers of terrorism and crazy attacks on civilians — I can think of many in the US and Israel who could be tried for crimes against humanity. Bin Laden is not a small fry — comes from rich family and clearly is involved in a lot of bad stuff. But who made him in the first place? The CIA!
The Detroit bomber, appropriately, will be tried in US civilian court for an appropriate charge, attempted murder.
Members of the Iranian government, Hezbollah and Hamas qualify.. and on and on.
Once all these folks realize they can be brought to trial, you still have the nutcases on all sides. But they won’t have the resources to conduct grand schemes. It makes for a safer (although hardly perfect) world.
Iraq was so stupid from the very beginning… and the Iraqis have paid a horrible price. And it isn’t over. The world we leave our grandchildren…
Interesting and painful discourse.
People are killers. They kill each other and other living things. Members of one nation kill members of another. Members of one religion kill members of another. People kill theirs neighbors. They kill family members. They kill their own children. Their own parents.
Most of the time people are killing to protect themselves or their “people”. When they kill in rage or in simmering resentment, underlying it is a feeling that they need to destroy something that hurt them and could hurt them again.
Some of the killers may be using this need for “protection” to cover their own purely murderous tendencies. Tendencies that would exist regardless of prior wounds or lack thereof. This could include Osama bin Laden, it could include Bush, Obama and Ehud Barak. I am fairly certain this description would cover the Green River killer or Ted Bundy, but much less certain of the others.
Killing is a tool of all kinds of people wielding power, be it politicians, criminals, guerrilla fighters, or military officers. But it can just as easily be a tool for average citizens bent on righting a wrong or ending a conflict.
I agree with the general trend in this discussion that rule of law is one important way we have of controlling these murderous tendencies in homo sapiens. Once rule of law is expanded to cover interactions between states and gives an international body a monopoly on use of force similar to what occurs within state boundaries in order to enforce the rules, then wars like the one in Iraq and Afghanistan where a foreign power invades another are probably history.
Even with some form of international governance, the wars within states and the everyday killing that goes on in our streets will continue. However, even this more prosaic killing might lessen as the need to train young people for warfare will be reduced and their educations may start to veer more towards peaceful conflict resolution.
So, I disagree with the point of view that Middle East violence and the supposed war between Arab/Muslim nations and the West begins with Israel and the US. I do agree these two powerful nations could steer their policies more towards compromise and reconciliation.
I believe violence stems from human nature and societal structure and both sides of the conflict we are dealing with here strongly believe they are acting to protect themselves. I do agree with “richard” that there really are no “terrorists,” only people turned to violence by violence they perceive as directed against themselves. Guerrilla warfare is nothing new and is always seen as morally justified by the side that feels it has no recourse to other means of fighting. Clearly the disparity in arms is the reason for use of terrorism as a tool of guerrilla warfare.
And there is no doubt that “shock and awe” and the overpowering use of force in the initial attacks on Afghanistan and Israel’s recent attack on Gaza used terrorization of the civilian population as a tactic to undermine the power of the ruling elite in each case.
Whether it is Israel, the US, China, Al Qaida, Hamas, the Tamil Tigers or the neighborhood gang; the fact is we humans have a long way to go before use of violence as a means of resolving conflicts is reduced to background noise.
People committed to bringing about a transition in human behavior must first begin to practice the art of peaceful conflict resolution in their own lives. Then they can apply that learning to the conflicts around them and help people in conflicts figure out better solutions.
One of the most hopeful signs of this process that I have seen in the Middle East is the non-violent civil disobedience that is growing in the West Bank in resistance to the “security wall”. This is a much better choice then guerrilla warfare, but goes against our training and nature. The people that made the movie, “Encounter Point” have now made “Budrus” about this movement. Here is the link to the preview: http://www.justvision.org/en/about_the_film. This is the kind of activity that gives me hope for our species.