In Operation Twin Towers, the Shin Bet directed the IDF to arrest several wanted Palestinians in Jenin. Gen. Yair Naveh gave his men the orders that they could shoot to kill if necessary (even if civilians would be harmed) despite the fact that the Israeli Supreme Court had specifically excluded such targeted killings. The Palestinians ended up dead. The IDF lied and said they’d resisted arrest, when they hadn’t. This is the explosive story that Uri Blau published in Haaretz and which led to his self-imposed exile in London.
But now we have it from an unimpeachable source that all was kosher. General Naveh is free and clear and the IDF is back to being the most moral army in the world. Our source is none other than former Israeli attorney general Menahem Mazuz, who hastens to remind the Israeli public that he wrote a letter clearing Naveh from guilt fifteen months ago after human rights lawyers Michael Sfard and Avigdor Feldman (now representing Anat Kamm), on the strength of Blau’s report, filed a legal complaint against the IDF for the episode:
In their letter to Mazuz, the attorneys charged that Blau’s article indicated that the state had violated the ruling in connection with several killings of terrorists…Mazuz wrote back on January 7, 2009, and turned down the attorneys’ request for an investigation.
Regarding the killing of Malaisha, Mazuz wrote, “The IDF operation met all the conditions laid down in the Bagatz ruling regarding ‘targeted assassinations.’ The attack took place after the possibility of arresting the fugitives was ruled out as being impossible to achieve under the circumstances and after it was made clear to the soldiers that arrest was the first preference.
“The attack was aimed at senior and extremely dangerous terrorists, who were involved in preparations to carry out dangerous terror attacks, and regarding whom the security system had reliable and precise information … It was carried out in awareness of the duty to avoid harming innocents and reduce the danger to them, and after implementing the principle of proportionality.”
Mazuz added that “the legal aspects of the operation were examined at each one of the planning stages and there is no basis to the charge that the IDF ‘ignored’ the High Court’s instructions regarding targeted assassination operations. On the contrary, the operational officers in the general staff, who had close legal consultation, were aware of the High Court instructions and stressed and carried them out in all stages of the planning and the approval of the operation.”
And how does Mazuz know this? He undoubtedly has it on good authority from the IDF’s prosecutor general, Avichai Mandelblit, who would not tell a lie. This is the same Mandelblit who, when faced with international outcry concerning possible Israeli war crimes during the Gaza massacre, couldn’t seem to find a single Israeli soldier who did a thing wrong–except one poor schlub who stole a credit card from a Gaza home. This guy they threw the book at.
If words could turn dreck to gold, then Mazuz would be rich. Did you note the phrase “principle of proportionality?” What does it mean when three wanted men end up dead and the IDF lies by saying they were armed and resisted arrest? I guess it depends on how you define proportionality. If you’re a Shin Bet director or Israeli general it’s ‘proportional’ to execute a wanted man though this might not be the standards of the Supreme Court or the rest of the world.
The IDF couldn’t even acknowledge they’d disciplined two officers for misuse of white phosphorus during the war. After Haaretz reported they’d been reprimanded, the IDF hastened to deny the charge.
All this reminds me of the four monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, do no evil. With the exception that the IDF actually did evil and these jokers are doing their level best to turn pork into what Israelis euphemistically call “white meat.” I guess if Jesus could turn loaves into fishes then why shouldn’t an Israeli bureaucrat be able to turn an execution into a righteous deed?
The Kamm-Blau affair represents the nadir of the Israeli “democratic” system at work. It’s close to a perfect storm of incompetence, foolishness, grandiosity, pique and Chelmishness. No one on the government side comes out looking good including the IDF, Shin Bet, police and judiciary. The press looks like a feeble toothless wonder. Only the principals, Kamm and Blau come out of this with their reputations reasonably intact (except if you ask rabid rightists like those from Im Tirtzu or those who equated Kamm’s crime with the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah). It has been a very dark month for Israeli institutions associated with this affair. They have not performed well.
But will anyone learn from their lesson? Ah, that is the job of this blog. If they don’t we will try to remind them that there is a moral to the story that must be learned.