One of the most contentious aspects of the Kamm-Blau case, which goes to the heart of why it is so dangerous for the IDF, is the article Blau wrote about the army’s battle plans for Operation Cast Lead. It passed the military censor and Haaretz planned to print it one week before the war/massacre began. The newspaper prepared the article, but then the censor had a change of heart, demanding that Haaretz withdraw the already printed edition. It did so.
Several days ago Israeli journalist Shraga Elam suggested that activists involved with this case should now demand publication of the offending article. I didn’t see any way Haaretz would jeopardize its tenuous legal situation by entertaining such a notion. While I put out feelers to Israelis to see if there might be a copy of the article lurking somewhere I got no takers.
Now, Jonathan Cook has added a new dimension to this story: an Israeli Palestinian MK has made such a demand:
Haneen Zoubi, an MP who previously headed an Israeli media-monitoring organisation, said it was “outrageous” that the suppressed report was still secret so long after the Gaza attack. She is to table a parliamentary question to Ehud Barak, the defence minister, today demanding to know why the army suppressed the article and what is preventing its publication now. Mr Barak must respond within 21 days.
She said publication of the article was important both because Israel had been widely criticised for killing many hundreds of civilians in its three-week assault on Gaza, and because subsequent reports suggested that Israeli commanders sought legal advice months before the operation to manipulate the accepted definitions of international law to make it easier to target civilians.“There must be at least a strong suspicion that Mr Blau’s article contains vital information, based on military documentation, warning of Israeli army intentions to commit war crimes,” she said in an interview.
“If so, then there is a public duty on Haaretz to publish the article. If not, then there is no reason for the minister to prevent publication after all this time.”
I wouldn’t have phrased it that way. What Blau’s report might indicate is that the ferocity and indiscriminateness that were advocated in the war plans would convey a likelihood that war crimes could have occurred.
Cook also quotes a Tel Aviv university professor with a convincing argument about what especially frightened and provoked the IDF and Shin Bet about Blau’s unpublished manuscipt:
Amal Jamal, a professor at Tel Aviv University who teaches a media course to professional journalists, said he was concerned with the timing of the Shin Bet’s campaign against Mr Blau. He observed that they began interviewing the reporter about his sources and documents last summer as publication neared of the Goldstone report, commissioned by the United Nations and which embarrassed Israel by alleging it had perpetrated war crimes in Gaza.
“The goal in this case appears to be not only to intimidate journalists but also to delegitimise certain kinds of investigations concerning security issues, given the new climate of sensitivity in Israel following the Goldstone report.”
Given the massive investment of the government in demonizing both the Report and its author it would make perfect sense for officials to see Blau and by extension Kamm as leading aiders and abetters of the anti-Israel efforts of the UN and human rights campaigners throughout the world seeking accountability for IDF actions in Gaza. This is yet further proof that we must mount a redoubled defense of Kamm, Blau and Goldstone and the values for which they stand. We need accountability and transparency in dealing with the aftermath of Cast Lead, not bellicosity, chest-thumping and threats (like the Shin Bet one to kidnap Blau and forcibly return him to Israel).
Cook also quotes Shraga discussing a so-called “third phase” of the Gaza operation which is rarely openly discussed by which the IDF would have occupied Gaza, expelled Hamas and organized mass expulsions of “undesirables” (some of this I have heard and some is based on Shraga’s comments). This, if true, certainly would’ve taken the IDF into war crimes territory.
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Mr. Disk Missing says
Disk Missing Hey guys, what’s up? We really do want to know where is the disk!
If you know something, please let us know here:
[ed., URL deleted per comment rules]
We want the truth about Anat Kamm’s disk
– רוצים לדעת את האמת על הדיסק של ענת קם
Richard Silverstein says
Glad to know you’re so eager to help the Shin Bet recover the IDF’s disk. But it likely contains the kinds of documents that are leaked by IDF officers virtually every other day to reporters when they are seeking to spin stories one way or the other. Or it may contain Yair Naveh’s mother’s chicken soup recipe for all we know. When you find it let me know how she makes kneidlach, I’m looking for a good recipe.
ANd keep up the good work.
I don’t understand this paragraph:
“I wouldn’t have phrased it that way. What Blau’s report might indicate is that the ferocity and indiscriminateness that were advocated in the war plans would convey a “likelihood” that war crimes could have occurred.”
I was under the impression that Judge Goldstone determined that the IDF DID commit war crimes.
I suspect that the reason the IDF suppressed that Haaretz article and the reason Shin Bet wants to find all the documentation Kamm forwarded to Blau is because it might reveal a “pattern” and official policy of total disregard for Palestinian civilian lives, for Israeli Law and International Law in a context of targeting and punishing civilians with the underlying pretext of a non-immediate or weak “security” threat that won’t fly in the real world and which could be used against Israeli officials in an International Crimes Court.
The goal of everyone in pressing for the release of this article and subsequent information should be to ensure Israeli officials are punished for the deaths of hundreds of civilians (and perhaps much more) should it be established that an attempt was made to circumvent the law with regards to rules of engagement in areas densely-populated by civilians amongst other things.
War crimes were committed according to Goldstone’s Report, but if a systemic pattern of behavior based on covert official policy (regarding targeted assassinations, collective punishment and rules of engagement in war or other settings) is revealed and a deliberate attempt to circumvent the law is confirmed then this makes the crimes much more egregious, although the war crimes and the crimes against humanity (indiscriminate killing in extra-war settings, collective punishment and ethnic cleansing) are obvious to a vast majority outside of Israel.
Let’s not forget that many in Israel consider an obstacle to maintaining a Jewish majority in the state of Israel a “security” threat as it relates to the survival of the Jewish state. Sorry, I must bring religion into it because of the demographic panic that exists in Israeli society.
Okay, what I’m suggesting might appear extreme, that in effect, Israeli officials are deliberately using weak “security” excuses as opportunities to take actions which they’re certain will cause extreme suffering to civilians and also result in civilian casualties, all for the greater unstated goal of diminishing a Palestinian population which is in effect the biggest threat of all. Therefore, the weak or “not-so-immediate” security threat (that the Law proscribes as an excuse for killing the enemy) becomes the pretext for neutralizing the greatest threat of all; a growing Palestinian population, otherwise, why wouldn’t they resort to safer or more “proportional” measures like arresting the target or punishing only the target?
So even if the “ultimate goal” or “solution” is unspoken, the intent is there, the strategy is there and the proof is in incident, after incident which becomes harder and harder to explain or justify.
Israel may fear Hamas and the rockets that killed less than 20 people (not all victims were Israeli Jews) in 8 years more than it fears the exploding Palestinian population.
Correction: Israel may fear Hamas and the rockets that killed less than 20 people (not all victims were Israeli Jews) in 8 years “LESS” than it fears the exploding Palestinian population.
Richard Silverstein says
Goldstone found sufficient evidence that there MIGHT have been war crimes committed that he urged the UN to take up the matter if Israel & Palestine didn’t mount a credible investigation within 6 months. He didn’t act as judge & jury. He merely saw himself as reporting the evidence & allowed others to make that judgment later. But if you pinned him to a wall I bet he’d agree that there were war crimes committed.
Élise Hendrick says
One small correction: The Fact Finding Mission found that there was sufficient evidence to establish that war crimes had been committed, and that – by the same acts – crimes against humanity “might” have been committed. The reason for this distinction is that the elements of most war crimes are more objective in nature, whereas crimes against humanity require a particularised finding of intent AND purpose.
Of course, the Goldstone Report – due to its rather narrow mandate – approached the legal analysis based on a crucial, and highly dubious, assumption: namely, that Israel had any right to use force (jus ad bellum) at all. This was not – to be clear – an explicit assumption, but instead the result of focussing exclusively on violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (jus in bello).
As Richard Falk, amongst others, has explained, this is significant because, absent jus ad bellum (which requires an actual or imminent attack that is so overwhelming that there is no time for deliberation or consideration of other options, and no peaceful option), ANY use of military force constitutes criminal aggression, the “supreme international crime”. Given that Israel had a clear peaceful option that had worked rather well in the recent past, and could hardly have been said to be subject to an overwhelming attack, the Goldstone Report could have been a lot shorter if it started with the issue of jus ad bellum.