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professor with a convincing argument about what especially frightened and provoked the IDF and Shin Bet about Blau’s unpublished manuscipt: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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