“We Don’t Do Gandhi Very Well”

“We Don’t Do Gandhi Very Well”

That’s the most disturbing line from another invaluable WikiLeaks cable about Israel and the Palestinians.  As the cable makes clear, Israel is willing to use force — of the non-lethal variety, fortunately — to disrupt even completely peaceful protest against its policies:

US government officials have been well aware of Israel’s harsh methods of dealing with peaceful protests in the occupied Palestinian territory of West Bank for quite some time, according to a recently leaked WikiLeaks diplomatic cable.

A cable from the embassy in Tel Aviv from February 16, 2010, titled “IDF plans harsher methods with West Bank demonstrations”, reveals a premeditated effort by the Israeli army to use force against peaceful demonstrators in the West Bank.

In the cable, the US ambassador to Israel noted that government officials considered any rally as grounds for use of military force.

In a meeting held between US officials and Avi Mizrachi, head of Israel’s central command, the latter warned  the Israeli army will be more assertive in how it deals with West Bank demonstrations and will start sending trucks “with ‘dirty water’ to break up protests, even if they are not violent”.

As the US cable pointed out, “dirty water is a reference to the IDF’s chemically treated water that duplicates the effects of skunk spray”.

Months before this cable was written, Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland was in the cross hairs of such an attack when covering a weekly protest in the West Bank.

In the document Amos Gilad, Israel’s director of policy and political-military affairs, is quoted as saying: “We don’t do Gandhi very well.”

I guess peaceful protest is lawfare, too.

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Foreign Relations Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law, Middle East, National Security Law
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cramgan
cramgan

well, to be fair to israel…

yea, i cant figure out a way to defend that.

Mike 71
Mike 71

When a nation is in a state of war with an entity which intends to eradicate it and considers its civilian population a legitimate target, it is entirely appropriate that it “take off the gloves” and deal with terrorists with determination and resolve. It cannot afford to deal with them in the Gandhian tradition; that should be limited to those who act toward Israel in a non-violent manner! Dealing with terrorists harshly is intended to serve as a disincentive to commitment of terrorist acts!

Israel should not “do Gandhi well,” or even do it at all, under the current circumstances! If Palestinians want Israel to “Do Gandhi well,” they must act towards Israel as Gandhi would have done!

Kevin Jon Heller

Shorter Mike 71: Israel good, Palestinians bad.  So it’s fine to attack peaceful protesters.  Got it.

Shudderbug
Shudderbug

Mike71, it’s about peaceful protesters. Not terrorists, not Hamas functionaries and not even just Palestinians: Israeli citizens (some Arab, some left wing) take part in the protests as do foreign nationals. And they get hurt, sometimes killed. Sending troops into occupied territory to violently break up peaceful protests is disturbing, plain and simple. Admitting the policy is worse. Implying that all Palestianians and their allies are terror threats whose basic political freedoms must be crushed is the kind of narrative myopia that’s crippling Israeli policy and relations.

Ian Henderson
Ian Henderson

Shouldn’t an international law blog discuss the law in relation to this matter (albeit perhaps not to the exclusion of related issues)?

A couple of questions come to mind.

Is there a legal right to peaceful political protest in (assuming arguendo) occupied territory?

If not, what level of force may the occupying force use to disperse a protest?

M. Gross
M. Gross

This seems like an entirely internal matter.
While I wouldn’t consider it advisable as a matter of policy, riot control measures such as the ones mentioned here have been used on nonviolent, civilian protesters in a wide variety of countries.