Breaking the Silence — About Israel’s Assault on Gaza

Breaking the Silence — About Israel’s Assault on Gaza

The irreplaceable Breaking the Silence has released a new report on Operation Protective Edge — and it’s a doozy. Here are some particularly disturbing snippets from the Guardian‘s article on the report, which contains dozens of testimonials by past and present IDF soldiers:

“[The commander] said: ‘We don’t take risks. We do not spare ammo. We unload, we use as much as possible.’”

“The rules of engagement [were] pretty identical,” added another sergeant who served in a mechanised infantry unit in Deir al-Balah. “Anything inside [the Gaza Strip] is a threat. The area has to be ‘sterilised,’ empty of people – and if we don’t see someone waving a white flag, screaming: “I give up” or something – then he’s a threat and there’s authorisation to open fire … The saying was: ‘There’s no such thing there as a person who is uninvolved.’ In that situation, anyone there is involved.”

“The rules of engagement for soldiers advancing on the ground were: open fire, open fire everywhere, first thing when you go in,” recalled another soldier who served during the ground operation in Gaza City. The assumption being that the moment we went in [to the Gaza Strip], anyone who dared poke his head out was a terrorist.”

Soldiers were also encouraged to treat individuals who came too close or watched from windows or other vantage points as “scouts” who could be killed regardless of whether there was hard evidence they were spotting for Hamas or other militant groups. “If it looks like a man, shoot. It was simple: you’re in a motherfucking combat zone,” said a sergeant who served in an infantry unit in the northern Gaza strip.

“A few hours before you went in the whole area was bombed, if there’s anyone there who doesn’t clearly look innocent, you apparently need to shoot that person.” Defining ‘innocent’ he added: “If you see the person is less than 1.40 metres tall or if you see it’s a lady … If it’s a man you shoot.”

In at least one instance described by soldiers, being female did not help two women who were killed because one had a mobile phone. A soldier described the incident: “After the commander told the tank commander to go scan that place, and three tanks went to check [the bodies] … it was two women, over the age of 30 … unarmed. They were listed as terrorists. They were fired at. So of course they must have been terrorists.”

The soldiers’ descriptions are disturbingly reminiscent of the notorious “free fire” zones in Vietnam and the US government’s well-documented (and erroneous) belief that signature strikes directed against “military-age men in an area of known terrorist activity” comply with IHL’s principle of distinction. The testimonials are, in a word, stunning — and put the lie to oft-repeated shibboleths about the IDF being “the most moral army in the world.” As ever, the stories told by the IDF and the Israeli government are contradicted by the soldiers who actually have to do the killing and dying.

You can find the report here. And if you’re interested in a predictable right-wing attempt to discredit the report — which basically just complains that Breaking the Silence doesn’t release the identity of the soldiers who gave testimony (gee, can’t imagine why not…) — see here.

Topics
Foreign Relations Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law, Middle East
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Edward Brynes
Edward Brynes

In Protective Edge, Hamas could have had a cease-fire any time it wanted, just by committing to a time when they would cease fire themselves and sticking to it. They were after all the ones who chose to wage war against Israeli civilians from a densely populated civilian area. They chose this course even before the blockade. In fact they chose it when they wrote their charter. I would not say Israel is thereby absolved, but the error here is plainly in demanding that Hamas must have the right to its style of war. If IHL cannot assimilate this, then that is a problem with IHL.

Hostage
Hostage

Re: The soldiers’ descriptions are disturbingly reminiscent of the notorious “free fire” zones in Vietnam and the US government’s well-documented (and erroneous) belief that signature strikes directed against “military-age men in an area of known terrorist activity” comply with IHL’s principle of distinction. I’ve commented on those issues here in the past. Ironically enough, so-called “free fire zones” were part of the positive fire control procedures adopted during the Vietnam war that would have prevented exactly the sort of situations you and these soldiers have described during the IDF attacks on Gaza. The number of major weapon systems involved and their reported rate of fire simply rule out any possibility that commanders were exercising proper fire control procedures. In some cases, like the “Hannibal Directive”, we know for a fact that there were no such precautions exercised at all. The Vietnam era free fire zones were established to prevent casualties originating from overlapping crossfire directed at targets by the major weapon systems of friendly units operating adjacent to one another. A “free fire zone” was just an area where there was no overlapping fire from other friendly units in the region that required advance coordination prior to opening fire on… Read more »

Jordan
Jordan

Hostage: My Lai years sooner? Calley “was charged on September 5, 1969 … with premeditated murder on March 16, 1968 of not less than 102 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai….”

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[…] at the London Review of Books here, and a shorter commentary by Kevin Jon Heller at Opinio Juris here. […]

Hostage
Hostage

Re: In Protective Edge, Hamas could have had a cease-fire any time it wanted, just by committing to a time when they would cease fire themselves and sticking to it. They were after all the ones who chose to wage war against Israeli civilians from a densely populated civilian area. For its own part, Israel has turned down several offers from NATO and President Abbas to deploy an international peace keeping force in the Occupied territories. During the operation, Israel and its allies in the Security Council demanded that the UN delay taking even symbolic action, until after the IDF had been granted sufficient time to locate and destroy tunnels. But that shouldn’t have amounted to a state of necessity, since the IDF could have done the very same thing in peace and comfort on its own side of the border. FYI, contrary to popular misconception, the Gaza tunnels have primarily been used for smuggling and to circumvent restrictions on freedom of movement, not for making attacks on the territory of Israel or Egypt. According to Hamas reports, the rocket fire was a consequence of the IDF going on a government-sanctioned weeks-long rampage throughout the West Bank after a new… Read more »

Hostage
Hostage

Re: Hostage: My Lai years sooner? Calley “was charged on September 5, 1969 … with premeditated murder on March 16, 1968 of not less than 102 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai….”

Fair enough. But it was still disgraceful that it took a year and half to take action on reliable reports that surfaced almost immediately. Brig. General Young had ordered the commander, Col. Henderson, to conduct an investigation in March for some mysterious reason. When it was finally published in late April 1968 it falsely claimed that only 20 civilians had been killed by accident. Anyone who has seen the published photos of the mass casualties literally lining the fields and ditches knows that conclusion was contradicted by the very readily available evidence.

Jordan
Jordan

Does anyone know of a UN S.C. Res. that has addressed Palestinian rocker and mortar attacks in 2014? a G.A. Res.?
Thanks.

Edward Brynes
Edward Brynes

hostage: Why can’t those clauses in the charters be permanently deleted? No voice votes, no shows of hands, just be done with the words. But but but …

Hostage
Hostage

Re: hostage: Why can’t those clauses in the charters be permanently deleted? No voice votes, no shows of hands, just be done with the words. But but but … The terms of the Cairo reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas had required the new interim coalition government, headed-up by Abbas, to pursue a peaceful two state solution through the United Nations and the international Courts. It also called for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join the PLO. For that matter, Hamas-affiliated party lists of candidates were elected to the PA in internationally supervised elections. The PA was a legal entity created jointly by Israel and the PLO. Even back then the official spokesmen and the Politburo reportedly said they would accept a two state solution, e.g.: “The Hamas movement is ready to recognize agreements signed with Israel, and in fact recognize Israel, but only within the ’67 borders, senior Hamas member Khaled Suleiman said Wednesday. According to Suleiman, the movement will be ready to accept a Palestinian state inside the ’67 borders and will not operate to thwart diplomatic negotiations held by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Published:05.11.06, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3249568,00.html I have to wonder if you are unaware of the fact… Read more »

Edward Brynes
Edward Brynes

The Ynet news story to which you link contains no real commitment from Hamas. Does it mean anything if they allow the PA to negotiate, when they do not oblige themselves to carry out the results of negotiations? “All the government can do is reach a calm, and we, Hamas, are committed to a calm up to this moment.”

Semper Fi
Semper Fi

The gazans voted for hamas by an overwhelming majority. Hamas started the war. If you go over to a cop and punch him arent you going to get smacked down and arrested?

Hostage
Hostage

Re: The gazans voted for hamas by an overwhelming majority. Hamas started the war. If you go over to a cop and punch him arent you going to get smacked down and arrested? Israel is not a cop. It is a co-belligerent that has refused to implement UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its armed forces from the occupied Arab territories. It has refused to permit the deployment of a NATO or other international peacekeeping force in the Palestinian territories as well. Nothing has really changed since 2003 when the ICJ advised that Israel had contributed to the creation of an illegal situation and that it can’t rely on a right of self-defense or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of its actions. The Court found the Israeli administrative regime’s restriction on freedom of movement were illegal even before the blockade was adopted. FYI, even before the blockade was adopted, the Court declared that, with the exception of Israeli citizens, the associated administrative regime that Israel had instituted in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had violated the basic human rights of the inhabitants and was illegal (See… Read more »

Hostage
Hostage

Re: The Ynet news story to which you link contains no real commitment from Hamas.

Point me at a story that contains a real iron clad commitment from the Israeli side to implement Security Council resolutions 1860 (2009), 1850 (2008), 1550 (2004), 338 (1973), or 242 (1967).

The reconciliation agreement that Hamas and Fatah signed in 2014 committed them to recognize Israel; back the UN statehood bid, based upon the two state solution and the 67 frontiers; and required their explicit written consent to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in any event. The consequences of those decisions has even been discussed at length here at Opinio Juris and elsewhere.

Frankly, I don’t see the point in arguing the virtues of Israel’s counterclaims here, if it can’t even muster a defense of its actions against the public allegations and admissions of its own soldiers.

Edward Brynes
Edward Brynes

The phrase “calm up to this moment” does not tell me about what Hamas will do in the future. Here is my copy of the H-F reconciliation agreement:

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Text-of-Fatah-Hamas-agreement-376350

What I see here, under “Political Moves”, are a series of demands. I don’t see anything about the conditions under which Israel would be recognized. As for the “Jewish state” issue, let me point out that Palestine’s constitution defines it as a Muslim state.

Hostage
Hostage

Re: The phrase “calm up to this moment” does not tell me about what Hamas will do in the future. UN SC 1515 and the Quartet Road Map was hastily introduced during the ICJ Wall case deliberations and was cited in the opinion. Israel quickly adopted 14 reservations and an indifferent attitude towards its own obligations. The Plan cited the “Mitchell Report” and required Israel to freeze construction in the settlements, including construction for so-called natural growth. The legal conclusions contained in the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee Report (aka the “Mitchell Report”) said that Israel would have to withdraw its armed forces according to the terms of UN SC resolutions 242 and 338 before the Palestinians or Syrians could logically be expected to drop their corresponding belligerent claims. I predict that Hamas will not renounce violence until Israel does so too, and certainly not until Israel withdraws its armed forces from all of the Palestinian territory captured during the 1967 war. Gaza is still playing host to a large number of refugees because Israel is not in compliance with the multilateral mechanism agreed upon by the parties in article XII of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of… Read more »

Akiva Cohen
Akiva Cohen

Oddly, i seem to have missed Kevin’s post on the Merriam & Schmitt work on Israeli targeting policy. As Kevin is an objective and serious scholar analyzing the reality of IHL and not a partisan hack looking to highlight anti-Israel reports (no matter their credibility) and bury studies that show Israel in a better light, I’m sure he must have written one. Can someone link it please?

Kevin Jon Heller

Ooh, snap!

Kevin Jon Heller

Moshe Yaalon, new Israeli Defense Minister, at the Shurat HaDin love-fest last weekend: “we are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion… we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”

A nice counterpoint to the Merriam and Schmitt work — two scholars for whom I have great respect, but whose conclusions obviously reflect the limits and biases of the IDF members they were given access to.

Kevin Jon Heller

Yaalon also refused to take nuking Iran off the table. But, of course, the real problem is the genocidal Iran regime, which for the past three decades has been just days away from developing nuclear weapons…

Marty Lederman
Marty Lederman

You sure Ya’alon’s comments were “a nice counterpoint to the Merriam and Schmitt work,” Kevin? I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the video of his speech, but I’d be shocked if he said, or even insinuated, that the IDF would *target* “Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family,” or that it targeted civilians in Gaza. Much more likely, he was simply pointing out that, because of where enemy forces position themselves, attacks on legitimate military objectives are bound to result in tragic civilian casualties. That doesn’t answer the question, of course, whether such strikes satisfy the requirement of proportionality. But that’s a far, far different question from whether it is permissible, or conceivable, that Ya’alon would authorize deliberate attacks upon civilian targets.

Kevin Jon Heller

The Israeli Supreme Court has officially approved collective punishment. A Deputy Speaker of the Knesset from Netanyahu’s party has openly called for ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Yet you find it inconceivable that Ya’alon would encourage excessive collateral damage as a way of breaking Palestinian will?

I have requested access to the video of Ya’alon’s speech. We’ll see then what he actually said.

Akiva Cohen
Akiva Cohen

Kevin got his Ya’alon “quotes” from the Electronic Intifada report on the conference. (Note that both the “we’ll kill kids” and “threatened to nuke” claims come directly from the propaganda blog’s article here http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/israeli-defense-minister-promises-kill-more-civilians-and-threatens-nuke-iran) Here’s how EI describes it: “Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Yaalon threatened that “we are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion … we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”” And here’s how the Jerusalem Post quotes Ya’alon http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Yaalon-After-Gaza-war-decisions-I-can-still-look-at-myself-in-the-mirror-402189: “Ya’alon recounted targeting decisions in which he was involved when it first became apparent that Hezbollah was purposely placing weapons in civilian homes in Lebanon. The defense establishment had a “dilemma of what to do with it,” he said. “If we don’t intercept the rocket-launchers in advance, civilians will be hurt, if not killed. If we hit the launchers, it will hurt or kill Lebanese civilians.” He said a “long, deep discussion” regarding the “moral and legal considerations” took place before the final decision to strike the rocket launcher. “Later we were blamed for collateral damage… Read more »

Jackdaw
Jackdaw

“.. an absolute disgrace, for which you ought to apologize.z’

C’mon Kevin. Man up so we can all move on.

Kevin Jon Heller

The JPost has already been caught completely distorting one speaker’s words in order to make him seem like he was defending Israel’s targeting practices — which he wasn’t. So there is no more basis to trust JPost’s selective quotation of Ya’alon than there is to distrust EI’s. When Shurat HaDin releases the unedited video of his speech, which it appears from their website they will eventually do, we will know who is correct.

Jackdaw
Jackdaw

R@Kevin

“When Shurat HaDin releases the unedited video of his speech, which it appears from their website they will eventually do, we will know who is correct.”

You posted EI’s translation, and now you can’t vouch for it’s accuracy?

Great!

Kevin Jon Heller

I guess I just lack your psychic ability to know whether or not the writing of others is accurate. Makes me wonder why someone as profoundly gifted as yourself would waste time trolling people who acknowledge that they can’t separate true and false simply through the sheer power of their mind.

el roam
el roam

Thanks for the post Kevin . You know Kevin , I can live with the idea that you express your opinion , while : You don’t know Hebrew, you can’t read by yourself decisions of the Israeli supreme court, you are not so acquainted at all with what is going on in that: as hell complicated region ,it’s all right , you may be ” counter commented ” , and acquainted in accordance , yet : Claiming that the Israeli supreme court, one of the most experienced, perfected, sophisticated, skillful , just , tribunals in the world (if not the utmost, let alone , in light of amazing challenges it is facing) has: Authorized collective punishments , I must admit , it is too much , even for a guy like me . All the amazing means , the IDF is implying while fighting actually , in order to spare as much as possible , lives of innocent civilians , and according to you : The IDF , is exceeding the supreme court in it’s actions and protocols ?? I wonder how far false propaganda can go ?? Kevin , when the supreme court has authorized the sealing or destroying… Read more »

el roam
el roam

Kevin , let me just enlighten you , concerning the Israeli supreme court , and the probability , that yaalon , the defence minister , said actually what is claimed : Dan haluz , the ex joint chief of staff ( the Israeli of course ) was candidate for that post at the time ( 2005-2004 ) . In that time, a petition to the Israeli supreme court, has been filed, for prevention of his appointment, due to his following saying at the time, I quote him (approximately, my translation) while interviewed , describing his feelings and perception, while dropping heavy bomb in an elimination of one of the greatest terrorists of the Hamas at the time , he replied so: well , no more than: ” a light strike in the wing ” ( of the jet , as if : no more than that , don’t repent too much …..no regrets …. ) For that statement ( and others ) a huge row in public opinion ,did burst all over . you can reach the petition in that link here : http://elyon1.court.gov.il/files/04/570/057/O11/04057570.o11.pdf It’s in Hebrew of course , so my suggestion to you is as follows : Choose… Read more »

Jackdaw
Jackdaw

@Kevin

“I guess I just lack your psychic ability.. ”

It’s not psychic abiltiy, it’s called ‘fact checking, it’s called ‘vetting a source’.

You chose not to ‘fact check’ because the target was Israel.

Yaniv
Yaniv

So now we have an expert in criminal law praising an organization whose main activity is to spread anonymous claims whose veracity cannot be verified. I am not sure whether “breaking the silence” are indeed irreplaceable, but KJH certainly is. He sets a fine example how not to behave for young jurists. If you are a professional hater of Zion that picks up his knowledge from sources like Max Blumenthal, EI, breaking the silence and their like, try to avoid commenting in public about the topic, especially not as a law expert.

Kevin Jon Heller

`Yes, can’t imagine why soldiers calling attention to IDF crimes would choose to remain anonymous. It’s not like this happens in Israel. Or this.

The comments on this post would be amusing if they weren’t so sad.

Yaniv
Yaniv

So now KJH brings about two irrelevant examples that add nothing to the discussion except for highlighting his ignorance once again.

The first example is of 43 reserve soldiers from an intelligence unit that announced that they would disobey certain orders. This is, of course, illegal, but to the best of my knowledge no disciplinary action was ever taken, despite the fact that the soldiers were interviewed every where, including by major TV channels.

The second example is of the infamous Mordechai Vaanunu who sold Israeli nuclear secrets to the Sunday Times and was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment for the offense. While in jail he was caught preparing various sketches of the Dimona facility where he was once employed. The court decided that he would be put under GSS surveillance.

What is the relevance of the above example? Surely, a soldier that reports a war crime to the authorities, or even to the media – while not on uniform – is not in violation of any code. Can KJH come up with a counterexample to that? I doubt.

Kevin Jon Heller

@Jackdaw,

That you describe quoting a JPost article — one that you have no way of knowing is more correct than the EI one — as “vetting” and “fact checking” pretty much tells us all we need to know.

But, of course, it’s Israel. So by definition whatever account is most flattering to Israel has to be correct, right?

el roam
el roam

Kevin, I have traced for you :

” The Defense (Emergency) Regulations, 1945″

The original British martial law on Palestine , go to the link, look for article 119 (PART XII – MISCELANIOUS PENAL PROVISIONS , Forfeiture and demolition of property, etc.) The same form has been kept since then (concerning the mentioned article at least , I mean , concerning house demolition and so forth….. although there are some current amendments to other articles ) here is the link :

http://nolegalfrontiers.org/military-orders/mil02?lang=en

Thanks

Jackdaw
Jackdaw

@Kevin

Richard Silverstein, the Tikkun Olam blogger, is as anti-Zionist and anti-Israel as anyone.

He speaks Hebrew and listened to Ya’alon’s video speech. Silverstein reports that Asa took things ‘slightly out of context’.

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2015/05/07/israels-new-government-the-power-of-one/#comments

EI deliberately skewed Ya’alon’s words, making the JPost report the more accurate and reliable.

If you don’t want to eat crow, try the jackdaw, they’re delicious.

Akiva Cohen

Kevin,

Those are particularly mendacious examples, given that both involved crimes.

More to the point, Breaking the Silence is an Israeli NGO, with publically known Israeli directors and spokespeople who very publically tout their reports … all without retaliation from the Israeli government. Because, well, their actions aren’t illegal. So it seems pretty hard to argue that individual soldiers would face legal difficulty.

What anonymous testimonies do is prevent meaningful investigation or contradiction. There’s a reason a criminal law system that doesn’t give the accused the right to face his accuser would be unanimously rejected as unjust.

But – like EI translations – so long as anonymous accusations confirm your preexisting biases, that doesn’t bother you in the least.

el roam
el roam

smart move jackdaw , smart and rough !! lightning strike , you have a great future ahead …… Pity on those lawyers who will have to face you, you shall take them down at once….

Jackdaw
Jackdaw

@el roam

The Brooklyn, NY venue makes for smart and rough practice.
Truth be told, I was a mediocre trial attorney.

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos

@Prof Heller Hi there, i would like to post a few links relevant to the points you have been making (and contra the points some of your interlocutors have been making against you). First of all, Breaking the Silence is definitely credible, since it has been mentioned even in the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights of 2012: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2012humanrightsreport/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=204365&year=2012#wrapper I quote from the Report “Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) and Breaking the Silence claimed Israeli security services continued to abuse, and in some cases torture, minors who frequently were arrested on suspicion of stone throwing, to coerce confessions.” I doubt that the US State Department would quote a completely untrustworthy source as an indicator of Israeli human rights abuses. But anyway, Amos Harel, probably the most respected military analyst journalist in Israel (respected by both Left and Right, even the hard Right) has granted that soldiers that testified to Breaking the Silence are not traitors. I quote him: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.654972 “Pavlovian reactions to its [Breaking the Silence’s] report will no doubt accuse the testifying soldiers of besmirching the IDF and State of Israel, and try to label them as traitors to the homeland. Based on conversations with some of… Read more »

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos

Part 1 &Prof Heller you said: “A nice counterpoint to the Merriam and Schmitt work — two scholars for whom I have great respect, but whose conclusions obviously reflect the limits and biases of the IDF members they were given access to.” It is surprising that the two scholars you mentioned would include in their analyses (both their papers were highlighted by hard right-wing pro-occupation blogs, such as CAMERA and the Elder of Ziyon) a talking point that comes from the Israeli hard right-wing:that Hamas wants civilian deaths of Palestinians. Now, it’s one thing to say that Hamas has something to gain even if the alleged human shields are struck, and another thing to say that this is their aim: for it is much more probable that Hamas does not want civilian deaths of Palestinians but prefers to gain the military advantage of, say, a Hamas commander’s staying alive because Israel aborted a strike to said commander, on the grounds that it would be disproportional. But the two scholars tell us that Hamas actually “hopes”” that Israel kill civilians(page 7 of one of the analyses of the aforementioned scholars,”Israeli Targeting: A Legal Appraisal”): http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2596836 I quote: “In particular, Israel’s foes… Read more »

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos

After successive attempts to post Part 2 of my comment i give up and hope that the moderators will be able to sort it trough(there is nothing unsavory in it, wordwise or else). It just disa ppears, it doesn’t show like it is in moderation.

Akiva Cohen

Dionissis, i think you’ve managed to completely miss the point – which is that shielding is viewed by Hamas as win-win. Either it deters a strike or they get propaganda value out of it. The last favorable outcome, for hamas, is a stroke with no collateral damage.

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos

Part 2 &Prof Heller As for the claim made by the two scholars that hamas wants to “draw” Israel to destroy civilian infrastructure, the obvious reply is that Israel does so on its own, it doesn’t need cajoling by Hamas. Military attacks have been ordered by Israel even for Public Relations purpose, as we know, and in fact in this last war, Protective Edge, Israel admits that it destroyed civilian buildings belonging to influential Gazans so as to make them pressure Hamas to accept the ceasefire terms that Israel proposed. I quote from the Israei Institute for National Security Studies(INSS): http://www.inss.org.il/index.aspx?id=4538&articleid=8720 “During Operation Protective Edge, it was necessary to damage Hamas’s strategic capabilities (the rockets and the offensive tunnels), its operatives, the infrastructures serving the organization, and its senior commanders (by targeted assassinations) before Hamas would accept a ceasefire and be deterred from continuing the fighting. But this cumulative achievement[of the IDF] was not enough to motivate Hamas to agree to a ceasefire, because Israel chose not to threaten the organization’s future or act to undermine its rule of the Gaza Strip. Only after causing damage to the assets of Gaza’s social elite, which provides legitimacy to Hamas’ rule, by… Read more »

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos

Hi Akiva you said: “Dionissis, i think you’ve managed to completely miss the point – which is that shielding is viewed by Hamas as win-win.” Akiva, i don’t think i missed this win-win point, i am perfectly aware that Hamas stands to gain something in terms of public relations if civilians die. Actually, i even said so.Here is what i said: “The placing of military objectives near civilians is meant to deter Israel so as NOT to strike, not in the hope that Israel will strike. Any possibility of badmouthing of Israel that might accrue from an Israeli operation that results in civilian deaths will be exploited but is not an “aim” of Hamas” I made explicit that the relative value for Hamas of avoiding an Israeli strike is overwhelming compared to the value of a public relations gain if Palestinian civilians die in case the IDF strikes, so it is completely unnatural to describe Hamas as “hoping” that Palestinian civilians die, as the two scholars did. The reason that i explained that this alleged hope of Hamas is a talking point coming from the pro-occupation right-wing advocates is that this camp is consistently trying to present Hamas as impervious… Read more »

Kevin Jon Heller

Dionissis,

Great point about the desire of Israel apologists — in these comments and elsewhere — to portray Hamas as irrational and impossible to deal with. It’s the same tactic we’ve seen regarding Iran and nuclear weapons. Indeed, it’s more than a little ironic, and deeply perverse, that Israel apologists constantly emphasise the nuclear threat Iran supposedly poses to Israel — despite the fact that Iran does not have nukes and has been six months away from acquiring them for the past 20 years — while ignoring the fact that powerful officials in Israel, which does have nuclear weapons, consistently refuse to take nuking Iran off the table.

Jackdaw
Jackdaw

The Hamas Charter declares that Freemasons, the Rotary and Lions Clubs are ‘cells of subversion and saboteurs’.

Rational or irrational?

BTW. Bensouda said her office was trying to get a copy of the Breaking the Silence report “to see how it can assist us in the preliminary examination phase.” She said the report must be studied before her office can take a position on it.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4656758,00.htmlI

I wonder if Breaking the Silence will roll over when they’re served with a subpeona from the ICC demanding the identities of their sources.

Kevin Jon Heller

The ICC has no power to subpoena anything from an NGO. Nor do the rules of evidence prohibit the judges from relying on hearsay by anonymous witnesses. But thanks for playing.

Jackdaw
Jackdaw

Right. ‘Playing’ international law, as opposed to practicing it. That’s because it’s ephemeral, fairy law, where the parties tilt at each other on pink unicorns while shooting zephyres. International law is the province of academics, moot court enthusiasts and one-worlders.

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos

Hi prof. Heller Alas i know firsthand this pro-occupation( usually right-wing but not exclusively) attempt to cast Hamas as the boogeyman that will spoil the alleged Israeli preference for a two-state solution: i used to be an online defender of Israel (the reason being that i was swallowing the hasbara emanating from pro-occupation blogs wholesale, never questioning their veracity). I hope that God, if She exists (contrary to my atheism) will forgive me this particular sin, especially in light of the fact that i am right now atoning:):):):) The second most widely respected military analyst/journalist in Israel is, i think, Avi Isacharoff. Here is how he puts the matter about Israel’s exploitation of the Hamas-as-an-irredentist-spoiler-of-any-two-state-solution meme (June 2014, emphasis mine): http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-government-is-unified-but-the-palestinians-arent/ ” The group[Hamas] had cracked down on the rogue Kassam launchers. That, plus the fact that it wouldn’t accept the existence of Israel, meant Jerusalem had a perfect excuse for not making peace with the Palestinians. Now, a single government has been formed in Gaza and the West Bank which says it will accept all the conditions set by the Quartet for Mideast Peace (recognizing Israel, keeping to previous agreements and renouncing terror).” The truth is that Hamas, like… Read more »

dionissis mitropoulos
dionissis mitropoulos

Correction of a sentence of mine. I said

“Hamas won’t be able to take such an offer: if it does the Palestinians will be seen as the same of the Arab and Muslim world.”

I obviously meant:

“Hamas won’t be able to take such an offer: if it does the Palestinians will be seen as the sHame of the Arab and Muslim world.”