While some civil society groups and activists have urged Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to fire at unarmed civilians engaged in border protests, thus far soldiers aren’t rebelling.
Palestinians evacuate mortally wounded Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja during clashes with Israeli troops at the Israel-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza Strip, April 6, 2018.
The unspeakable horror of the massacre in the Syrian town of Douma has overshadowed the violence along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip in recent days. The roughly 30 Palestinian deaths in Gaza are nothing more than a statistical blip compared with the number of Syrians killed in their country’s seven-year civil war, which stands at half a million and counting.
Indeed, compared with the mass murder being perpetrated across from Israel’s northeastern border, the daily killings along its southern border seem like nothing more than a training mishap. True, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) do not spray nerve gas over residential neighborhoods. They “only” fire at unarmed protesters on the border of the world’s largest prison. Nonetheless, it is unclear what made Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reiterate the cliche that “the IDF is the most moral army in the world” when referring to the latest Gaza border incidents. To which army is he comparing the IDF? And how is the term “moral” even remotely compatible with Israel’s military control over millions of people for over 50 years?
Liberman announced that “anyone trying to approach the fence risks their life.” Even shooting dead a Palestinian journalist operating a camera drone 350 meters (383 yards) from the fence does not begin to scratch the IDF’s “moral” image. Not a single commander questioned the live-fire rules of engagement handed down to the troops ahead of the planned Palestinian demonstrations. Not one Knesset member stood by the call of the human rights organization B’Tselem, urging IDF soldiers to refuse to fire at unarmed civilians engaging in nonviolent resistance. Disobeying orders was never an option. I will try to explain why.
Israel’s history of conscientious objection is as old as the state. In June 1948, several pilots, one artillery officer and eight soldiers refused an order to bomb and intercept the Altalena, a ship carrying weapons for Israel’s Etzel underground. In late October 1956, Israeli border guards killed 43 Israeli Arab citizens, among them nine women and 17 children and youths, in the fields of the village of Kafr Kassem. However, seven of the eight company commanders at the scene avoided carrying out the order given by the battalion commander to shoot in order to kill any Arabs found outside their home after the curfew imposed by the military on Arab villages. Responding to the massacre, Israel’s vaunted poet Natan Altermanwrote, “Such an incident must strike every human society as a terrifying nightmare, shake the seats of the supervisors and commanders, both direct and indirect, challenge entrenched concepts, alarm military instructors, and generate a moral reckoning and search for those responsible.”
In the landmark 1958 verdict handed down against participants in the Kafr Kassem massacre, Judge Benjamin Halevy wrote, “The hallmark of manifest illegality is that it must fly like a black flag over the given order, a warning that says: ‘forbidden!’ Not formal illegality, obscure or partially obscure, not illegality that can be discerned only by legal scholars, is important here, but rather, the clear and obvious violation of law … Illegality that pierces the eye and revolts the heart, if the eye is not blind and the heart is not impenetrable or corrupt — this is the measure of manifest illegality needed to override the soldier’s duty to obey and to impose on him criminal liability for his action.”
The concept of disobeying a manifestly illegal order was upheld years later by the Supreme Court’s verdict against Ehud Yatom, a senior operations officer of the Shin Bet found complicit in the killing of two Palestinian terrorists who hijacked an Israeli passenger bus in 1984. The justices ruled that the order given by the head of the Shin Bet to kill the two appeared manifestly illegal and Yatom should have refused it. Military law recognizes a soldier’s right to refuse an order on the grounds of conscientious objection only when the order is patently illegal and its execution violates the principles of basic human morality. A military tribunal even ruled that a soldier is duty bound to disobey an order of this kind.
After 16 Palestinians were killed March 30 along the Gaza border on the first day of the “Great Return March,” law professor Mordechai Kremnitzer wrote that the use of live fire against protesters for nearing the fence with Israel was illegal. “Even when it marks a border, a fence is not more sacred than human life,” wrote the jurist, who served until recently as deputy president for the study of democracy in the Israel Democracy Institute.
Kremnitzer and organizations such as B’Tselem constitute a negligible minority in Israeli society and have no representation in the government. Right-wing politicians and pundits dub them “a fifth column” and accuse them of consorting with the enemy.
On the other hand, the current coalition includes politicians who pander to the rabbis who urged soldiers to refuse to evict Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip during the 2005 disengagement. The rabbis viewed the orders given at the time as manifestly illegal and in violation of Jewish law. And what was the punishment meted out to those who disobeyed the army’s orders? Three of the 163 soldiers who refused to carry out their orders were indicted, one of them was sentenced to jail; 65 soldiers were brought up on disciplinary charges, with 46 of them sentenced to terms ranging from six to 56 days. Other action, such as a reprimand or removal from a command position, was taken against 49 officers and soldiers. Truly deterrent punishments.
The response at the time to the Gaza withdrawal strengthened the view that the evacuation of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank would face mass disobedience by troops and officers, even verging on civil war.
On the other hand, only a handful abide by the approach advocated by professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the iconoclastic Israeli thinker. Leibowitz argued that objection by several hundred young people to serve in what he termed “the Israeli occupation army” could shock the public and pave the way for a political moral-spiritual upheaval. Sadly, not a single IDF sniper rose up in recent days to say, “Sorry sir, but directing live fire at unarmed people is immoral, illegal and un-Israeli; I refuse the order.”
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — which seeks to criminalize criticism of migration — is nothing more or less than a dangerous effort to weaken national borders, to normalize mass migration, to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and to bolster the idea that people claiming to be refugees enjoy a panoply of rights in countries where they have never before set foot.
One thing about the agreement, in any event, is irrefutable: almost nobody in the Western world has been clamoring for this. It is, quite simply, a project of the globalist elites. It is a UN power-grab.
The waterfront in the Chilean city of Valdivia. Photo: Arvid Puschnig via Wikimedia Commons.
Top Jewish groups have welcomed a Chilean government decision made earlier this week to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel.
The ruling — issued by the Comptroller General of Chile – stemmed from a complaint filed by the Chilean Jewish community over a move of the Valdivia municipality to ban the city from signing contracts with Israel-linked companies.
New immigrants to Israel arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Aug. 17, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Baz Ratner.
A top Israeli minister called on the government on Sunday to craft a “comprehensive plan” to encourage the aliyah of French Jews.
In Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s view, there has been a “historic missed opportunity” in recent years to bring more French Jews to Israel as immigrants.
“There are 200,000 French Jews who want to come here, and the state bureaucracies simply aren’t prepared for it,” Bennett, who also serves as education minister and head of the right-wing HaBayit HaYehudi party, claimed at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “These are ethical people, Zionists, lovers of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and it is our moral obligation to help them.”
Israel has started uncovering and destroying Hezbollah’s attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, but destroying the group’s ambitious precision missile project will be much more difficult.
The Israel Defense Forces placed a camera into Hezbollah’s secret cross-border attack tunnel before sunrise on Dec. 4. They pushed it into the Lebanese side, under the Blue Line that separates the two countries. At dawn, two Hezbollah operatives reached the spot on their morning rounds. In the video disseminated by the IDF on Tuesday evening, one of the operatives is seen approaching the camera with suspicion. He stuck his nose in its direction and started to sniff around until something exploded in his face and he ran back the way he’d comVisibilitye.
The timing of Operation Northern Shield, to destroy Hezbollah tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel, suggests that considerations other than security were behind the decision to launch it.
An Israeli commando from Yahalom, an engineering unit, takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv, March 7, 2012.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Likud activists on Dec. 2 that was both defensive and combative toward law enforcement authorities. He complained about the supposedly suspicious timing of the police announcement recommending his indictment for taking bribes in Case 4000, coming as it did one day before Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh concluded his term in office.
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.
Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise.
Last Saturday, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani called Israel “a cancerous tumor” in a speech at the regime’s annual Islamic Unity Conference.
Rouhani’s fellow speakers included deputy Hezbollah chief Naim Qassem and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Both terror bosses called for the destruction of the “cancerous tumor.”
With the predictability of a Swiss clock, the Europeans rushed to condemn Rouhani. The EU in Brussels condemned Rouhani. The German Foreign Ministry condemned Rouhani. And so on and so forth.
We could have done without their statements.
It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police’s recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.
On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)