“. . . Both his knife and the storm Are his destiny . . .” (Fouzi El-Asmar)

Israeli forces tighten closure on the town of Yatta. (Photo: Ma’an News Agency, June 15, 2016)

❶ Israeli army commander testifies soldier had no justification for shooting al-Sharif
❷ PCHR Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the oPt (09 – 15 June 2016)

POETRY by Fouzi El-Asmar
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Ma’an News Agency
June 16, 2016
An Israeli army commander [Maj. Tom Neeman] testified in court Thursday that Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who shot dead Abdel Fattah al-Sharif while he was lying wounded on the ground after an alleged attempted stabbing in Hebron, saying there was no “operational justification” for Azaria’s actions, according to Israeli news media [. . . .]  __”I approached him and asked, ‘Why did you do it?’,” Neeman continued, “He answered me, ‘This terrorist was alive, and he needs to die.'” Neeman added: “I was angry at him for doing this. Essentially a shooting had been conducted at the scene that I was in charge of, without my permission.”     MORE . . .  

[Note: the two articles quoted today are not specifically about extra-judicial killings by individual IDF soldiers in the moment of a perceived attack by Palestinians. They, however, provide background for the general attitude of the IDF toward the killing of “terrorists.”]  

The IDF suggested . . . that the setting of the conflict between Israel and the different Palestinian organizations be referred to as a “state of armed conflict short of war”—a state that on the one hand is more than a police action that necessitates a law enforcement paradigm, and less than a “total war” that would not have been acceptable on the international community [. . . .]
___Jean-Philippe Kot attests that Palestinian civilians were deliberately put at risk due to a flawed interpretation of civilian immunity. Kot attests that in practice, the Israeli soldiers’ right to life unjustifiably superseded the rights of its enemy population. (Jean-Philippe Kot, “Israeli Civilians versus Palestinian Combatants?” Leiden Journal of International Law.)
___Philosophy professor Asa Kasher, who . . .  specializes in moral doctrines that shape parameters of military actions, says that the principle of distinction is a most important moral principle. Yet . . . a soldier’s life should not be put in unreasonable risk in favor of enemy citizens. The value of an enemy civilian life does not outweigh the value of the soldier’s life. In Kasher’s contentious view, the State’s primary responsibility is to protect the lives of its citizens and its “responsibility for one’s own citizens takes precedence over the other responsibility to the non-dangerous neighbors.”

  • Falk, Ophir. “Permissibility Of Targeted Killing.” Studies In Conflict & Terrorism 37.4 (2014): 295-321.     SOURCE.  
Still from video footage was expected to be shown to the Israeli military court at the trial of Elor Azaria. (Photo from Ma’an News Agency, June 16, 2016)

International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC
June 16, 2016
Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories continued during the reporting period (09 – 15 June 2016).
___Shootings: Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties [. . . .]
___Incursions: During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 89 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 6 ones in occupied East Jerusalem and its suburbs [. . . .]
___ Collective Punishment Policy:  On Thursday, 09 June 2016, Israeli bulldozers closed the northern main entrance to Yatta, south of Hebron, in addition to the bypass roads leading to the city and its villages. Israeli forces imposed this cordon after declaring the city as a closed military zone [. . . .]      MORE . . .   

. . . this is precisely the argument that the Rapporteur and others make . . .  Article 51(3) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, [ ] provides that ‘[c]ivilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.’ [Rapporteur] reads this to mean except when actually firing on enemy soldiers, ‘… and as soon as they cease to do so, they regain protection …. They maintain their civilian status …. They cannot be hunted down and summarily executed’.
___Amnesty International similarly holds that “Armed Palestinians who directly participate in hostilities—for example by shooting at Israeli soldiers or civilians—lose their protected status for the duration of the attack …. [But t]hey are civilians …. Because they are not combatants, the fact that they participated in armed attack at an earlier point cannot justify targeting them for death later on.”
[. . . .]  Michael Schmitt offers a more plausible perspective on the same passage:
“. . . assume that the group has committed terrorism against the state and is expected to do so again in the future. In this scenario … the various terrorist acts may be regarded as part of a continuous operation. This characterization is analogous to the battle/war distinction. Once war has commenced, the initiation of each battle is not evaluated separately. . . .”
___On this more plausible reading, terrorists are assumed to be engaged in ongoing struggle and therefore remain legitimate targets.

  • Plaw, Avery. “Terminating Terror The Legality, Ethics And Effectiveness Of Targeting Terrorists.” Theoria: A Journal Of Social & Political Theory 54.114 (2007): 1-27.    SOURCE.

Al-Monitor (Palestine Pulse)
Adnan Abu Amer
June 15, 2016
The pace of the attacks against Israelis during the Jerusalem intifada, which broke out in October 2015, has been increasing at times and decreasing at others. Up until early March, 620 attacks had been carried out in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, resulting in the death of 33 Israelis and 209 Palestinians.
___The Tel Aviv attack June 8 was the most ruthless Palestinian armed attack against Israelis, targeting a shopping mall in Tel Aviv, a short walk from the headquarters of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Cousins Mohammad and Khaled Mahamra from the town of Yatta in Hebron governorate were able to pass through the security measures and the Israeli military checkpoints, and started shooting at people killing four Israelis and wounding six others.
___On june 9, the Israeli government promptly decided to impose a series of collective punishments on the Palestinian residents of Yatta        MORE . . .  


Since our life is barren
like desert sands
As are our minds
We sow our hopes
in plains of deadly gold
and set up our own temptations
to lure us like a mirage
at dawn

When a man is reduced to a butchered lamb
And his will to a helpless, flapping sail
Lost in the ocean
Both his knife and the storm
Are his destiny.

We are consumed in guarding
Against the bit of the adder,
Meanwhile neglecting
The labour of the ant on our land.

Oh, brothers
The thorn bears no fruit
Its stem throbs with a deadly poison.
It shall be uprooted.

About Fouzi El-Asmar  
From El-Asmar, Fouzi. THE  WIND-DRIVEN  REED  AND  OTHER  POEMS.  Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1979.    Available from Amazon.

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