Weblog Archives

  Tuesday  August 20  2002    10: 27 PM

"Neighbor Practice"
by Uri Avnery

The topic of war crimes is now firmly fixed on the national and military agenda, and cannot be removed anymore..

This week there was a public outcry about the death of Nidal Abu-Muhsein in Tubas village on the West Bank. The 19 years old youngster was taken from his home by the soldiers who had come to the village in order to arrest (or kill) his neighbor, the Hamas activist Nasser Jerar. Nidal was compelled to approach Nasser's door and call on him to come out. Nasser, who must have been waiting for the soldiers, opened fire and killed him. Then a bulldozer was called in and to destroy the house, burying Nasser alive under its ruins.

The use of a local resident as a "human shield" is a war crime. That was confirmed, on live television, by a senior reserve officer, the former president of the highest military court. The Fourth Geneva Convention expressly forbids the use of "protected persons" (as the convention calls inhabitants of an occupied territory) for such purpose. This practice, like the practice of compelling Palestinian neighbors to tour buildings suspected of being booby-trapped, is similar to the killing of hostages in retaliation for resistance actions. [read more]


Some lives are cheaper than others
By Gideon Levy

Which is preferable - "pressure cooker" or "neighbor procedure"? Is it better to detonate a building with the occupants inside - a practice known in the Israel Defense Forces as "pressure cooker" - or to send one of the local neighbors to defend the soldiers bodily, the "neighbor procedure" in IDF argot.

In the moral deterioration of the IDF in the territories, which has been greatly accelerated in the past few weeks, the choices that are made by the army's commanding officers are often described as an alternative between two controversial actions, in which the non-use of one automatically validates the other, and both of them together are automatically justified within the framework of the war on terrorism in which just about everything now goes.

Thus it was that the IDF tried, at week's end, to justify the appalling use that soldiers made of an innocent neighbor, 19-year-old Nidal Abu Muhsein, who was equipped with a protective vest and sent to his death by soldiers who were engaged in a manhunt for a wanted individual, Nasser Jerar, in the village of Tubas, near Jenin. The other choice the soldiers had, according to the IDF, was to resort to the "pressure cooker" tactic. In fact, in this case the IDF did not balk at using that method as well: after the "neighbor procedure" failed, the army buried the disabled Jerar alive - he lost both legs and an arm a year ago - under the ruins of the building, which IDF bulldozers brought down without knowing whether there was anyone else inside. This act drew no response from anyone in Israel. [read more]


Analysis / A totally unnecessary death


Preemptive warnings of fantastic scenarios

Just as the authorities are getting ready for an NBC [nuclear-biological-chemical] attack, worried Israelis should get ready for the possibility of a mass "transfer" of Palestinians in case of war in Iraq. Anyone who regards such ethnic cleansing as a horrible crime must raise their voice now, without any of the "ifs, ands or buts" so typical of the response to the punishment already being meted out in ever more strict steps.

Warnings about ethnic cleansing should not only come from committed leftists, but from people whose patriotism cannot be questioned. And let nobody say it would be unnecessary protest because nobody is plotting "transfer." Immunizations against smallpox, and pills against atomic radiation are based on an even more fantastic scenario.

And last but not least, a word to the Americans. They should also be warned that an assault on Iraq could unleash ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Nobody should be allowed to say they weren't warned. [read more]


The Men From JINSA and CSP

On no issue is the JINSA/CSP hard line more evident than in its relentless campaign for war--not just with Iraq, but "total war," as Michael Ledeen, one of the most influential JINSAns in Washington, put it last year. For this crew, "regime change" by any means necessary in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority is an urgent imperative. Anyone who dissents--be it Colin Powell's State Department, the CIA or career military officers--is committing heresy against articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between US and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East--a hegemony achieved with the traditional cold war recipe of feints, force, clientism and covert action. [read more]


The occupiers and torturers of a whole nation have argued themselves into the position of victims. How, asks Haim Bresheeth