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What Israeli leftists can learn from the radical right

Right-wing activists keep suing Israeli police — and winning — for false arrests and other abuses of power. Maybe it’s time the state start paying for its abuses against left-wing activists and Palestinians.

By Yael Marom

Israeli police and prison officials were ordered to pay NIS 30,000 ($8,000) to radical right-wing activist Benzi Gopstein and two of his cohorts from anti-miscegenation hate group Lehava this week. The court-ordered compensation was for an illegal search conducted after they were arrested on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in October 2013. The three filed a civil suit against the state for false arrest, and reached an out-of-court settlement with the state.

This was not the first time radical right-wing activists have hit the State of Israel where it hurts the most — the wallet. Actually, they have turned it into a pretty effective modus operandi. If you have ever wondered why Israeli police let right-wing activists like Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Benzi Gopstein and others, get away with so much — here lies at least part of the explanation.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a radical right-wing activist and seasoned lawyer, manages to sue the State of Israel at almost every opportunity. In 2011, for example, he won NIS 18,000 (just under $5,000) compensation kicked him during the evacuation of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Three years earlier, in 2008, another court ordered the state to pay him and two other radical right-wing activists NIS 4,500 ($1,200) each for an unjustified detention and interrogation after they celebrated the death of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in 2004.

In January 2013, Ben-Gvir, Marzel, Noam Federman and three other radical right-wing activists won a NIS 62,500 settlement over a false arrest in 2008. Police officers arrested and held the six overnight while they were on their way to the East Jerusalem village of Jabel Mukaber to allegedly try and disperse a gathering at a mourner’s tent for the murderous attack at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in 2008.

Even Likud MK Yehuda Glick successfully sued the state in 2015 for not allowing him to access the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif over the course of several years. The court ordered the state to pay him half a million shekels ($130,000) and another NIS 150,000 ($40,000) in legal costs. Two months earlier, Glick was awarded NIS 7,500 ($2,000) in a civil suit for false arrest. The cash settlements and awards...

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Police evict Palestinian family in East Jerusalem

Settler organization Ateret Cohanim has been gradually kicking out every single member of the Kirsh family from their homes since 2010.

By Yael Marom

Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their home in Jerusalem’s Old City earlier this week, at the height of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The nine-member Kirsh family, which includes children and a pregnant woman, has been living in the same home since the 1930s.

Their home was transferred over to Ateret Cohanim — a settler organization known for taking over Palestinian assets in the Old City and turning them over to Jewish families — after it claimed to have purchased it in the 1980s. The home was part of a housing complex where seven of the brothers were renting apartments; six of them, along with their families, were evicted after Ateret Cohanim began taking over the building in July 2010. Today the last of the seven brothers was evicted.

The eviction follows years of legal proceedings that began at the end of the 1990s, after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected the appeal trying to stop the eviction last May.

The eviction is part of a wider takeover of Palestinian assets in East Jerusalem by well-funded settler organizations, specifically the area known as the “Holy Basin,” which surrounds the Old City from the south, east, and north. According to Jerusalem-based civil rights group, Ir Amim, settler organizations are presently involved in eviction proceedings against at least six Palestinian families in the Muslim Quarter.

There are around 80 Jewish settler families currently living among the 33,000 Palestinians in the Muslim and Christian quarters. These enclave-settlements are generally protected by private security, which terrifies the Palestinian residents and restricts their movement. When the police are forced to intervene, they choose the side of the settlers. Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who do not live under the Palestinian Authority, are left without any protection.

Ir Amim responded to the eviction:

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew. 

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Police admit arresting Palestinian man to prevent him from protesting

Police arrested Muhammad Abu Hummus to prevent him from peacefully demonstrating against the Jerusalem Marathon — then lied about it.

By John Brown*

In March of this year, Israeli police arrested Muhammad Abu Hummus, a resident of the village Issawiya in East Jerusalem, where he serves as a member of a community organizing committee. He was arrested along with two other residents for alleged disorderly conduct.

At 4 a.m. on March 18, approximately 20 police officers arrived at Abu Hummus’ home and took him to the local police station for interrogation, even though a simple summons would have sufficed. The police, however, did not proceed to interrogate him over disorderly conduct of any sort.

During his detention Abu Hummus claimed that he was being held in order to prevent him from demonstrating against the annual Jerusalem Marathon, which was set to take place that day, partially in East Jerusalem. Lo and behold: after the marathon came to an end, he was released.

When Abu Hummus asked an interrogator at the station whether he was in fact detained to prevent him from protesting, he was told he was mistaken. Even the police spokesperson rejected the claim, telling the press that “the three were arrested over suspicion of involvement in disorderly conduct, with no connection to the marathon.”

Following his arrest Abu Hummus filed a civil suit against the police over false imprisonment and distress. Now the police is admitting in its statement of defense that they lied, and that Abu Hummus was indeed arrested to prevent him from protesting the marathon:

In its statement the police try to defend themselves by arguing that Abu Hummus’ did not coordinate his demonstration with them ahead of time, and thus they feared it would devolve into disorderly conduct. According to the law, however, there is no need to coordinate this kind of protest with the police.

‘We don’t do Gandhi very well’

The persecution of Muhammad Abu Hummus did not begin with this year’s marathon. For quite some time the police has been working against activists from East Jerusalem who have chosen nonviolence as a way to protest Israeli policies. Abu Hummus told +972’s sister site, Local Call:

A day before that Abu Hummus’ son was assaulted by police after he was accused by a settler of attacking him.

The attempt by both the police and the army to put down all nonviolent protest isn’t...

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Colin Powell acknowledges 200 Israeli nukes

In leaked emails the former secretary of state acknowledges Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which he is pointed at Tehran.

By Eli Clifton

According to hacked emails reviewed by foreign policy website LobeLog, former Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged Israel’s nuclear arsenal, an open secret that U.S. and Israeli politicians typically refuse to acknowledge as part of Israel’s strategy of “nuclear ambiguity.” Powell also rejected assessments that Iran, at the time, was “a year away” from a nuclear weapon.

The emails, released by the hacking group, DCLeaks, show Powell discussing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech before a joint meeting of Congress with his business partner, Jeffrey Leeds.

Powell responded that U.S. negotiators can’t get everything they want from a deal. But echoing a point that many Iran hawks have questioned, Powell said that Israel’s nuclear arsenal and rational self-interest make the construction and testing of an Iranian nuclear weapon a highly unlikely policy choice for Iran’s leaders. Leeds summarizes Netanyahu as having “said all the right things about the president and all the things he has done to help Israel. But basically [he] said this deal sucks, and the implication is that you have to be an idiot not to see it.”

Powell wrote:

Israel, which isn’t a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has long maintained ambiguity about the size, and even the existence, of its nuclear weapons program.

Later in the email chain, Powell acknowledged Iran’s right to enrich uranium for nuclear power, said that sanctions alone wouldn’t be enough to “break” Iran, and pointed out that the assessment that Iran could make a dash for the bomb and construct a nuclear weapon within a year was exaggerated.

Powell wrote:

Powell ultimately supported the nuclear agreement reached by the Obama administration, telling Meet The Press that “It’s a pretty good deal,” on September 6, 2015. In the lead up to his endorsement, Powell had harsh words for foreign policy experts who stayed on the sidelines or opposed the deal.

On August 30, 2015, Powell wrote to Ken Duberstein, President Ronald Reagan’s former chief of staff, who suggested that Powell might refrain from endorsing the deal in a television interview where he would face questions about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Powell said he could handle the political questions, defended the deal to Duberstein as a “good one for the country,” and blasted Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass and...

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The ethnic cleansing of al-Sindiyana

True reconciliation can only begin once we acknowledge past injustices. And there’s a lot to own up to.

By Noam Rotem

When Prime Minister Netanyahu released a video blaming Palestinians for wanting to commit ethnic cleansing against Israeli settlers last week, he may have touched on a topic that hits a little too close to home: Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 — the Nakba.

One of the villages that was erased during that ethnic cleansing was al-Sindiyana, a lively village that stood on a hilltop on the southern edge of the Carmel Mountain. Proof of its existence goes back to the 18th century, and the village appears in the maps and reports of many researchers and tourists from the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, including Ottoman and British land registries that list the number of village houses, the different types of agriculture grown there, and details about its residents.

Named after the oak trees that surround it, al-Sindiyana was ethnically cleansed in 1948 by the Irgun (Etzel) and Lehi (Stern Gang) militias. Its residents were expelled, some of them were murdered, and the dozens of homes left abandoned were blown up. Today, only the stones that were once part of those homes lay strewn across the field.

Like in many other Palestinian villages, al-Sindiyana’s residents had good relations with their Jewish neighbors. The Miqbel family, for instance, cooperated with the residents of Zichron Ya’akov, and more than once prevented Palestinians from attacking them and their property. When Sabri Hamed, a local gang leader, came to uproot Zichron Ya’akov’s vineyards, members of the Miqbel family convinced him to refrain from doing so. When they refused to compensate him for his “losses” incurred by not raiding the vineyards, Hamed murdered Sheikh Miqbel, his wife, and two of his children. Even when a group of Arab irregulars reached Sabbarin, the Palestinian village adjacent to al-Sindiyana (which was also ethnically cleansed in 1948), the residents demanded the militia leave, as the former wanted to surrender to the Jews.

‘We sent them away’

None of that helped the residents. On May 13, 1948, HaMashkif, a newspaper owned by the Revisionist movement, wrote that “the cleansing of the Efraim Mountains continues”:

The commander of one of the platoons, Moshe Nir (Wagner), who was known by his nom de guerre, Nachson, provided a testimony to the Irgun archives nine years after the expulsion:

According to Nir, in...

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High Court green-lights torture of Palestinian hunger strikers

According to the court’s ruling, force feeding, universally recognized as a form of torture, is a legitimate tool to use against hunger strikers.

By Noam Rotem

For the past two months three Palestinians have been on hunger strike over their administrative detention without trial. The three are the brothers Mahmoud Balboul (a police chief), Muhammad Balboul (a dentist), and Malk al-Qadi (a journalist). On Sunday Israel’s High Court ruled that the force-feeding law, which allows Israeli authorities to forcibly feed hunger striking prisoners against their will if their health condition is deemed to be life-threatening is able to balance between the public interest of the sanctity of life on the one hand, and the damage to human dignity and freedom of speech on the other. Or in other words: the High Court justices accepted the possibility that the three hunger strikers be force fed.

Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul were arrested in a raid by Israeli soldiers on their home in June, and were put in administrative detention after Shin Bet agents were able to “break” their 14-year-old sister, who also spent three months in jail. Their father was killed by Israel soldiers over 10 years ago. The IDF Spokesperson’s stated that the “two were involved in severe military activities while endangering the security of the area.”

Malk al-Qadi, a 20-year-old journalist, began his hunger strike to protest his administrative detention on July 15. Al-Qadi was arrested on May 23, was interrogated, and put in administrative detention after the Shin Bet decided not to charge him. Last Friday his mother was summoned to Holon’s Wolfson Hospital, where he is hospitalized, after he had allegedly fallen into a coma. The IDF Spokesperson has yet to respond to questions about the reasons for his arrest.

“A complex issue — in its humane, moral, and legal aspects — is before us,” writes Justice Noam Solberg in the ruling. “The sanctity of life; state security; the right to autonomy; the right to equality; freedom of speech; the state’s responsibility vis-a-vis its prisoners — all these are mixed up in this case.” It took over 100 pages for the justices to explain why force feeding, a practice that is recognized by medical institutions worldwide as a form of torture, is actually okay.

In their ruling the Israeli justices lay out a series of arguments about why the hunger strikers must be force fed: firstly, they write, the...

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Turning settlers into victims

Netanyahu accuses two-state supporters of advocating ethnic cleansing. But state-sanctioned ethnic cleansing and human rights violations are what enabled the Jewish settlers to occupy Palestinian lands in the first place.

By Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon

Just a few weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that he cares about the rights and lives of Palestinians in Gaza more than the Palestinian leadership does, he posted a new video message on his Facebook wall, arguing that any future dismantlement of Jewish settlements in the West Bank would amount to “ethnic cleansing.” He went on to intimate that insofar as the U.S. and other western countries support the uprooting of Israeli settlements as part of an agreement with the Palestinians, they were, in effect, supporting the cleansing of Jews.

“Would you accept ethnic cleansing in your state? A territory without Jews, without Hispanics, without Blacks,” he rhetorically asked, thus drawing a direct link between the settlers in the colonized Palestinian territories and racially discriminated citizens in the United States.

Netanyahu’s description of any potential evacuation of the West Bank colonies reflects the ethics of settler colonialism in which any attempt to dislocate the settlers is now equated with injustice. Unwilling to acknowledge that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and 1967, and that they continue to live under the constant threat of displacement as a direct result of his own government’s policies, Netanyahu depicts Israeli and thus Jewish settlers’ disengagement from the occupied West Bank, which constitutes a mere 22 percent of Mandatory Palestine, as an egregious violation of the rights of Jewish settlers. The irony is, of course, that these settlers initially colonized this land after it was captured in the 1967 war at the behest of the state.

Moreover, by invoking the phrase ethnic cleansing of Jews, Netanyahu is clearly mobilizing a concept that is deeply ingrained in Jewish collective memory and comprises a red line not only for the Israeli State but also for the international community. In fact, he is actually repeating a refrain first invoked by Israel’s well-known Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who in 1969 defined the return to the pre-1967 borders as “something of a memory of Auschwitz.”

Through the metaphor of “the memory of Auschwitz,” Abba Eban suggested that a withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 would correspond to another genocide...

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Two years after Gaza war, not a single war crime indictment

The Israeli military’s law enforcement system and its flawed investigative mechanisms appear primarily geared toward protecting the armed forces instead of civilians, thus allowing impunity to prevail.

By Muna Haddad

Two years after the Israeli military offensive on Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” more than half of the civilian structures destroyed during the war have yet to be reconstructed, and Palestinian residents of the coastal strip are still finding bones amongst the ruins. And two years after that devastating offensive, Israeli authorities are again proving what previous experience with the Israeli system has long made clear: Israel is unwilling to conduct genuine, independent investigations into suspected war crimes, and does not hold those responsible to account, as required by international law.

At total of 2,251 Palestinians were killed during the 2014 war, most of them civilians, including 299 women and 551 children. More than 18,000 civilian structures were destroyed, including hospitals and essential infrastructure. Despite this unprecedented destruction and human suffering, Israel has failed to file even a single indictment against any military figure for killing or wounding civilians or for destruction of civilian structures.

As was the case in the wake of previous Israeli attacks on Gaza, such as “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008-2009, low-level soldiers were disciplined for looting. The Military Advocate General (MAG) investigated and filed indictments against two soldiers for looting, and against one additional soldier for acting as an accomplice in the looting of a Palestinian home in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza. This is the same neighborhood in which an Israeli assault between the 19th and 20th of July 2014 killed 55 civilians, including 19 children and 14 women.

A joint report prepared by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza), marking two years since the Israeli offensive, examined the status of 27 complaints the two organizations submitted to the Israeli attorney general and MAG between July and September 2014. Adalah and Al Mezan demanded independent investigations on suspicions of grave violations of international law during the military offensive.

The report reveals that in 15 incidents in which multiple Palestinian civilians were killed or wounded, and in which massive damage was caused to civilian property, the MAG’s probes into these cases are still being conducted in a sluggish and convoluted manner and have yet to be concluded.

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In the West Bank, even calling the fire dept. has an ethnic dimension

How does the IDF deal with brush fire? Depends whether it threatens Jewish or Palestinian property.

By Yossi Gurvitz, written for Yesh Din

In the beginning of May 2016, S., a resident of the West Bank village of Sur, returned to his village and immediately noticed heavy smoke billowing from his land. Normally in such cases one hastily summons the firefighters; but we are dealing with the West Bank under Israeli military rule, so things tend to get complicated.

S. grows olives on his land, where he owns around 100 trees. He lives off the olive harvest, estimating that he produces between 200 to 250 olive oil drums — each one weighing 17 kilograms — per season.

Unfortunately for S., Israel built the settlement of Sil’it right next to his land. It did so by using an old schtick: it seized the land for “security needs” in 1977, created a NAHAL outpost (a military unit with a dual purpose – both combat and settling land), which gave the place the look of a military outpost. On August 29th 1979, the government quickly declared it to be a civilian settlement. The timing is important: at the time, the High Court of Justice was deliberating the Elon Moreh case and would eventually rule (Hebrew) that the practice of building settlements on land seized for military purposes is illegal. At that point, however, the court had yet to issue its groundbreaking ruling. The distance between S.’s land and Sil’it is only 150 meters (some 450 feet).

In 2004, under the cover of the Second Intifada, Sil’it’s security fence was expanded to includes S.’s land. Now there is both a fence and gate between him and his land, meaning he can no longer reach his land – no one disputes the land is his – unless he receives prior permission from the military commander. In 2009 his land was set ablaze; he believes Israeli civilians were responsible. During last year’s olive harvest, S. managed to obtain permission for his workers for three workdays – yet the IDF prevented them from accessing the land. S. kept trying to get them permits to work the land, but the IDF bureaucracy is slow, and in the meantime the harvest season passed.

Half a year later S. was standing and watching his land burning from across a locked...

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IAEA: Iran is keeping up its end of the nuclear deal

Yet the deal’s opponents continue to focus on how it could, possibly, one day, under certain circumstances, go wrong.

By Derek Davison

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is reporting that Iran has so far complied with its obligations under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which went into effect in January and limits Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons. The IAEA report, which is confidential but was apparently shown to the Reuters news agency, “did not point to any violations in Tehran’s observance of the deal”:

The IAEA report appears to contradict last week’s claims by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), led by former IAEA inspector David Albright that Iran had been granted several “exemptions” to its JCPOA obligations. Those exemptions allegedly allowed Iran to meet its obligations by the date of the deal’s implementation. Per Reuters:

Earlier this month, a U.S. think-tank said Iran had been secretly allowed to overstep certain thresholds in order to get the deal through on time, but a diplomat said no limits had been exceeded apart from one incident which the agency reported in February.

The Institute for Science and International Security think-tank, headed by a former IAEA inspector, said one of the secret concessions exempted unknown quantities of low-enriched uranium contained in liquid, solid and sludge wastes.

It also said Iran had been allowed to keep operating 19 radiation containment chambers more than set out in the deal. These so-called “hot cells” are used for handling radioactive material but can be “misused for secret, mostly small-scale plutonium separation efforts,” it said.

The diplomat in Vienna said any hot-cell activity that could be used to breach limits would be reported by the IAEA, which it had not done.

ISIS, which often—but dubiously—claims to be “objective” with respect to the JCPOA, did not appear to have commented on the new IAEA report at the time this piece was being written. It’s not clear how, or even if, the anti-JCPOA community will react to the IAEA’s apparently positive assessment of Iran’s behavior under the treaty.


The AP’s Vienna bureau chief, George Jahn, has weighed in with his own report on the IAEA’s findings. In Jahn’s interpretation, though the IAEA found Iran to be in compliance with the JCPOA, Tehran may nevertheless be perpetrating nefarious deeds even as we speak:

To reiterate, the IAEA...

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How police killed a Palestinian man, tried to blame his cousin

A Jerusalem court rejects police attempt to place the blame for their own bullets elsewhere, but it’s not the first time they’ve tried — or succeeded at doing so.

By John Brown*

On the night between Sunday and Monday of last week, Israeli Border Police officers shot and killed Mustafa Nimer, a resident of Ramat Gan, in Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp. While the police officers initially claimed that the driver, Ali Nimr — Mustafa’s cousin — had tried to attack them, a video of the shooting that surfaced on Tuesday revealed that the officers continued to fire even after the vehicle came to a complete stop and posed no threat. The police admit that Nimr did not attempt to carry out a car-ramming attack, raising questions over why they opened fire in the first place.

Another video that came to light on Wednesday raises suspicions that not only did the gunfire take place after the officers took control of the vehicle, but that one of the officers shot one of the passengers from close range.

The deceased’s fiancee, who was driving behind him in a separate car as they headed out to buy pizza, says that some of the bullets hit other vehicles, and that the shooting ceased only after she yelled at them that she was Jewish. The officers removed her from the scene; according to her one of the border cops even told said, “get her out of here, she cares about that Arab dog.”

On Wednesday the police claimed in a press release that Ali, not the officers, was responsible for his cousin’s death, since he drove recklessly and is suspected of having been under the influence of alcohol. It is clear that this is a baseless claim: the driver did not have have the ability to foresee that driving recklessly would end in gunfire, and he certainly did not foresee Border Police officers firing at his car after he had stopped. On Thursday the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court rejected the police’s allegation that his driving somehow made him responsible for Nimr’s death.

So why is the driver being blamed?

Plea bargains and lies

A possible answer can be found in the case of Hassan a-Tabr, who was killed by an Israeli police officer on July 29, 2012. On that same night 14 Palestinian laborers were traveling in a vehicle driven by Hamada Jaber, a resident of Jerusalem, as they tried to enter Israel without work permits. According to...

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WATCH: Dutch MP refuses to shake Netanyahu's hand

‘Oh, okay,’ the Israeli prime minister responds to snub by breakaway former Labour MP.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to the Netherlands on Tuesday as part of his efforts to, in his words, “instill gradually” in Europe the idea that Israel is “preventing the spread of radical Islamic terrorism.”

According to press releases from the Prime Minister’s Office he has been meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, King Willem-Alexander, and an array of parliamentarians in the Hague.

During one introduction line with Dutch parliamentarians on Wednesday, the Israeli prime minister was caught on video being snubbed by MP Tunahan Kuzu, a former Labour Party member who now leads a party of two in the parliament’s lower house.

Kuzu, who was wearing a Palestinian flag pin on his lapel, is shown mouthing something to Netanyahu while keeping his arms behind his back, effectively snubbing the Israeli prime minister’s outstretched hand. Netanyahu, caught off guard for a moment, quickly responded, “Oh, okay.”

The exchange was captured on video by Ernst Lissauer of and posted to Twitter:

Ahead of his visit, Netanyahu opined that Europe is “undergoing changes,” and that it faces the challenge of “radical Islamic terrorism.” Israel, he added, “contributes greatly to preventing the spread of radical Islamic terrorism,” the understanding of which he is “working to instill gradually in all European countries.”

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A once-in-a-decade show trial

The military trial of Elor Azaria is part of a purification ritual, one that takes place every 10 years, as if everything in between is just fine.

By Hagai El-Ad

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was quoted last month as saying that, “we can’t reach a situation in which a soldier has to ask for a lawyer before he heads out on a mission.” His words resonated, as usual, portraying the Israeli political leadership as the defenders of soldiers against those who wish to do them harm — you know, all those jurists with no combat experience who persecute soldiers for no reason. In that sense Liberman the “radical” is no different than Tzipi Livni the “moderate,” who promised to provide soldiers with a “legal Iron Dome.” Actually, that’s the position of pretty much the entire political spectrum in Israel.

Such lies might be convenient, but they are not reality. Israeli soldiers are not deployed throughout the West Bank because it is their manifest destiny but rather as the result of an Israeli decision: over and over again, the Israeli public chooses a leadership — Liberman, Yair Lapid, Netanyahu and the rest — who give the army orders to maintain military rule over the Palestinians in the territories. The Israeli soldiers who are deployed there — rarely in combat roles, sometimes in policing roles, but mostly in order to control a civilian population with no rights — are implementing Israeli policy, and have been doing so for decades.

One needn’t be a lawyer or legal expert to understand the legal repercussions of Sgt. Azaria’s actions in Hebron that morning, where he was videotaped on March 24 shooting in the head, from close range, a Palestinian attacker lying injured on the road. But after nearly 50 years in which Israeli soldiers have been sent to rule over Palestinians, wouldn’t it be more fitting, more just, if the prosecutor’s gaze landed a little higher than the rank of sergeant to, say, those actually setting these policies? Who should really be looking for a lawyer: the defense minister or the sergeant?

The reality in which soldiers kill Palestinians with impunity is part of the occupation’s routine. Sgt. Azaria is not responsible for creating that reality, nor is the soldier who just last week killed Iyad Hamed from Silwad, nor are those who in the span of a week this July killed 10-year-old...

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