Israel’s Ynet News has published its first relatively objective piece! Written by Susie Becher of the progressive Zionist Meretz party, the editorial puts into focus the citizen-approved license to kill seemingly entrusted to Israeli soldiers. The notion that non-hostile, non-threatening, non-militant Palestinians can’t be recognized as civilians has been referenced on this blog in the past as “the IDF mentality”. Seeing it on Ynet of all places is definitely a step in the right direction.
There is one section that deserves full quotation:
In the minds of the Israeli public, threats to security – real or imagined – trump legal considerations every time.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the military advocate general is going to close the investigation into the killing of Palestinians carrying white flags who were ordered out of the house in which they had taken shelter in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood during the Gaza war. Among those killed in the incident were several members of the Hajji family, including a three-year-old, another of the so-called “uninvolved.”
According to the reports, the investigation is going to be closed because no evidence was found that the soldiers acted against orders. Surely there is no need to elaborate on the associations generated by the “only following orders” defense.
A license to kill, Susie Becher (Ynet)
This revelation is of particular interest given the fact that Judge Richard Goldstone recently praised Israel’s cooperation in self-investigating alleged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead. Among the large amount of criticism directed toward Goldstone, I’ve seen very little criticism of Israel’s self-investigative techniques which is surprising to say the least. But this specific case makes for a good starting point.
Simply put, the Israeli military’s investigation of the deaths of these innocent civilians will come to a close because it cannot find evidence to pin against the soldiers. This is the kind of investigation on which Goldstone basis his virtual rebuttal of the Goldstone Report’s premise. What is there to praise about this model of investigation? How can Israel close a case without at least striving to restore justice for the civilians killed? The answer to this deals with the mentality that the author if this Ynet editorial discusses, that Palestinians can’t exist as civilians, that they must be looked at as hostiles, that the point of an investigation is not for the sake of the murdered but for the sake of the military’s reputation.
I wonder what Goldstone’s opinion of this might be. But judging by his recent ignorance of the objective standards of international law, I doubt his judgment can be trusted.