The scenario that the security establishment is preparing for is threatening. The scenario envisions the security prisoners launching a hunger strike, setting fire to their cells, trying attack the guards, severing all contact with the prison authorities, refusing all visits by the Red Cross and family members, while their relatives will demonstrate outside the prisons and will enlist Israeli Arabs to the cause as well.
Israeli security officials said that the Palestinian Authority is behind the planned prisoners’ strike, which is expected to include a hunger strike and rioting in the larger prisons in Israel—similar to the strike that was held in the prisons in 2004, when the security prisoners rioted for 18 days. Israeli officials said they anticipated that the signal to launch the strike would be given in the course of the next number of weeks.
The assessment is that the Palestinian Authority will also launch a parallel “soft attack” that will involve the enlistment of Arab and other international media stations, as well as taking legal action to help shore up the prisoners’ struggle.
It will be interesting to see if the “legal actions” will tackle a major issue that has largely remained under the radar: the 10,000 or so Palestinian prisoners are held in Israel in direct breach of international law.
On March 25, 2009, Yesh Din along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding that prisoners and detainees who reside in the West Bank not be held in facilities within Israel, and that arraignment hearings for such detainees also not be held in courts outside the West Bank.
The petition argues that holding Palestinian detainees in facilities located within Israel, a practice employed by Israeli authorities since 1967, violates Geneva Convention norms and infringes on detainees’ and prisoners’ right to due process, right to counsel, as well as visitation rights, as their lawyers and families are unable to meet with them.
In March 2010, following a hearing, the HCJ rejected the petition, stating that this issue was discussed and decided upon in a previous ruling. In that ruling, the HCJ refused to apply the International Humanitarian Law on this issue – and accepted the Israeli government’s position on the matter. [More here]
Alex Fishman, Yediot, December 2 2010 [Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]
The security establishment is bracing for the possibility that the Palestinian security prisoners who are incarcerated in Israel will launch a general strike, which is being planned by the Palestinian Authority.
Yossi Yehoshua, Yediot, July 2 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
The IDF was forced to cancel the departure of the outgoing Hebron Brigade commander, Col. Udi Ben-Moha, to study in the UK. Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the army feared that Ben Moha would be arrested upon landing due to suspicion of involvement in war crimes in the territories.
Col. Ben Moha began his military service in the Naval Commando. After doing the officers’ course, he went to the Golani Brigade, then he was the deputy commander of the Egoz unit, after that he commanded the Netzarim sector in Gush Katif as the Shimshon Battalion commander, after which he served as the commander of a reservist brigade and formed the Sagi Brigade that operates on the Israel-Egypt border.
Recently Ben-Moha concluded his latest position as the commander of one of the most sensitive sectors in Judea and Samaria: the city of Hebron, where the level of friction between the Palestinians and the settlers is the highest.
As early as a year ago Ben-Moha worked out with his commanders that after leaving the brigade, he would study overseas. At this time the outgoing brigade commander is in the final stages of preparing for his move to London, along with his family.
But in the course of a consultation held recently in the State Attorney’s Office and among top IDF officers, concern was raised that British left wing activists or Palestinian activists were liable to ask the British authorities to issue an arrest warrant against the Israeli officer. It was therefore decided last week not to take the risk and to cancel Ben-Moha’s study trip.
Israel has discerned in recent years a worsening in the attitude to IDF officers in Europe in general, and in the UK in particular. The UK has become very problematic for officers wishing to visit, since British law makes it possible for civilians to submit a criminal complaint against people suspected of war crimes. That is why the IDF considered forbidding officers from stopping in London, even for a short stopover, on their way to another destination.
Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that last week IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu went on a trip to London for PR purposes. Before his trip, the IDF held a situation assessment meeting during which concern was raised that Benayahu might encounter displays of violence during his stay in the British capital. This is because of the fact that the identity of the IDF spokesman, who often interviews because of his job to the foreign media, is known to television viewers world over. After the flotilla affair, it was even decided to place guards at Benayahu’s home, who lives in a kibbutz in the Sharon region.
After an interlude, the Jerusalem police resumed arrests of Sheikh Jarrah protesters last Friday (March 12 2010.) On Sunday, the Jerusalem Post, like many other Israeli media outlets, ran the police statement on the incident nearly verbatim
Earlier on Friday, about 250 locals and left-wing protesters were stopped by police when they attempted to march toward Jewish houses in Sheikh Jarrah. Police declared that such a march would be illegal and ordered the protesters to return to the site of the demonstration. When they refused to do so, they were pushed back by force. They then began to chant slogans criticizing the Jewish presence in the neighborhood. Eight demonstrators were detained following the incident.
The protest organizers told a very different story and backed it up with photos and video. The media, however, are not usually inclined to fact check official statements. Note how the Post did not even add “police said,” even though the correspondent was clearly not present at the incident.
There are valuable exceptions, however. Last year, Coteret followed Globes columnist Matti Golan as he demonstrated how the IDF spokesperson had become accustomed to Israeli journalists happily filling the role of stenographers. Fortuitously, also on Sunday, Yediot published photographic evidence of blatant lying by the police regarding another incident East Jerusalem incident on Friday: The running over of a teenage Palestinian protester in Ras Al-Amud by a police vehicle. Below is a full translation of the article, with the photos at bottom.
Ronnie Shaked and Yaron Doron, Yediot, March 14 2010 [page 6; Hebrew original here]
Who really ran over the 14-year-old youth during the demonstrations that took place on Friday in Jerusalem’s Ras el-Amud neighborhood? The police contend that he was hit by a “white Subaru, evidently driven by an Arab,” but the photos shot by Yedioth Ahronoth photographer Atta Awisat expose the truth: the youth is lying underneath the tires of a police vehicle.
When rioting broke out in East Jerusalem prior to Friday morning Arab prayers, police went into action to quell the disturbances. A police vehicle traveling at high speed rushed into one of the streets of the Ras el-Amud neighborhood, in order to catch rock-throwers. En route, the vehicle hit a youth. The police in the vehicle took off in pursuit of rock-throwers, and, after detaining several of them, noticed the youth who had been hit by the vehicle’s rear wheel hobbling away on his injured leg. It later turned out that he sustained a broken foot.
The police arrested the youth, brought him to the Russian Compound and contacted his family. “Your son is under arrest and injured,” family members were told. “Come down to the station to pick him up and take him to the hospital,” the police said. The youth’s uncle, Jamil, arrived at the station. “I entered shed No. 4, and found my nephew sitting on the floor,” the uncle said yesterday. “The investigator asked me to lift him, place him on a chair and bring him into the interrogation room. I did what the policeman asked, and he allowed me to be present during questioning,” Jamil said.
During the questioning, the youth denied throwing stones. “It was a coincidence that I was on that street,” the youth said. “A white vehicle came along very fast and hit me. The police arrested me and brought me to the Russian Compound,” the youth said.
The uncle, who was not yet aware that it was a police vehicle that had hit his nephew, asked the investigator why the police hadn’t stopped the car and attempted to identify it. He claimed that the police officer said, “We were in the middle of operational activity, and during a war we’re not interested in motor vehicle accidents, but rather the mission itself.” The investigator asked the uncle to take the youth to the hospital, and said, “because he’s injured, we won’t arrest him.” According to the uncle, when he asked why the police didn’t take the youth for medical treatment, the investigator answered, We were in the middle of a skirmish, and didn’t notice that he was injured.” From the police station, the youth was taken to Hadassah Mt. Scopus Hospital. An x-ray showed that he had a broken foot, which was put in a cast.
The photos taken by the Yedioth Ahronoth photographer clearly indicate that the youth was hit by a police vehicle, but the police assert that this is not the case. According to the uncle, the police at the station told him that he was hit by “a fast-traveling white vehicle, which then fled the scene.” One detail in this description is correct: it was a white vehicle. But there’s no denying that it was a police vehicle, according to the license plate.
In an official response, the police said: “The youth, together with several other Arab youths, were throwing stones at Border Police. In his statement to the police, the youth said he was hit by a white Subaru, evidently driven by an Arab. The vehicle fled the scene of the accident. When the youth pointed out to the investigators his minor injuries, he was released for medical treatment at the hospital.” The police also say they are looking for the driver of the vehicle in question.
Yedioth Ahronoth again contacted the police, saying they had solid evidence that the youth had been, in fact, hit by a police vehicle. But police are sticking to their story that it is falsified evidence, intended to heat up an already exacerbated situation. Is the evidence faked? The photos on these pages speak for themselves.
Taub in Yediot: Get a grip — unless Israel launches its own credible investigation now, it faces the full brunt of universal jurisdiction
As the danger of the application of universal jurisdiction over the Gaza war crimes becomes more tangible, the buzz regarding an independent Israeli investigation is increasing.
Israeli strategy remains confused, however. Yediot reported on December 28 2009 that a limited inquiry, aimed at stemming the “political and economic tsunami” caused by the Goldstone report, would be launched “within two weeks.” The has yet to happen. A January 19 2010 report in Haaretz may help explain why: Retired Chief Justice Aharon Barak has stated that only a full-fledged commission of inquiry, with subpoena powers, would be acceptable to him. His unequivocal position is probably deterring other eminent jurists.
Apparently Israel would like to make some concrete announcement before, or along with, its official response (due apparently on February 5 2010.) Meanwhile, Israel’s advocates abroad are gearing up. A draft response to Goldstone by Alan Dershowitz has been circulating in the internet for few days. Mondoweiss publishes an excerpt, which reveals some desperation. No longer is there an attempt to deny the existence of war crimes. Rather, focus is on defense of the top brass, through the shifting of responsibility to “rogue soldiers.”
Israeli pragmatists are losing patience. In a Yediot op-ed this morning (January 20 2010; full text below) centrist author Gadi Taub after blasting Goldstone, tells the Israeli government to get a grip: Without a credible independent investigation now, Israel will bear the full brunt of universal jurisdiction.
Time is running out
Op-ed, Gadi Taub, Yediot, January 20
International law makes it possible to prosecute Israelis who are suspected of war crimes allegedly committed in Operation Cast Lead, in courts belonging to other countries. This option is subject to one restriction: It is valid if and only if Israel has not launched an independent investigation into the matter itself. This option has a time limit, and time is running out. Israel was given six months from the publication of the Goldstone report, and this period will end on March 15.
The accusations of Judge Goldstone appear to be mostly groundless. Goldstone’s method, in which clearly biased testimonies were accepted without question or further examination, is not only unfair, but absolutely scandalous. Goldstone himself admitted, in an interview to the American Jewish newspaper The Forward, that there was nothing in the report that would stand up as proof of a war crime in court. Moreover, the commission acquitted Hamas of deliberately using civilians as a human shield for fighters, and did not accuse it at all of a blatant war crime: Firing rockets at civilian targets. Instead, the report speaks about rockets fired by “armed Palestinian groups.” This is a manipulation that omits, as commented by independent journalist Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, the entire cause of the operation against Hamas and turns Israel into an indiscriminate aggressor.
Israel erred by choosing to boycott the commission. But its choice not to honor the terms of the international community and to launch its own investigation by an independent agency, is much more severe. Such an agency could be a commission headed by a judge, or an inquiry by the State Comptroller’s Office. Read more…
Ben Caspit, Maariv, January 8 2010 [page 2]
Israel is considering the option of not extending the mandate of the TIPH multi-national mission, which has been stationed in Hebron since the interim agreement signed between Israel and the PLO as part of the Hebron protocol in 1997.
The mandate of the force, which is composed of the representatives of six countries, is renewed every six months, and is due to be renewed at the end of the month. Now, Israel is considering (and not for the first time) the possibility of not extending its mandate.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon visited Hebron yesterday, at the direct instructions of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in order to examine the situation on the ground. Ayalon confirmed yesterday that the possibility of not extending the mandate was indeed being examined, and appeared realistic. “They are exceeding their mandate,” Ayalon told Ma’ariv. “They report cases of harassment against Palestinians, and do not deal with cases of opposite harassment.”
In addition, Israeli sources say that the extension of the mandate is supposed to be carried out in a festive ceremony with the attendance of representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and TIPH, but the PA has been refusing to hold this ceremony in the past years. “The fact that this force frequently complains against IDF soldiers and serves as infrastructure for many representatives of international organizations who focus on filing complaints against Israel and the IDF, plays a role in the Israeli idea of stopping the mandate,” an informed security source said yesterday to Ma’ariv.
Stopping the mandate of the multi-national force in Hebron could spark an international furor. The timing, in the course of a considerable international effort to renew the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, appears particularly problematic. In addition, there is the issue of the force’s makeup: Its members are soldiers from Norway, Sweden, Turkey, Denmark, Italy and Switzerland. With the exception of Italy, all these countries have hit a low of one kind or another in their relations with Israel. It is believed that Foreign Minister Lieberman and his deputy Ayalon view the non-extension of the force’s mandate as an opportunity to harm Sweden and Norway (a Norwegian army general heads the force), which are defined as the two European countries most extreme in their negative attitude towards Israel at the present time. The Turkish issue is even more sensitive, and here too Lieberman has recently said that Turkey must not return to the position of mediator between Israel and Syria.
A classified Foreign Ministry document, which was recently prepared on the performance of the multi-national force, levels harsh criticism at its activity: “Due to the tendentious mandate of the force (protecting the Palestinians), it is clear that the reports (that it issues—BC) deal mainly with criticizing Israel… a certain tension is revealed at times between the Israeli government and the force’s activity, in light of our position that the force sometimes exceeds its mandate, among other things by demands to investigate incidents that took place and/or demands that Israel account for its actions to the donor states, in addition to extensive public relations activity—for example, by means of an impressive web site, which offers forms for Palestinian residents to file complaints against the Israeli authorities.”
The report states further: “The recent assessment reached by the Foreign Ministry following staff work done on the matter by professional echelons is that Israel has no interest as such in the continued activity of the force, but diplomatic circumstances do not enable the termination of its activity and/or non-renewal of its mandate. However, it was agreed that the issue of the force’s continued activity should be examined, within the framework of possibilities that could be raised with the Palestinians in a future dialogue on Hebron.”
The Yediot report expands on yesterday’s (January 5 2010,) which revealed that a senior IDF delegation to UK was cancelled at last minute for fear of arrests. At bottom is a Maariv news item on the attempt by British Attorney General Patricia Scotland, currently visiting Israel, to placate the local elite.
Note that Colonel Virob is also in hot water for testifying that the beating of Palestinian detainees in the West Bank constituted normative behavior in the IDF. A Haaretz report from February 2009 describes Brigadier Halevi as a “brilliant officer, who also excelled in combat [who] categorically refuses to open the Pandora’s box of moral debate [regarding the Gaza war.]”
Yossi Yehoshua and Itamar Eichner, Yediot, January 6 2010 [page 9]
Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that Brig. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Colonel Itai Virob were part of the military delegation that was supposed to leave for Britain last week.
As reported yesterday, Israel canceled the planned visit by the military delegation to the UK after British authorities said they could not guarantee that the IDF officers would not be arrested. Brig. Gen. Halevi was the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade during Operation Cast Lead, and Colonel Virob, formerly the commander of the Kfir Brigade, also entered the Gaza Strip in the course of that operation with one of his battalions. Meanwhile, the British attorney general, who is visiting Israel at present, said yesterday that the UK would take urgent action to change the policy that allowed for arrest warrants to be issued against high-ranking Israeli officials [More on UK AG’s statement in Maariv item below].
Eli Bardenstein, Maariv, January 6 2010 [page 6]
British Attorney General Patricia Scotland said last night in a lecture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem: The government understands the urgent need to change the system in order to prevent lawsuits against Israelis, and is determined to enable Israeli leaders to travel freely to Britain.
Among the people came to hear Scotland were Supreme Court President Judge Dorit Beinish, Supreme Court Judge Edna Arbel and British Ambassador to Israel Tom Phillips.
The British attorney general said that there should not be a safe haven for war criminals in any democratic country, but it should also be ensured that the law would not be used for the sake of one political campaign or another. Scotland emphasized that until the law was amended, the policy according to which judges could issue arrest warrants against senior Israeli figures would not change.
Earlier in the day, Scotland met with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.
The shock and indignation expressed in the article indicates just how difficult it is for the Israeli elite to come to terms with this new reality. This may help explain why there appears to be no coordinated strategy, with a variety of initiatives acting at cross puposes:
- Israel announces it will set up a limited internal investigation in order to stem the “political and economic tsunami” caused by the Goldstone report.
- A European pro-Israel group attempts to use the Goldstone report to indict Hamas leaders in Belgium.
- Jewish groups in the US support a suspected Somali human rights violator for fear of Israeli war crimes culpability (completely oblivious to the moral price they are exacting from all Jews.)
Itamar Eichner, Yediot, January 5 2009
At the last minute, Israel canceled a work visit of Israeli officers to the UK due to concern that arrest warrants would be issued against them.
The Israeli delegation, comprised of officers ranking colonel, lieutenant colonel and major, was invited by the British army to examine military cooperation. Due to concern that warrants of arrest would be issued, Israeli officials contacted British government officials in advance and demanded that they guarantee that the officers would not be arrested. This is after two weeks ago, a warrant of arrest was issued against Opposition Chairwoman Tzippi Livni and earlier there were attempts to have a similar warrant issued against Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
To the great astonishment of the Israelis—the British announced last week that they could not guarantee that the officers would not be arrested. Consultations were held in Israel among the top echelons and it was decided: under the present circumstances, no risk should be taken, and the visit was canceled. Read more…