As in Tiannamen Square

by TANYA REINHART

An extensive discussion has already taken place in Israel regarding the cost-benefit ratio of Yassin’s assassination. But the question of justice has hardly been raised.

According to international law, the execution of any person in an occupied territory is not allowed. The Geneva convention, born out of the horrifying experience of the second World War, sets limitations on the use of force even in times of war. The convention distinguishes between war and a state of occupation. Its fundamentals are, first, that occupied people are "protected", and that the occupier is responsible for their safety. Second, it determines that the occupied people have the right to fight for their liberation. International conventions are one of the means people have developed for self-preservation. Without them, there is a danger that the human race would annihilate itself – first the strong would wipe out the weak, and then each other.

During its 37 years of occupation, Israel has already violated every article of the Geneva convention. But what it did now is unprecedented. As Robert Fisk stated it in the British Independent, "for years, there has been an unwritten rule in the cruel war of government-versus-guerrilla. You can kill the men on the street, the bomb makers and gunmen. But the leadership on both sides – government ministers, spiritual leaders were allowed to survive." Even when the leader advocates violence and terror, the norm has been that he may be imprisoned, but not killed.

Ahmed Yassin viewed himself as struggling against the occupation. As reported in Yediot Aharonot, his demand was a full withdrawal of the Israeli army from the occupied territories, back to the borders of 1967. In 1993, Hamas agreed to the principles of the Oslo accords, but did not believe that Rabin would translate these principles into action, and urged the Palestinian people to remember that the occupation was not yet over. During the iron-fist period of Barak and Sharon, Yassin proposed a long term ‘hudna’ (cease fire), but he also believed that Israel would never end the occupation of its own will. "The enemy understands only the language of war, bombs and explosives" – he preached to his followers, and declared that "every Israeli is a target for us".

The Geneva convention recognizes the right of the occupied people to carry out armed struggle against the occupying army, but not to use terror against civilians. Terror has no moral justification, and is not defended by international law. But it is necessary that we Israelis examine ourselves in this regard as well. What other way do we leave open for the Palestinian people to struggle for their liberation? Along the route of the wall in the West Bank, a new form of popular resistance has been formed in the last few months. Palestinian farmers whose land is being robbed sit on the ground in front of the bulldozers, accompanied by the Israeli opponents of the wall – the veterans of the Mas’ha camp. What could be more non-violent than this? But the Israeli army shoots at sitting demonstrators, like in Tiennamen square.

The Israeli army blocks all options of non-violent resistance from the Palestinians. With the arrogant elimination of a leader and a symbol, as he was leaving a mosque, the army knowingly created a new wave of violence and terror. It is hard not to get the impression that terror is convenient for Sharon and the army. It enables them to convince the world that the Geneva protections do not apply to the Palestiians, because they have terrorists in their midst, and that, therefore, it is permitted to do anything to them.

Since September 11th, as part of its "war against terror," the U.S. has Been pushing to destroy all defences provided by International law. But even the U.S. has not yet dared to publicly execute a spiritual-religious leader (of, for example, the Taliban in Afghanistan). Now Israel has determined, with the U.S. blessing, that even this is permitted. Under the military rule, Israel has become a leading force in the destruction of the very protections that humankind has established, out of World War Two, for its own preservation, protections that we too may need one day, as history has already shown us.

TANYA REINHART is a Professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and the author of Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948. She can be reached through her website: http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart


Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future