A Planned War Crime


Amos Gvirtz – TRANSCEND Media Service

25 Jul 2018 – The Israeli government is planning to demolish the village of Khan El Akhmar, next to the settlement of Kfar Adumim. This is a unilateral act of war by an army against a defenseless civilian population, contrary to the ethics of combat and to international law. It is an act defined by the Fourth Geneva Convention as a war crime. It is an act that has no connection to Israeli security. It is all being done to carry out a political plan to vacate the area of its Bedouin inhabitants in order to create a settlement continuum that would separate the southern and northern sections of the West Bank. In this way, the planners hope to obstruct the chance for peace that would be achieved by the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. They plan to send in soldiers for this mission, which if carried out would turn them into war criminals. If they refuse, they will be charged with refusing a military command.

The Bedouin involved are from the Jahalin tribe who in 1951were expelled – not in the context of war, which had ended with the 1949 ceasefire agreements – from their lands in the Negev. They settled in the area where they are living today. Now, in the wake of a demand by the residents of the Kfar Adumim settlement and the right-wing NGO Regavim, demolition orders have been issued to all the houses in the village and the army plans to expel – not in the heat of battle – all of the inhabitants of Khan El Akhmar to a location next to the garbage dump of Abu Dis. Environmental experts have declared that the place is unsuitable for human habitation. A very problematic lineup of High Court Justices headed by (settler) Judge Noam Solberg, and including Judges Yael Wilner (whose brother and sister live in Kfar Adumin) and Anat Baron,  approved the demolition of the village.

In theory, the state enlists young soldiers to defend the homeland. In practice, however, the government of Israel repeatedly sends in the army to carry out a policy which has absolutely no relation to Israeli security. The sole aim of this policy is to annex occupied territories to Israel. The problem is that in order to carry out this policy Israeli soldiers must act contrary to military and war ethics, contrary to international law, and contrary to human rights conventions. They are sent to wage a unilateral war by an army against a defenseless civilian population.

This is done by various means:

  1. land theft carried out in different ways: land confiscation, the declaration of lands as state lands, as nature reserves, as archaeological sites, as army firing zones, and allowing settlers to expel Palestinians from their lands and then take control of them;
  2. home demolitions: a very high percentage of home demolitions is based on the claim that they were built illegally – after a situation was created in which it is impossible for Palestinians to build legally; demolitions carried out as revenge for acts of terrorism;
  3. aid in the establishment of settlements; guarding and expanding settlements for claimed security needs;
  4. the expulsion of Palestinians from their villages and lands; the destruction or confiscation of property; E. theft of water and stone quarries – 80% of West Bank water goes for the use of 400,000 settlers, while 2.7 million Palestinians receive 20% of the water. All these practices have absolutely nothing to do with Israeli security. They are done for the purpose of pushing the Palestinians off their land and annexing it to Israel.

In order to justify this unilateral war against a civilian population a “legal” stance was created, and in the name of enforcing it these war crimes are committed. This is a legal stance which often stands in opposition to international law. It is important to note that the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in an advisory opinion in 2004 that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the West Bank, that all the settlements were established in contravention of the law, and that it is therefore illegal to defend them.

The security activities of the Israeli army in the occupied territories stem from the need to suppress Palestinian resistance to their ouster from their land, and to protect Israeli citizens from Palestinian revenge over their abuse by the army and the settlers.

Now the Israeli government is planning once again to send in the army to carry out a unilateral act of war against a defenseless civilian population, whose only crime is that they are Bedouins living under Israeli occupation.


Amos Gvirtz is founder of Israelis and Palestinians for Nonviolence, was chairperson of the Committee against House Demolitions, and a peace and human rights activist. He is a former Israeli representative to the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and wrote the book, Don’t Say We Did Not Know (working on the translation to English).


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 Jul 2018.

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