This Is Not Law Enforcement – It Is a War Crime


Amos Gvirtz – TRANSCEND Media Service

17 Oct 2018 – It was not in the heat of battle that they were expelled from Israel in 1951.  Again, it is not in the heat of battle that the IDF is planning to destroy all the houses in the village and evict all the members of the Jahalin tribe who live in Khan Al-Akhmar.  Once again, Israel plans to harm people whose only crime is that they are Bedouins living under Israeli rule.  And once again, the army will be sent to carry out a unilateral act of war against a defenseless civilian population.  An act that is contrary to morality, to the ethics of war and army, to human rights conventions, and to international law.

This one-sided war that the Israeli army is waging against  this defenseless civilian population under its rule since 1967 includes:  widespread land robbery under cover of various bizarre pretexts;  relentless destruction of houses; establishing settlements on stolen land, then expanding and defending them;  deportations;  stealing water and quarry sources; preventing the return of Palestinians who have been abroad for lengthy periods;  preventing unification of families; preventing entry of visitors, etc.  All these things are not connected in any way to national security.  They are all carried out in the service of Israel’s project of territorial expansion.  When Palestinians try to object to all this “good” that the IDF is showering on them, then its security role begins.

Both the government and the IDF understand that this one-sided war against a defenseless population is turning the army from a legitimate organization that was founded to safeguard the country and its citizens into a criminal organization.  This is because it operates in total contradiction to the ethic of war and army, violating three important ethical principles.  It uses violent force to gain objectives that are not matters of national security; it operates in defiance of any rule of decency – a soldier should fight against other soldiers and not against defenseless civilians; it fights against people not because they have caused us any injury or harm, but simply because they exist. And so they have found a simple solution to this problem:  cloak this war in the costume of the “law”.

Now the IDF’s soldiers are being sent to enforce the laws of the occupation on a defenseless civilian population, who are not able to dispatch their representatives to try and influence the legislation that affects their lives.  Moreover, to add to the “fairness” of this legislation, the courts of Israel have been opened to the occupied population. Now they can appeal to the Israeli courts against the harm caused by the Israeli army.

However, there is a problem with this whole concept.  Israel is acting in total violation of international law, according to which the settlements in the occupied territories are illegal and any action taken against the occupied population, which is not strictly for security purposes, is illegal.  Apparently, Israel’s brilliant legal minds have found ways to provide legal cover for the systematic violations of international law.  And all this is done with the backing of the United States that does not allow the international community to take any action to prevent Israel’s criminal activities.

The fate of Khan Al-Akhmar has been decided.  Neither Israeli nor international protests will help now.  Protests from countries like France, the United Kingdom, Germany and others are not of any use.  As long as the United States does not oppose these actions, there is no one who can stop this, and all that remains to be done is to continue to protest, and to show solidarity with the victims of this premeditated crime.


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 22 Oct 2018.

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