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Israeli rules of war
Always a fighter, always a terrorist

By Amira Hass
October 9, 2002
The Iranian
Source: Haaretz

These are the rules of war as laid down over the last two years:

A Palestinian is a terrorist when he attacks Israeli civilians on both sides of the Green Line - in Israel and the territories - and when he attacks Israeli soldiers at the gates of a Palestinian city. A Palestinian is a terrorist when an army unit breaks into his neighborhood with tanks and he shoots at a soldier who gets out of a tank for a moment, and he is a terrorist when he is hit by helicopter fire and is holding a rifle. Palestinians are terrorists whether they kill civilians or soldiers.

The Israeli soldier is a fighter when he shoots a missile from a helicopter or a shell from a tank at a group of people who gather in Khan Yunis, after the fighter or one of his colleagues fires a shell or a missile at a house - from which the army says a Qassam rocket was fired - and kills a man and woman. He is a fighter when he encounters two armed Palestinians in the brush. The Israeli soldier kills armed people and kills civilians. He kills senior commanders of battalions of murderous terrorists and he kills kindergarten-aged children and the elderly in their homes. More accurately, they are killed by IDF fire. Most accurately, they are killed, claim Palestinian sources.

The security authorities and the legal authorities chase down every single Palestinian terrorist. Hundreds are arrested and interrogated for information about a single person. This is war, but the Palestinians are not arrested as prisoners of war who have immunity from interrogation and trial. Their names are known, every detail of the investigation and the charge sheets against them are open and can be published. If and when a weak investigation actually identifies an Israeli soldier who deviated (meaning he killed or used his weapon improperly, or looted, or abused people at checkpoints), his identity remains concealed. In hundreds of other cases, the army says "we are unfamiliar with the complaint." In thousands of other cases, nobody bothers anymore to ask the IDF.

Thousands of Palestinians are under arrest in detention centers. Israel is a lawful state, but it deals them a more severe punishment than denial of personal liberty: it denies them family visits before their trial. Dozens of other terrorists have been convicted and sentenced to death without ever having been brought to trial. Them and the civilians who are near them. That is self defense by a lawful state attacked by a terrorist entity. Hundreds of Israelis are involved in these extra-judicial executions and are glorified. In the last two years, Palestinians killed dozens of suspected collaborators without trial or after kangaroo courts. That is despicable murder by animals, living in an entity that does not respect the law and human rights.

The Palestinians are expected to obey military orders from the State of Israel, as if they were the laws of a Palestinian state. But the state that imposes those orders and whose army controls the territories, the land, the water resources, is not responsible for the welfare of the Palestinians living in those territories. It need not behave like a normal state, since the Palestinians are not citizens with the right to vote. It need not behave like an occupying power, since the Oslo agreement freed it of that title (in the eyes of the world) when it transferred more than 90 percent of the Palestinian population to administrative control of the Palestinian Authority.

The PA became responsible for its citizenry even when it was denied any authority over most of the territory in the West Bank and was unable to put down a water pipe without permission from the Civilian Administration. The PA is still responsible for the welfare and safety of the Palestinians even after its institutions were bombed and destroyed, and tanks and helicopters control the entire area, from within and without.

The terrorists endanger the civilian population by hiding among them so the IDF cannot be blamed when civilians are killed in their homes. The fighters and their personal weapons and tanks are only guests at the settlements and outposts and shoot at the Palestinian civilians whom the terrorists exploit.

The Palestinians are bloodthirsty and have only revenge as their ambition. That is proved by all the demonstrations and public opinion polls that show the Palestinians support attacks. The Israelis, whom public opinion polls showed supported the assassination of Salah Shehadeh even after it also killed 14 civilians, are never bloodthirsty nor want revenge.

The Palestinian disrupts public order when he violates a curfew imposed by the fighters in the tanks and armored jeeps. Such a Palestinian is punishable: tear gas in the best case, shooting in another. The Israeli fighter and his army protect public order and security when they prevent hundreds of thousands of children from going to school and teachers from going to work and patients from going to hospital and farmers from going to their fields and grandmothers from seeing their grandchildren.

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