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Enter Stage Gabbing

Crimes against the truth

By Steven Martinovich

The Professor (November 11, 2002) - The anti-Israeli lobby got some good news on November 4 with the release of a report by Amnesty International claiming that the Israeli military had committed war crimes during its offensive in Jenin and Nablus earlier this year. Despite the fact that it was the scene of the heaviest fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants, 52 Palestinians – a number confirmed by the Palestinian Authority no less – and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed, sad to be sure but a far cry from the hundreds of civilians killed that initial reports claimed.

Perhaps to outdo Human Rights Watch, who the week before declared the suicide bombings of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to be crimes against humanity and its perpetrators war criminals, Amnesty International listed a litany of alleged Israeli crimes. The organization, which declined to give specific figures, accused the Israeli Defense Force of "unlawful killings, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, wanton destruction of hundreds of homes."

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Israeli soldiers have committed questionable acts on what is essentially a battlefield and nor should those acts be condoned. The IDF represents the Israeli people and their government and as such should be held to a higher standard than the terrorists that they pursue. Israel would do itself a favor if it prosecuted any soldiers who have done the things that Amnesty International has claimed that some have. It’s the right thing to do.

That said comparing the actions of the IDF and the terrorists they pursue is a questionable act itself. The IDF’s actions were in response to a series of terrorist strikes which claimed the lives of dozens of civilians – both Jewish and Arab – in attacks designed to murder as many innocents as possible. The abuses of the IDF and those of the terrorists are not comparable.

"The people who carry out suicide bombings are not martyrs, they're war criminals, and so are the people who help plan such attacks," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "The scale and systematic nature of these attacks sets them apart from other abuses committed in times of conflict. They clearly fall under the category of crimes against humanity."

It’s important to note that although Human Rights Watch criticized Israel’s actions in Jenin, the group also admitted that did not find evidence to back up charges the Israel Defense Forces had committed a massacre, as alleged, that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.

Treating the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority as moral equals is a dubious concept at best. Unlike the Israelis, the PA has harbored terrorists for years and the lands governed by Arafat, who thanks to documents obtained from his shattered headquarters has been shown to be directly supporting those terrorist groups, have been used as staging grounds for terrorist attacks. Even when the PA fulfills its obligations and arrests those responsible, accuses Human Rights Watch, they are released within hours.

There are clear differences between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority and Arafat depend on the continuing support of hard-line elements in the Palestinian community. By not acting forcefully against groups like Islamic Jihad and Hamas, they have more than tacitly given their approval for the terrorist attacks against civilians in Israel.

Regardless of who is committing the most egregious crimes, they are sure to continue. Hamas political leader Mahmoud El Zahar criticized Human Rights Watch’s report for “neglecting all the Arab Muslim scholars who are not recognizing these operations as a suicide. [It] is accepting the [terminology of] Israel, describing such operation as suicide operation. This operation is not suicide, these are martyrs.” The IDF may be guilty by Amnesty International’s standards but it’s not hard to tell who the real war criminals committing crimes against humanity are.

Thanks for reading,

Steven Martinovich

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