Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – A daytime Israeli military raid on Wednesday on an apartment in the Palestinian city of Nablus in the Palestinian West Bank spiraled out of control, with the Israeli troops killing 11 persons and wounding over one hundred civilians with gunshots. Some of the injured are in critical condition. The Israelis say that they were after three young men, two members of the “Lion’s Den” resistance group, and the other a member of “Islamic Jihad.” The three were accused of having carried out attacks against Jewish squatters on Palestinian land. The troops killed all three, apparently by blowing up a building in which they were making a last stand.
The raid on the 3 guerrillas was not in itself illegal. However, the toll of death and injuries the Israeli forces inflicted on non-combatants is.
In addition, video shows Israeli security forces shooting down an unarmed man as he was running away.
If the suspect was not firing at them but simply fleeing, shooting him down is a war crime. You can’t kill people who are not a credible and immediate threat to you. When Hadas Gold of CNN reported on this killing, she said that the Israeli military said it would review the footage to see what happened before the troops shot the man in the back as he was fleeing on foot. But you see that is just mumbo jumbo. It is irrelevant what happened before. You can’t just murder a suspect who is running away.
One video shows an Israeli military vehicle plowing into a crowd. Running over people like that is an al-Qaeda and ISIL tactic.
This video reportedly shows an Israeli military vehicle plowing into a crowd of Palestinian protesters.
At least 10 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in a deadly raid carried out by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/qy29aEdXeB
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 22, 2023
Then there is the embarrassing detail that 11 people were killed, not just the three suspects. The other 8 are mere collateral damage of the raid. Then there are over a hundred wounded, some critically.
See, that’s also a war crime. In order to get at a handful of suspects, you can’t recklessly endanger the lives of innocent civilians.
These would be war crimes in any case, but they are exacerbated by Israel’s legal position as the occupying power in the Palestinian West Bank, which means that their actions are governed by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Rome Statute finalized in 2002. They have a special charge to safeguard the lives, property and ways of life of the occupied population. Going after resistance fighters is not forbidden, but rampaging around shooting people as the Israelis did on Wednesday is strictly forbidden.
For Israel to send its own citizens over the border into Palestine to squat on land owned by Palestinian families, stealing it from them with government help, is also a war crime under the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute. It is this crime that produces the others, since there would be no Palestinian resistance to military occupation and to the stealing of Palestinian resources if the Israelis had not illegally occupied the Palestinian West Bank and begun stealing its resources.
The death toll at Nablus raised the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli security forces this year to 61, the highest rate of death in a decade and a half.
The occupied, stateless Palestinians are now being overseen by convicted inciter of racial hatred Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has forbidden Palestinian flags and favors an ethnic cleansing campaign.
So let’s just contrast the Biden administration’s forceful rhetoric about the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory with its mealy-mouthed, mild criticism of “unilateral” actions that “undermine” the two-state solution in the case of Israel.
At the Munich Security Conference last Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris made headlines by calling out the Russian Federation for “horrendous atrocities and war crimes in Ukraine.”
- “First, from the starting days of this unprovoked war, we have witnessed Russian forces engage in horrendous atrocities and war crimes. Their actions are an assault on our common values, an attack on our common humanity.
And let us be clear: Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population — gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape, and deportation. Execution-style killings, beatings, and electrocution.
Russian authorities have forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of people from Ukraine to Russia, including children. They have cruelly separated children from their families.
And we’ve all seen the images of the theater in Mariupol, where hundreds of people were killed.”
She added, ““In the case of Russia’s actions in Ukraine we have examined the evidence, we know the legal standards, and there is no doubt: these are crimes against humanity.”
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories is not as brutal as Russia’s tactics in the Donbass. The difference is only, however, in numbers and not in kind. The Israelis also de facto expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank by refusing to let those outside it in 1967 ever return. It routinely expels Palestinians. It deploys violence against them on behalf of the squatters, displaying reckless disregard for civilian life. It engages in execution-style killings and beatings. I don’t know about electrocution.
That the US full-throatedly condemns one illegal occupation but not the other is among the things that makes American diplomacy on Ukraine so ineffective in the Global South. After five hundred years of European colonialism and neoolonialism, people there have a keen nose for hypocrisy.