B’Tselem Urges Israeli Soldiers Disobey Free-Fire Orders
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Nothing justifies attacking nonviolent civilians with live fire or other forms of brute force – a high crime committed by Israeli soldiers time and again.
Everyone everywhere is obliged to obey international laws – especially well-armed soldiers, police and other security forces able to cause enormous harm on anyone attacked.
On Tuesday, B’Tselem challenged Israeli soldiers to “refuse to fire at unarmed Palestinian protesters,” saying:
“(U)se of live ammunition against unarmed persons who pose no danger to anyone is unlawful.”
“It is even more blatantly unlawful in the case of soldiers firing from a great distance at demonstrators located on the other side of the fence that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip.”
“(I)t is impermissible to order soldiers to fire live ammunition at individuals for approaching the fence, damaging it, or attempting to cross it.”
“Obviously, the military is allowed to prevent such actions, and even to detain individuals attempting to carry them out, but firing live ammunition solely on these grounds is absolutely prohibited.”
International laws, standards and norms back the above remarks. Israeli use of live fire on defenseless Palestinians constitutes cold-blooded murder – last Friday and countless earlier times.
Palestinians can only challenge occupation harshness by putting their unarmed bodies in harm’s way. Last Friday’s demonstrations were well publicized in advance.
In Gaza they were several hundred meters from Israel’s border, posing no threat to its territory or people.
Yet premeditated Israeli live fire bore full responsibility for 18 Palestinian deaths, nearly 1,500 others injured.
Instead of efforts to avoid what happened, Netanyahu, defense minister Lieberman, and IDF commanders initiated it – disgracefully blaming Hamas for the carnage.
Similar large-scale demonstrations are planned for this Friday. Israeli vowed no change in its free-fire policy, Lieberman saying:
“We have set clear rules of the game, and we do not intend to change them. Anyone who approaches the fence endangers his life” – warning of a repeat of last Friday’s bloodbath.
B’Tselem: “Contrary to the impression given by senior military officers and government ministers, the military is not permitted to act as it sees fit, nor can Israel determine on its own what is permissible and what is not when dealing with demonstrators.”
“Like all other countries, Israel’s actions are subject to the provisions of international law and the restrictions they impose on the use of weapons, and specifically the use of live fire.”
“The provisions limit its use to instances involving tangible and immediate mortal danger, and only in the absence of any other alternative. Israel cannot simply decide that it is not bound by these rules.”
Hebrew University Professor Emeritus of Law Mordechai Kremnitzer said the following about last Friday’s carnage:
“If…using live fire to prevent unarmed civilian demonstrators from even approaching or vandalizing the border fence is seen as justified, this order is highly unlikely to be legal.”
“The fence, even when it marks a border is not more sacred than human life, and that includes the lives of Palestinians living in Gaza.”
Former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Halevy earlier said carrying out orders contrary to rule of law principles “are of a clearly criminal nature,” adding:
“It is an illegality that pains the eye and outrages the heart, if the eye be not blind and the heart be not callous or corrupt.”
Government and military policymakers bear full responsibility for unlawful orders and actions – mainly the prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief of staff.
Given last Friday’s carnage, they’re “obligat(ed) to change” earlier orders to avoid another bloody Friday.
“(I)t is also a criminal offense to obey patently illegal orders,” said B’Tselem, adding:
“Therefore, as long as soldiers in the field continue to receive orders to use live fire against unarmed civilians, they are duty-bound to refuse to comply.”
Failure makes them complicit with their superiors.
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