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Sorry Mr Lapid, but you and your soldiers do need lessons in morality

December 6, 2022 at 3:38 pm

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem [Israeli Govt Press Office (GPO)/Anadolu Agency]

Al Jazeera TV Network has submitted the case of Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. It claims to have new evidence that proves that the Israeli occupation forces “deliberately” shot dead journalist Abu Akleh during an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin in May this year.

The Israeli army has claimed that its own inquiry found no suspicion that any crime had been committed in relation to the killing of Abu Akleh. Several international probes found otherwise, and concluded that she was indeed deliberately killed by the occupation army.

“The claim by the Israeli authorities that Shireen was killed by mistake in an exchange of fire is completely unfounded,” said Al Jazeera. “The evidence presented to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) confirms, without any doubt, that there was no firing in the area where Shireen was, other than the [Israeli Occupation Forces] shooting directly at her.”

The network added that Abu Akleh and her colleagues were in full view of the soldiers as they walked as a group slowly down the road wearing their distinctive media vests and helmets. “There were no other persons in the road. The IOF inquiry that found there was no suspicion of any crime being committed is entirely undermined by the available evidence which has now been provided to the OTP. The evidence shows that this deliberate killing was part of a wider campaign to target and silence Al Jazeera.”

Commenting on this, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid stressed that nobody can question Israeli soldiers despite the daily crimes they commit in front of the eyes of the whole world. “Nobody will interrogate IDF soldiers,” he insisted. “No one will investigate IDF soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare, certainly not Al Jazeera.”

Defence Minister Benny Gantz echoed Lapid’s remarks. In an apparent attempt to divert attention from the army’s crimes, the former chief of staff asked Al Jazeera to report crimes committed by Iranian security agencies.

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“We need to remember that this was a clear incident of combat that was probed in the most rigorous and in-depth manner,” claimed Gantz. “I advise various bodies, and also Al Jazeera, to go and check what happens to journalists in Iran and in the area where Al Jazeera broadcasts from. There is no army that acts with a work ethic like the IDF’s and I want to emphasise my full backing, and that of the entire security establishment, to the commanders and soldiers who are acting to defend the citizens of Israel.”

So let’s put the Israel “Defence” Forces to the morality test. The IDF was committing terrorist acts in its early manifestation as the Haganah, Palmach, Irgun and the Stern Gang. Elements from all of these militias came together to form the army of the nascent state of Israel in 1948. The morality and “work ethic” that Lapid and Gantz praise so highly is based on terrorism. Throughout the 74 years of its existence, the Israeli occupation army has committed massacres of civilians and been involved in acts of ethnic cleansing. These are all on the record for anyone to check. Do an online search for Kafr Qasim, for example; Qana; Qibya; or Khan Yunis.

What’s more, a number of Zionist soldiers from the Alexandroni Brigade spoke to director Alon Schwarz about the way they massacred between 200 and 250 Palestinians in the seaside village of Tantura in May 1948. Haifa University graduate student, Teddy Katz, found out in 1998 that all of the Palestinians massacred in the village were buried in mass graves. The “moral” army praised by Lapid and Gantz filed a defamation complaint against Katz after an Israeli newspaper wrote a report about his thesis two years later, causing controversy across Israel. Katz was forced “to sign a letter of retraction stating that the massacre did not happen, and the university revoked his degree.”

Even the Supreme Court in Israel turned down a request by Katz to defend himself. “They were able to create the bluff, the fake news, because no one listened to Teddy’s tapes. If they had, there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind that something horrible happened at Tantura. There was widespread killing,” said Schwarz, who directed an award-winning documentary about the massacre.

He interviewed several Israeli veterans and Palestinian inhabitants who are now in their nineties. Schwarz confronted his interviewees with the recordings from Katz’s collection and documented their reactions and stories. While some of them refused to speak, some contested Katz’s findings. However, some of them broke their silence and confessed to the killings while others described the atrocities that they had witnessed.

One of them said he did not even tell his wife about his crimes. With a loud laugh, he asked, “What would I tell her? I was a murderer!” Another one said: “We killed all of them. No qualms at all.” A third said: “If you kill, you do a good thing.”

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Yaakov Erez was also interviewed by Schwarz. “When I think of myself, I was willing to kill because that’s how I was raised. This way, we will destroy our enemies. So that they will fear us and will stay clear of us.” Yosef Diamant was another soldier who spoke to Schwarz. He said that one of his comrades “raped a 16-year-old girl.”

That provides us with a hint about the “morality” and “moral” basis of the Israeli occupation army and its soldiers. What’s more, nobody can claim that that was a dark period in Israel’s history. That’s a lie. It is still happening. The ethnic cleansing is ongoing. Now. As I write. What we saw in Lebanon in 2006, in Gaza in 2008/9, 2012, 2014 and 2021 when the Israeli occupation army wiped out whole families, is very clear evidence for this fact.

Jump forward to today, and we find Israeli soldiers defending illegal settlers on their murderous rampages against Palestinians and their homes in the occupied West Bank. And dropping one tonne bombs on residential buildings. And firing white phosphorus at an UNRWA school filled with Palestinians seeking shelter and security from yet another military offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip. This week, Lapid and other Israeli officials defended the border police officer who killed 22-year-old Palestinian Ammar Mefleh after he had been attacked by a Jewish settler in Nablus. The killing has been described as an “execution”.

Despite this, Lapid said: “The government fully backs our troops. We will not allow investigations by foreign parties, we will not accept defamation of IDF soldiers and Shin Bet and Border Police troops who risk their lives every day to protect Israel and its citizens.”

He pointed out that this is the law in Israel. “We need a strong, disciplined army, with a clear chain of command, that operates only according to the law. This is the secret of our strength, this is what created the strength of the IDF.”
Well, I’m sorry, Mr Lapid, but you, your defence minister and your soldiers do indeed need some lessons in morality and the law, because Israel’s collective record in this respect is truly appalling. The examples provided above are just the tip of a very large iceberg of Israel’s murderous contempt for international laws and conventions. You know this. The Palestinians know this. And your lackeys in the West know this. And one day you will be held to account for it. Then you will learn what morality really is.

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