Daily Israel Report

Appeal to Court to Declare Hamas Terrorists ‘War Criminals’

While the Cabinet weighs freeing Hamas terrorists for Gilad Shalit, an appeal to the High Court demands that others be tried for war crimes.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/21/2009, 1:10 PM / Last Update: 12/21/2009, 2:05 PM

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While the Cabinet weighs freeing Hamas terrorists for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, an appeal to the High Court demands that others be tried for war crimes. Several of the terrorists who might be released were tried and convicted for murder.

The Cabinet has been discussing the issue for several hours and may reach a decision by evening. The government ministers are sharply divided on the proposed deal, whose details are under wraps. It is known that the proposal includes freeing terrroists who have been involved with the murders of dozens or even hundreds of Israelis and who might follow the lead of previously released terrorists and return to attacking Jews.

The Israel Law Center argues that the Attorney General violated Israeli law by not indicting terrorists for war crimes for their firing rockets into Israel. Convictions for war crimes would preclude an early pardon, which is what is proposed by proponents of the release of terrorists in exchange for Shalit.

Israel is bound by the humanitarian provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as the Hague Convention and other international treaties, which stipulate that the deliberate targeting of civilians in the context of an armed conflict is a war crime. The deliberate and systemic assault against a particular civilian population constitutes a crime against humanity.

Citing previous High Court rulings, the petition notes that such international law has been accepted as binding on Israeli courts and law enforcement authorities

"The Goldstone Commission report showed that the Attorney General's policy of indicting Hamas terrorists for ordinary crimes rather than crimes against humanity has fanned the flames of war crimes accusations against Israeli leaders and soldiers by the United Nations and the Europeans," according to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) and attorney for the plaintiffs.

She pointed out that the Israeli policy “has left the field open for Israel's enemies to make wrong and dangerous claims against us.”