4-24-02 - Background: Will UN claim gunmen should enjoy noncombatant status
Aaron Lerner Date: 24 April 2002
While some still believe that Israel can "pass" in the report of the UN
appointed investigation team if the facts on the ground are properly presented and if the
team is graphically reminded of the Palestinian terror Israel has suffered, there is good
reason to believe that such efforts are doomed to failure.
This is because of the radical interpretation that some "human rights" advocates
apply to the situation.
According to this radical interpretation, any Palestinian fighting in Jenin has the status
of "civilian" as long as he is not acting at that time as part of the official
security forces of the Palestinian Authority. This, by the way, is how B'Tselem inflates
its figures of Palestinians "civilians" who have died in the conflict.
These "human rights" advocates do not deny that Israel has the right to defend
itself even from civilian combatants actively engaged in combat against Israeli forces.
But the radical definition of "actively engaged" is extremely tight:
A "civilian" holding a bomb or aiming a rifle is a "noncombatant"
unless there is absolute certainty that he is about to throw the bomb or fire the rifle.
Even if the "civilian" threw a bomb or shot off a round of bullets a minute ago
this does not prove that the "civilian" will repeat the act. He may have run out
of bullets. He may have changed his mind.
Simply put, under the radical interpretation, an IDF sharpshooter may open fire on a
Palestinian gunman if he is certain that the gunman still has bullets and sees that he is
squeezing the trigger. Open fire any other time and you may find yourself facing war
It goes without saying that this radical interpretation requires total protection from
harm for "noncombatants" who stand in the line of fire between IDF forces and
Palestinian gunmen to shield the gunmen.
But won't the world laugh at a report that exclusively applies these unworkable rules to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
No. Because the "world" won't read the report - only the headline. And if the
headline reads that Israel violated the rules that is the only thing people will remember.
That is the line that will be repeated over and over and over again in the media and in
international conferences and forums as the anti-Israel machine plows forward towards
sanctions and the International Court.
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