The Raq Rega E-Mail Project Issue 4

Part 2 The Claim That Israel's Targeting Those Planning and/or Participating in Terrorist Activities is Immoral and Illegal

Reacting to the murders of its civilian population Israel has targeted certain individuals responsible for the planning of and/or participating in those murders.  In response, those terrorists, and certain of those who support or sympathize with them, take the position that Israel’s targeting these individuals is illegal and immoral.

There is no doubt that Israel’s targeting policy is controversial: some think it wise, others foolish.  In this sense it is no different from virtually any policy of any government.  But those who do not have Israel’s best interests at heart are eager to exploit this controversy into a broader weapon against Israel by using disingenuous rhetoric to twist the argument from wise/foolish to legal/illegal and/or moral/immoral in order to try to make Israel look like a lawless, immoral state.  

The purpose of this Raq Rega is (1) to provide you with information to let you decide for yourself whether you believe that Israel is acting in an illegal or immoral manner and (2) to assure that those who feel targeting is unwise do not inadvertently become allied with those who would smear Israel by accusing it of illegal, immoral activity.

As we did in Part 1 of this Issue we will  summarize the argument asserting Israel is acting illegally by taking excerpts from an article published on a pro-Palestinian web site, the Electric Intifada  (  Electronic Intifada describes itself as:

a not-for-profit, independent publication committed to comprehensive public education on the question of Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the economic, political, legal, and human dimensions of Israel's 37-year occupation of Palestinian territories. EI provides a needed supplement to mainstream commercial media representations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . . the Electronic Intifada team [is] comprised of the four co-founders of the project and other members whose specialist skills enhance different areas of our work. Founders: Ali Abunimah | Arjan El Fassed | Laurie King-Irani | Nigel Parry.  

The article begins its argument by offering a few legal principles such as:

. . . The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes the inherent right of every person to life, adding that this right "shall be protected by law" and that "no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life". . .

The Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, adopted by the Economic and Social Council . . .states: "Exceptional circumstances including a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of such executions. Such executions shall not be carried out under any circumstances including, but not limited to, situations of internal armed conflict, excessive or illegal use of force by a public official or other person acting in an official capacity or by a person acting at the instigation, or with the consent or acquiescence of such person . . .

Legal principles apply to particular situations.  Different principles apply to different situations.  So the first task in applying the law to a situation is to decide which legal principles to apply to terrorist acts.  Terrorism is defined as actions intended to deliberately, and usually indiscriminately, kill innocent men, women and children to deliver a political message.

The legal principles cited by the article apply to criminal acts by those living within a country.
  And, accordingly, the principles mandate that legal actions in response are limited to the usual detective/judicial work: identify a suspect, go to a judge to get an arrest warrant, walk down the street and serve the warrant, and then have a trial.

Are these the correct principles to apply to those whom Israel targets, as you see it?
  If not, then different legal rules should apply.

Is it not more accurate to view those individuals targeted by Israel as the leaders of an organized foreign army of paid professional terrorists who hide for protection among a civilian population outside of Israel in reliance on Israel’s known reluctance to expose civilians to danger?
  In deciding which legal principles to apply, those applicable to civilians or those applicable to enemies, is the leadership of the terrorists more similar, in your mind, to Bin-ladin, and Saddam Hussein or to a civilian criminal? 

If Israel is to respond to terrorism in a civilized, moral manner, in light of the particular situation it faces, can you conclude that targeting, as conducted by Israel, is illegal or immoral?

You can join this discussion by participating in our blog at

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