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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Our own worst enemies

The Lebanese website Naharnet reports on a courtroom drama taking place in Israel that I have not seen reported in any Israeli media. Their Israeli lawyers are arguing that three Hezbullah terrorists captured by Israel in Lebanon last summer should be treated as prisoners of war and not as 'illegal combatants.' The distinction should resonate with Americans: by classifying captured al-Qaeda terrorists as 'illegal combatants' (and for the same reasons), the US has managed to hold them at Gitmo without giving them POW rights.
At a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, the defense argued that Hizbullah acted as an agent of the Lebanese government while the prosecution countered that the group did not reflect Lebanese government policy.

As enemy combatants the three captives would face murder charges and the prospects of long stints in Israeli jails. As prisoners of war, they would be sent back to Lebanon as soon as a prisoner exchange can be agreed.

The three men -- Mohammed Adelhamid Srour, 20, Hussein Suleiman, 23, and Maher Hassan Kurani, 30 -- were captured on August 4 in the villages of Aita al-Shaab and Shihine, two Lebanese border villages on the front lines.

They are being charged with attempted murder for setting an ambush for Israeli soldiers and "membership in a terrorist organization." Suleiman is accused of aiding in the capture of two Israeli soldiers in July, an incident that sparked the month long conflict last year.

"They are prisoners of war because they were combatants who took part in a war between two countries, Israel and Lebanon," defense lawyer Smadar Ben Nathan told Agence France Presse.

"Lebanon did not send its own troops to the south to protect it against the Israeli army but instead relied on Hizbullah. It thus represented the Lebanese armed forces."

Israel's justice ministry sees things differently. Hizbullah, it says, is an "illegal terrorist militia" which is not in any way a regular army.

"The system has decided they should be tried as people who commit crimes against the state of Israel," justice ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen told AFP.

"They can not enjoy the privileges of prisoners of war because they don't abide by rules of engagement. They shoot from within civilian homes," he said. "You have to pay the price for what you did."

Defense lawyers say they hope that wartime declarations by Israeli and Lebanese leaders will show that Israel entered into a conflict with another country, a war to which international law applies.

"On the day that the two Israeli soldiers were taken -- last July 12 -- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused Lebanon of an attack against the state of Israel," the Srour's lawyer said.

Lebanese president Emile Lahoud, meanwhile, "constantly said during the war that Hezbollah belongs to the national resistance and is complementary to the army."
But here's the most ridiculous part:
Defense attorneys also argue that the captured Hizbullah militants deserve the same treatment as Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon.

"I don't think that anybody (in Israel) disputes the fact that the two Israeli soldiers are prisoners of war. This is why the government must give (Hezbollah militants) this same status," Ben Nathan said.
Someone please tell me which Lebanese lawyer is representing Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev?

If the Hezbullah prisoners deserve the same treatment as the Israelis held in Lebanon (and they don't - they deserve worse), then their families should have no word whether they are alive or dead and the Red Cross should not be allowed to see them. But of course, that will never happen because we are our own worst enemies.


At 10:08 AM, Blogger Michael said...

But here's the most ridiculous part:
Defense attorneys also argue that the captured Hizbullah militants deserve the same treatment as Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon.

This part is ridiculous because no one know how the captures Israeli soldiers are being treated. So why not do the same for the Hezbo prisoners: take them to the deepest isolation cell in the prison, lock them, and throw away the key. No news out, no news in.

And when Regev and Goldwasser come home, we can discuss the illegal combatant/pow status of terrorists.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

That's what I was suggesting....


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