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Thursday, August 06, 2009

'Lawfare' reaches the masses?

'Lawfare' is a form of warfare waged by using the nascent field of international law to attack an opponent on moral grounds: "international law warfare (seizing the earliest opportunity to set up regulations), etc." Lawfare is used against Israel by NGO's and countries that favor the 'Palestinians.' Until now, however, lawfare has mostly been used against high-ranking IDF officers. In South Africa, at least, that may be about to change.

Two pro-'Palestinian' NGO's in South Africa are seeking the arrest of some 70 IDF soldiers who hold both South African and Israeli citizenship - what are known as dual citizens - for alleged 'war crimes' committed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. And while this article discusses one high-ranking officer who is currently in South Africa, it ought to be clear to everyone that among 70 soldiers there are likely many who are not officers.
The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA) and the Media Review Network (MRN) are listed as complainants in an affidavit handed to the NPA. [Jewish former intelligence minister Ronnie] Kasrils [pictured. CiJ] was speaking in support of the initiative at the briefing hosted by the MRN.

About 70 individuals are listed in the affidavit for prosecution. Their names have been withheld as they are suspects.

The only person who has been named is Lieutenant Colonel David Benjamin, who is currently in South Africa for Limmud, a series of dialogues on Jewish opinion and belief. Kasrils said Benjamin "appears to have associated himself with the planning and commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Operation Cast Lead".

The PSA and MRN have called for Benjamin's immediate arrest; their legal teams have already made three requests to the NPA for the South Africa-born Israeli soldier's arrest.
If you're a South African citizen and you fought in Operation Cast Lead, are you on the list? Maybe. Don't go to South Africa, that's for sure.

The basis for this is the Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court. Israel is not a party to that treaty (neither is the US).
The request to file charges was made in terms of section five of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, which was domesticated through the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act in 2002. The NGOs say the government has a legal obligation to act on the statute. South Africa is one of only three countries to have domesticated the Rome Statute. Yousha Tayob, an attorney acting for the NGOs, said the matter is likely to "test our foreign policy".

The NGOs' request is supported by approximately 3 500 pages of evidence, including evidence by Human Rights Watch on the "brutal military onslaught on Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force".

The MRN and the PSA sought legal advice from international jurists Professor John Dugard and Professor Max du Plessis.
Well, we all know how fair Human Rights Watch is. And Dugard is a known quantity as well. But whether or not the NGO's win is almost not the issue here. If anyone who serves in the IDF faces the prospect of being 'haled into court' for actions taken in the IDF anytime he or she travels abroad, it would be a disincentive for Israelis to travel, with serious consequences for our economy. Of course, that's exactly what the 'Palestinians' - and their self-hating Jewish allies like Ronnie Kasrils - want.

By the way, as I have noted in the past, American soldiers who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan could be subject to the same type of harassment. The difference is that a much higher percentage of Israelis serves in the IDF than Americans who serve in the US armed forces.


At 10:06 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel is being kept under constant fire... for reasons that have nothing to do with any real legal case against it and a lot to do with making life uncertain for Israelis abroad. Its one thing for Israelis not to travel to unfriendly countries. Its a different ball game when the country's "friends" join the Arab warfare against Israel. Stopping lawfare is a long and complicated battle. Victory is not in immediate sight.


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