(Haaretz) — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki has sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon and a number of Western foreign ministers asking them to bring to trial their citizens who serve in the Israeli army or volunteer with the military for alleged war crimes commited in Gaza.
Haaretz received a copy of the letter Maliki sent Tuesday to his U.S., British, French, Australian, Canadian and South African counterparts. In the letter, he emphasized that UN member states bear the responsibility of investigating and putting on trial people in their jurisdictions who have violated international law.
“The Israeli military currently has approximately thousands in its ranks. This total includes both Israeli dual nationals and non-Israeli volunteers enlisted through so-called “Mahal” programs,” Maliki wrote. “These dual nationals and foreign nationals participate in Israeli combat operations within the territory of the occupied State of Palestine, including the current offensive in the Gaza Strip. Additionally, foreign nationals volunteering with the so-called “Sar-El” program provide non-combat maintenance and logistics support to the Israeli occupation forces.”
The Mahal program enables young Jews aged 18 to 24 years from around the world who don’t have Israeli citizenship to volunteer for the Israeli military. They serve in combat units for one-and-a-half years, and volunteers get temporary residency status. The Sar-El program, a joint initiative of the Jewish Agency and the Israel Defense Forces, brings Jewish volunteers from around the world to Israel for a period of one week to one year during which time they volunteer with bases around the country.
In the letter, Maliki says that IDF forces have carried out a long line of war crimes in the Gaza Strip, in the past and in the current round of fighting, which has caused the deaths of many innocent civilians and the destruction of key infrastructure. Under the Geneva Convention, which all the recipients of the letter are signatories of, “States are obligated to take all measures necessary to suppress violations of international humanitarian law, including grave breaches, i.e. war crimes,” he added.
“Palestine hereby calls upon all member States of the United Nations to meet these legal obligations with regard to the potential involvement of its nationals in international crimes relating to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including the ongoing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip,” he wrote.
Maliki then identified a number of steps the Palestinians want the recipients of the letter to take:
- Identifying all of its nationals who are serving in or otherwise aiding Israeli occupation forces, including participants in the so-called “Mahal” volunteer brigade and the so-called “Sar-El” volunteer program;
- Notifying all such persons of alleged violations and war crimes committed by Israel during the current offensive in the Gaza Strip, the potential criminal liability for committing or contributing to the commission of war crimes, and each State’s obligation under international humanitarian law to investigate potential war crimes within its jurisdiction and prosecute where appropriate; and
- Investigating any allegations that its nationals were involved in the commission and/or the aiding and abetting of war crimes during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, and prosecuting these individuals where appropriate.
It remains to be seen how practical the Palestinian request from Western countries to investigate their citizens who served in the IDF is. There is reason to believe that most of the countries that received the letter will be reluctant to do anything about it. And even if they wanted to advance the issue, it would prove extremely difficult for them to identify and locate those individuals.
However, Maliki’s letter is another attempt to increase the diplomatic and legal pressure internationally after the Gaza operation. It was only a few weeks ago that the Palestinian Authority pushed for the establishment of a Gaza war crimes commission in the UN Human Rights Council to investigate alleged Israeli crimes during the fighting in Gaza.
In addition, the PA is holding discussions and consultations with Hamas about the possibility of signing the Rome Statute and applying to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. But despite the surge in Palestinian statements on this topic, it seems that Abbas, fearing an Israeli response and harsh international criticism, is not interested, at this time, to move further along that path.
As a U.S. Intelligence Asset, Susan Lindauer covered anti-terrorism at the Iraqi Embassy in New York from 1996 up to the invasion. Independent sources have confirmed that she gave advance warning about the 9/11 attack. She also started talks for the Lockerbie Trial with Libyan diplomats. Shortly after requesting to testify before Congress about successful elements of Pre-War Intelligence, Lindauer became one of the first non-Arab Americans arrested on the Patriot Act as an “Iraqi Agent”. She was accused of warning her second cousin, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Secretary of State Colin Powell that War with Iraq would have catastrophic consequences. Gratis of the Patriot Act, her indictment was loaded with “secret charges” and “secret evidence.” She was subjected to one year in prison on Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas without a trial or hearing, and threatened with indefinite detention and forcible drugging to shut her up. After five years of indictment without a conviction or guilty plea, the Justice Department dismissed all charges five days before President Obama’s inauguration.
Lindauer has written a book Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq about her experience.
UK riots…. Arab Spring in reverse … or is it?
The British unrest spread to cities including Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham, with shops being looted and set alight. Images of young men and women in the street smashing business, cars and anything that they can lay their hand on. who are those people and why are toppling their beautiful city, I don’t know exactly, but I can tell you that those are not the same people who a few month ago went to the same streets to see the royal wedding. Experts and laymen start wondering why are young British are angry and rioting all of the sudden, The British Summer as in the Arab spring was triggered by one incident, a killing of one young man, Mohammed Bouazizi In Tusnias and Kkaled Said in Egypt , and now the 26 year old Mark Duggan, who died at the scene in Tottenham, north London, on Thursday after been shot by the police. This single incident in every case sparked a deep major societal structure dormant crisis, in the Arab world police brutality and corrupt rotten undemocratic political regime, in England an economic neglect and disillusioned democratic regime. In both cases however people went to the street to revolt against a government that doesn’t represent them. The Arab spring unlike the riots in London, was mostly peaceful where the violence was only committed by government security forces, Arabs protesters chanting “Sylmeyah… Sylmeyah” peacefully … peacefully while facing tanks, and police brutality, the British police was the one chanting “Sylmeyah”, loiters were everyway you look, smashing shops, buses, and stealing anything they can carry; Anti government demonstrators in Egypt were the ones protecting shops, community and Museums, In England the protesters didn’t have any demands, no chanting of “ El Shaab YaReed Isqat El Nezam” the people demand the toppling of the regime”, It was a British Intifada, where people were actually smashing the symbol of economic regime that left them turkey; it wasn’t a British Spring, it was the Arab Spring in reverse. The youth sparked the Arab spring and the rest of the society had joined them even the Military, whereas the British youth who started the British summer were criminalized and the rest of society turned against them. The Arab Spring and the British summer may seem different and contradicting, but there are some similarities too between them, the government officials, in both sides focused only on criminality and security, no addressing of the youth grievances , and frustration. “We needed a fightback and a fightback is under way”, the shaken British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said after four days of riots. Major police operations are under way, as I speak, to arrest the criminals who were not picked up last night but who were picked up on closed circuit television cameras,” the British prime minister said. What about human rights and the privacy of those British minors. Prime minster, declares a Qaddafi Zanga Zanga style search, “we have detailed photos and camera videos, we will hunt them down” he added. “Picture by picture, these criminals are being identified and arrested, and we will not let any phony concerns about human rights get in the way of the publication of these pictures and the arrest of these individuals.” As we all know there are millions of video cameras on every corner of London street. One riot and the Prime minister started sounding like an Arab dictator, but the center London never looked like Tahrir Square in midst of the Egyptian revolution. The British official as their Arab counterparts, underestimated the depth of the problem and kept convincing themselves that this is only the fBook and Blackberry troublemakers, as if the social media caused the problem not just reporting it faster than the authorities who are usually older and slower. “we need to study the role and responsibility of the use social media” explained a British official on BBC live. If it wasn’t the fact that shutting down fBook, brought down Mubarak himself this may have come as an option. PM Cameron who had to cut short his Italian vacation to oversee the crisis, the gentle PM who during his visit to Italy went back to a café there to apology to a waitress for not tipping here, no apology here. “It is skinning to see people as young as 13 looting stores while they are laughing” chummed the prime minster. Those young British seem to him good enough to be sent to kill and die on a foreign soil in Iraq, Afghanistan but not on UK mainland. As in the Arab Spring, what happened in the last few days in London, it is not just for an economic justice, it is also a dignity revolution, where people no matter how poor they are, still want dignity and respect, “if the police want our respect, they need to respect us first” screamed one young woman protester, here we have two youth revolts, one cause mainly of lack of democracy and political corruption in the Arab world and the other cause of disillusion of democracy in England. One asked to topple the oppressive political regime and the other tried to topple the oppressive economic regime. In the Arab world we have people revolution; where people want democracy and freedom, in England what we have is a consumer revolution. Where people want freedom to have flat screen TV and things.
Ahmed Tharwat/ TV Host/Public Speaker