Almost one day after the assassination by Israel in Gaza of Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, commander of Hamas’ militant wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, it seems that all has been already said, that all images of the crime have been published, and that Israel is again about to ignore all international condemnations and resolutions that are beginning to flow as a river of fire into the Gates of Hell. Yet, that is only an illusion. In the aftermath, Israel initiated a disinformation campaign that is being greedily accepted by most international media. “Jabari has been responsible in the last decade for all terrorist activities against Israel from Gaza,” the Israeli Shin Beth secret police was quoted by the BBC. Israel counts on the people’s short memory, daring to utter a manipulative lie to an international media leader. Reality is different.
On March 9, 2012, the IDF launched an airstrike in Gaza, killing Zuhir al-Qaisi, also known as Abu Ibrahim, the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, the organization that captured former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit (see Scary Sicarii: Israeli Extrajudicial Executions). He was targeted for the launching of rockets from Gaza by his organization. The Popular Resistance Committees are a coalition of various Palestinian factions in Gaza that oppose the Palestinian Authority’s attitude towards Israel; reports on Hamas’ frequent actions against them abound. Hence, Israel lied; al-Jabari couldn’t have been responsible for everything.
No less distressing is the fact that Israel has already announced its next assassination. Again, the BBC was used for the odd task. Israel Katz, Israeli Transport Minister, told them “if the shooting doesn’t stop, Israel will also target Ismail Haniyeh,” the Hamas leader acting as Prime Minister in Gaza. It is easy to dismiss the assassination threat as a little-nothing said during an emotional moment, but this is not the case. A few days ago, in Palestinian-Israeli TV-Duel Leaves No Hope, I analyzed the same threat stated by Knesset Member Yariv Levin, from the Likud party aristocracy. This looks like part of a public campaign preparing the ground for a violent event.
A recurring error of military leaders is their preparing their armies for their previous war. Yet, the only certainty is that the next war will be different from the last one. Can we find clues regarding Israel plans against Ismail Haniyeh? Targetting the most senior official of an organization is much harder than the typical assassinations conducted by the IDF; firing a missile on them will cause many deaths. Thus, the plan is probably different. On December 27, 2011, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz gave his first major interview since he took office as Chief of Staff of the IDF ten months before. The interview took place as part of the Shirutrom, the IDF’s annual telethon. It was given to Ilana Dayan, a senior Israeli journalist, at Galei Tzahal (“IDF Waves” in Hebrew; it is also labeled by its acronym Galatz), the Army Radio. He rejoiced on the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009, praising it: “an excellent operation that achieved deterrence for Israel vis-a-vis Hamas.” After this shocking statement, he declared his intentions. He warned that cracks have emerged in that deterrence over time and that a second round of fighting in the Gaza Strip is not a matter of choice for Israel. “Such a round must be initiated by Israel and must be “swift and painful” (see Cast Lead II Announced by Gen. Gantz). The violent aftermath of yesterday’s assassination may soon deteriorate into a repetition of Cast Lead. In such a case, Israel will invade Gaza. This time its main target will be the killing of Ismail Haniyeh.
I am not being polite to Israel. They never say “assassination.” Instead, they prefer “sikul memukad,” literally meaning “focused foiling” in English. This is a simplistic doctrine of “disproportionate response,” in which Israel responds wildly to any suspicion of wrongdoing; no proper judicial process is allowed, the victim is not given a fair chance to defend himself. This nearly always leads to the death of innocents, and it invariably aggravates anti-Israeli sentiment. Each time it creates an escalation that is difficult to control and throws the entire country into a dead-end alley. The declarations made after yesterday’s attack are a superb example of this. “Israeli occupation has opened the doors of hell” a Hamas representative said in Gaza to the BBC.
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Israel often claims that it attempts to create deterrence; in other words, create such a fear among its victims, that they would stop struggling for their rights. Instead, Israel just strengthens the determination of the oppressed to gain freedom. Deterrence and fear are just substitute terms for “terror,” we are speaking here about a terror state. State terrorism is a term that has been used to refer to terrorist acts committed by governmental agents or forces. This involves the use of state resources—like its military—to directly perform acts of terrorism. Professor of Political Science Michael Stohl cites Germany’s bombing of London and the US atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. He argues “the use of terror tactics is common in international relations and the state has been and remains a more likely employer of terrorism within the international system than insurgents.” The concept is also used to describe political repressions by governments against their own civilian population with the purpose of inciting fear. For example, taking and executing civilian hostages and extrajudicial killings during the Communist Red Terror are commonly considered terrorism. The Israeli extrajudicial killings are clearly within this category. Another wrong claim is that the victim was about to commit a crime. Such a claim is void of value in Criminal Law, the law system used by Israel. No civil servant can claim to know the future, and deny liberty—or even kill—on this account.
While preparing this article, I collected a list of published Israeli “focused foiling” assassinations. The list was so long, that the only sensible solution for this article was to bring only the Hamas-related events (see box below). Since 2010, the list includes thirteen names (with yesterday’s event, and not counting the foiled assassination of Fereydoon Abbasi in Iran). Israel cannot claim that these are sporadic exceptions. We are witnessing a systematic approach which is the direct historical continuation of the Jewish Sicarii sect from the times of Jesus. They were a splinter group of the Zealots. Under their cloaks they concealed sicae, small daggers, from which they received their name. At assemblies, and pilgrimages to the Temple Mount, they stabbed their enemies: Romans, Herodians, and wealthy Jews supporting Roman rule. In modern times, they would have been called “terrorists.” It is difficult to see how this behavior matches within universally accepted rules of war.
Instead of analyzing the latter, let me end with a more basic principle which is ignored by Israel. Jesus put a lot of emphasis in it, but it appears also in the Old Testament; in English is it called “The Golden Rule.” In Luke 6:31 we read “as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” It defines a principle of reciprocity in human relations. “Love and you will be loved,” is a positive rendering of it. Netanyahu and his assassins forget that also the negative version is valid. By assassinating, they have become acceptable victims of the same criminal behavior. Israel’s Gates of Hell have been opened.
January 1996, Gaza: Hamas chief bomb maker Yahya Ayyash killed by mobile phone packed with explosives
September 1997, Jordan: Khaled Mashal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, Mossad failed to assessinate him with poison
July 2002, Gaza: Salah Shehada, leader of Hamas military wing, killed by bomb dropped on his house
March 2004, Gaza: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of Hamas, killed by missile strike
April 2004, Gaza: Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, co-founder and leader of Hamas, killed in missile strike
January 2009, Gaza: Said Siyam, senior Hamas commander, killed in air strike