Israeli Extra-Judicial Executions

by Stephen Lendman

At 8:50AM on February 27, an Israeli aircraft fired
two missiles at a civilian microbus on the coastal
road near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Six
members of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades were in it
at the time. Five of them were killed. The sixth one
was seriously injured.

Twenty minutes later, another aircraft attacked a
vehicle in which other Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades
members were traveling. They escaped harm by fleeing
before missiles struck their car and destroyed it.

On March 1, Hamas reported that Israelis killed 91
Palestinians in February, 83 in Gaza and eight in West
Bank, and the killing continues to escalate. The
International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) said
eyewitnesses confirmed that IDF troops and tanks
invaded Jabalyia (in Gaza) before dawn on Saturday.
They targeted the refugee camp, struck at resident
homes, attacked medical relief workers, fired missiles
at cars and in residential areas, and killed at least
37 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and injured 120
others by midday. IMEMC later on Saturday raised the
toll to 56 dead and updated it again Sunday AM to 98
as IDF forces continued rampaging without letup.

Haaretz first reported 34 deaths on Saturday,
including five children and three women. Later in the
day, it upped the total to 50, then 59 and by Sunday
noon the total known killed was “more than 70.” AP
first indicated 33 deaths, then raised it to 45, then
50 late in the day and 66 by Sunday morning (plus
about 200 wounded) and nearly 100 deaths since
February 27.

The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported 84 deaths
since Saturday, 98 in total since February 27 and over
200 wounded, many with mangled bodies and serious
life-threatening injuries. Throughout the weekend,
Israeli aircraft struck many targets, including Hamas’
headquarters building (unoccupied at the time) that
“completely collapsed” and injured five people,
according to witnesses.

Reports continue being updated, and the latest 6PM
Gaza time one from the Palestinian Centre for Human
Rights (PCHR) indicates the following: 101 documented
deaths since February 27, including 49 unarmed
civilians. They include 25 children and five women. In
addition, more than 250 people have been injured,
mostly unarmed civilians, and many injuries are
serious. Further, there’s been widespread destruction
of homes, other buildings and property throughout
Gaza. As it usually does, the IDF employs
“disproportionate and excessive lethal force in
residential districts, with utter disregard for the
lives of civilians.”

Under international law, these are crimes of war and
against humanity. On March 1, the Palestinian human
rights organization, Al-Haq, issued a statement
saying: “Many of the recent Israeli attacks constitute
war crimes which may amount to grave breaches of the
Geneva Conventions, for which (Israelis are)
criminally responsible” and must face trial. Al-Haq
called on the international community to act because
“All states have criminal jurisdiction to try (the)
accused….by virtue of the principle of universal
jurisdiction….No excuse can therefore justify their
inaction in view of the unlawful willful killing of
(Palestinian) civilians in” occupied Palestine.

PCHR also reported that an Israeli aircraft bombed Abd
El-Rahman Mohammad Ali Atallah’s home in Gaza City on
Saturday. It was completely destroyed and killed six
members of his family, including three women. Six
other family members were injured, four of whom were
children and one was a “two-day old” infant. The
situation is dire, hospitals can’t cope, Israeli
forces prevent ambulances from evacuating the injured,
supplies of everything are short, morgues are
overwhelmed, coffins aren’t available to bury bodies,
and overall conditions are impossible for Gazans to
handle as they continued being attacked without mercy
into the early hours of Monday.

It hardly matters that Israeli forces pulled out of
Gaza early Monday with the final death toll still to
be assessed. IDF incursions are common and frequent,
and official government statements assured they’ll
continue. One spokesman said: “We will continue with
our ‘defensive’ actions against those who fire lethal
rockets at our civilians.” Another said: “if they get
(our) message, then we may get into a period of quiet.
If (not), then there will be more operations like this
one or worse.”

Palestinians in the West Bank are also affected. On
Sunday, Israeli forces assaulted protesters:

—in Hebron with live rounds and tear gas, killing a
14 year old boy and injuring 45 others, including 24

—in Ramallah the same way injuring seven teenagers;

—in Bethlelem as well injuring two boys, one from
bullet wounds to the leg and the other from tear gas
inhalation. Other demonstrations took place in Jenin,
Nablus and other West Bank and Gaza locations.
Hundreds of Israeli Arabs also held one in Nazareth,
Israel on Friday after the High Court denied a
petition to overturn a police ban preventing Israeli
Arabs from holding a memorial service for recently
deceased George Habash, the founder of the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine and its
Secretary-General until 2000. No violence was

Meanwhile for Jews inside Israel, life proceeds
normally as they conduct their daily affairs. So far,
the toll on them and IDF forces is minimal:

—a single civilian death,

—two soldiers killed by early evening Saturday,

—two others slightly wounded on Saturday and four
others lightly on Sunday,

—seven lightly injured Israeli civilians on Saturday
from nearby rocket explosions, and

—two others by shrapnel from an exploding Katyusha
rocket on Sunday.

But it’s just the beginning according to Defense
Minister Ehud Barak. He said a large-scale invasion is
imminent with IDF forces massed on the border,
awaiting orders to invade and attack. It won’t be the
first time as assaults have gone on for decades. But
they became especially frequent after the second
Intifada began on September 29, 2000. From then
through late January 2008, PCHR documented the
extra-judicial killings alone:

—705 in total;

—478 of them targeted victims;

—227 of them innocent civilians; and

—68 of them (through June 2006) children.

Total Palestinian deaths and injuries from September
29, 2000 through late January 2008 are as follows,
according to PCHR:

—4419 Palestinians killed, including 794 children,
152 women, 25 medical personnel and 10 journalists;

—11,700 Palestinians injured in Gaza; and

—13,550 Palestinians wounded in the West Bank;

Palestinians are attacked on any pretext, but February
28 wasn’t typical. A day after a Qassam rocket killed
an Israeli in Sderot, Israeli aircraft killed 18
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Five of them
were children, and it was after 11 deaths the previous
day, including three children. One victim was the son
of senior Hamas lawmaker, Khalil al-Haya, a top figure
in Gaza and himself a target of previous assassination
attempts. Palestinians know what they face - continued
attacks from the air or the ground. This is state
terrorism, collective punishment, executions without
trial, cold-blooded killings, a serious breach of
international law and against the 1948 Convention on
the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide. More on that
below, but first some background.

In its June 4, 2001 issue, Israel’s largest
circulation (Hebrew) newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth,
published the following statement from an Israeli
Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman: “We set up a list of
Palestinian names of individuals whom the Israeli
government has approved for physical elimination,
among the names are included members of Hamas, Fatah,
Popular Front and Islamic Jihad activists.”

This is official state policy, and Israel’s High Court
affirmed it in December 2006. The Court ruled that IDF
targeted killings don’t categorically violate
international law, and each one must be evaluated on
its own merit. Specifically, the three justice panel
unanimously stated:

“The State of Israel is fighting against severe
terrorism, which plagues it from the ‘area.’ The means
at Israel’s disposal are limited. The State determined
that preventative strikes upon ‘terrorists’ in the
‘area’ which cause their deaths are a necessary means
from the military standpoint. These strikes at times
cause harm and even death to innocent civilians….the
State’s struggle against terrorism is not conducted
‘outside’ of the law. It is conducted ‘inside’ the
law….(We) cannot determine in advance that targeted
killing is always illegal….that it is prohibited
according to customary international law.”

This and comparable High Court rulings have stunning
implications. They affirm Israel’s claim to be above
the law with the right to conduct willful
state-sponsored killings. The Court’s justification
was that the State is waging armed conflict against
Palestinian “terrorists.” Their members are civilians
who aren’t protected under international law. To be
afforded such protection, “A civilian….must refrain
from taking a direct part in the hostilities.” Those
who violate “this principle (are) subject to the risks
of attack like those to which a combatant is subject,
without enjoying the rights of a combatant.”

Executive Director, Hannah Friedman, of The Public
Committee Against Torture in Israel responded to the
decision. She stated: “We are concerned that today’s
High Court of Justice ruling will worsen the current
situation and create a dangerous path that will lead
to an increase in the number of innocent civilians who
are killed or injured.” In the past 14 months, it’s
been horrendous as violence escalates, international
law is ignored, and the world community is mute about
mass-murder crimes, overwhelming human suffering, and
can barely say more than both sides must end violence
and resume peace negotiations.

Israeli Violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention

Israel is a serial international law abuser.
Specifically, it commits grave violations of the 1949
Fourth Geneva Convention that protects civilians in
times of war and has done it for decades:

—Article 2 states that “the present Convention shall
apply to all cases of declared war or of any other
armed conflict which may arise between two or more of
the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war
is not recognized by one of them. The Convention shall
also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation
of the territory….even if the said occupation meets
with no armed resistance;”

—Article 3 prohibits all kinds of assaults on life
or physical security;

—Article 27 refers to “protected persons” and states
“They shall at all times be humanely treated, and
shall be protected especially against all acts of

—Article 32 prohibits murder, torture and corporal
punishment, and

—Article 33 prohibits collective punishment and “all
measures of intimidation or….terrorism.”

Geneva and other international human rights laws
guarantee what Article 3 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights states: that everyone “has the right
to life, liberty and security of person.” It also
affirms Article 6 (1) of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights of 1966 stating that every
“human being has the inherent right to life.”
Violations of Geneva and other internationa laws are
crimes of war and against humanity. Israel is a serial
offender but has yet to be held to account.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights documented its
extra-judicial executions from September 29, 2000
through December 2007 and updates it weekly on its web
site - Below are examples, but first
some background.

Some Brief History of Israeli Targeted Killings

Without cause, these executions target specific
individuals with explicit government approval, and
Israelis have done it for decades. During the
Mandatory Palestine period, Stern Gang (later renamed
Lehi) and Irgun members were underground terrorists
with very committed aims - to drive out the British
(seen as occupiers), allow unrestricted Jewish
immigration, remove indigenous Arabs, and establish
the Jewish state of Israel. They carried out killings
and bombings, some of which were notorious like Lehi’s
1944 assassination of Britain’s Lord Moyne, the
military governor of Egypt. Another was Irgun’s
infamous 1946 King David Hotel bombing killing 91
Brits, Arabs and Jews and injuring many more.

Two of their leaders became future prime ministers -
Lehi’s Yitzhak Shamir (1983 - 84 and 1986 - 1992) and
Irgun’s Menachem Begin (1977 - 1983), but they were
wanted men before 1948. The New York Times called
Irgun a “terrorist organization,” and the World
Zionist Congress in 1946 strongly condemned “the
shedding of innocent blood as a means of political
warfare.” It was just beginning.

In the 1950s, targeted killings were common and were
used to halt fedayeen resistance attacks from Egypt.
In 1967, after Gaza and the West Bank were occupied,
Palestinians became the favorite target, inside and
outside the Territories, and by various means:

—car and mail bombs,

—air attacks,

—commando raids,

—undercover operations,


—snipers, and

—various other methods, including proxy forces to do
Israeli killing.

General Ariel Sharon commanded an “anti-terror”
detachment in the early 1970s that targeted
Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza. Through
undercover operations, the unit killed 104
Palestinians and arrested 742 others.

After Israeli athletes were killed at the 1972 Munich
Olympics, Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense
Minister Moshe Dayan established “Committee X” that
used Mossad operatives to find the kill the
perpetrators. Thirteen deaths resulted, including a
Moroccan busboy in Norway by mistake.

Throughout the 1970s, Palestinians in the Territories
were targeted, especially its leaders, and in 1982
Israelis nearly killed Yasir Arafat with car bombs,
air attacks and at least once when a sniper had him
targeted but got no orders to shoot. His second in
command, Abu Jihad (Khalil el-Wazir), was less
fortunate. He was key to the first Intifada’s success,
an irreplaceable leader, and had to be eliminated.
Ehud Barak reportedly got the assignment and headed a
commando operation that killed him.

Executions continued in the 1990s, including three
major ones with mixed success. One killed Islamic
Jihad leader, Fathi Shikaki, in Malta in 1995. Another
eliminated Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas Izzaddin al-Qassam
Brigades member who was known as “the Engineer” for
his bomb-making skills. One embarrassing attempt
failed. It targeted Hamas’ Amman, Jordan political
bureau chief, Khaled Meshal. Two Mossad agents
poisoned him but were captured by Jordanian
authorities before they could flee. To secure their
release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to
provide the poison’s antidote and release Hamas’
founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, from an Israeli prison.

With the outbreak of the second Intifada, killings
escalated markedly. Below are examples, including
several high-ranking Palestinians:

—Abu Ali Mustafa - head of the Palestinian Front for
the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP),

—Mustafa Zibri - the PFLP’s Secretary-General,

—Raed al-Karmi - a Lebanese Tanzim movement leader,

—many mid-level resistance fighters from various
Palestinian groups opposing the occupation.

Examples of Extra-Judicial Executions from September
29, 2000 Through December 2006

All three Israeli government branches support
extra-judicial killings and require no evidence to
justify them. Officials merely say those targeted are
wanted, dangerous, and threaten State security. As a
result, security forces kill with impunity and with no
regard for the innocent, including women, children,
the elderly or infirm.

Consider an egregious example. On July 12, 2006, IDF
aircraft attacked the home of Dr. Nabeel Abu Silmiya
in the Gaza City Sheikh Radwan neighborhood. The house
was completely destroyed and Dr. Nabeel, his wife and
seven children were killed - possibly in error,
according to IDF. It claimed it targeted Izziddin
al-Qassam Brigades leader, Mohammed al-Daif, and a
number of his colleagues but struck the wrong house

Multiple killings are common and are carried out
against civilian homes, government buildings and
structures, and by planting bombs in cars and targeted
shootings on the ground. The death toll keeps rising,
and PCHR documented specific examples below.

Examples of IDF Executions from January Through March

Five targeted killings occurred in the period during
which three others were injured.

On February 1, IDF soldiers killed Jaser Nader Ahmad
Abut Zugheib in the Tulkarm refugee camp. In the same
incursion, two Palestinians were wounded, one
seriously with a bullet in the chest.

On February 21, an IDF undercover unit targeted the
al-Bassatin area west of Jenin. It killed Mahmoud
Ibrahim Qassem Obaid, an Islamic Jihad al-Quds
Brigades leader, by shooting him in the head at close

On February 28, another IDF undercover unit executed
three Islamic Jihad members as they tried to flee the
Jenin refugee camp in a car.

In the examples above, arrests weren’t attempted, and
victims were either wounded or unarmed when IDF
soldiers executed them Mafia-style by point-blank
shootings. PCHR stresses that with no due process and
the absence of evidence, there’s no guarantee or even
likelihood that targeted individuals committed crimes.
They were simply Israeli vigilante justice victims
targeting the innocent.

Selected IDF Executions from April Through June 2007

During the period, 25 killings occurred, but only 16
were actually targeted.

On April 21, an IDF undercover unit attacked a car in
Jenin killing three Palestinians in it. Two were
al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members and the other
belonged to the al-Quds Brigades. On the same day, an
IDF aircraft-fired missile killed an innocent civilian
in his vehicle who had no affiliation with Palestinian
resistance groups.

On May 4, Seilat al-Harthiya village, west of Jenin
was attacked. Two al-Quds Brigades members and a
mentally disabled Palestinian civilian were executed.

On May 20, an IDF aircraft missile struck a Gaza City
al-Shojaeya neighborhood meeting hall killing seven
members of the al-Haya family and a Hamas activist as
well as wounding three others.

On May 29, IDF undercover units killed two Palestinian
activists in Ramallah and Jenin and wounded five

On June 1, the IDF assassinated an Islamic Jihad
member in Khan Yunis.

On June 12, the IDF executed an al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades member in the north Tulkarm Saida village.

On June 24, the IDF killed three al-Quds Brigades
members and wounded three civilians.

On June 30, IDF forces executed three al-Quds Brigades
members in Khan Yunis.

Selected IDF Executions from July Through September

On July 26, an IDF aircraft struck a vehicle south of
Gaza City killing three activists in it.

On August 4, an aircraft-fired missile struck a
civilian car near the Rafah International Crossing
Point on the Egyptian border. Three al-Quds Brigades
members in it were seriously wounded but managed to
survive. Moments later, two other missiles hit another
civilian car killing the driver and a civilian
bystander and wounding 12 others.

On August 20, IDF forces executed four Izziddin
al-Qassam Brigades members and two additional
Palestinian Ministry of Interior Executive Force
members in central Gaza’s al-Boreij refugee camp.

On August 21, IDF air and ground forces killed three
Palestinians in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan

On August 22, the IDF executed an Izziddin al-Qassam
Brigades member and wounded another east of Gaza City.

During the last week of August, three children were
extra-judicially killed in Beit Hanoun. There was no
evidence they had any affiliation with a local
resistance group.

On September 26, IDF forces executed five Army of
Islam members in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood, east of
Gaza City.

Examples of IDF Executions from September through
December 2007

On October 11, an IDF undercover unit killed one and
wounded another al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member near
al-Hamam Square in Jenin.

On November 25, IDF forces executed an al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades member in the Tulkarm refugee camp, east of
the town. Witnesses said he raised his hands to
surrender but was shot in the neck. Seriously injured,
two IDF soldiers beat him violently and let him bleed
to death in a coffee shop. A second man was also
seriously injured in the attack.

On November 29, IDF aircraft attacked and killed two
Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades members northeast of Khan

Attacks continue unabated - by air strikes and
on-the-ground Mafia-style executions in violation of
sacred international law explained above. And a
Haaretz February 29 article suggests they threaten to
It quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak blaming Hamas
for the increased violence and said it will “bear the
cost of our response….(it’s) necessary and will be
carried out.” On the same day, Knesset chairman of the
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi,
said IDF forces must “quickly….topple the Hamas
terror regime and take over all the areas from which
rockets are fired on Israel,” and they should remain
in those areas for years.

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai went further and
threatened a “shoah,” which is the Hebrew word for
holocaust. On Israeli radio he said: “the more Qassam
(rocket) fire intensifies and the rockets reach a
longer range, (the Palestinians) will bring upon
themselves a bigger ‘shoah’ because we will use all
our might to defend ourselves.” The comment is
outrageous, it incites genocide, and it’s a punishable
crime in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Gregory Stanton’s Genocide Watch site has a mission:
to “predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and
other forms of mass murder (by) rais(ing awareness and
influenc(ing) public policy concerning potential and
actual genocide.” Its aim “is to build an
international movement to prevent and stop genocide,”
and it’s badly needed in Occupied Palestine where
Israel has conducted state-sponsored genocide for
decades according to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.

International law expert Francis Boyle agrees and
proposed in a March 20, 1998 article that “the
Provisional Government of (Palestine) and its
President institute legal proceedings against Israel
before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the
Hague for violating the (Genocide Convention).” He
categorically stated that “Israel has indeed
perpetrated the international crime of genocide
against the Palestinian people (and the) lawsuit
would….demonstrate that undeniable fact to the
entire world.” Boyle would likely agree that the case
today is even more compelling at a time Israeli forces
are ravaging Gaza and assaulting West Bank communities
as well.

Genocide is hideous in concept and execution, and
Stanton explains how it progresses in eight defined

1. Classification - Cultures or societies distinguish
between “us and them” to categorize people by race,
religion, nationality or other distinguishing

2. Symbolization - Classifications are given names or
other symbols, such as Jews, Latinos, blacks or

3. Dehuminization - A dominant group denies another’s
humanity and equates its members with animals, vermin,
insects, diseases or, in the case of Palestinian
resistance fighters, gunmen or terrorists;

4. Organization - Genocide is always organized; most
often it’s by the state using militias, the military
and/or other security forces to target victimized

5. Polarization - Extremists incite hate through
propaganda and other communication methods, and laws
and other measures often target the victims;

6. Preparation - Victims are identified, separated out
and targeted for elimination;

7. Extermination - Once it starts, it escalates to
mass killing that’s legally defined as “genocide;” and

8. Denial - The final stage assures continued genocide
will follow with evidence of it suppressed or
destroyed. Some genocidal regimes are brought to
justice like the Nazis at Nuremberg. Others like
Israeli governments since 1948 have gotten away with
it for decades with no indication (so far) the Olmert
or a future regime will be held to account.

Minister Vilnai affirms that killing may now escalate
against a people who’ve been under a medieval siege
for months. Talk of peace and ceasefire is hollow,
Israel and Washington incite violence and want none of
it, and IDF commanders are preparing a large-scale
assault to target Hamas for removal. How much longer
will this go on? When will the occupation end? How
many more killings will be tolerated? When will world
leaders take note? People who care want answers. It’s
about time they got them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and
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