“The IDF and security forces are not murderers,” Benjamin Netanyahu said on the 23rd of March, in response to a request for a probe by US Senator Patrick Leahy, regarding apparent violations of human rights by Israel. “IDF soldiers and Israeli police put their lives on the line to defend themselves and innocent civilians from bloodthirsty terrorists who try to kill them”, he continued.
This was just one day before the notorious extrajudicial execution filmed in detail on the 24th of March, where Israeli medic soldier Elor Azarya shot a bullet at point blank into the head of a wounded and immobile Palestinian, Abd al Fattah al Sharif. When Azarya was indicted for the reduced charge of Manslaughter last week (18th April), Netanyahu responded once again saying “our soldiers are not murderers”.
“They act against murderers, and I hope that a way will be found to balance between the action and the overall context of the event. In the meantime I suggest that everyone calms down.”
In January this year, Netanyahu responded to demands by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström for accountability in what appeared to be “extrajudicial executions,” rebuffing her statements as “outrageous”, “immoral”, “unjust”, “just wrong”, and just plain “stupid”. He elaborated beyond the inflamed adjectives, saying:
People are defending themselves against assailants wielding knives who are about to stab them to death and they shoot the people, and that is extrajudicial killings? So why is San Bernardino not extrajudicial killings?
Now let me take the wise and balanced advice of Netanyahu, and “calm down”. Let me, in the cool air of reason, scrutinise what Netanyahu is actually saying.
The repeated motto of Netanyahu suggests that the mere idea of IDF and security forces enacting extrajudicial executions (which are in fact murder by nature) is absurd. Ostensibly so, because by Netanyahu’s logic, if “bloodthirsty terrorists” or “assailants wielding knives about to stab them” are at play, this rules out the possibility that an extrajudicial execution could take place subsequently. Effectively, Netanyahu is saying that any killing by an IDF soldier in response to a suspected attack cannot be murder, it cannot be an extrajudicial execution – he effectively deems it a natural response of self-defense.
We do not need to go far in history to find cases of stabbing, indeed multiple stabbing, where the stabber is a Jew. And here the outcome is starkly different to that which most Palestinian suspects experience. On July 30th, 2015, an ultra-orthodox Jew, Yishai Shlissel, stabbed six people at the Jerusalem Gay Parade. This was an act of terror with a religious ideological background. The assailant “was quickly wrestled down by police and arrested,” Haaretz reported. Nice and simple, even with knife at hand. Not a shot fired.
Aye, one could argue that there could be cases, where a fight between an assailant and a soldier or security officer would result in a fight in which the latter uses his/her firearms and ends up causing the death of the assailant. But the recent case mentioned from 24th of March was one that was completely divorced from such reality. It was a case which was filmed in such detail, so crystal clear. Al Sharif was already lying there immobile for some 8 minutes after having been shot and left to bleed without medical attention. The shot which the Israeli soldier medic put into the head of Al Sharif was no response to a threat. No-one around was alarmed, not even by the murder.
Netanyahu’s direct response to this cold-blooded murder, reiterating the worn mantra that “our soldiers are not murderers”, now reveals in broad daylight what he is actually saying – that to murder a Palestinian is simply no murder. His view seems to be backed by an astonishing 95% of the Israeli public, who also do not regard the murder to be murder. The logic must lead us to a further conclusion – that if it is not murder even when it is, then it must be because the definition cannot apply when it is a Palestinian. The logic suggests that Palestinians are simply sub-human. In contrast, the Israeli soldiers, soldiers of the Jewish State, are made of a human fabric that cannot be corrupted. They are super-human.
I’m trying to “calm down” as Netanyahu suggests. But I just can’t.