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Seven years a terror suspect

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“So tell me,” I asked the LHV 433 (*) interrogator after some two and a half hours, “who did I piss off? Who ordered this investigation? A police colonel?”

“No, no, habibi,” he laughed, “much higher than that. You pissed off the Government’s Counsel.” He turned over the heavy binder with the investigation material to me, pointing to the signature on one of the warrants. He exaggerated a bit: the signature was Shai Nitzan’s, now the Israeli Government Prosecutor and at the time Deputy Government Prosecutor for Special Affairs (**).

That conversation took place in December of 2011. A few days later I was informed I was summoned to the Yiftach Police Station, near Jaffa. I asked what was suspected of, but the man on the other end of the line refused to answer. I had, however, an educated guess.

Shai Nitzan

On July 2011, I wrote about the IDF’s policy of kidnapping and abusing Palestinian teens (Hebrew). That was before I was acquainted with the system directly, through the case files; otherwise my writing would have been harsher. In response to one of the comments – I no longer remember which – I wrote an incautious sentence: “If you’re asking whether I consider settlers to be a legitimate target for Palestinian military attacks, the answer is positive.” Professor and blogger Na’ama Carmi rearranged my features with a sledgehammer over that comment (Hebrew), and she was right. The correct phrasing should have been “armed settlers are a legitimate target for Palestinian military action.” Naively, I assumed it’s obvious people uninvolved in the conflict are not a permissible target. I was obviously wrong. So I published a correction (Hebrew).

An organization called “The Legal Forum for Eretz Israel” quickly lodged a criminal complaint against me. This wasn’t the first complaint I’ve faced: Im Tirzu tried to pin two of them on me, and they were vaporized. On this case, Nitzan apparently decided that his political position would be strengthened by an investigation, so one was ordered. The first person to be interrogated was the administrative manager at the time of the blog group I was writing for, hahem. She had absolutely nothing to do with my writing – I’m not certain she even read that post – but it’s always good for the main suspect to know his friends are also in the crosshairs.

And so my turn came up. I consulted with the lawyer Michael Sfard, who told me to keep my mouth shut and only say that this is a political investigation and that I had nothing further to say. At the beginning of the interrogation, which took place in a rather normal if crowded room, the interrogator asked me to dismantle my smartphone and take the battery out, so I couldn’t record the interrogation. I haven’t even considered that.

Then he read me the warning. I knew it by heart – for a year, I’ve translated interrogation texts. I Police Investigator X, Police ID number so and so, have seen before me Yossef Zvi Gurvitz, ID number so and so, and told him: I, Police Investigator X, am about to interrogate you under suspicion of incitement for violence and terrorism. You do not have to say anything, but anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. I made an effort not to recite before he did.

He opened up a large binder, turned it over to me, and asked: “Is that what you wrote?”

I answered in the affirmative.

“Please confirm by your signature that this is what you wrote.”

I signed. He turned the binder back to him, and then began an interrogation which can hardly be described but as a sort of inquisition.

Why did you write this?

Because that’s what I thought.

Do you think all settlers should be killed?

No. I refer you to my clarification. (***)

Have you seen what Na’ama Carmi wrote about this? (He read me her text.)

Of course I did. I referred to it in my clarification.

What do you think of what she wrote?

That she and I think differently about issues, and that thinking differently is not a criminal offense.

Yes, but look at what she wrote!

She and I think differently about issues, and what I wrote is not a criminal offense.

But how can you keep thinking like this, after what she wrote?

She and I think differently about issues, and what I wrote is not a criminal offense.

And so we around we went for quite some time. I don’t know how long, precisely – my dismantled smartphone was also my watch – but I estimate it was at least three quarters of an hour. Do you support violence? No, but I make a distinction between civilians and armed persons, and if armed persons use violence they cannot then complain about violence directed at them. And then, the finale:

What would you answer, if someone told you what you wrote is an incitement to terrorism against settlers?

Look, if you can show me that, somewhere in Jenin, there’s a Tanzim squad which gets its commentary from blogs written in Hebrew, and that one of its members said “OK, so far we did not consider armed settlers to be a valid target, but this Abu Gurvitz convinced me, yalla, open up the weapons’ cache and let’s go,” I would say you have a case. If you can’t, there isn’t. (****)

And then came the real tough part. He took me to the lab, so they could take my fingerprints, photograph me, and take a DNA sample. I was now officially a criminal suspect. The lab did not have a DNA kit, so we wandered the corridors until my interrogator found one. Standing before that camera was the most humiliating part of the interrogation.

As we were making our way from office to office, looking for a DNA kit, he tries to tell me he’s really sorry, this shouldn’t be happening, it’s clear to him I’m not a criminal; perhaps there’s something I can say which will let us leave all this nasty business behind. This was a trick even I could see through. I knew how it works, and I knew that whatever I told him would later be written down in a memo which I’ll never see. I hummed in agreement but didn’t say anything.

We went back to the interrogation room. He asked me how many people have seen that comment. I told him I can’t know how many people saw a specific comment, but I can look up the number of uniques and views of that blog post. I had to tell him the difference.

He signed me out on a warning which said I was discharged under the following limitations: I had to report to the police whenever I changed my address, and I’m forbidden to speak about the investigation with anyone but my attorney. I went home, rather stressed, and updated Sfard on the phone. As far as I recall, this was on Thursday; on Sunday, I sent the interrogators an email with the numbers of uniques and views.

I waited for a second interrogation. It never took place. Two weeks later, Shai Nitzan decided to cash in his symbolic fortune, and informed The Legal Forum for Eretz Israel I was under investigation. They went with this to media. I found myself in a Kafkaesque position: I was portrayed as an inciter for violence and terrorism, and I couldn’t even say what I was interrogated about.

Time passed by. I changed apartments. I informed my interrogator. The apartment was a shitty one, a Jaffa one-room den created by dismantling one apartment into several. Ten months later, I moved again. I informed the interrogator, who thanked me for the update. In the meantime, I’ve had some work interviews; in each one I informed my prospective employee I’m under suspicion of terrorism. I’m pretty certain that for at least one of them this was a decisive factor in not hiring me. Can’t blame them – what do they need this headache for? Surely there’s someone who can do the job without being a suspect.

Eighteen months after the interrogation, I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t over yet. The facts, after all, were not in dispute. I’ve admitted to what was attributed to me. I denied nothing. The only question remaining was whether what I wrote can be legally considered as incitement to violence and terrorism. This isn’t a very difficult question. How much work does it require? An hour of a prosecutor’s time? Two hours?

By that time, I was hanging out with the unruly gang of Yesh Din lawyers, each with their own specialty but all specializing in wiping out the remnants of my belief in the Israeli justice system. When I asked why does this investigation take so long, one of them nearly choked with laughter. I was politely informed that once an investigation begins, it doesn’t have to end; and that contrary to common myth, it does not end automatically after seven years.

Years have passed without me hearing from either the police or the prosecution, and, of course, as long as the investigation was open I was forbidden from speaking about it – doing so would revoke my release terms. On August 2015 I went to a police station and asked to see my criminal record; a lawyer had explained to me this was a way to see if a case was still open. A police officer gave me a look once reserved for particularly decomposed lepers, but he printed it out. Almost four years after my interrogation, the case was still open and I was still a suspect.

I did so again in August 2016. Yet another hostile face, as if I was somehow contaminating his office, but he printed my criminal file. The case was still open. I repeated the process in December 2017, this time in the Stampfer Station in Petah Tikva.

Rabbaq, I told myself (*****), if you do nothing, it will stay open forever. This is how Shai Nitzan likes it. I went into Michael Sfard’s office, signed a power of attorney, and he and lawyer Michal Pasovsky sent the police a letter demanding to know what the hell was going on with the case.

A short while later the police informed us the prosecution was handling the case. In March 2018, the police sent me a letter – to my 2011 address, naturally, even though I had kept informing them of my changes of address – in which I was informed the case against me was closed due to lack of evidence. My old landlady was kind enough to scan it and send it to me.

By that time I knew (Yesh Din was an education) that there are nine clauses for closing criminal files. The most common when it comes to Palestinian victims is Unknown Perpetrator (UP), or as the professionals call it “we couldn’t be buggered to do minimal work on this file.” Another common clause is lack of public interest, which people often misinterpret. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t interest the public; quite often it does. It means the prosecution believes the effort bringing this case to court is not justified by its importance.

Then there’s the lack of evidence clause, which means the prosecution agrees that a crime was committed but, alas, the dastardly perp was too clever for the investigators to gather enough evidence for prosecution (******). And then there’s the no guilt clause: no crime was committed and the suspect is innocent. There are a few more clauses (the suspect is underage, the case is handled by another government authority, and the ever-popular “we lost the file”), but the clauses mentioned above are the major ones.

The prosecution, of course, closed my case under the lack of evidence clause, which was patently stupid. It had all the evidence. Six years and three months ago, you may remember, I affirmed with my signature that I did write what I was suspected of writing. Now all it had to do was decide whether this was enough to prosecute or not. Shai Nitzan’s people felt it was very convenient – this way, they could leave the impression that a crime was committed, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough evidence.

We asked to see the investigative file. In Israel, once an investigation is closed, the suspect (and the victim) may see the file. Naturally, some information would be withheld; the police will not share with you information received from wiretaps or informants, for instance. But you’ll be able to see most of it. I wanted one thing: to see the timeline. I wanted to know how much time passed between one investigative act to another, between a prosecutor’s yawns and his slumbers. I wanted to know why a case which could be decided in two days is stretched to over six years. My suspicion is that this is how Shai Nitzan likes it: if there’s a sword hanging over your head, you’re more likely to keep silent. My Hebrew readers will attest that if this was the plan, it failed miserably.

The prosecution probably understood where we were going, because even though we didn’t officially ask for the change of the clause – we asked for the investigative file, so we could appeal the “lack of evidence” decision – they quickly informed us they changed the closing clause of their own volition, and it is now lack of guilt. They reached that conclusion four months after closing the case for the first time, and six years and seven months since my interrogation.

The decision was made at the beginning of July. I received the letter two days ago. Needless to say, the letter arrived at my 2011 address.

I didn’t suffer that much. I was never beaten. Never arrested. I was never even prosecuted. But for almost seven years I was held in the status of a suspect who must inform potential employees, who has to update the police of his change of address. For seven years, I was technically in a position that, were I to be near the scene of a crime, I was an automatic suspect. Seven years of not knowing whether the hammer will fall tomorrow. And it’s important to emphasize this: If I did not initiate a demand for explanations last December, this would have gone on. Because the person who ordered the case opened was quite content to keep it open.

Bear this in mind, the next time they tell you about the “open Israeli society.”

Footnotes.

(*) A special investigation unit of the Israeli National Police, often nicknamed in the media as “the Israeli FBI”. The Bureau might have a strong defamation case.
(**) In Israel, the Government Prosecutor is the number two position in law enforcement, answering to the Government Counsel.
(***) A gross error. Always listen to your attorney, and never, ever, answer a cop’s questions during interrogation.
(****) The same bleeding gross error.
(*****) Fuck this.
(******) This is the Israeli National Police we’re talking about, so the dastardly mastermind may conceivably be a toaster.
(Yossi Guvitz)

Yossi Gurvitz
About Yossi Gurvitz

Yossi Gurvitz is a journalist and a blogger, and has covered the occupation extensively.

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78 Responses

  1. annie
    annie
    July 20, 2018, 5:12 pm

    under international law, nationals of an occupying power (or its allies) are not protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention. iow, settlers are not protected civilians.

    yossi, i remember years ago when you wrote about this situation (i think in hebrew) mentioning you were not allowed to discuss it. i wondered what it was about. what a drag to have this hanging over your head for so many years.

    • Jon66
      Jon66
      July 20, 2018, 6:58 pm

      Annie,
      That is incorrect. The legal or illegal conduct of a protected person does not change their protected status.
      “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are unlawful under the provisions of international humanitarian law. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of civilians from the occupying power’s territory into the occupied territory (Article 49 (6)). However, the unlawful status of Israeli settlements does not affect the civilian status of settlers. Settlers, like any other civilians, cannot be targeted and only lose their protection from attack if and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities (Article 51 (3) Protocol 1).”https://casebook.icrc.org/case-study/amnesty-international-breach-principle-distinction

      • eljay
        eljay
        July 20, 2018, 7:31 pm

        || Jon66: … Settlers, like any other civilians, cannot be targeted and only lose their protection from attack if and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities … ||

        Incorrect. According to jon s, settlers need only be deemed “armed terrorists or criminals” in order to both:
        – lose their protection; and
        – immediately become eligible for massacre.

      • lonely rico
        lonely rico
        July 20, 2018, 8:30 pm

        … only lose their protection from attack if and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities (Article 51 (3) Protocol

        And when they slouch around the oPT,
        carrying assault rifles,
        spitting on the Palestinians;
        is that taking direct part in hostilities?

        Or is that part of Jehovah’s plan?

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 20, 2018, 9:17 pm

        Oh sure, Johnny.

        Even without applying the full Zionist entity criteria used for the civilian population of Gaza, one can have a quick look at Azrael laws concerning military service and realize that there aren’t that many civilians among the invaders –even on the pre-67 side of the fence.

        Further, when you start an endless war, you make what’s good for the goose good for the gander. Just remember that. When you declare some massacre a “mistake” or “necessary for security reason” just guess what you are justifying in the future.

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        July 21, 2018, 7:39 am

        I would think that parking themselves on stolen land, stealing natural resources to maintain their lifestyles and persecuting indigenous Palestinians with violence, vandalism, destruction and theft of crops, livestock and belongings are all acts of hostility that should remove any ‘protection’.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 21, 2018, 10:59 am

        ” just guess what you are justifying in the future.”

        Oh, “Jon s” and “66” don’t worry about that. No trauma ‘long them.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        July 21, 2018, 12:41 pm

        Annie is crorrect when she claims that settlers are not protected under the VI Geneva conventions. That is exactly the reason why Israel regards this covention as not applicable to the Westbank and uses the Hague Conventions which it twists into being a protection (primarely) for settlers, too.

        But Jon66 is also correct about the general CIVILIAN status of settlers. They enjoy the same protection as anybody else who illegaly enters a country.

        But I’m sure that Jon66 also claims that Palestinian can react like Israel when it comes to foreigners who try to enter the country illegaly. That is killing or crippeling them for fun.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 21, 2018, 2:07 pm

        Bumble,
        That’s not how protected status works.
        Even if hey are criminals, they have protected status.

      • eljay
        eljay
        July 21, 2018, 8:08 pm

        || Jon66: … Even if [t]hey are criminals, they have protected status. ||

        Incorrect. According to your Zionist brother-in-arms, jon s, people need only be deemed “armed terrorists or criminals” in order to lose protected status and become eligible for massacre. If you feel that that sort of thinking might have negative consequences for Jews – I’m thinking it might, but he doesn’t seem to think so – you might want to have a word with him about it.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 22, 2018, 2:30 am

        That’s not how protected status works

        Says the absolute authority on Geneva IV and other laws (re authority, I wouldn’t even send any family member to John 66 anyway, even for an ingrown toenail and even if he were the sub-sub-assistant surgeon.)

        Anyway, the rule is as follows: you should expect at the very least the treatment being meted out by you guys to peaceful, unarmed gatherings to be given in exchange to bloodthirsty invaders from America, squatting fully armed on what even colonialists recognize as Palestine.

        Live by the sword, die by the sword, baby. So say your own revered prophets.

        And just as a friendly reminder, you’ve been harping on this some 358 times already.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 22, 2018, 9:43 am

        Eljay,
        My source is Amnesty Int and ICRC.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 22, 2018, 9:51 am

        Echi,
        I bring this up every time someone makes an incorrect statement about the protected status of the settlers. If Annie had not mentioned it, I would not have either.
        Other than your ramblings, do you have a current source of international law that backs your live by the sword opinion?
        Just a friendly reminder, you might want to try actual facts rather than ad hominem attacks. But I guess if that’s all you got, go with it.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        July 22, 2018, 11:14 am

        Jon66: “I bring this up every time someone makes an incorrect statement about the protected status of the settlers.”

        Settlers don’t have a “protected status”. Illegal foreigners also don’t have a “protected status”. You make it sound as if they have more rights to be where they are than refugees who want to return to their homes.

        Btw. Since you care so much about rights and conventions. When is Israel going to deport them and dismantle its settlements?

      • eljay
        eljay
        July 22, 2018, 11:57 am

        || Jon66: Eljay,
        My source is Amnesty Int and ICRC. ||

        I’m baffled that you’d choose to believe “sources” over a fellow Zionist like jon s.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 22, 2018, 12:19 pm

        “Jon 66”, what protections do the settlers gain by being “protected persons”?

        (Come to think of it, what the settlers most need protection from, in the long run, is the Israeli government.)

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 22, 2018, 2:16 pm

        Eljay,
        I’m actually surprised that he’s your definitive source on the subject.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 22, 2018, 2:20 pm

        Talk,
        They are protected persons and not legitimate targets. Same as other protected persons. That status is not changed whether or not they are legally or illegally in territory.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 22, 2018, 2:23 pm

        Marnie,
        It’s not that I care that much about settlers. I care about the safety of everyone. I don’t want to see settlers, Palestinians, or anyone else who should be safe subject to injury or death. Making a list of violent acts of some doesn’t indict all.

      • eljay
        eljay
        July 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

        || Jon66: Eljay,
        I’m actually surprised that he’s your definitive source on the subject. ||

        I don’t know of any other person who / organization that advocates and sets out the parameters for massacre. Who is your definitive source?

        (Just to be clear: Unlike jon s, I don’t believe in massacre, ever.)

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 22, 2018, 3:00 pm

        “It’s not that I care that much about settlers. I care about the safety of everyone.” “Jon 66”

        And since the settlers live in defiance of Israeli law, too. You should have no objection to the Israeli government removing or moving them, for the safety of all.

        Or does the settler’s “protected status” preclude that “ethnic cleansing” by the GOI??

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        July 22, 2018, 3:05 pm

        Jon66: “They are protected persons and not legitimate targets.”

        Note quite:
        “Are settlers legitimate targets under IHL? No, the illegality of the settlements does not detract from the status of the settlers as civilians. They are therefore not legitimate targets of attack. However, settlers are not “protected persons” and therefore do not have the same rights as the civilian occupied population under IHL. ”
        https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0ahUKEwils8D_tLPcAhUHYlAKHfPlCl8QFghEMAM&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.diakonia.se%2Fglobalassets%2Fdocuments%2Fihl%2Fihl-resources-center%2Ffact-sheets%2Finternational-law-and-israeli-settlements-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territory.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2G1jJE9T_ilxgw1WOUwIYc

        “6. Strongly deplores the continuation and persistence of Israel in pursuing those policies and practices and calls upon the Government and people of Israel to rescind those measures, to dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem;”
        https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/5AA254A1C8F8B1CB852560E50075D7D5

        Yes or no, Jon66 who seems to respect international regulations.?

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        July 22, 2018, 3:12 pm

        I wouldn’t have any sympathy for Jewish settlers. If a situation arose where the Israeli Army couldn’t protect them I would leave it to God . Consequences.

      • eljay
        eljay
        July 22, 2018, 3:26 pm

        || Jon66: … I care about the safety of everyone. … ||

        When you write stuff like this, it makes me a bit sad to know that because you’re a Jewish supremacist (Zionist) you don’t also care about justice, accountability and equality for everyone.  :-(

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        July 22, 2018, 5:18 pm

        @Jon66

        “They (settlers) are protected persons and not legitimate targets. Same as other protected persons”

        1 A lot of them are armed
        2 Israel using the laws of war FFS- don’t make me laugh. It never observes them in Gaza
        3 Israel tends to murder civilians so I would expect the same when the shoe is on the other foot

        Israel uses terror as the Nazis did in order to control civilian populations. the Wehrmacht ran a scorched earth policy in Eastern Europe.
        When the tide turned Germany got the scorched earth treatment.
        Israel should really observe the Geneva Conventions. It might not be sexy but it would be good for Israelis.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 22, 2018, 5:44 pm

        eljay,
        You said,
        “Incorrect. According to your Zionist brother-in-arms, jon s, people need only be deemed “armed terrorists or criminals” in order to lose protected status and become eligible for massacre. ”
        So you told me:
        1. Iwas wrong that Israeli settlers are not civilians.
        2. Your source for telling me I was wrong is jon s.

        Now you tell me that you disagree with jon s.
        Then why would you tell me that I was wrong and use him as your reference to rebut my statement?

        Now I don’t know whether or not you agree that settlers are civilians and not legitimate targets.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 22, 2018, 5:53 pm

        Mag,
        “Under international humanitarian law, a failure by one party to a conflict to respect the laws of war does not relieve the other of its obligation to respect those laws. That obligation is absolute, not premised on reciprocity. “https://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/isrl-pa/ISRAELPA1002-04.htm

        As to the settlers being armed.
        “Even Palestinians who criticize attacks against civilians frequently excuse attacks against settlers. The fact that many individual settlers carry arms, arguably for their own defense, appears to have given a new argument to armed groups to justify attacks against civilians. “They are not civilians,” Islamic Jihad spokesperson Ismail Abu Shanab told Human Rights Watch.

        Not because the settlements are not legal but because the settlers are militias. They are not civilians. They have guns and are armed. Every home and settler has a gun, and all these people are militants and targets. They can’t hide in the uniform of a civilian…. If I see women and children I must not shoot. We can’t behave without humanity. But in principle, settlers are considered targets, legally.141

        In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Hussein al-Sheikh, a Fatah official, made the same distinction. “We sent a message to al-Aqsa: `Don’t touch Israeli civilians. Never. Focus on the army and settlers. We don’t consider settlers to be civilians.'”142

        These assertions are inconsistent with international humanitarian law. The illegal status of settlements under international humanitarian law does not negate the rights of the civilians living there. The fact that a person lives in a settlement, whether legal or not, does not make him or her a legitimate military target. Under international humanitarian law, intentional attacks on civilians, or attacks that do not distinguish between military targets and civilians, are prohibited under all circumstances. Israeli civilians living in the settlements, so long as they do not take up arms and take an active part in hostilities, are noncombatants.

        When individual settlers take an active part in hostilities, as opposed to acting in legitimate self-defense, they lose their civilian protection and become legitimate military targets during the period of their participation, just as Palestinian militants who take an active part in armed conflict become legitimate military targets during that period. However, even in a situation in which armed settlers were to become combatants, their presence among the larger civilian settler population would not negate the requirement that Palestinian combatants distinguish between military and civilian targets during that time, desist from attacking civilians, take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians, and refrain from attacks that cause disproportionate harm to civilians.”
        https://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/isrl-pa/ISRAELPA1002-04.htm

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 22, 2018, 6:00 pm

        Eljay,
        I’m sorry I made you sad.
        I do care about justice and equality. However, my first concern is the preservation of life and the safety of all. I don’t want to see anyone hurt. Palestinian or Israeli.

      • eljay
        eljay
        July 22, 2018, 6:52 pm

        || Jon66: … So you told me:
        1. Iwas wrong that Israeli settlers are not civilians.
        2. Your source for telling me I was wrong is jon s. … ||

        I didn’t tell you that Israeli settlers are not civilians. I told you that according to your fellow Zionist, jon s, Israeli settlers can lose whatever “protected status” you think they have (or should have) simply by being labelled “armed terrorists or criminals” and, therefore, becoming eligible for massacre.

        I then said, “If you feel that that sort of thinking might have negative consequences for Jews – I’m thinking it might, but he doesn’t seem to think so – you might want to have a word with him about it.”

        || … Now I don’t know whether or not you agree that settlers are civilians and not legitimate targets. … ||

        “Legitimate targets” for what? Expulsion from the colonies they’ve established outside of Israel’s Partition borders? Yes. Massacre? No. Unlike jon s, I don’t believe in massacre, ever.

        || Eljay,
        I’m sorry I made you sad.
        I do care about justice and equality. … ||

        If you cared about justice and equality with no qualifications, you wouldn’t be a Zionist. The best you can say is that you selectively care about justice and equality.

        || … However, my first concern is the preservation of life and the safety of all. I don’t want to see anyone hurt. Palestinian or Israeli. ||

        I appreciate this sentiment and agree with it.

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer
        July 22, 2018, 9:32 pm

        Jon 66

        I’m not buying for a second you care about non Israeli, non Jewish civilians.

        That said how do you square your comments with the fact thaf Israel has repeatedly argued, including with the ICC and ICJ, that the GC don not apply.

        How do you square with their massuve violations of the GC.

        Whatever happens to settlers I will remember the GoI position. Karma is a …..

      • Marnie
        Marnie
        July 23, 2018, 12:14 am

        “It’s not that I care that much about settlers. I care about the safety of everyone. I don’t want to see settlers, Palestinians, or anyone else who should be safe subject to injury or death. Making a list of violent acts of some doesn’t indict all.”

        Don’t be cute Ivanka. The IOF does the bidding of the settlers, all the time and for the most hair-raising ‘missions’ imaginable.

        By Haggai Matar
        |Published May 27, 2014
        Young Palestinian girls detained on suspicion of – eating cherries

        Four Palestinian girls, at least one of whom is under the age of criminal culpability, are detained and brought for interrogation — without their parents being present — based on a complaint made by a local settler.

        Israeli soldiers and police detained four Palestinian girls between the ages of 11 and 15 on suspicion of — eating cherries from trees belonging to the Jewish settlement of Maon in the south Hebron hills on Tuesday. The four were held at the Kiryat Arba police station.

        The girls, who live in Khirbet Tuba in the south Hebron hills and go to school in a-Twane, are escorted to and from school on a daily basis by Israeli soldiers. The escorts are a response to years of harassment by settlers who attack Palestinian children on their way to and home from school.

        According to B’Tselem, a settler from Maon told the soldiers who were escorting the Palestinian girls that they ate some cherries from the settlement’s trees. According to the report, the soldiers immediately called the police, who took the girls to the Kiryat Arba police station to be interrogated.

        Atty. Gaby Lasky, who is representing the minors, spoke with police on the phone and she was told that the 11 year old and another girl, who apparently has learning and speech disabilities, were released once their parents were contacted. The two others were being held for questioning.

        “I have a murder and manslaughter cases that they haven’t questioned the suspects for over a year, but [these girls] need to be interrogated immediately, and without the presence of their parents,” Lasky said.

        If the girls were Jewish, it would be illegal for the police to question them without the presence of their parents.

        A request for comment was sent to the police and IDF spokespersons. We will update this article if and when they respond.

        Update: According to B’Tselem, the two remaining girls were being released without charge or bail.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        July 23, 2018, 1:09 am

        Jon66

        International law will not apply when the IDF is overrun.
        Because Israel set the rules . All or nothing.
        Every Arab knows about Gaza.
        The settlers live with that tail risk.
        Zionism does not care about people.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        July 23, 2018, 11:49 am

        Jon66: “I do care about justice and equality. However, my first concern is the preservation of life and the safety of all. I don’t want to see anyone hurt. Palestinian or Israeli.”

        Glad to read that you, too, call for the deportation of settlers and the dismantlement of their illegal settlements.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 23, 2018, 12:35 pm

        “Glad to read that you, too, call for the deportation of settlers and the dismantlement of their illegal settlements.”

        Not so fast “Talkback”. Before the settlers can be touched, we must consider their “protected persons” status. I don’t think you can just uproot protected people like that, why, it’s ethnic cleansing’! And no ‘land swaps’!

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 24, 2018, 2:55 pm

        Jon66,

        “My source is Amnesty Int and ICRC.”

        No, you are quoting an “Amnesty International Press Release”, not an authoritative commentary regarding the scope and applicability of P1 Art 51(3) to the settlements and the settlers. It contains some serious glosses and ommissions. It was only included as a “Case Study” document to promote a “Discussion” of the many legal questions that it left unanswered. The ICRC case book authors kindly highlighted some of those and included them at the bottom of the page. https://casebook.icrc.org/case-study/amnesty-international-breach-principle-distinction

        They also included this Disclaimer about the reliability of the “Case Study” documents:

        “Neither the ICRC nor the authors can be identified with the opinions expressed in the Cases and Documents. Some cases even come to solutions that clearly violate IHL. They are nevertheless worthy of discussion, if only to raise a challenge to display more humanity in armed conflicts. Similarly, for some of the texts used in the case studies, the facts may not always be proven; nevertheless, they have been selected because they highlight interesting IHL issues and are thus published for didactic purposes.

        The criteria for inclusion of a document is not whether historical facts are accurately described, but whether it allows a discussion of a particular aspect of IHL. No description of alleged historical facts in a reproduced document can therefore be construed as an opinion of the ICRC or of the authors. https://casebook.icrc.org/disclaimer-and-copyright

        FYI, the authors of the ICRC Casebook actually did include their own standalone articles on the subjects of the “Civilian Population” and the principle of “Distinction” that you failed to mention. Those articles reflect the position of the ICRC, and are in complete agreement with what Annie explained to readers in the first place. Nationals of the Occupying Power, living under the day-to-day control and legal jurisdiction of their own government are not considered “victims of war in the hands of the enemy” or “protected persons” as defined in Article 4 of the 4th Geneva Convention. Here are the relevant extracts from the Case Book:

        “Under IHL, some of those protections are prescribed for all civilians,[2] but most apply only to “protected civilians”,[3] i.e. basically those who are in enemy hands.

        [2] See GC IV, Part II (Arts 13-26) and P I, Section II of Part IV (Arts 72-79, in particular the fundamental guarantees provided for in Art. 75)
        [3] While IHL protects all civilians, this is a term of art defined in Art. 4 of Convention IV in line with the traditional inter-State structure of IHL and does not therefore cover those who are in the hands of a belligerent of which they are nationals (see supra Fundamentals of IHL, International Humanitarian Law as a Branch of Public International Law, 2. personal scope of application). ” https://casebook.icrc.org/law/civilian-population

        Nationals of the Occupying Power were explicitly excluded from Article 4, “Definition of Protected Persons,” of the 4th Geneva Convention. See the text https://goo.gl/dWzz9u and the 1958 Commentary https://goo.gl/a2wQUi

      • James North
        James North
        July 24, 2018, 3:31 pm

        We missed you, Hostage. Please come back and add more reason to the Mondoweiss comment section.

      • annie
        annie
        July 24, 2018, 7:54 pm

        hostage! i love you! i miss you! we all miss you! it’s so good to see your name and hear your voice. i was thinking about you when i wrote that comment — wishing you were here! thank you so so so much for coming back and commenting. i learned that from you — but not well enough to argue it.

      • gamal
        gamal
        July 24, 2018, 3:36 pm

        “No, you are quoting an “Amnesty International Press Release”, not an authoritative commentary regarding the scope and applicability of P1 Art 51(3) to the settlements and the settlers”

        Hostage….(officer on board, everyone stand) yay Hostage.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 24, 2018, 4:21 pm

        “Hostage….(officer on board, everyone stand)”

        So glad to see him again!

      • amigo
        amigo
        July 24, 2018, 6:18 pm

        Jon66: “I bring this up every time someone makes an incorrect statement about the protected status of the settlers.”

        You can thank Hostage for saving you the trouble of posting it again . See his post @ 2,55 pm above.

        Just in case you accidentally missed it , we shall repost it periodically over the next few months.

        Will you have resurfaced by then.

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        July 24, 2018, 6:49 pm

        Welcome ‘home’ Hostage!
        So glad you’re back.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 24, 2018, 7:23 pm

        Hostage! Whoopee!

        Back from a well earned rest?

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        July 25, 2018, 3:04 am

        Mooser: “Before the settlers can be touched, we must consider their “protected persons” status.”

        Let’s mull it first:
        “Israeli officials mull granting settlers ‘protected population’ status in West Bank

        … [Israel’s] Justice Ministry is checking whether settlers can be declared “protected persons” in an area categorized under international law as a “war zone.” The settlers do not currently have this status and, therefore, Israel can only operate in the West Bank for security purposes or for the sake of the Palestinians, who are defined as “protected persons.””
        https://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-israel-mulls-granting-settlers-protected-population-status-1.5462848

        James North: “We missed you, Hostage. Please come back and add more reason to the Mondoweiss comment section.”

        +1, no let’s make it +100

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 25, 2018, 6:46 am

        Hostage,
        Thanks.
        I stand corrected.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 25, 2018, 11:54 am

        Seems to me the only thing the settlers need “protection” from is any change in the Israeli government. Any change or exigency (even Israel can have those) which bring the settlements back onto play as swappable or moveable. Or any change which might lessen the absurd amounts lavished on protecting the settlers.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 25, 2018, 5:52 pm

        Jon66
        “Hostage,
        Thanks.
        I stand corrected.”

        No problem. It’s a very complicated business, and like most people, you appear to be harboring a few misconceptions. The first thing, like Cool Hand Luke, involves “a failure to communicate”. In order to convey an abstract idea, an author or speaker and the intended audience have to employ spoken or written words, or some kind of symbols or sign language that have an agreed-upon, shared meaning.

        If you’re a harmless civilian, your life might depend upon the shared meaning of a phrase such as “take a direct part in hostilities”. After all, if you fail that legal test, you loose your protection, and can be directly targeted and killed. That specific, consensus wording was only arrived at by several international diplomatic conferences after years of drafting efforts and much heated debate between the humanitarians on the one side, and the lizard-brained people on the other. In the end, they all agreed it has no definite (legally binding) meaning:

        “Customary IHL Rule 6. Civilians are protected against attack, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
        Summary
        State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts.

        Definition
        A precise definition of the term “direct participation in hostilities” does not exist.
        https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_rul_rule6

        “Derived from Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions, the notion of taking a direct or active part in hostilities is found in many provisions of IHL. However, despite the serious legal consequences involved, neither the Conventions nor their Additional Protocols provide a definition of direct participation in hostilities.” https://casebook.icrc.org/case-study/icrc-interpretive-guidance-notion-direct-participation-hostilities

        The military manuals of many countries list several examples, like performing guard duty, performing surveillance, or gathering information of possible intelligence value and passing it along to enemy military authorities. So, if a Palestinian goes to the local spring to fetch some water, and is chased away by a group of Settlers performing guard duty, they can legitimately be targeted and attacked later on. If a farmer notices that every time he tries to harvest his crops, groups of armed individuals respond from a nearby settlement, and that the IDF shows-up shortly thereafter, he can legally conclude that the settlement is being used to perform surveillance and pass along intelligence – and that it can be legally targeted and attacked.

        There are a couple of other points you made that I’ll address in another post.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        July 26, 2018, 7:35 pm

        Hostage,
        “If a farmer notices that every time he tries to harvest his crops, groups of armed individuals respond from a nearby settlement, and that the IDF shows-up shortly thereafter, he can legally conclude that the settlement is being used to perform surveillance and pass along intelligence – and that it can be legally targeted and attacked.”

        Is there a threshold for attacking the settlement? If there are two individuals who seem to be performing the surveillance and 100 civilians can the settlement be attacked? If Israel intercepts a series of phone calls between a Hamas leader his deputies who are all in an apartment building filled with civilians and they are directing attacks against Israel elsewhere can the IDF attack the apartment?

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      July 25, 2018, 11:04 am

      “I stand corrected”

      Looks like Hostage put the top on your bottomless pilpul vial.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      July 25, 2018, 1:15 pm

      James,

      So long as you guys keep publishing, I’ll be lurking around somewhere. I haven’t been able to comment as often as I should, but I’ve always kept up my monthly donations to Mondoweiss through the Network for Good and Kindful and encourage everyone else to do the same.

      James, Annie, Gamal, Mooser, RoHa, et al the feeling is mutual. I’ve missed all of you all too.

      Roha,

      “Back from a well earned rest?”

      I suppose I that I owe everyone here an explanation. I stopped commenting here because I wasn’t well enough to keep up. I eventually found out that I had colon cancer back in 2015. It runs in my family due to an inherited genetic mutation. So, I had been getting checked regularly, and it came as no great surprise. It’s simply taken this long for me to finish the whole medical regimen, rest up, and get back to normal.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 25, 2018, 2:08 pm

        So happy to hear you are well, “Hostage! More than anything, that is good to hear.

      • annie
        annie
        July 25, 2018, 2:13 pm

        that’s wonderful to hear hostage, that your health is getting back to normal. it’s not the same around here without you, at all. you’ve just been sorely missed.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 25, 2018, 2:45 pm

        Many thanks. Is there a method to subscribe to email notifications on comments that I’ve somehow overlooked? I remember that used to be an option tick box above the Post Comment button. But I don’t see one anymore.

      • annie
        annie
        July 25, 2018, 3:28 pm

        i don’t know about that and i am terrible w/tech. i’ll do some poking around and see if i can find out.

      • gamal
        gamal
        July 25, 2018, 5:14 pm

        “rest up, and get back to normal”

        you take it easy we been talking so long about how everything went to pot when Hostage stopped commenting, we such a rabble, all the very best Sir.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

        All OK now?

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 26, 2018, 2:00 am

        Hostage, you will find that much of your brilliant work has been – alas – lost from the archives.

        When they set up the poncey new format for MW, they handled the data more than they stored it, and whole sections of the past were erased. Stalin would have appreciated it.

      • Shingo
        Shingo
        August 3, 2018, 9:56 pm

        Welcome back Hostage and so glad to hear your health has improved. My father passed away in 2013 from the same ailment and I too have to remain vigilant. I was in contact with Taxi who informed me you had some health concerns and was deeply concerned. I cannot tell you how much you’re commentary has informed and empowered me, and I imagine, a great many other here.

        As for Hostage’s archived contributions, I pretty much copied everything Hostage wrote and stored it in the form of emails in my Gmail account. It’s my most valued resource.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        August 8, 2018, 6:10 am

        Hi Roha and Shingo. Sorry I haven’t replied. I don’t know when the notification bell was added, but I just now noticed it on my Windows laptop. I’ve mostly been reading articles with an Android TV box, and forgot that I wasn’t logging in on that.

        Yes, I’m all okay for now and getting regular exams. I’m not too upset about the situation with respect to my old archived comments. If need be, I can always write a new collection of them;-)

  2. RoHa
    RoHa
    July 21, 2018, 12:25 am

    I don’t think Kafka intended to write an instruction manual.

  3. guyn
    guyn
    July 21, 2018, 3:26 pm

    I don’t remember the first time I read Yossi Gurvitz but I remember the impression I had: a man who care about justice, equality and the truth. The kind of man (or woman) who will be rewarded in the valley of Josaphat…

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      July 22, 2018, 3:13 pm

      Very impressive Israeli. Another one is Amira Hass.

      • guyn
        guyn
        July 22, 2018, 6:59 pm

        “Time passed by. I changed apartments. I informed my interrogator. The apartment was a shitty one, a Jaffa one-room den created by dismantling one apartment into several. ”

        I wondered if I could help him with a donation. Probably through Yesh Din.

      • annie
        annie
        July 25, 2018, 2:19 pm

        guyn, actually there’s a donation button on yossi’s blog “friends of george”. it’s in hebrew listed under “Expressing goodwill and support” (google translate). but the yellow button is there on the lower left. how thoughtful of you.

        http://www.hahem.co.il/friendsofgeorge/?p=2717

    • annie
      annie
      July 25, 2018, 2:35 pm

      I don’t remember the first time I read Yossi Gurvitz but I remember the impression I had…

      i vaguely recall the first time i read anything yossi wrote and i think it was this 2012 article, previously published at +972 (but i could be wrong). i was so impressed I contacted him and asked for permission to republish it on mondoweiss: https://mondoweiss.net/2012/04/gurvitz-on-israels-not-so-stellar-record-on-treatment-of-christians/

      Possibly the most fantastic event in the relations of the Jewish state with a Christian church is the controversy surrounding the appointment of the Greek Orthodox patriarch. During the Sharon and Olmert governments, in a scene seemingly taken from a medieval chronicle, the government delayed its recognition (Hebrew) of Theophilius as Patriarch until the latter would give his consent to some shady land deals of the radical ultra-Orthodox Jewish right. Minister Tzachi Hanegbi admitted he demanded Theophilius refrain from torpedoing a deal with the extremist yeshiva Ateret Cohanim as a condition to his appointment. Hanegbi’s successor in dealing with the church, minister Raffi Eitan, was suspected of coercing the patriarch into agreeing the church would suspend a lawsuit against Himnuta, the JNF’s dirty-tricks department, which buys lands for settlements. Himnuta would later demand Theophilius fulfill his part of the deal – which he quickly denied making. Bear that in mind the next time they tell you Israelis enjoy freedom of religion.

      The situation of the Messianic Jews, a sect of Jews who accept a version of Christianity – ironically, re-creating the most ancient Christian community – is even worse. They suffer from endless…..

      a fantastic article! read the whole thing. about a year later or so phil was heading over to the region and he asked, any suggestions and i said yes, you must go meet yossi gurvitz because he is beyond brilliant and so he did. this was before i followed his (absolutely amazing) work at yesh din (example https://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/israeli-lecturing-palestinian/ and https://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/a-pogrom-in-qusra/).

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      July 25, 2018, 2:54 pm

      Yossi Guritz is one of my heroes. I think Mondo should install a Paypal button on his articles, so I can buy him a beer.

  4. Xpat
    Xpat
    July 21, 2018, 8:05 pm

    Yossi, Thank you for carrying this burden for so long. The more you stand up for the victims the more likely you will become a target of the bullies too. Every time I read another account of Israel’s thuggishness I’m glad all over again for having gotten out. Much respect to you and your fellow agitators at Yesh Din, 972+ and on the West Bank for standing up to the Israeli goons.

  5. echinococcus
    echinococcus
    July 22, 2018, 2:47 am

    Yossi Gurvitz and similar decent, committed people could be a lot more effective from outside the Azrael Hellhole. Staying inside contributes to the comedy of “democracy in Israel”. They can’t be useful in any clandestine work and their effectiveness within the system is not that great, no matter all the sacrifices and skills.

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      July 22, 2018, 9:12 am

      I agree.

      Amira Hass has written about expecting her work to change how Israelis think. Most Israelis don’t care

      Someone posted this last week

      “JOEL KOVEL (1-20-13):

      [EXCERPT] . . . As with everyone I know of in official political culture, [Thomas] Friedman asumes that Israel is a rational actor on the international stage who will obey the calculus of reward and punishment that regulates the conduct of normal states. 
      The presumption is that if you tell it the truth, and even pull back US support, it will get the message, reflect, and change its ways. But Israel is not a normal state, except superficially. It will make adjustments, pulling back here, co-operating there, making nice when necessary, crafting its message using a powerful propaganda apparatus employing the most up-to-date social science. But this is simply tactical and no more predicts or explains the behavior of the Zionist state than an individual sociopath can be explained by the fact that he obeys traffic signals while driving to the scene of his crime

      Nietzsche said most societies are insane. Israeli society certainly is.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      July 22, 2018, 1:13 pm

      “They can’t be useful in any clandestine work…”

      Not everybody is cut out for “clandestine work”. Some people like to ‘expose themselves’

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 22, 2018, 1:29 pm

        On the other hand, some people are cut out for the cloak-and-dagger stuff. “Echin” if you hear of any “clandestine” anti-Zionist actions being organized, do let us know.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 22, 2018, 11:07 pm

        Mooser
        If you, and your fellow liberals the moderate drinkers who decide the discussions for others, believe that you can get any results in a totalitarian, military-occupied society with your name and SSN painted on the brow, it only means you’ve been living in the States for way too long.

  6. amigo
    amigo
    July 26, 2018, 12:04 pm

    I too wish to welcome Hostage back and wish him the best .

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