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Memo to Israeli soldiers: Irish prosecutor charges British soldier for killing unarmed protesters 47 years ago

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Today there was solemn news on the BBC. The prosecutor in Northern Ireland is going to charge a British soldier with murder for two of the 14 killings on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry.

Bloody Sunday was January 1972. Forty-seven years ago.

The families of the victims have never forgotten the fallen. They marched through the streets yesterday. The arc of history is long but sometimes it really does bend toward justice.

The Guardian reminds us that the victims were unarmed protesters. Though there were also militants in the crowd.

The inquiry found the killings were unjustified and that none of the 14 dead was carrying a gun, no warnings were given, no soldiers were under threat and the troops were the first to open fire.

Wikipedia says that the British had a reason to suppress the protests.

The authorities expected that [the plans for the march] would lead to rioting.

You know just where this story is going. Since last March 30th, Israeli soldiers have shot thousands of unarmed Palestinian protesters before the eyes of the world. Or the eyes that aren’t blinded anyway. Some 256 Palestinians have died. Thousands more have been wounded, many of them maimed.

B’Tselem and the United Nations have concluded that the Israeli army is committing war crimes. Last April, B’Tselem took the further step of urging Israeli soldiers not to shoot the protesters, and to refuse their commanders’ orders. Shooting those protesters is unmistakably and patently illegal, B’Tselem said. As if there was any doubt.

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the first Friday’s march in Gaza. Thousands will memorialize that day. Let us hope the Israeli soldiers have read the news from Northern Ireland.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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27 Responses

  1. dimadok on March 14, 2019, 1:31 pm

    Learn the basics.
    Gaza shootings of persons trying or actively engaged in breaching Israel sovereign border, while hurling stones, Molotov cocktails, IEDs are completely justified by military rules of engagement, there were not done under the policing of protesters inside Israel. These reports do not amount to war crime tribunal rulings or conclusions, they are one-sided and therefore subjective. Bloody Sunday shootings were done while policing, not by protecting the border from the mob. Big difference there. Any use of force, while defending a border, is guided by a different set of rules and the main reason for the Bloody Sunday tribunal is that
    ” The inquiry found that none of the casualties were posing a threat or doing anything that would justify their shooting.
    It said no warning was given to any civilians before the soldiers opened fire and that none of the soldiers fired in response to attacks by petrol bombers or stone throwers.”
    Big difference from the riots and border breach at the Gaza.

    • amigo on March 14, 2019, 3:53 pm

      “” The inquiry found that none of the casualties were posing a threat or doing anything that would justify their shooting.”dumaduck

      “The commission found that 35 children had been killed, some from direct weapons fire. The commission also noted one case involving a disabled person in a wheelchair and direct fire at journalists who claimed that they were clearly identified as members of the press. ”

      So dumaduck , what exactly were those 35 children doing to justify (by zionist rules), their killing.
      And what were the Medics and official journalists doing to justify their killing.Killing medical Personnel and journalists is a war crime.

      The Gaza protesters were 1000 meters way from Israel,s so called border as Israel erected a fence on Gazan land and never got near Israel,.s so called border.

      You are still full of it doomaduck.

      • Talkback on March 14, 2019, 7:45 pm

        amigo: “So dumaduck , what exactly were those 35 children doing to justify (by zionist rules), their killing.”

        @ Dimadok
        I’m afraid this question is not handled in the Hasbara script. And you missed the chance to blame Hamas. Try to improvise. For example: “These poor children, if only the Palestinians wouldn’t use them as [cannon fodder/human shields/propagamda victims]”. Don’t forget: We kill them, you blame them.

      • dimadok on March 29, 2019, 1:15 pm

        Children shouldn’t be there, they should be protected by their parents and educators and not used to breach borders. Medical personnel and journalist shouldn’t actively participate in the demonstration and encourage others to join. 1000 meters it’s a pretty impressive shot… so either IDF is very good or a very bad in their target selections- you get to choose.

      • annie on March 29, 2019, 2:00 pm

        1000 meters it’s a pretty impressive shot… so either IDF is very good or a very bad in their target selections- you get to choose.

        is that like a sophie’s choice? the murder of a child from a distance is impressive either way, it’s either bad or good and we can choose. how generous of you dim!

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 14, 2019, 5:56 pm

      ” in breaching Israel sovereign border,”

      a) It’s not a border
      b) An occupied people have the absolute right to resistance, including by armed force.

      Learn the basics.

      • dimadok on March 29, 2019, 1:15 pm

        While Israel has a right to use force to protect its civilian population.

      • annie on March 30, 2019, 12:54 pm

        dimadok, when you wrote IDF is very good or a very bad in their target selections- you get to choose is this what you mean? you get to choose. do you think it is a very good target or very bad? this is from today. he was targeted today:

      • eljay on March 29, 2019, 1:50 pm

        || dimadok: While Israel has a right to use force to protect its civilian population. ||

        While Israel does not have a right to:
        – exist as a supremacist state;
        – militarily-occupy and colonize territory outside of its / Partition borders;
        – commit (war) crimes;
        – prevent its refugees from returning to their homes and lands;
        – disrespect and undermine human rights and international law and the protections they are meant to afford all people.

      • RoHa on March 29, 2019, 11:25 pm

        “While Israel has a right to use force to protect its civilian population.”

        I’m not sure that Israel does have that right.

        A state certainly has the obligation to protect the citizens.

        But when the threat to the citizens is a consequence of the state’s own, unjustified, violence against a group, it seems a bit morally dubious to say that the state then has to right use further violence against the group.

        In such circumstances, it seems to me that the state is morally obliged to protect its citizens by removing cause of the threat, and that is by ceasing and making restitution for the violence.

      • Talkback on March 30, 2019, 6:51 am

        dimadok: “Israel has a right to use force to protect its civilian population.”

        Not by killing a civilian population.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 30, 2019, 7:07 am

        An occupier does not have the right of ‘defence’ against the occupied.

        It only took you 2 weeks to come up with that nonsense?

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 30, 2019, 10:51 am


        Israel is the occupying power in the strip, however much they like to obfuscate.

        An occupying power has no right of ‘defence’ against those it occupies. Even if it had, any use of such a right would have to conform to international law, which means it would have to be proportionate and the use of lethal weaponry only occurring when there is an imminent threat to life. That is not the case with these protests, therefore Israel is in breach of international law in several respects.

      • annie on March 30, 2019, 11:09 am

        i recommend ben white’s “Hundreds killed, thousands wounded: A year of Gaza rallies”

        “What Israel has done is create new concepts that do not exist under international law to justify the killing of civilian protesters”.

        The COI’s findings were welcomed by human rights groups who last year unsuccessfully challenged the army’s rules of engagement and its shooting policy in Israel’s Supreme Court.

        Those rules permit soldiers to target so-called “main inciters” – civilians deemed to be encouraging protesters to approach the fence.

        “Israel has simply invented the concept of ‘main inciters,‘” Professor Kevin Jon Heller, associate professor of public international law at the University of Amsterdam, told Al Jazeera.

        “No such status exists under international humanitarian law (IHL) or international human rights law (IHRL). Under IHL, you are either a combatant or a civilian. Under IHRL, force of any kind requires the target to pose some kind of actual threat,” Heller continued.

        You can’t simply shoot someone in the leg because you think they are leading a demonstration. And lethal force requires the target to post an imminent threat to life.”

        Legal rights centre Adalah was one of the groups which challenged Israel’s response to the protests in the courts. “Israel – including the army, the government, and the Supreme Court – is recreating international law to fit its practices”, said Suhad Bishara, a lawyer at Adalah who petitioned against the use of sniper fire.

        “In a combat situation, IHL applies and civilians should be protected. In a law enforcement paradigm under IHRL, civilians are protected. So, what Israel has done is create new concepts that do not exist under international law to justify the killing of civilian protesters,” Bishara told Al Jazeera.

        ….A key part of Israel’s approach to the protests is the designation of Gaza as an “enemy entity”, which dates back to a September 2007 security cabinet decision.

        …..”For the sniper, everyone on the other side of the fence is seen de facto as a threat; either you are officially affiliated to Hamas, or you are protecting them somehow. The Israeli Supreme Court categorised the demonstrators as participating in hostilities and determined that, as such, ‘they lose their protection’. This is how you criminalise everyone as a potential threat – according to these broad, arbitrary, and inaccurate definitions, Israel is saying there is almost no civilian society in Gaza.”

      • gamal on March 30, 2019, 1:33 pm

        “do you think it is a very good target or very bad?”

        The teenager Ahed Tamimi gives her view cutting to the heart of the matter

      • annie on March 30, 2019, 2:15 pm

        that’s a really good video gamal

        “Of course they are deliberately targeting the kids
        there are barriers which disrupt children from going to school
        they don’t want them to be educated
        breaking into schools
        closing schools
        demolishing schools
        arresting children
        deliberately shooting children in the streets
        they arrested many innocent children
        all this reflects that they are indeed targeting children because they do not want there to be a new Palestinian generation to be strong enough to confront them”

      • Talkback on March 30, 2019, 7:47 pm

        Annie: “this is from today. he was targeted today”

        That’s why Dabakr calls it “relative quiet”. It’s relative quiet compared to a standard Zionist massacre.

      • annie on March 30, 2019, 7:53 pm

        i wonder if he’d call it quiet if it was his dead kid? prolly not.

      • gamal on March 30, 2019, 10:12 pm

        ” Palestinian generation to be strong enough to confront them”

        Yes Annie an impressive woman, things going to be tough for her and her family, you remember little Koffee reminds me of Ahed, she announce herself like prophet, like i said looks like the little girls will save us with this astonishing confidence, warmth and will , fi amanallah

        “koffee come in like a rapture
        and everybody get capture.. ” those are big things to say straight out, everybody get capture

        “jah give me no limit” what’s happened so many girls catch fire these days.

      • annie on March 31, 2019, 12:50 am

        so many girls catch fire these days.

        oh yeah ;)

      • RoHa on March 31, 2019, 1:10 am

        “An occupying power has no right of ‘defence’ against those it occupies….therefore Israel is in breach of international law in several respects.”

        I’m concerned with morality, not law. From a moral point of view, I would say that the military forces and other agents of occupation* of the occupying power have no right of defence against the occupied.

        However, I would also say that the occupied have an obligation to avoid attacks on the innocent civilians**, if possible.

        And that the occupying power has an obligation to its citizens to cease and desist from occupation, and make such restitution as is possible.

        *Such as the adult settlers.
        ** Precious few of those among Jewish Israeli adults.

    • amigo on March 14, 2019, 5:57 pm

      “Big difference from the riots and border breach at the Gaza.” dumaduck.

      As usual dimaduck , the main point went right over your zio kopf.

      Clue===47 years .

    • Talkback on March 14, 2019, 7:07 pm

      Dimadok: “Learn the basics.”

      Ok, what I have learned from you is that it is legitimate to snipe, injure, cripple and kill unarmed Jews (even more armed Jews) with live ammunition who cross the border into East Jerusalem, Gaza, Westbank and the Golan Heights or have allready breached these borders.

      Anything you like to add?

    • Misterioso on March 15, 2019, 10:45 am



      Human Rights Watch, 2005: “…Israel will continue to be an Occupying Power [of the Gaza Strip] under international law and bound by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention because it will retain effective control over the territory and over crucial aspects of civilian life. Israel will not be withdrawing and handing power over to a sovereign authority – indeed, the word ‘withdrawal’ does not appear in the [2005 disengagement] document at all… The IDF will retain control over Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace, and will reserve the right to enter Gaza at will. According to the Hague Regulations, ‘A territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised’. International jurisprudence has clarified that the mere repositioning of troops is not sufficient to relieve an occupier of its responsibilities if it retains its overall authority and the ability to reassert direct control at will.”


      The International Committee of the Red Cross: “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, ratified by Israel, bans collective punishment of a civilian population.”

      “In practice, Gaza has become a huge, let me be blunt, concentration camp for right now
      1, 800,000 people” – Amira Hass, correspondent for Haaretz, speaking at the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University, 2015.

      “‘The significance of the [then proposed] disengagement plan [implemented in 2005] is the freezing of the peace process,’ Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass has told Ha’aretz. ‘And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda….’ Weisglass, who was one of the initiators of the disengagement plan, was speaking in an interview with Ha’aretz for the Friday Magazine. ‘The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,’ he said. ‘It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.’” (“Top PM Aide: Gaza Plan Aims to Freeze the Peace Process,” Ha’aretz, October 6, 2004)

  2. amigo on March 14, 2019, 3:08 pm

    The British Authorities have found themselves a patsy to throw under the bus but his commanders will walk free.Not that I have the slightest bit of sympathy for this guy if he is guilty.Clearly the evidence is strong .

    The most senior Officer in charge that day should have been hauled on the mat the first day when evidence was available in abundance but the British Gov chose to obfuscate and kick the can down the road to avoid bringing the members of their Armed forces who committed war crimes to account.

    There is nothing new here.This is just one of a series of “Bloody Sunday ” massacres carried out by British Forces in Ireland on Sundays , the last one being in 1920 when members of the British forces went on a killing spree in Croke Park in Dublin during a sports event , and shot some 15 civilians (fans) during the game . one of which was a player .This was in retaliation for the killing of 10 British Intelligence agents who had been responsible for the torture and deaths many dozens of Irish people . These assassins had a shoot to kill policy and died the way they lived.

    In fairness to the British Gov , they do not refer to their Armed forces as “The Most Moral Army ” blah blah blah.

    Nope the Light unto the Nations have the franchise on that myth.

    As to the soldier in question , he will walk free .The Morale of the defenders of the realm requires it so.Meanwhile 14 other killers get off without even a slap on the wrist.

    • Bumblebye on March 14, 2019, 7:03 pm

      That senior commander is still alive, 85, said *before* that day, (on radio, still in the archives) that his men would not be standing back and taking whatever demonstrators handed out, lied through his teeth about the victims, and *still* has no regrets or remorse. Probably be able to get the audio thru bbc podcast, R4 news progs from world at one onwards. Why the f hasn’t *he* been charged?!

      • amigo on March 14, 2019, 8:07 pm

        I believe the name is Col Wilfrid .

        He was mentioned on BBC News this evening and they stated that he is upset that any of his subordinates were charged.

        Next story up is the Guildford bombing for which 5 or was it 6 innocent people who spent 15 years in prison until their sentence was overturned.

        The Police officers who lied and withheld evidence that would have cleared the suspects were never brought to task.

        The families of those killed in the bombing are still waiting for justice.

        British Justice my arse.

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