IAF Chief Urges Treason Trials For Gush Shalom
Wed, 21 Aug 2002
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IAF chief Major General Dan Halutz urges treason trials for Gush Shalom activists -- Gush Shalom calls for international support and assistance by international lawyers
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The following headline appears on the frontpage in Ha'aretz Hebrew, as well as on the English internet edition (not in the English printed edition):
IAF Chief Urges Treason Trials For Leftist Gush Shalom Activists
In a preview to a big interview Ha'aretz Correspondent Vered Levy-Barzilai writes:
Attacking leftist Gush Shalom activists for threatening to extradite Israeli air force pilots to the international court at the Hague for alleged war crimes, IAF Commander Major General Dan Halutz has urged brining the activists to trial.
"What I have to say about those people is this: we live in a democratic country, and expressing an opinion is always allowed, but betrayal is not allowed," Halutz told Ha'aretz in an interview. When asked if he suggests placing the Gush Shalom activists on trial on charges of treason, he replied, "The proper offense as defined by law should be found, and they should be tried in Israel."
In his first interview since the controversial July 23 air strike on a crowded Gaza neighborhood that kill Hamas military leader Salah Shehadeh, as well as 15 civilians including nine children, Halutz said "The decision making process was correct, balanced, and careful. The problem was with the information, the information changed. I reject all the criticism about this operation, before, during and after."
Halutz referred to the operation as "militarily and morally" proper.
He said that it is legitimate to strike at a terrorist even if innocent bystanders will be hurt. "I have no doubt about it," he said. "Against a man who committed or is positively known to have the planning in hand for 'mega-terror,' my answer is categorically yes. How many people? I don't know."
[So far the preview of the interview with the Air Force commander - to appear in the weekend supplement.]
We sent you earlier the comments of the Prime Minister after he visited the Air Force base. It's clear that there is a concerted effort to silence Gush Shalom and put its activists behind bars. And with Major General Dan Halutz suggesting to try us for treason - be aware that treason is the only offense in Israel for which there exists capital punishment, though it has not been applied since 1948.
In the media expressions of the Israeli governmental and military leadership Gush Shalom is becoming more and more of a giant. For the simple action of having sent warning letters to a number of officers, with copies to the ministry and to the press (by the way: none was sent to pilots!) we are now already depicted as "threatening to extradite Israeli air force pilots". The IAF chief actually tries to defend the act of throwing a one ton bomb, in the night of July 22/23, on an appartment building in Gaza, killing 15 civilians, among them nine children, together with Hamas leader Shehadeh [an hour after Palestians agreed on a cease-fire). Opposition leader Yossi Sarid defined it as an act of state terrorism, and not him alone. In these circumstances it seems we are now made into the scapegoat for all the national and international criticism which was expressed, and which reportedly is greatly worrying the involved pilots.
Halutz' attitude of "no regret, on the contrary" was reason for us to apply today to the IDF Judge Advocate General asking him to prosecute the general and the subordiantes directly involved. We wrote that general Halutz' continuing assertion that there was nothing wrong with the bombing and that it would be also in the future justified, is making an investigation of the matter all the more urgent.
With the fury of all those who know they don't have a clean record directed against us we have called upon our international contacts to form an international support group, and for a committee of international lawyers to assist us.