High Court rejects appeals against assassination policy
- High Court rejects appeals against assassination policy
By Moshe Reinfeld
Source: Haaretz - January 30, 2002 http://www.haaretzdaily.com/
The High Court of Justice yesterday rejected three petitions seeking
to stop the government's policy of assassinating Palestinian
militants on grounds that the court does not usually render rulings
on security matters.
The petitions were submitted by the chairman of the Hadash faction,
MK Mohammed Barakeh; Siham Thabet, widow of Dr. Thabet Thabet who
was assassinated in the West Bank in December 2000; the Public
Committee Against Torture and the Palestinian Society for the
Protection of Human Rights and the Environment.
The petitioners asked the court for a temporary restraining order to
bar the government from authorizing "executions without trial" of
Palestinians, arguing that an assassination policy was blatantly
In a sharp exchange with Barakeh's lawyer, Justice Eliyahu Mazza
said, "There is such a thing called terror, which is the enemy of
all of humanity."
"Who is to determine who is a terrorist?" retorted lawyer Naila
"Certainly not the High Court. There has to be cause for us to
intervene," he replied.
"But there is also a right to life," pressed the lawyer.
"Tell that to all those who send terrorists to pedestrian malls and
to the Dolphinarium," interjected Justice Mishael Cheshin, while
Mazza added: "What do you want, that the defense minister receive
authorization from the High Court before every targeted elimination?
This matter is not justiciable."
The decision not to intervene is in keeping with the traditional
stance of the High Court over security matters.
The petitioners argued that all those participating in the
assassinations are breaking international legal norms and that this
policy could rapidly lead to war crimes. They added that the
assassinations are carried out based on intelligence information of
questionable credibility that is not subject to judicial review.
The petitioners added that, as there is no death penalty in Israel,
if the Palestinians had been brought to trial in Israel, they would
not have been killed, even if convicted of the worst offenses.
They also argued that the assassination policy only escalates the
level of violence. Barakeh noted that after the killing of Thabet a
group of Palestinians decided to seek revenge and shot dead two
Israeli civilians. Israel has acknowledged carrying out 21
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