For Immediate Release
December 21, 2009
HIGH COURT PETITION: CAPTURED HAMAS TERRORISTS
MUST BE TRIED AS WAR CRIMINALS
(JERUSALEM) The human rights organization Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center
has filed a petition today to the High Court of Justice (BAGATZ) in
Jerusalem demanding that Hamas terrorists arrested by Israel be tried for
war crimes and crimes against humanity, not just murder as is the current
According to the petition, the Attorney General violated Israeli law by
refusing to indict the terrorists who fire rockets into Israel for war
crimes and crimes against humanity-crimes that carry a life sentence without
the possibility of pardon or early release.
Israel is bound by the humanitarian provisions of the Fourth Geneva
Convention, as well as the Hague Convention and other international
treaties, which stipulate that the deliberate targeting of civilians in the
context of an armed conflict is a war crime; while the deliberate and
systemic assault against a particular civilian population constitutes a
crime against humanity.
By engaging in terror activity and deliberately launching Kassam and Grad
rockets into Israeli civilian centers during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas
activists repeatedly and systematically targeted civilians, and specifically
Israeli civilians, for murder-placing them squarely in the definition of
both war crimes and crimes against humanity. Citing previous Supreme Court
rulings, the petition notes that such international law has been accepted as
binding on Israeli courts and law enforcement authorities.
According to the petition, the State of Israel, having suffered inordinately
from the horrors of terrorism, has a unique duty to serve as a model in the
battle against the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by
terrorists and recognized as such under international law.
According to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin and attorney
for the plaintiffs, "The Goldstone Commission report showed that the
Attorney General's policy of indicting Hamas terrorists for ordinary crimes
rather than crimes against humanity has fanned the flames of war crimes
accusations against Israeli leaders and soldiers by the UN and the
Europeans. Not only has this policy played down the heinous nature of the
genocidal atrocities of Hamas, it has left the field open for Israel's
enemies to make wrong and dangerous claims against us. The failure to indict
Hamas activists for crimes against humanity is immoral, hurts Israel's
interests and, above all, is in flagrant violation of Israeli law."
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