The killings considered in the previous two chapters deal with situations in times of international peace - when one’s country is not at war with another country. When two countries are at war with each other, there are international laws, conventions and practices concerning killing members of the enemy state. Is there a difference between what is written and what countries do in practice? Must a war be officially declared to be classed as a war? Is there a distinction between a combatant and a non-combatant and how does one define these terms? If one side does not honour these laws, is the second side still bound by them?
War is cruelty and you cannot refine it
In war the population is, divided (at least theoretically) into combatants and non-combatants (i.e. military and civilian); only the former being considered legitimate victims of war.
Prior to the 20th century, the main non-combatant casualties in a war arose from the siege laid on a city and this weapon has been used against innocent civilians from time immemorial. [In fact the earliest fast instituted for the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians is the 10th day of the (Hebrew) month of Tevet, the day the Babylonians began the siege on Jerusalem. ]
In the 20th century, towards the end of World War I, aerial bombing of British cities by the Germans began and by the end of that war nearly 5,000 persons had been killed or injured in Britain as a result of these bombings.
It was obvious that in any future wars aerial bombings would be used on a vast scale. In 1932, a former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in a speech to the House of Commons, sadly came to the conclusion: “You have got to kill more women and children quicker than the enemy if you want to save yourselves.”
During World War II, in the summer of 1940 Britain began a mass bombing of German cities. Three years later, Sir Arthur Harris, the head of Bomber Command, issued a “Most Secret Operation Order” calling for the “total destruction” of Hamburg. In the subsequent bombing at least 45,000 men, women and children were killed in Hamburg. This bombing also created a new and unforeseen weapon - the firestorm. It generated sufficient heat to melt the asphalt in the streets. People crossing the streets were stuck in the asphalt where they remained - screaming.
In mid-February 1945, between 25,000 and 135,000 civilians (an accurate number is not known) - men, women and children - in the German city of Dresden were killed by British and American bombings.
On the morning of 6 August 1945, about 70,000 civilians - men, women and children - in the Japanese city of Hiroshima were killed by the Americans dropping an atomic bomb, without any prior warning.
An aerial bombardment or an atomic bomb dropped on a city will obviously kill innocent civilians. The killing of innocent civilians in war is done in order to show the enemy one’s strength, bring the enemy to its knees, and hopefully shorten the war, thus preventing the enemy from killing one’s citizens.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, a number of conventions were adopted to improve the conditions of both soldiers and civilians during a war. They were mainly adopted in the European cities of Geneva and The Hague and are hence known as the Geneva and Hague Conventions.
In 1938 Hitler occupied and annexed Austria. Later that year, he demanded the Sudeten area of Czechoslovakia. In the same year the League of Nations unanimously adopted a resolution which included: “Recognizes the following principles as a necessary basis for any subsequent regulations: 1) The intentional bombing of civilian populations is illegal....” Yet despite this resolution and other conventions, extensive intentional bombing of civilian populations was perpetrated by Germany, the United States and Britain during World War II.
From the experiences of this war it was realised by the nations of the world that further steps needed to be taken to prevent the killing of innocent civilians during the course of war. Therefore a series of international conferences was held in which over 100 states were represented and as a result in June 1977 an “Additional Protocol 1” (to the Geneva Convention of 1949) was approved, whose purpose includes providing protection to civilians from the effects of military operations. This Protocol also applies to an armed conflict between two countries, even if a state of war is not recognised by one, or even by both of them. A number of nations have already signed it although there are a number of notable exceptions. As at 1994, Israel had not signed this Protocol.
To sign a document is easy - to honour one’s signature is much harder! Professor Hays Parks, Special Assistant to The Judge Advocate General of the Army for Law of War Matters, Washington, wrote in 1997 that this Protocol has “yet to face the harsh test of war. Several major states are not yet State Parties. To date there is little sign of any direct implementation of Additional Protocol 1 by states party to it.” In a nutshell, despite all treaties, conventions and protocols, countries will usually do in war what they see to be in their own best interests.
An example of this occurred in February 2000. The then Foreign Minister of Israel, David Levy said in the Knesset in answer to Hizballah attacks from Lebanon on the settlements of Northern Israel. “If Kiryat Shemonah burns, Lebanon will burn ... Blood for blood, a person for a person, a child for a child.” Lebanese Arab children are certainly innocent. And so the Israeli Foreign Minister in fact said that in the framework of war one can kill innocent Arabs. This was not just a slip of the tongue since he later said that he stood by these remarks of his.
From what is written above, we should now be able to understand the words of a world authority on international law, Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, who said: “If international law is the weakest part of all law, then the law of war is virtually its vanishing point.”
Does a war have to be formally declared for it to legally exist? This question has been discussed by Professor Gerhard von Glahn who wrote, using numerous examples, that it is possible for a war to exist in the legal sense without it having been formally declared. Amongst the “list of conflicts not preceded by a formal declaration of war,” von Glahn includes the Israel War of Independence of 1948, the Six Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
We now come to the question much debated by international lawyers: What is the definition of a “civilian” in wartime?
An answer to this question was proposed in the mid-19th century in the United States by Francis Lieber. Lieber was not a native born American. He was born in Germany and like countless millions of others, immigrated to the United States.
During the American Civil War, Dr. Francis Lieber wrote the first modern code of war, which became known as the Lieber Code. It was adopted by the United States in 1863 as General Orders No. 100. This code defines the state of a citizen during a war as follows: “The citizen ... of a hostile country is thus an enemy ... and as such is subjected to the hardships of the war.” However it goes on to say that one should try to spare an “unarmed citizen ...as much as exigencies of war will admit.” (emphasis added)
Similar ideas which regarded the citizen of a hostile country as an enemy, were mooted by Ira Eaker. Eaker was the founding pioneer of U.S. air power and commanded the U.S. Air Forces in Europe in World War II.
In 1979, Eaker justified the moral character of strategic bombing in World War II, saying that “the civilians supporting their national leadership were equally responsible for the decisions made by that leadership.” In a similar vein, Guilio Douhet, the seminal air power theorist, wrote that “since modern war required the resources of an entire nation,... it was absurd to distinguish those citizens who contributed to the war effort from those who did not.”
However, according to “Additional Protocol 1” civilians should be spared the effects of military operations. What of a civilian who is engaged in the war-industries? What of civilians - even women and children - who, to advance their war objectives, throw firebombs or rocks and shoot at people and passing vehicles? Are they still to be regarded as “civilians” or are they to be regarded as combatants and thus legitimate targets?
In 1956, in an attempt to solve this problem, the International Committee of the Red Cross produced “Draft Rules for the Limitation of the Dangers Incurred by the Civilian Population in Time of War.” Article 4 of these rules reads:
... the civilian population consists of all persons not belonging to ...
a) Members of the armed forces ...
b) Persons who do not belong to the [armed forces] ... but nevertheless take part in the fighting.
On this point, the “Additional Protocol 1” of 1977 writes that “civilians shall enjoy ... protection ... [from direct attack] unless and for such time as they take a direct part in the hostilities.” However the phrase “direct part” is not defined and this paragraph in the “Additional Protocol 1” could indeed be identical to the Red Cross Draft Rules.
Not everybody fighting a war is a gentleman with a bowler hat and tightly rolled up umbrella, who is prepared to stick to the rules of the game. There are, sadly, occasions when one of the sides acts as a “savage” in a war and does not observe international law regarding the difference between combatants and civilians. They place explosive charges in crowded market places, on buses and on roadsides and as a result numerous innocent civilians are killed or maimed for life. They throw rocks and petrol bombs and even shoot at passing civilian vehicles. Is the other side then bound by the international laws of war? This question has indeed been discussed by legal authorities.
The official British instruction book brought out by the War Office states on this subject, “It must be emphasized that the rules of International Law apply only to warfare between civilised nations where both parties understand them and are prepared to carry them out. They do not apply in wars with uncivilized States and tribes...”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Professor Jesse Reeves: “International law is not applicable to uncivilized peoples and could have no influence upon them.”
I wish to stress here, that this does not mean that any individual can go out and kill a person or persons of an enemy nation just because that nation does not observe the laws of war.
Even if one has the desire to act “according to the rules,” it is a tragic fact of life that in war innocent civilians are killed. Sometimes the numbers are relatively large, such as in the Israeli shelling of a refugee camp in Qana Lebanon, when over 100 innocent Lebanese citizens, including women and children were killed. On other occasions, the numbers are much smaller - but all the same, innocent people are killed. Examples include the Israeli helicopter missile strike on the vehicle of a key commander of the Fatah (Yasser Arafat’s faction), when two innocent women passersby were killed,  and the Israeli tank fire in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip when a four month old Arab girl was killed. This is sadly the reality of war.
To summarise: William T. Sherman, a General in the American Civil War, said, “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.”
Are the PLO and Hamas at war with Israel?
In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established. At that time, the Six Day War was an event of the future. Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza district were in Arab hands. Thus the aim of the PLO was the destruction of the State of Israel, or, to put it more euphemistically, the liberation of Palestine from the Zionist entity. Even after the Oslo accord, the PLO did not change its map of Palestine which still includes on its official stationery all of pre-1967 Israel!!
It is likewise the case with PLO crossword puzzles. Question: What is the well-known port city of Palestine? If you answered Gaza, you would be wrong. The answer is Haifa according to this PLO crossword puzzle!
Since in this work we are considering whether, as at Purim 1994, the PLO was at war with Israel, we shall look at the PLO’s actions until that date alone. [Having said that, a study of the PLO’s activities in the subsequent years could tell us if they were really sincere in their signing of the Oslo accords in September 1993. The PLO’s numerous violations include the murder of hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers, the incitement to violence against Israel - including the indoctrination of Arab school children and the inflammatory contents of their textbooks, the failure to confiscate illegal arms and disband militias, and grossly exceeding the agreed number of Palestinian police. ]
Many organisations, some reputable and others disreputable, have a Charter. The PLO’s Charter was first written in 1964 and was then amended in 1968. It consists of 33 articles, 26 of which call for Israel’s destruction or advocate violence against Israel. The last paragraph of this Charter is the procedure for its amendment. The Oslo accords obligated Arafat to amend this PLO Charter. By Purim 1994 he had done nothing in this respect.
Another terrorist group is Hamas and it was formed in late 1987. It directs its terrorist operations against Israeli civilian and military targets and these include large-scale suicide bombings. Like the PLO, they rejected the Oslo accords. Hamas is not some fringe or splinter group. Hamas is the dominant group in Hebron and it was they who gave the warning of an attack on the Jews in Hebron on Purim 1994.
In a booklet they brought out entitled “Hamas operations - The Glory Record,” the Hamas proudly boast of some 80 terrorist attacks against Israelis between April 1988 and Purim 1994.”
The Palestinian terrorist organisations’ numerous terrorist activities (up to Purim 1994) included: massacre of sportsmen at Olympic games held in Munich, hijackings of airplanes, the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship the Achille Lauro, in the process of which killing in cold blood and throwing overboard an American Jewish passenger confined to a wheelchair, bombs planted on buses, massacres on the coastal road bus and the bus from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, the kidnapping and murder of soldiers, the placing of explosive charges in public places causing large loss of life, attacks on northern settlements, etc, etc.
According to statistics brought out in the Prime Minister’s Report, about 200 Israelis were killed in terror attacks from the beginning of the Intifada in December 1987 until Purim 1994.
Indeed, Israel classed the PLO as a terrorist organisation and until the beginning of 1993, it was a criminal offence to make contact with any of its members. Abie Nathan, the extreme left-wing “peace pilot” was sent to jail for meeting with Arafat. Why did the Knesset repeal this law? Had the PLO changed its ways and become “peace-loving”? Sadly, nothing of the sort, and the events of subsequent years proved this to the hilt! In all likelihood, the reason was that, (according to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Johan Joergen Holst), members of the left-wing Israeli government were already having preparatory negotiations with the PLO (which was still illegal). Even if Holst is incorrect, it is very possible that the government was at that period, at least planning to have negotiations.
Earlier I introduced the statistics from the Shamgar Report regarding the number of stone-throwing incidents, the number of fire-bombs, the number of shootings, the number of people injured and killed in these terrorist attacks from the beginning of the Intifada until April 1994.
Over 150,000 stone throwing incidents are quoted. After numerous people were killed or injured by these stones and other even more lethal projectiles, the government decided to reimburse vehicle owners, living over the “green line”, who replaced their windows with stone-proof glass. Logically, the Oslo accords should have resulted in the return of ordinary glass to vehicles’ windows in place of stone-proof glass. In fact precisely the opposite is the case - today stone-proof windows are being reglazed with bullet-proof glass. Windows in the Gilo neighbourhood of Jerusalem are also being replaced by bullet-proof glass. The Oslo accords should also have been accompanied by bankruptcies among Israeli manufacturers of bullet-proof vests. Instead it would seem that they are making fortunes!
Sermons in the Mosques calling for Holy War against the Jews
Any massacre is without question a reprehensible act. A massacre in a place of worship when people are praying is the height of evil.
But what if a place of worship is constantly used as a platform to stir up racial hatred to such an extent, that people leaving this place of worship might go out and kill people of another faith?
This sadly has been the situation in the Mosques in the Holy Land and particularly on Fridays.
A sermon containing incitement against the Jews given in the al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount on a Friday in August 1929 caused the Arabs to go on the rampage killing and maiming Jews in over 20 settlements. Hardest hit was Hebron where 67 Jews were brutally murdered and many others maimed.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Izz al-Din al-Kassam (we will see more about him later in this book), would preach Jihad in the various Mosques in Palestine.
Itamar Marcus, the Director of “Palestinian Media Watch” has made a detailed study of this subject and he concludes: “The Palestinians have redefined the conflict from one over borders, in which compromise may be a solution, into a religious war for Allah in which compromise is heretical.”
Marcus goes on to explain:
“Religious leaders in the Palestinian Authority who lead Friday services in mosques continuously emphasize the following eight points:
• Jews are the enemy of Allah
• The killing of a Jew is a religious obligation
• All agreements with Israel are temporary in nature
• Islam is fighting a religious war against the Jews
• Palestinians are the vanguard in this war against the Jews, but all of Islam is obligated to assist them
• All of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is Islamic trust and any Muslim who relinquishes his land is damned to hell
• Allah will replace Muslims who shirk their duty to fight Israel
• The ultimate destruction of Israel is a certainty”
One should note that even a worshipper unable to attend Friday service in the mosque need not miss these sermons. All that is required is access to a television, since a regular feature of the Friday television programmes on the Palestinian Authority’s network are these sermons from the mosques. One thus cannot dismiss them as some fanatical preacher going against the PLO line!
Here are some examples of sermons in the Mosques which illustrate these points presented by Marcus: [Even though some of these sermons were given post-Purim 1994, their content is a continuation of the same rhetoric as pre-Purim 1994.]
On 10 May 1994, which was less than eight months after signing the Oslo accords, Arafat, in a sermon given in a mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa, called for a Jihad (Islamic holy war) to liberate Jerusalem. Someone made a tape recording of this sermon, (almost certainly without Arafat’s knowledge), which was then publicised. Needless to say a Jihad is not a peaceful activity.
On Friday 28 July 2000, the Islamic preacher Dr. Ahmed Yusuf Abu Halbiah said in his sermon, “The resurrection of the dead will not occur, until you battle with the Jews and kill them.” Two weeks later, he said, “Oh our Arab brothers... Oh our Moslem brothers... don’t leave the Palestinians alone in their war against the Jews...” In a Friday sermon in a Gaza mosque in October of that same year he said, “... They [the Jews] are the ones who must be butchered and killed ... Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are ... Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them ....”
Some months later, in a sermon given in the Al-Aksa Mosque, the preacher said, “Truly the Pagans are unclean. This is general, which includes Sharon and other disbelievers.... The rulers [the meaning obviously being the Israelis] are using the blood of the martyrs to stabilize their rule.... The Jewish entity in the Muslim land [Palestine] is considered an enmity for Allah and his prophet Muhammad.... We should work hard to remove these rulers in order to establish in their place the Islamic khilafah state.”
Here are some extracts from a Friday sermon in a Gaza Mosque by preacher Ibrahim Madhi, broadcast live on the Palestinian Authority television, following the suicide-terrorist slaughter in the Tel-Aviv Dolphinarium, where some 20 teenagers were murdered: “Israel will be erased... shame and remorse on whoever refrained from raising his children on Jihad... blessings to whoever put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons’ and plunged into the midst of the Jews... I pray to Allah that this oppressive Knesset will collapse over the heads of the Jews....”
At a memorial ceremony for the victims of this Dolphinarium slaughter, the President of Israel, Moshe Katzav said, “Not even one Moslem religious leader could be found to condemn the murder of children.”
A number of the witnesses before the Shamgar Commission testified concerning sermons in the local Mosques in Hebron which had included incitement against Jews. In its Report, the Commission quoted verbatim from such a sermon made in 1993 in the Cave of Machpelah by Sheikh Tayassir Tamimi: “(For those who) fly the flag and slogans of the armed struggle and those who kill, their deeds are recorded in letters of gold, theirs are exalted acts in the battle between the believers and the infidels.”
Soldiers in the Cave of Machpelah would often be given the job of recording the sermons given by the Sheikhs in the Cave of Machpelah so that their contents could be checked for incitement. I understand that there was a room adjacent to the Isaac Hall where these sermons were given, which was utilised for these recordings. I myself once overheard the Military Governor instructing a soldier to make such a recording.
On these “Sermons in the Mosques”, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisrael Lau said: “Primary guilt for the bloodshed resides with Moslem clerics who promote mass murder from the pulpit and who encourage suicide bombing. There can be nothing more reprehensible than to promise heaven to those who bring hell to earth.”
Indeed such incitement in the Mosques has in the past led to the killing of innocent Jews. There are extra police on duty around the Temple Mount on Fridays when the Moslems leave the Mosques.
Surely places of worship should be used solely for worship and religious study and certainly not for incitement?!
1. According to the various international conventions, in war violence should be limited to the killing of combatants. (This is honoured by the nations - (even the civilised ones) - more in the breach.
2. A war does not have to be formally declared to be legally classed as a war.
3. If one party does not honour the various war conventions, (e.g. does not distinguish between the military and the civilian), the other side is not bound to do so either.
4. The PLO and the Hamas were, as at Purim 1994 (and are still today), in a state of (guerrilla) war with Israel.
5. The PLO and the Hamas do not distinguish in their murderous attacks between the military and the civilian.
6. Sermons in the Mosques are constantly used to promote Jihad (Holy War) against the Jews and Israel.