CAIRO, Nov 15 – Three Nobel laureates joined a galaxy of Israeli intellectuals and peace activists is pressing Israel’s High Court of Justice to order a halt of almost daily assassinations of Palestinian activists, the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday.
“How many more children need to die before the high court judges rule on the matter,” reads the petition signed by 10 peace groups and 200 prominent figures.
“If a ruling is not handed down immediately, this will cause the deaths of more innocent people, as was the case several days ago in Beit Hanun.”
Petitioners are demanding the High Court of Justice to rule on two other petitions submitted in 2002 and 2003 against the Israeli army’s policy of so-called targeted killings.
Between mid-July and mid-September, 136 Palestinians were killed in such targeted killings, said the disgruntled signatories.
The fatalities included 59 innocent bystanders, among them 28 minors and five women.
The petitioners blasted the tactic as a recipe for disaster as the deaths of innocent people have triggered Palestinian retaliation attacks.
“The court is responsible for many dead and wounded on both sides,” said Yoav Hass, head of the left-wing Yesh Gvul organization.
Since the outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada in September 2000, the Israeli military has killed hundreds of Palestinians in targeted strikes, often leaving civilians dead.
One of Israel’s heinous assassinations was that of wheelchair-bound Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, on March 22, 2004, which have triggered outcry across occupied Palestine and the world.
The signatories, including Harold Pinter, winner of the Nobel literature prize in 2005 and Betty Williams and Mairead McGuire, the founders of an organization that promoted peace in Northern Ireland and who won the Nobel peace prize in 1976, accused the Israeli court of avoiding to make a ruling.
“It is the High Court’s obligation to hand down rulings within a reasonable amount of time,” they wrote.
“After so much time has passed from the date in which the (first) petition was filed, the petitioners have a very bad feeling that the court is deliberately being evasive.”
The petitioners said the court evasion paves the way for the government and the Israeli troops to regard targeted assassinations as legal and therefore to continue implementing the policy.
“The evasiveness has had catastrophic results, and we cannot accept it because innocent civilians are losing their lives as a result.”
Hass said the judges were caught between a rock and a hard place.
He added that if they ruled against the petitions, their colleagues in other countries would look down on them and if they ruled in favor they would make many enemies at home.
“They can’t stretch it out like chewing gum,” Hass stressed. “This is what they are paid to do.”
Observers say the Israeli society is becoming increasingly opposed to the tactic of assassination.
In a public opinion poll by the daily Yediot Ahronot a large number of Israelis expressed doubts about both the tactics and the motives of such operations.
Israel’s history of assassinations stretches back to the early 1970s, when a group of Israeli commandos assassinated three of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s top officials in Beirut.
The leader of the team, Ehud Barak, and his men gunned down all three targets, according to accounts confirmed by Barak, who later became Israel’s prime minister.