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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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War Crimes of Israel: Killing With Impunity  (continued)
    by STEPHEN LENDMAN

War Crimes of Israel: Killing With Impunity Border and checkpoint confrontations cause deaths. Along Gaza's border, farmers are shot in their fields. Children are used for target practice. Soldiers have license to kill.

"The vast majority of these cases have never been investigated." Most others are whitewashed. Guilty soldiers, police, and settlers are absolved.

Israel's Judge Advocate General's Office (JAGO) claims "the fact that a civilian is killed during hostilities does not constitute even prima facie proof that a war crime has been committed or that the soldiers who were involved acted in a criminal manner."

Other Israeli officials hold similar views even if civilians are deliberately targeted in or out of war zones. Investigations rarely happen. International law breaches are commonplace.

Impunity encourages "a trigger-happy attitude, and shows gross disregard for human life." Attacks against civilians warrants concern. Palestinians experience them daily. Deaths result. Accountability demanded is denied.

A culture of impunity prevents justice. Officials to the highest levels support it. Security forces are absolved to kill again. Palestinian lives don't matter. Collective punishment is policy. So is license to kill.

Fundamental international law is mocked. Israelis spurn it when other priorities take precedence.

Killing Without Consequence explained "why this matters," saying:

Border guard Maxim Vinogradov murdered Ziad Jilani. More on him below.

"At this moment, we have a way to prevent indiscriminate Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israeli security."

If Maxim is charged, "it will demonstrate to soldiers that there are consequences for killing Palestinians."

"Here’s why:

When Israel (charges) its soldiers it leads to direct changes in the behavior of other(s). When they fail to (act), soldiers perpetuate the same behavior."

"Every time."

For example, before UN official Iain Hooke was killed, soldiers rarely killed international activists. When no charges were brought, killing waves followed. Soldiers, police, and other security forces know they can kill with impunity.

When activist Tom Hurndal was murdered, killing international activists temporarily stopped after a soldier got eight years in prison for manslaughter and obstruction of justice.

Do it regularly and it'll stop entirely. Security forces will think before they shoot. Killing has consequences. Getting off scot free won't apply. In Occupied Palestine, reaching that threshold has light years to go.

On June 11, 2010, coming home from Friday prayers, Ziad was caught in traffic. Border police blocked the road. He accidently side swiped one of their vehicles. Vinogradov was alerted.

Ziad left the accident scene. Police chased and opened fire. A Palestinian bystander was wounded. To avoid violence, Ziad mistakenly entered a blind alley. Emerging from his vehicle, police shot him twice - in the arm and lower back.

Still alive, they approached him. According to their own testimony, Vinogradov fired two or more times at his head at point blank range.

As he heard shots, Ziad's cousin Mahmoud ran toward him screaming. Vinogradov fired warning shots to back off. He then beat him with a nightstick. Hospitalization was required.

According to eyewitnesses, when an ambulance arrived, police prevented its approach.

Ziad lived in East Jerusalem. Most of his life was in America. He earned a pharmacy degree there. His family owned an East Jerusalem drug store. He hoped to run it when his father retired.

His real love was animals. His preference was practicing veterinary medicine. Few opportunities exist in Palestine.

His family pharmacy failed and was sold. Ziad opened a video game parlor. Later it became a billiard hall. After selling the business, he began distributing massage chairs in Israeli malls.

Vinogradov considered Ziad a terrorist even though he was unarmed and nonviolent. On April 2012, Haaretz columnist Amira Hass headlined "Israel Police shoots first and asks questions later," saying:

Ziad was lawlessly attacked. "Neighborhood residents said police fired heavily in all directions. A little girl sitting in a parked car was wounded."

"The Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Unit investigated, and the State Prosecutor's Office decided to close the case for lack of evidence."

Eyewitness disagreed. They revealed indiscriminate police shooting at point blank range. Ziad's wife Moira partitioned Israel's High Court for justice. She wants Vinogradov and his commander indicted for murder.

On April 24, Combatants for Peace honored Ziad in a Tel Aviv memorial service. Nearly 2,000 attended. It's almost unprecedented for a mass Jewish audience to convene for a Palestinian.

Moira spoke lovingly with passion for justice. Killing Without Consequence published "A Message From Moira," saying:

Vinogradov "executed....(m)y beloved husband....on June 11, 2010." Undeniable evidence proves he "was lying unarmed and wounded on the ground, posing no threat when....shot....point blank in the head."

Vinogradov and his commander Shadi Kheir Al-Din got off scot free. Doing so sends a message. Palestinian life is cheap. Take it and avoid accountability.

"My daughters and I have appealed to" Israel's High Court to "bring criminal charges against" both men. "We seek international support, not only (for) Ziad but also to save" other potential victims.

"My husband loved life and enjoyed it to it’s fullest, he loved people and animals and he loved us, his family, with a passion. He was not a terrorist."

"My American citizenship has meant nothing to the Israeli authorities and far too little to the American government."

"I would like answers and to see to it that trigger-happy soldiers and police men serving in the Israeli military and border police are not allowed to kill more innocent people."

Visit Killing Without Consequence for more details. So far, Moira and her children have been denied long overdue justice. Nothing can bring back Ziad. What means more than that.

*** Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"


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