CNN: Israel prepares legal defense of soldiers

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israel’s government on Sunday approved a measure that will give legal protection to its military officers if they are accused of war crimes during the Gaza incursion, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

“The state of Israel will completely back anyone that acted in its name,” Olmert said Sunday at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “The soldiers and commanders that were sent on missions in Gaza need to know that they are safe from different tribunals.

“Israel will assist them and protect them as they physically protected us during the operation in Gaza,” he said.

The logic here is pretty amazing and absurd.

The basics of International law, as codified under The Nuremburg Principles make it clear that “following orders” is not an excuse for war crimes.

Here are two portions of the Principles that are revelant here…

Principle II – The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law…

Principle IV – The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

To me the Israeli state’s decision to protect officers who may have committed war crimes (to say nothing of the culpable political leaders who are liable under principle III of the Nuremburg principles) is not a far stretch from the actions of those who helped Nazi war criminal escape justice by fleeing to South America.

As I have said before on this blog, I am not anti-Jewish. I do think in the end that some form of a two-state solution (provided that monetary compensation is made to displaced Palestinians for land that would be retained by Israel) is the best solution to the situation.

But I am disgusted to see the Israeli state continue to act without any sanction against the people of Palestine, and now to see the Israeli state defy international law like this is beyond the pale.

I know that irony is not the right word to describe this, but it is absurd to see a nation created as a refuge for victims of the holocaust, now use the very tactics of the Nazis to defend their actions. It is shameful and must be called for what it is.