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Israel Right To Self Defense: Across Asia, Africa, Europe And North America

11 June 2010

By Sameh A. Habeeb

Israel has been pursuing its cry-wolf policy since its inception. Successive Israeli regimes have followed the same tactic of presenting their own nation as the victim of aggression. All the major news firms and corporations have taken the same line. “Israel as victim’, has filled the headlines. These days there are more examples than ever.

Israel has been justifying its attacks and deadly wars against Palestinians and Arabs in terms of their right to self-defense. Here are some of the messages we hear from the Israelis over and over again:

“We are encircled by the Arabs.”

“We are encircled by terrorists.”

“We are living in the tough area of the Middle East.”

“We are fighting for our existence.”

“Our nukes are for the purpose of protection.”

“The Gaza siege is a legal means to stop rocket attack.”

“Settlements are a legal means to protect our Jewish Identity.”

Any audience worldwide hearing only this account might believe what they hear. It is normal for any body and everybody to seek safety and security as a basic need. People worldwide and specifically in America, which is the foremost supporter of Israel, will be convinced.

For as long as these fictions are promulgated along media wires and echoed by reputable institutions, Israel will continue to defy international law and humanitarian charters. More human rights will be violated.

In the 1967 war, Israel captured hundreds of Egyptian soldiers.  According to international law, Israel should have protected them before taking them to court or banishing them to prison. But Israel massacred them in the desert. We never heard of any subsequent investigation by the international community. Whose rights of self defense were infringed on that occasion?

Massacres, like Sabra and Shatila, have been perpetrated in Lebanon.  The Israeli version of this story is that, “we invaded Lebanon to kick out Palestinian fighters. Or to protect our borders. It’s all about self defense.” But disproportionate force was used by Israel: thousands of Palestinians/Lebanese were killed in such massacres. In 1996 and 2006 in its wars on Lebanon, Israel bombarded the UN compounds and killed hundreds of civilians and UN forces. All this was on the grounds of self defense.

The siege of Gaza and the one-sided war was part of Israeli self defense strategy. Very limited attacks have been launched against Israel but the Israeli response has always been deadly. The useless rockets of Hamas have been used as a pretext by Israel to launch its attacks. They are the reason given for imposing the siege. However, the facts on the ground are different.

Israeli self-defense

The legal dictionary of Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill (1981-2005 by) defines self-defense as,” self-defense n. the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor, if the defender has reason to believe he/she/they is/are in danger. Self-defense is a common defense by a person accused of assault, battery, or homicide.  The force used in self-defense may be sufficient for protection from apparent harm (not just an empty verbal threat) or to halt any danger from attack, but cannot be an excuse to continue the attack or use excessive force.”

You only have to look at the last six decades. Before its establishment; Israel ethnically cleansed more than 800,000 Palestinians. More than 530 villages were viciously destroyed before it even existed. Wars then were launched against Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. Attacks and military operations of Israel in the name of self defense reached Tunisia, Iraq, Algeria and Morocco. Add to that, a hundred or more operations that took place across Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.

From 1967 to 2008 more than 800.000 Palestinians were imprisoned by Israel.

From 29/9/200 to 31/12/2008 more than 5901 Palestinians were killed.  The same period witnessed up to 40,000 injured people. On the other
side, around 1000 Israeli were killed. There is a huge and vast gap between the numbers. Additionally, 1440 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. The ratio is around 8 Palestinians killed for each Israeli.

Rockets Issue and Self-defense

The official website of the Israeli Foreign Affairs ministry states that 1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortar bombs fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel in 2008. This is understandably shocking for anyone who reads this. The term rocket or mortar or missile induces fear in any ordinary onlooker. Israel uses such statistics and numbers to deflect the attention of the international mainstream media and those who consume it. If we suppose Israel is right about this, then why don’t we see Israel giving more details about these rockets? Why does Israel not show the pictures of the victims of these rockets? Why don’t we see the damaged cities, town, and village?

Clearly these rockets are ineffective and useless. According to the BBC, since 2001, when the rockets were first fired, more than 8,600 have hit southern Israel, nearly 6,000 of them since Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. The rockets have killed 28 people and injured hundreds more.

This is 28 people killed and hundreds injured too many. But note that there is a huge gap between the number of victims and the number of rockets. If this leads us to any conclusion, it must be that these rockets are primitive, inexact and ineffective. The rockets are just another scapegoat that Israel uses to justify its ongoing attacks against Palestinian civilians.

Some Palestinian factions have now stopped firing these rockets as Hamas did, from June to December 2009. What happened? A full- scale war was launched in late 2009 that took the lives of more than 1440 Palestinians, mostly civilians. The arithmetic is like this: 28 Israelis killed by rocket attacks in nine years while 1440 Palestinians were killed in only 3 weeks in the last war on Gaza.  There is no way to compare the two sides. The self defense argument deployed by Israel should be renamed its policy of aggression. Self defense empowers victims to use sufficient power to defend themselves.

But from the Israeli government we only see excessive force used against civilians.

By Sameh A. Habeeb

The Palestine Telegraph Newspaper




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