Piloter frygter retsforfølgelse

Gush Shalom

Piloter frygter retsforfølgelse

The following appeared in Ben Kaspit’s column of political commentary in the weekend supplement of Ma’ariv.

Gush Shalom comments appears between square brackets (parenteser).

(…) What truly infuriated Prime Minister Sharon this week was the news of graffiti reading “War Criminal” sprayed on the private cars of Air Force pilots, and the threats of the members of Gush Shalom to collect incriminating evidence against soldiers and officers involved in IDF operations in the Territories, and pass it on to international tribunals.

On Tuesday [Aug.13], Sharon visited the Tel-Nof Air Force base and was surprised at how frustrated and apprehensive the senior officers are about this issue. First to raise it was the Air Force’s Chief Psychologist who told of being approached by many pilots. She said the pilot were concerned, some of them “very concerned”. Then the Air Force commander, General Dan Halutz, spoke out about a widespread “feeling of insult, concern and apprehension” among his officers.

According to one of the participants, the pilots who spoke to Sharon were especially concerned at the possiblity that some years hence, after retiring from active service and going on a family holiday to, say, Green Ireland, they would find policemen waiting at the airport with war crimes warrants. The presence of Sharon, who had already undergone a set of judicial proceedings in Belgium (and seems about to be confronted with new ones soon) made the pilots’ apprensions all the more sharp.

At the cabinet meeting on the following day [Wed., Aug 14], Sharon seemed shaken when he recounted this experience to the ministers. “It is inconceivable” he murmured. “These people want to hand our soldiers over to the enemy” [sic – Sharon concept of “the enemy clearly seems to include European polic forces and international courts].

Defence Minister Ben Eliezer vehemently concurred with the Prime Minister. He also gets similar feedback from army officers, and he too is furious. This is the first time in the past weeks that the PM and his Defence Minister have found common ground on any specific issue. In both of their bureaus, withering criticism is heard about the Attorney General and his staff, who are described as “dragging their feet” in pressing charges against the “informers”.

[So far, the Attorney General seems unable to find an article of Israel law according to which it is illegal to warn army offciers that their acts might be in violation of international law. However, given sufficiant pressure the AG might bend some law or another, or a brand-new law might be enacted as was suggested in a radio interview earlier this week by Justice Minister Sheetrit – who apparently is more worried about those who seek justice than about its violations.

Meanwhile there was also made a threat this week against Adallah, the human and civil rights association active on behalf of Israel’s Arab citizens. Amram Bogatch, the govenmental Registrar of Associations made a public threat to “open an investigation against Adallah”, on the charges that it “exeeded its mandate” by offering free legal counceling; that it is linked to a political party, namely KM Azmi Bishara’s Balad Party; and that there are “irregularities” in the running of its finances. Bogatch made all these charges only in the media, making no direct approach to Adallah itself and of course giving the association no chance to answer his charges. By attacking Gush Shalom and Adallah a signal is given aimed at intimidating Israeli

peace and human rights groups in general.]

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