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April 14, 2010

Mazuz Refutes Ha'aretz Claims that Assassinations Violated High Court Ruling

Former soldier Anat Kamm is under house arrest for allegedly passing some 2000 classified documents to Ha'aretz journalist Uri Blau. In 2008, Blau published an article based on the Kamm material alleging that the Israeli army violated a High Court ruling by assassinating terrorists, including a key Islamic Jihad leader. Kamm claimed that her motives were ideological, to alert the public to war crimes.

The Jerusalem Post reports that former Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had earlier weighed in, refuting Ha'aretz claims that the assassinations were in violation of the High Court decision:

On Monday, the Justice Ministry spokesman released a letter by former Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz. It was written 15 months ago in response to a demand by attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard to investigate allegations in the article that the IDF was continuing to carry out targeted assassinations in violation of conditions set down in a High Court of Justice ruling. Three cases were referred to, including the killing of key Islamic Jihad terrorist Ziad Malaisha.

The article, entitled “Secret IDF Documents: The Chief of Staff and the Top Echelon of the IDF Authorized Killing Fugitives and Innocent People,� was based on documents summarizing meetings of operational plans to strike at the Palestinian fugitives. Haaretz also displayed a photocopy of one of the summaries from a meeting held on March 28, 2007. The words “top secret� appeared at the top of the document. . .

The Justice Ministry spokesman’s office said Monday that several reporters had asked whether Mazuz had ordered an investigation into the allegations raised in the article after it was published.

This is what Feldman and Sfard had demanded of Mazuz 15 months earlier. The two attorneys had represented The Public Committee against Torture in Israel in its petition to the High Court against targeted assassinations. It was in its ruling on that petition that the court set down the conditions which, if met, could justify using this tactic. In their letter to Mazuz, the attorneys charged that Blau’s article indicated that the state had violated the ruling in connection with several killings of terrorists including Malaisha.

Mazuz wrote back on January 7, 2009, and turned down the attorneys’ request for an investigation.

Regarding the killing of Malaisha, Mazuz wrote, “The IDF operation met all the conditions laid down in the Bagatz ruling regarding ‘targeted assassinations.’ The attack took place after the possibility of arresting the fugitives was ruled out as being impossible to achieve under the circumstances and after it was made clear to the soldiers that arrest was the first preference.

“The attack was aimed at senior and extremely dangerous terrorists, who were involved in preparations to carry out dangerous terror attacks, and regarding whom the security system had reliable and precise information ... It was carried out in awareness of the duty to avoid harming innocents and reduce the danger to them, and after implementing the principle of proportionality.�

Mazuz added that “the legal aspects of the operation were examined at each one of the planning stages and there is no basis to the charge that the IDF ‘ignored’ the High Court’s instructions regarding targeted assassination operations. On the contrary, the operational officers in the general staff, who had close legal consultation, were aware of the High Court instructions and stressed and carried them out in all stages of the planning and the approval of the operation.�

Posted by TS at April 14, 2010 04:02 AM


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