Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Israel – Ambiguity of Reason in the Assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabouth

The Assassination of Mussolini

I thought that I would not get around to blogging for a while but with time to ‘kill’ while waiting for my plane I could not but try and respond to the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s avoidance of acknowledging Mossad’s role in the assassination of the Hamas official al-Mabouth by saying Israel had a ‘policy of ambiguity’ on intelligence matters.

There is always a knee-jerk reaction from Israel when anybody criticises the workings of its’ State apparatus that any criticisim directed towards it somehow carries an anti-semitic slant or agenda and as a result all the weight of a Holocaust memory is brought to bear on that criticism. Despite this puerile reaction it must be acknowledged even by the most orthodox that not all Jews are Israeli citizens, and more importantly not all Israeli citizens, as is obvious from the State’s apartheid documents of identity, are Jews. Any criticism of Israel’s dysfunctional state is exactly that: a criticism of the State not of any particular member or branch of the family of Shem.

A policy of strategic or deliberate ambiguity has long been a policy of Israel where its nuclear weapons or intelligence and security matters have come up for discussion or debate. Israel has also had a long-term policy of political assassination and qualified those actions on the basis of ‘pre-emptive’ self-defence citing Article 51 of the United Nations Charter:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Although required by the Charter it is most unlikely that Israel will be rushing to inform the Security Council as exactly what was Mossad’s role in the assassination of al-Mabouth, yet it is something they resort to when they are attacked:

Identical letters dated 1 December 2009 from the Permanent
Representative of Israel to the United Nations addressed to the
Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council

I write this letter of complaint regarding a series of attacks emanating from the
Gaza Strip which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization.

On 13 November 2009, a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip, and
between 18 November 2009 and 24 November 2009 four additional rockets were
fired from the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, on 16 November 2009, two mortar shells
were fired from Gaza. All of these rockets and mortars landed in the Western Negev
region of Israel adjacent to many small cities. While such attacks intentionally target
Israeli civilians, no serious casualties or damage was sustained.

I wish to reiterate that in response to these armed attacks, and in exercise of its
inherent right to self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations,
Israel will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens from the threat of

I should be grateful if you would have the present letter distributed as a
document of the Security Council.

(Signed) Gabriela Shalev
Permanent Representative

Although a signatory of the Rome Statute of the ICC in December 2000 Israel has taken the decision not to ratify its provisions. Article 8 2.B(xi) of ICC Rome Statute under the War Crimes section declares that a war crime is the:

Killing or wounding treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army.

It is interesting that in 2000 Israel attached the following note to its’ signature on the Rome Statute:

“Nevertheless, as a democratic society, Israel has been conducting ongoing political, and academic debates concerning the ICC and its significance in the context of international law and the international community. The Court’s essentiality - as a vital means of ensuring that criminals who commit genuinely heinous crimes will be duly brought to justice, while other potential offenders of the fundamental principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience will be properly deterred - has never seized to guide us. Israel’s signature of the Rome Statute will, therefore, enable it to morally identify with this basic idea, underlying the establishment of the Court.”

By 2002 however Israel had decided not to ratify the Statute. It said in a note to the Secretary General of the UN:

".....in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on 17 July 1998, [...] Israel does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, Israel has no legal obligations arising from its signature on 31 December 2000. Israel requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary’s status lists relating to this treaty."

This ambiguity of both purpose and intent can be best explained by the fact that since 2001 Israel has considered itself at war with Hamas and that ‘law-enforcement’ legal constraints with regard to assassinations no longer apply … if they ever did.

In 1981 Ronald Regan’s Executive Order 12333 banned all US conducted assassinations however it is obvious that in the ‘War on Terror’ many have been US sanctioned and condoned. There is equal ambiguity in the US response to al-Mabouth’s death.

In March of 2009 I visited Alamut Castle (see picture below) in Iran, the near-impregnable castle of the Federation of Assassins founded by Hassan i-Sabah in the 11th Century. The asymmetrical tactics and procedures developed by Hassan are no less evident today in the activities of Mossad.

Further Reading:

Michael L. Gross, Fighting by Other Means in the Mideast: a Critical Analysis of Israel’s
Assassination Policy. At: http://poli.haifa.ac.il/~mgross/Fighting%20by%20other%20means%20in%20the%20mideast.pdf


No comments: