18/08/2017 09:33:37
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Assassinations or Legal killings

Dear Editor,
Sub: 'Assassinations or Legal killings'

I believe we have two morally and legally firm answers to two frequently asked questions: first whether Israel has right to kill a terror-organization leader, like Sheik Yassin this time? Secondly, can the human collateral damage, that is the killing of innocent by-standers be pardoned by any purposes of any war?

The laws of war permit killing of combatants and there's no question that sheik Yassin was a combatant. Hamas has been long recognized as a terror organization by the US, the EU countries and many more. Yassin was the man who instructed to fiercely operate or to temporarily stop Hamas terror activity, and several times he personally authorized major terror acts killing deliberately and almost solely Israeli civilians. Hamas had above four hundred civilian victims, their main targets and not their collateral damage, within the last three and half years of Palestinian terror wave.

So the moral and legal justification of killing terror leaders is firm, unless: disproportionate collateral damage is caused. In Yassin's case a disproportionate damage was carefully avoided. The Israelis waited with uncharacteristic patience only to find him alone in an alley with his bodyguards, where only or mostly combatants could be killed.
The death of non-combatant people in a conflict is always a tragedy. But under international law, the responsibility for the civilian death toll, when combatants hide among civilians and a focused attack made on the combatants, lies with the combatants who hide behind or among civilians. When Palestinian gunmen hide and shoot from behind the back of stone-throwers, or when their armed organizations place terrorists among civilians they violate international law.

G.B.
Legal adviser
Hamburg, Germany
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