Senior Human Rights Activist Sympathizers with a "Retired" Serial Killer / Jonathan/D.Halevi
The Israeli Criminal Law clearly defines the punishment for committing a murder. Clause no. 300 determines that a person who intentionally caused the death of a human being will be charged with murder and will be sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. The International Humanitarian Law prohibits targeting civilians during an armed conflict under any circumstances. Israeli and international human rights organizations are united in regards to viewing terrorist attacks, and particularly suicide bombings, as a “war crime” and unequivocally demand bringing to justice their planners and perpetrators.
Gideon Levy pardons a terrorist for committing mass murders
Gideon Levy, senior Israeli journalist and human rights activist, challenges both Israeli and international laws, as it may be understood from one of his articles that was recently published in Haaretz newspaper. In this article, entitled “What if thousands of prisoners are released?”, Levy advocates for setting free all Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in an Israeli jail for committing or being involved in terrorist attacks and hostile activities, as is shown in the following excepts of the article:
“Do you remember Zakaria Zbeidi? The top list fugitive, the commander of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, the symbol of the armed struggle, the enemy of the [Israeli] people? Nowadays, he serves as an official at the Prisoners Ministry of the Palestinian Authority and he dedicates his leisure time to promoting the Freedom Theatre in his refugee camp. He assists Udi Aloni and Juliano Marr to produce the play Antigone in the Jenin Refugee Camp, and later a movie with amateur actors of the theatre.
“Since he was given partial amnesty by Israel, two babies were born to Zbeidi and a third one is on his way. He built a new house instead of the old one demolished by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and according to him [Zbeidi] he hung his weapon, as is being said [when someone retires from the military]. The days of the armed entourage circling him are over, as well as the days of fear and suspicion. The war is over. There are many like him.
“If the IDF succeeded in its endless hunt after him, he would have joined the dozens of his martyr friends or would be rotting now in the Israeli jail. Israel would stand on its hind legs refusing to release him, even in return for Gilad Shalit. Blood on his hands, you know. Freeing Zbeidi is good not only for the Palestinians, but also to Israel. Youth who are preoccupied with the daughter of Oedipus would not turn to other issues.”
Levy’s message is clear-cut. Even though Israel argues that Zbeidi has “blood on his hands”, meaning he is responsible of the killing of Israeli civilians, it is for the benefit of Israel and the Palestinians that Zakaria Zbeidi is free and is not being brought to justice for his actions in an Israeli court or in the Palestinian Authority. For Levy, the facts that Zbeidi has a new life, a new governmental position, a new house and a new two newborn babies are enough to exonerate him from any involvement in terrorist attacks.
Who is Zakaria Zbeidi?
Why does Zakaria Zbeidi have the privilege of receiving such merciful, compassionate and sympathetic sentiments from Gideon Levy? Zbeidi was the commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, which was designated by Israel, the US, the EU and Canada as a terrorist organization. From an early age, he was involved in acts of violence, including throwing Molotov cocktails. Zbeidi was arrested twice by the Israeli security forces and sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment. He was released early from jail in 1993 as an Israeli gesture to the Palestinians after signing the Declaration of Principles, which paved the way for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.
During the al-Aqsa Intifada, Zbeidi joined the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and later became the commander of the Brigades in the Jenin area. He was involved in planning terrorist attacks targeting both soldiers and civilians in the West Bank and Israel. According to the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Zbeidi is responsible for the killing of nine Israelis and a foreign worker in a series of terrorist attacks, including a suicide bombing at the Likud party branch in Beit Shean on November 28, 2001. He was also involved with directing terrorist attacks (shooting, explosive charges) in the northern area of the West Bank and in Israel.
In an interview with the German Newspaper Welt am Sontag in March 2006, Zbeidi revealed that Hizbullah supplied the al-Aqsa Brigades with money and weapons. “Without the support of our brothers we wouldn’t be able to sustain our struggle... they [Hizbullah] give us money, weapons, guidance and support... we coordinate with them [Hizbullah] our operations.”
An intelligence review published by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) detailed new information on Zbeidi’s involvement in terror activity against Israel. According to the ISA, five Palestinian single women aged 18 to 30 were recruited by Zbeidi or his direct assistants for committing suicide bombing attacks in Israel or carrying out missions for the al-Aqsa Brigades, such as manufacturing explosives, weapons delivery and money transfers. The women are Lamia Jamjun (24 years old), a student at al-Najan University in Nablus, Lina Hindawi (27 years old), a resident of Jenin, Hanadi Abu Qindil (24 years old), a resident of the Jenin refugee camp, Huda Arda (30 years old), a secretary of the Araba municipality and Maha Awad (18 years old), a resident of Nablus.
Gideon Levy’s double standards
The facts are well known also to Gideon Levy. Zakaria Zbeidi, the former commander of the al-Aqsa Brigades, is responsible for the killing and injuring of Israeli civilians, recruiting men and women for the purpose of carrying out suicide bombings, and having operational contacts with Hizbullah. In spite of all that, Gideon Levy favours fully forgiving Zbeidi and argues that Israel and the Palestinians can benefit from the fact that Zbeidi was not brought to justice in Israel, the Palestinian Authority or the International Criminal Court in Hague.
In total contradiction to his generous forgiving sentiment towards the senior Palestinian terrorist, Gideon Levy does not express the faintest intention to exonerate the Israeli chief commanders, whom he blames of committing war crimes, and specifically Shaul Mofaz, former chief of staff and Defence Minister and Avi Dichter, former head of the ISA and Home Security Minister. In an article posted on April 30, 2006 Levy writes: “There are countries in the world that a person like Mofaz would have been sent home ostracized if he had succeeded to avoid being tried in his country or in the ICC in Hague for being suspect of committing war crimes”. In another article on December 9, 2007, Levy argued that Dichter was flagged as a suspect for committing war crimes after the targeting killing of Salah Shehadah, chief commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, in which Palestinian civilians were also killed and he expresses his wish that he will be brought to justice abroad. “In these circumstances, those who think that these are horrific deeds, have no other option but to wish that law authorities outside of Israel will react, while our authorities cover their eyes,” Levy wrote.
Gideon Levy’s unique moral world is again exposed. A Palestinian who committed war crimes should enjoy freedom, avoid trial and even take a leading political position in his society. An Israeli who committed, according to Levy, war crimes must be tried in Israel or by the ICC in Hague and be ostracized in his society.
Jonathan Dahoah Halevi is a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former advisor for policy planning in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. firstname.lastname@example.org