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The Chief Military Advocate General of the Israeli army, Sharon Afek, and the US Department of Defense General Counsel, Paul Ney, shared a platform at the "International Conference on the Law of Armed Conflict," which took place in Herzliya, Israel between May 28-30.
Their panel witnessed some of the most misconstrued interpretations of international law ever recorded. It was as if Afek and Ney were literally making up their own law on warfare and armed conflict, with no regard to what international law actually stipulates.
Unsurprisingly, both Afek and Ney agreed on many things, including that Israel and the US are blameless in all of their military conflicts, and that they will always be united against any attempt to hold them accountable for war crimes by the International Court of Justice (ICC).
Their tirade against the ICC mirrors that of their own leaders. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's anti-ICC position is familiar, last April, US President Donald Trump virulently expressed his contempt for the global organization and everything it represents.
"Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response," Trump said in a writing on April 12.
While Trump's (and Netanyahu's) divisive language is nothing new, Afek and Ney were entrusted with the difficult task of using legal language to explain their countries' aversion for international law.
Prior to the Herzliya Conference, Afek addressed the Israel Bar Association convention in Eilat on May 26. Here, too, he made some ludicrous claims as he absolved, in advance, Israeli soldiers who kill Palestinians.
"A soldier who is in a life-threatening situation and acts to defend himself (or) others (he) is responsible for, is receiving and will continue receiving full back-up from the Israeli army," he said.
The above assertion appears far more sinister once we remember Afek's views on what constitutes a "life-threatening situation," as he had articulated in Herzliya a few days later.
"Thousands of Gaza's residents (try) to breach the border fence," he said, with reference to the non-violent March of Return at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel.
The Gaza protesters "are led by a terrorist organization that deliberately uses civilians to carry out attacks," Afek said.
Afek sees unarmed protests in Gaza as a form of terrorism, thus concurring with an earlier statement made by then-Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on April 8, 2018, when he declared that "there are no innocents in Gaza."
Israel's shoot-to-kill policy, however, is not confined to the Gaza Strip but is also implemented with the same degree of violent enthusiasm in the West Bank.
"No attacker, male or female, should make it out of any attack alive," Lieberman said in 2015. His orders were followed implicitly, as hundreds of Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Jerusalem for allegedly trying to attack Israeli occupation soldiers or armed illegal Jewish settlers.
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