Saturday, March 31, 2007

The case is prepared

Israeli media denials of past army war crimes are easily countered, writes Ibrahim Nafie

Israel's media is denying the killing of Egyptian prisoners of war (POWs) at the hands of the Shaked Commando unit in 1967. It says that the documentary shown on Israeli television has no mention of POWs, that those killed were mainly guerrillas, and that Egypt's media and parliamentarians are blowing the matter out of proportion for political reasons.

I beg to differ. The killing of Israeli POWs is not a new thing and several Egyptian groups and organisations have brought it up repeatedly in the past. Also, Israeli commanders have admitted to the killing of Egyptian POWs in both the 1956 and 1967 wars. Even in the 1973 war, there is a possibility that the same thing happened again. So this is not a political matter. It is a legal issue that needs to be dealt with under international law and in keeping with the Geneva Conventions. We're not trying to score political points nor do we wish this matter to impact on the diplomatic ties or peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Arabs Against Discrimination (ADD) keeps records of all the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians and the Lebanese. The ADD has extensive files on these crimes and is willing to offer them to any authority pursuing the matter legally.

When Israel's Channel One aired The Shaked Spirit -- the documentary containing these allegations of war crimes -- the ADD recorded the film and translated it into Arabic. It also obtained a copy of the book on which the documentary was based and translated it to Arabic. The ADD is also archiving Israeli reactions to the case that may also help any authority pursuing legal action.

The ADD files establish beyond reasonable doubt that the Shaked Commandos, led by Benyamin Ben Eliezer, killed Egyptian POWs. The book on which the documentary was based is called The Shaked Unit: Prevention and Current Security in the History of the Israeli Army. It was written by Uri Milstein and Dov Doron and was published in 1994. It contains numerous testimonies indicating that Egyptian POWs were killed during the 1967 war.

One member of the Shaked Commando unit, Yehuda Malamid, says: "Each time we got a report that Egyptians were hiding in the sand, we landed from the plane near them and liquidated them. Some of them were carrying weapons and others perhaps hid their weapons when they saw us. We killed no less than 250 in three days."

nother member of the same unit says, "we had to liquidate them before they turn into a fifth column in Gaza. Light aircraft were used to locate them and alert helicopters. We killed many of them without batting an eyelid." The book, the film, and the live testimony of Egyptian survivors offer ample evidence in the case. I would therefore suggest that an Egyptian committee of experts be formed to follow up on the matter. The ADD is in a position to provide it with all the documents it may need.

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