By Jonathan Hoffman
May 3, 2011
(HT Steven Plaut who also translated the piece from Hebrew)
From Yediot Aharonot, by Prof. Daniel Friedmann (Prof of Law; Minister of Justice under Olmert)
Suppose, just Suppose that it had been Israel that Carried Out the Assassination
By Daniel Friedmann
We are lucky that Bin Laden was taken out by the American military. I
tremble at the thought of what would have happened had he been killed
by Israeli forces. Would there not have arisen a deafening outcry
against cold-blooded murder without a trial? Would there not have
been calls to investigate whether bin Laden could have been captured
unharmed, to be put on fair trial, where he could defend himself
judicially? Would not the soldier who had shot him be indicted,
because perhaps he could have merely wounded bin Laden by shooting at
his legs, thus avoiding an unnecessary loss of human life? And what
about those other “collateral” deaths in the compound? Was it really
necessary to kill THOSE people without even putting them on trial?
Let us bear in mind that the operation was carried out in the
territory of a friendly foreign country allied to the US – Pakistan.
Since when can a country just go in and kill suspects in another
country that has its own police and courts? One must keep in mind
that at this stage bin Laden was merely a suspect – since he was never
convicted of any crime by any court, including for the destruction of
the WTC towers in the US. Under the circumstances, should not the US
forces have warned him and demanded his surrender before opening fire,
and - if such a warning was given to bin Laden - was it a sufficient
To all these “questions” others would then be added. Under such
sensitive circumstances, is it really appropriate for the US military
itself to examine its own behavior and performance? Would it not be
better to have some outside commission of investigation, one that will
enjoy public trust? Indeed, a local commission of investigation
would be insufficient and surely many would demand an international
investigation, one in which the international community could place
its faith! Like one by the UN or its commission on human rights.
There are other issues. How did the Americans decide to toss bin
Laden’s carcass into the sea without first consulting bin Laden’s own
family members and violating his human right to a dignified burial?
And why did the American government do all this without even
soliciting a single learned scholarly legal opinion from an
international expert on human rights?
And I almost forgot. In such an important matter it is
unthinkable that action should have been carried out without first
petitioning the Supreme Court, which in Israel at least routinely
interferes whenever the military wants to assassinate terrorist
leaders. Hence the Supreme Court should contemplate who should now be
indicted for the abuses in the operation, after the commission of
investigation completes its work.
And even that is not the end of the story. The names of the
soldiers and officers involved in the operation must be made public at
court order, because of their involvement in the killings. The
individuals involved might someday seek public office. Even more
important is the fact that one day it may be desirable to conduct a
thorough legal evaluation of these people, given the fact that their
behavior produced human deaths.