Response of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel to today’s decision by the High Court of Justice regarding the Policy of Assassinations of the State of Israel
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) that filed the petition against the assassinations policy of the State of Israel in January, 2002, regrets that that the ruling of the panel of High Court of Justice justices headed by former Chief Justice, Aharon Barak, did not outline a clear set of criteria that permit or forbid “targeted assassinations”, or extrajudicial executions, in a way that would prevent the killing of innocent civilians. According to PCATI’s data, since the beginning of the second Intifada, and following the first targeted assassination on 9 November 2000, approximately 500 Palestinians were killed during targeted assassinations, including 168 innocent civilians.
The regulations and criteria that Chief Justice Barak set in his ruling for the execution of “targeted assassinations”, which may constitute an attempt to diminish the number of “targeted assassinations” operations, are vague, and do not clearly define to the security forces the rules of what may or may not be done as defined in the laws of war and the interpretation of these laws.
The provisions set in today’s ruling permit targeted executions only if “well based information” exists and “a detailed examination before the attack” is held and if it is impossible to employ “less harmful means” such as detention, interrogation and legal action. They also mandate an “in depth” and “independent examination” as to the exact identity of the target, and that the attack be proportional. These leave total discretion regarding the decision of who is to be executed without trial in the hands of the security forces.
PCATI Executive Director, Hannah Friedman, stated “we are concerned that today’s High Court of Justice ruling will worsen the current situation and create a dangerous path that will lead to an increase in the number of innocent civilians who are killed or injured”.