Today, 23.5.2004, the group numbering 27 writers, academics, pilots and the organizations “Yesh Gvul” and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) appealed for an interim injunction to the High Court of Justice demanding the Court prohibit the appointment of Major General Dan Halutz as Deputy IDF Chief of Staff. The appeal is based on Major General Halutz’s role in the targeted assassination of Hamas activist Salah Shehadeh, during which a one-ton bomb was dropped on a residential neighborhood in Gaza killing 14 people, mostly children, and wounding dozens.
The petitioners claim that Dan Halutz is not worthy of a senior command position in the IDF. The appeal, submitted today to the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem, is pursuant to a petition filed a half a year ago by five authors and poets and the “Yesh Gvul” movement demanding that the Court order the IDF Judge Advocate General and the Attorney General to open a criminal investigation into the killing of the children. This petition has not yet been reviewed.
The original petitioners, joined by more than 20 prominent public figures, among them former governement minister Shulamit Aloni, former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair and law professor and Israel Prize winner, S.Z. Feller, claim in their appeal that Major General Dan Halutz is responsible for one of the most deplorable deeds in the history of the IDF and that his appointment to the second highest ranking position in the IDF before a criminal investigation is carried out on this matter is both illegal and contrary to the principles set by the High Court of Justice regarding appointments to senior positions.
The petitioners, represented by attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard, mention in their appeal for an interim junction the statements made by Major General Halutz after Shehade’s assassination that he “sleeps well at night” and that the operation ”passes my moral test” (the Haaretz Magazine, 23.8.03).
The request for an interim injunction includes the following:
“The meaning [of the appointment] is that it would make it possible for the second highest ranking position in the IDF to be filled by someone over whom rests a dark cloud of gross violations of the laws of war. The meaning of this is that someone who expressed himself as Halutz did that the large scale killing of innocent children and women is well within the moral standards of the IDF, will in a short while be the deputy commander of all of the soldiers of the IDF.
The petitioners believe that the role of respondent no. 3 [Halutz] in the events that led to the death of innocent civilians in Gaza City on the night of July 22, 2002, render him unworthy of any position of command in the IDF. His statements following the event prove that this incident was not a mistake or the result of poor judgment or carelessness but a “successful” operation that was planned and carried out according to this respondent’s code of ethics”.