Intern of the Week: Crystal F.


Every winter and summer, Shurat HaDin is privileged to mentor interns that come from all over the world to our offices in Ramat Gan, Israel. Shurat HaDin interviewed Crystal F, a student at the University of Texas School of Law, to discuss her background, her plans for the future, and the how the internship impacted her perspective on the legal world. Crystal’s original blog post follows the interview. 

Where are you from?

Born in Connecticut; resident of Austin, Texas

How old are you?


Why did you go to law school?

After I was legally emancipated when I was 16, I personally realized the positive impact that litigation can make and decided to incorporate advocacy in my future career.

Please describe something you have learned about Israel that surprises you or that interests you.

This is my first visit to Israel. I expected to learn mostly about the political difficulties and policies that Israel faced, but I was often more impacted and impressed by the intimacy of the Israeli community structure and the openness and acceptance in the Israeli family structure.

How did you hear about Shurat HaDin, and what inspired you to apply to the internship program?

I heard about Shurat HaDin through my law school’s job application bank, and was inspired to apply to the internship because I hope to begin my law career in an international environment, and am also drawn to the national security aspect of the legal realm.

What are some of the takeaways from the internship program that you will apply to your studies and future career?

The practical application of legal education during the Shurat HaDin internship in innovative new ways contributes to the use of basic legal policy (learned in first-year law classes) to expand bold and creative legal processes necessary in litigating a unique field of law. I have also learned a significant amount about the difficulty in balancing international diplomacy and national patriotism, and the necessity of maintaining both of these in the extremely volatile situation to which Israel is subjected.

What are your future plans and goals?

I would like to pursue a career in international law, and pro bono work remains—and always will remain—an important part of my legal career.

Check out Crystal’s original blog post below:

“Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

            The recent escalation of violence in Gaza has drawn every political activist’s eye to scrutinize this small strip of land in the Middle East. Often, reactionary measures are abruptly taken as a response to the observance of pictures of the tumultuous areas, just as our hearts urge us to take action when we watch the ASPCA commercial featuring sick dogs and cats pathetically shivering in shelters to the tune of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.”  

This public scrutiny has led to the investigation by the UN of war crimes committed by Israel. Meanwhile, the UN aid organizations, which receive money from donations all over the world through UNICEF, contribute (albeit perhaps unknowingly) to terrorist acts in Gaza. I argue, however, that recent events should instead lead us to investigate UNRWA.

The UN seems insistent on drawing attention away from its hand in the terrorist actions of Hamas. UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) shocked the international community when it first released a statement regarding its “strong condemnation” of the use of its schools in Gaza as a weapons cache for terrorist groups. However, it became clear that UNRWA’s “demands [of] full respect for the sanctity of its premises in Gaza” were not heeded when another cache of rockets was discovered in an UNRWA school a few days later. Then yet another cache was found about a week after in another UNRWA school.

So what does this “strong condemnation” and these “demands” effect? Not very much. UNRWA schools are funded by governments, NGOs, and individuals who may not be aware how their money is actually spent. The largest UNRWA donor is the United States. Perhaps the realization that donations are abused in this manner prompted the Dutch parliament to call for the halt of funding to the Palestinian Authority, but other governments are too slow to follow suit.

The problem of NGOs acting as a front to fund terrorist groups has been noted, and especially the problems with anonymity and the internet. The FBI has released a statement that “in the United States, the majority of Hamas’ financial support is generated through the fund-raising efforts of various NGOs.” Thus, when an ‘armchair activist’ picks up their credit card while taking the mission statement of their intended charity at face value, they run the danger of enabling terrorist organizations. When a government entity does so, the impact is even worse.

            John Ray tells us that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. While I sympathize with the unfortunate plight of the Palestinian citizenry, it seems clear that the current handling of the situation by UNRWA is not conducive to the citizens. UNRWA funding contributes to schools that have been converted into legitimate military targets because of the storage of weapons there. It would seem that money spent in an investigation would be better delegated to the removal of arms from UN institutions. 

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Israel must use the economic weapon against Hamas

Israel must use the economic weapon against Hamas
Desperate people do desperate things. Facing severe economic distress and on the brink of starvation, people will do anything in order to survive, if only for one more day.

This is the reason that Hamas decided to embark on a suicidal war two weeks ago. It has fired hundreds of salvoes of rockets at the civilian population of Israel, endangered the lives of civilians on its territory, perpetrates war crimes by using the civilian population as a human shield, and adamantly refuses any cease-fire proposal, because it has reached the worst economic situation it has experienced since it was founded. Hamas’s leaders realized that they had no way out of these economic straits, and so they will continue firing and fighting until Israel, or Egypt, or the world, surrenders.

For the entire 26 years of its existence, Hamas has always found creative ways of financing its death industry. From an insignificant small-time charitable organization, with little influence or support, in the first intifada Hamas became the most influential and popular force in Palestinian society. From being an opposition movement to the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas became the strongest organization in the Palestinian Authority. It developed welfare mechanisms alongside a trained military wing. Both wings grew to huge dimensions, bringing together hundreds of charitable societies and hundreds of thousands of members.


Hamas needs tens of millions of dollars to support these two wings. In the first years of the second intifada, it managed this quite easily. Charities such as CAIR and HLF (Holy Land Foundation) in the US, Interpal in the UK, and CBSP in France, raised millions of dollars for it. This money, together with money raised in Syria and Saudi Arabia, was transferred freely to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through Jordanian and European banks.

During Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, documents testifying to these cash transfers fell into the hands of the IDF. The documents showed that many charities were raising millions of dollars for Hamas and for the families of the martyrs (that is, suicide bombers), and were transferring the money to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank via the Arab Bank and other banks. In February 2004, IDF forces entered banks on the West Bank and confiscated from their safes $40 million that belonged to Hamas activists and Hamas-sponsored charities. Most of the branches that the IDF raided were of the Arab Bank. At the same time, victims of terrorism filed huge lawsuits against the Arab Bank and European banks operating in New York, citing the fundraising and the transfer of money to Hamas. These lawsuits caused far-reaching shocks in the global banking system. Because of them, no bank would agree to provide banking services to Hamas or to the charities associated with it. Many banks, such as Lloyds and Barclays in London, closed bank accounts of charities where there was a suspicion that they were assisting families of martyrs in the West Bank.

All the international banks closed their branches in the Gaza Strip, for fear that their money would serve Hamas in Gaza and would be channeled to financing terror. So the Gaza Strip was left without an international banking system, that is to say, without a means of bringing money in.

Buying the people

This matter had to be dealt with immediately, and obliged Hamas to find alternative ways of bringing money into Gaza.

One way was to use banks that did not see themselves as bound by the West’s rules forbidding money laundering and forbidding the financing of terror. For example, the Bank of China.

When the money transfer route via the Arab Bank or European banks was blocked, the heads of Hamas approached money changers in Lebanon and Jordan, and asked them to transfer millions of dollars to accounts at the Bank of China that were opened especially for this purpose. The money would be received from Hamas’s representatives in Syria and transferred to the Bank of China, from where it was supposed to be transferred to the Gaza Strip. Since the money could not be transferred directly to banks there, they would buy goods with it, and export the goods to the Gaza Strip. There, Hamas activists would sell the goods and obtain the cash to finance terrorism. Huge lawsuits were filed in New York by terror victims against the Bank of China as well, but the bank refused to cut off the money transfer route to Hamas, on the grounds that Hamas had not been declared a terrorist organization in China, and so it was committing no crime under Chinese law. The bank has continued to provide banking services to Hamas and aid in financing Hamas, possibly to this day, and certainly until 2012.

There was also another way: through the tunnels. In 2006, after Israel bowed to US pressure and abandoned the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, the tunnel industry burgeoned, and Hamas smuggled millions of dollars into the Gaza Strip. This money was earmarked first and foremost for supporting the needs of the population “from the cradle to the grave.” Hamas provides free education, health, welfare and religious services to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This was intended to buy their loyalty, so that it can continue firing on Israel from their lounge rooms and schoolyards and mosques. This money was also intended for buying tens of thousands of long-range rockets and military equipment, for constructing hundreds of concrete-lined subterranean tunnels that, in their safety and sophistication, would impress developed western countries. The wages for the construction of these tunnels was paid to tens of thousands of Hamas’s people.

Egypt closes its gates

In 2011, the ground stared to shake under Hamas’s offices in Syria. Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, looked for somewhere else to go. He invited the Emir of Qatar to visit the Gaza Strip. The Emir came, and offered Hamas billions of dollars for rehabilitating the Gaza Strip, in exchange for Hamas moving its offices to Qatar. The organization welcomed the offer with open arms. Qatar became its main, and eventually its only, financer. The hundreds of millions of dollars that Qatar transferred did not go to the rehabilitation of Gaza, but to the construction of a concrete-floored underground city and to the smuggling of thousands of rockets and military equipment into the Gaza Strip. Hamas had never felt better.

Two months ago, the party ended. With the election of General Sisi as president of Egypt, following the deposing of President Morsi, darling of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed. The movement was declared a terrorist organization, and its heads were put on trial, and sentenced to death. Hamas, a protégé of the Muslim Brotherhood, became a bitter enemy. Egypt closed all access from its territory to the Gaza Strip. Hamas was left with no way of transferring goods and cash into Gaza. Qatar saw Hamas’s distress and was prepared to send tens of millions of dollars, but it had no way of doing so. The Arab Bank, via which money had been transferred, was requested by the US, under pressure from Israel, to stop. Qatar turned to the UN, and sought the assistance of UN envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry in transferring at least $20 million to pay Hamas activists their wages. Serry tried various ways of transferring the money, but failed. He also earned a sharp rebuke from Israel in the wake of this affair. In its distress, Hamas turned to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), arguing that now, since Hamas is part of the Palestinian unity government, the Palestinian Authority ought to pay the wages of its workers, who are now Palestinian Authority employees. Abu Mazen flatly refused. The last thing he would think of doing would be to strengthen Hamas.

In short, Hamas is under economic siege. This is why most of its cease-fire demands are to open access points: from Egypt to open the Rafah crossing, and from Israel to enable it to build an airport and a seaport, so that it will obtain free passage for money into the Gaza Strip. Otherwise, it will collapse.

Israel’s opportunity

Israel’s goal should be to ensure Hamas economic’s collapse. Hamas, severely weakened, is on the brink. This is an opportunity to topple it completely. In addition to IDF operations designed to damage Hamas’s infrastructure and kill its commanders, Israel should exert heavier economic pressure on Hamas in order to bring about its elimination. Unfortunately, Europe and the US have already started to open their check books with the aim of rehabilitating the Gaza Strip. But, as in the past, this money will fall into the hands of Hamas terrorists and will revive them. There is no way of ensuring that the money will not be used for the purposes of terrorism. This money will encourage Hamas to continue fighting, now and in the future, and it will continue to murder Israelis.

The rockets fired from the Gaza Strip forced the Israeli government to order a ground operation, incurring heavy loss of life. This is the time for the Israeli government to use the additional weapon in its arsenal, and to act in every way possible to hit Hamas economically. Israel should insist that banks in China, Turkey and Qatar must not continue to finance Hamas; that governments such as that of Qatar, which have friendly relations with Israel and the US, must not pour hundreds of millions of dollars; such a donation can be likened to pouring gasoline on flames.

Just as the Israel Air Force cannot do all the work by itself, and Israel was compelled to launch a ground operation, so the ground assault cannot do all the work by itself. The only way of completely eradicating Hamas is through a critical blow to its financing. Operation Protective Edge must enter the economic arena.

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Join Shurat HaDin on the Ultimate Mission – November 2014


World Jewry and the State of Israel are facing trying times. According to a number of reports, anti-Israel sentiment and global anti-Semitism are on the rise. Despite these challenges, Israel remains an alluring travel destination calling to travelers from all corners of the world, and is internationally acknowledged as a leader in self-sustainability and innovative thinking.

One organization that exemplifies these qualities is Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center. An Israeli-based civil rights organization and world leader in creatively combating terrorist regimes and the BDS movement, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center is in a unique position to offer, in November 2014, 8 days of unparalleled access into the judicial, military, political, and humanitarian reality in the State of Israel: the “Ultimate Mission to Israel.”

At a fantastic value, participants will enjoy five star accommodations, luxury transportation, a personal cell phone, and delicious cuisine while experiencing scenic and cultural opportunities to explore the political hotbed that is Israel. A team of hand-selected travel experts have designed the Mission itinerary and will lead the group every step of the way, providing a first-class experience into the fabric of who and what composes life in Israel.

Participants will go beyond sensational media headlines to hear directly from Mossad officers, Shin Bet commanders, IDF intelligence and operations officers about what’s really happening on Israel’s military and intelligence fronts. Tours of the Lebanese and Syrian front-line military positions and Gaza border check-points, first-hand observations of Hamas terrorist trials, and intimate conversations with legendary Israeli war heroes and Arab intelligence agents will provide intense exploration and deep understanding of Israel’s survival and security in the geopolitical reality of the Middle East today. 

Beyond politics and security expertise, Israel contains abundant opportunities for adventure and activity. To enhance participants’ growing sense of the terrain, the Ultimate Mission offers scenic and cultural opportunities such as ATV’ing in the Golan Heights, a breathtaking boat ride on the moonlit Sea of Galilee, and a traditional Shabbat experience in the Old City of Jerusalem, the undisputed center of holiness for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Situated at the crossroads of three continents, Israel is an intriguing travel destination where culture, religion and politics coalesce. Those on the Ultimate Mission will discover that the issues in Israel are not black and white but complex narratives woven throughout both the physical landscape as well as the culture and historical collective memories binding the Israeli people.

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore Israel off the beaten track, feel the conflict first hand, understand the security issues and politic realities, and have an unforgettable trip!


The Mission far exceed my expectations. I honestly did not believe that I would experience and witness all the incredible sounding itinerary items outlined. Even my Israeli friends (all whom had served in the Israeli army) told me I was dreaming and that there was no way Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center or anyone else for that matter could arrange access to such high calibre speakers, access to military bases and other high security installations. However the Shurat HaDin Ultimate Mission did just that and provided the Mission participants an uncompromising real life insight to the threats facing Israel on a daily basis. As a result of attending this Mission, I have filled substantial gaps in my knowledge on Israel, its citizens and its place amongst its neighbouring countries. The trip has also connected me with like- minded people from around the world that have now become dear friends.


I recommend this trip without a shadow of a doubt to anyone that wants to obtain the truth on the challenges facing Israel and the high morals this country holds with its Jewish and non-Jewish population and its approach with its adversaries.


The May 2014 Mission will definitely not be my last.

Lawrence G. 

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A Landmark Legal Victory for Shurat HaDin against North Korea and Iran

North Korea
This victory could not come at a more important time, and serves as proof that committers of injustice will not go unnoticed.
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia Court has found North Korea and Iran liable for damages caused by a series of missile attacks from Lebanon on Israel in 2006.
The ruling was given in a 2009 suit filed by Chaim Kaplan and other survivors and family members of the Hezbollah rocket attacks. The court found that the plaintiffs provided clear and convincing evidence that Hezbollah carried out the rocket attacks, and that North Korea provided material support to Hezbollah through weapons, training, and tunnels to help carry out the attacks on civilian targets. Iran assisted Hezbollah in the same respects as North Korea. A special master will now be assigned to determine the amount of damages each country will be ordered to pay.
As a matter of policy, North Korea is hostile to the United States, and consistently attempts to undermine the political, economic, and strategic power and influence of the United States and its democratic allyIsrael. 
Shurat Hadin head Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said, “At times like this when Israel is once again under rocket attacks by Islamic extremists, the district court judgment we received proves that the wheels of justice will eventually find the perpetrators and impose liability on them.”
We commend the tenacity of our plaintiffs and the United States justice system for empowering victims of terror to fight back and WIN!
To read the full case, click here.


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Stop the Hypocrisy


Stop the hypocrisy — Let the IDF finish the job!

After weeks of unrelenting rocket attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Israeli government has concluded that the only method of eradicating the terrorist murderous actions is by a ground operation and demilitarization of Gaza.

Within minutes of the IDF’s entry into Gaza, a number of world leaders were quick to condemn Israel’s military response. Currently, US President Barak Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are pressuring Prime Minister Netanyahu to restrict military operations to the Hamas tunnels, and to exercise “reasonableness and restraint” and abide by rules of “proportionality.” 

There is a clear double standard at work in the US leaders’ rhetoric. The US has a long history of destroying armed enemy forces without restraint, causing mass civilian and military casualties when it assumed the role of a foreign military intervener in regional conflict, or actively invading a country to prevent potential danger to the lives of US citizens.

Several examples below shed light on this truth:

1.      During the Kosovo War, NATO, led by the US, fought an unauthorized military campaign against Yugoslavia.  In the course of the “humanitarian” campaign, NATO launched 2,300 missiles at 990 targets and dropped 14,000 bombs, including depleted uranium bombs and cluster munitions. Over 2,000 civilians were killed, and NATO airstrikes destroyed more than 300 schools, libraries, and over 20 hospitals.

2.      The War in Afghanistan followed the attacks of September 11, 2001, with the aim of dismantling al-Qaeda. The United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom and estimates of casualties vary from 18,000 to 50,000 deaths. In the first stage of the war, the US killed 1300 civilians by bombing the Tora Bora mountains; by contrast, the IDF has killed less than 500 civilians while operating the world’s most densely populated region. 

3.      During the US’s armed conflict in Iraq, estimates vary from 90,000 to 600,000 deaths attributed directly to American forces.   

Conveniently, America typically carries out its military operations far from its shores. Israel does not have this luxury.  Israel is forced to defend its home against an enemy that uses its own population as human shields. Worse, Hamas places its artillery in populated civilians center to deter the IDF from engaging with the terrorists.

It is unreasonable of the US to demand that Israel abide by rules of warfare that the US has rejected for its own armed forces, and to exercise more restraint than the US would under similar circumstances. 


Read the White House Press Release calling for Israelis to do “more” here.

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Let Israel Get the Job Done

Eitan barak

Israelis who went to last Thursday night with mixed emotions over reports that the Gaza ground operation had been commenced, awoke this morning saddened to hear that an IDF soldier had been killed in the the first night’s fighting.  The funeral of  z”l of Herziliya (pictured here) took place Friday morning, and unfortunately, the number of fallen soldiers has increased.

After weeks of  Hamas and Islamic Jihad rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, the government arrived at its conclusion that there was no way to stop the terrorist attacks short of sending in ground forces and chose not to wait any longer. Reports in the media are saying that the foiled Hamas tunnel attack aiming to carry out a massacre at  Gaza border kibbutz on Thursday morning tipped the scales in favor of a ground operation. Although the publicly announced goal is to destroy Hamas’ dangerous network of  tunnels in the Northern Gaza Strip, the IDF and intelligence branches, in fact, have many different operational objectives — eradicating arms depots and launchers, arresting terrorist commanders, capturing Hamas political leaders and seizing the terrorist’s economic assets — they are hoping to accomplish. 

Moving forward cautiously, it will likely take the IDF many days to carry out these crucial missions.

Within minutes of the IDF’s entrance into the terrorist enclave several of the world leaders who remained largely silent during the weeks Israelis were being sent daily into bomb shelters, suddenly sprang back to life and now felt the need to focus their attention and comments on the Gaza conflict. The UN immediately demanded Israel enter into another unilateral ceasefire with the terrorists. EU leaders bizarrely condemned the IDF entry into Gaza as “collective punishment”. The US State Department called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to restrict military operations to the Hamas tunnels. Most annoying of all was the statement by France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who swiftly announced that: “‎France is extremely concerned by the Israeli decision to launch a ground offensive in Gaza. It calls on Israel to show the utmost restraint.”  France which cannot even secure the Jewish community of Paris’ safety and which allows Islamic radicals to siege synagogues,  is worried about the Palestinians and wants the IDF to show restraint.

All of these condemnations and demands for restraint by world bodies and allies within the first hours of the operation are truly troubling.

Many Israelis opposed the IDF’s decision to send foot soldiers in Gaza for ethical reasons. Why, we insisted, did IDF soldiers like Eitan Barak have to be killed when the Israeli air force could have done the job from the skies?   Why was such dramatic concern over safeguarding the lives of Gaza’s civilians given special priority and importance over the lives of Israeli civilians and soldiers?  Why endanger infantry troops and the residents of Israeli cities when there are less dangerous alternatives available?

The commencement of the ground operation last evening has made these questions largely academic now. The main concern is that once the IDF has entered Gaza that it now be allowed to carry out all its tasks and deliver to Hamas and Islamic Jihad the destructive punishment they justly deserve. Israel must be allowed to dismantle as much of the terrorist infrastructure as we can. Now that we are in Gaza we must accomplish everything we have been waiting years to carry out. We are paying the price already with the blood of our young people.  

We are, however, very fearful that as the condemnations of the IDF operation in Gaza continue to escalate and the global media begins to accuse Israel of war crimes again, that our political leaders will give in to the intense international pressure for a ceasefire with the terrorists.   This cannot be allowed! The main thing that needs to be done and which Israel’s supporters around the world need to ensure is that the IDF be permitted to finish its work in Gaza. The IDF and intelligence branches need to be allowed the time to get the Gaza job done.

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Summer Internship Update with Photos

On top of dedicating their time and valuable hard work to our cases, Shurat HaDin’s summer interns are exploring Israel, taking trips to Jerusalem, Masada, and the Dead Sea, as well as experiencing Israel’s culinary delights.  Check out some photos below.


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Stop Funding Convicted Terrorists’ Salaries!


The Dutch parliament unanimously passed a vote to halt funds to the Palestinian Authority. The lawmakers intend to review budgets submitted by the PA to determine where the funds are going, in advance of approving any future transfer of funds, and called to end the Palestinian Authority’s payments of salaries to terrorists.

The Netherlands donates $88 million annually to the Palestinian Authority in addition to another about $24 million that it donates to UNRWA, according to De Telegraaf daily.

The parliament asserts that since 2011, the Palestinian Authority transfers money to Palestinian convicts in Israeli prisons, effectively rewarding and encouraging criminality and terrorism.

Shurat HaDin calls on the U.S. government, the European Union, and the Israeli government to follow Holland and freeze annual donations to the Palestinian Authority.

Lawmakers, stop the flow of terrorist funds now! If you stop the flow of the money, you stop the flow of the terrorism!


Read full article at

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Shurat HaDin Fights for Human Rights at the ICC



Press Release

Fighting against terror and for human rights around the world

Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, is currently at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where a coalition of Cypriot human rights organizations are pursuing legal action against Turkey with the help of Shurat HaDin. 

Turkey repeatedly and audaciously condemns and attacks Israel; it has even sued the state of Israel for tens of millions to compensate for the death on several participants on the Mavi Marmara, a flotilla carrying provisions to Gaza in 2010. Ironically, Turkey has been committing war crimes for over 40 years crimes against the population of northern Cyprus, which it invaded in 1974.

Shurat HaDin, in response to the Cypriot human rights organizations’ request for assistance, has collected the necessary legal materials for the lawsuit and prepared an indictment. 

The current cause of action against Turkey continues Shurat HaDin’s mission of standing side by side with human rights organizations and victims of state supporters of terrorism around the world, such as North Korea, the PKK, and others.  We continue to stand guard and strike terror organizations and their State sponsors through courts, and through their wallets, one lawsuit at a time.

Shurat HaDin

Fighting Terrorism – Doing Justice

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Shurat HaDin Calls on IDF to safeguard Israel’s citizens, not Hamas


By Nitsana Darshan-Leitner


As the the IDF operation against the Hamas and Islamic terrorist regime in Gaza continues, thousands of Israeli reserve soldiers are being called to their bases in the South of the country. At the same time, rockets fired by the Palestinians in Gaza continue to target Israeli civilian communities all across the Jewish State. The country remains very unified and strong but the constant state of alarm and the warning sirens sounding throughout the day have disrupted the lives of millions of Israelis.  Repeatedly throughout the past 24 hours, we in the Shurat HaDin offices in Tel-Aviv have had to take shelter in our building’s protective area in response to the sirens and the reports of missiles fired towards the Gush Dan region. It is very startling to hear the alarms go off and then the sounds of the aerial explosions, as the Iron Dome system intercepts the terrorists rockets.

It is shocking that in 2014 no other Jewish community anywhere in the world has faced these sorts unrelenting terrorist attacks attempting to murder their woman  and children. And for too long we have been willing to put up with it.

One of the reasons that the Israeli Air Force has had such trouble taking out the terrorist commanders and their rocket crews is because they are deeply embedded within the Gaza civilian population. The terrorist learned from the brutal beating they were administered by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and have changed their tactics.  Today, the Hamas leaders operate solely from inside schools, mosques, apartment buildings and hospitals. The rockets and their launchers are also hidden away inside of these civilian centers. It is virtually impossible for the IDF to strike at the launchers without endangering the lives of the Gaza civilians who act as human shields for the terrorist infrastructure.  They just cannot get a clear shot. Each alleged civilian causality is widely publicized in the international media to brand the IDF as war criminals. This, at the same time Hamas and Islamic Jihad deliberately target Israeli civilians!

The IDF has tried to cope with this challenging situation by adopting policies of restraint designed to minimize the Palestinian civilian deaths. Perhaps most troubling is the “knock on the roof” policy enacted by the IDF to warn the terrorists before the Air Force strikes. The IDF  has been telephoning  the terrorists’ homes and warning them to get out before they are bombed. Sometimes the IDF fires a small warning shot before a larger bomb is dropped in order to allow whomever wants to escape to flee. Frequently, the terrorist utilize this Israeli warning to send children up to the roofs of their houses to compel the IDF not to rocket them.

Unfortunately, these IDF warnings and the “knock on the roof” policies have resulted in numerous terrorist leaders being able to flee before the army can target them. Since the start of  Operation Protective Edge, Israel has destroyed the homes of Hamas military brigade commanders, political leaders, rocket manufacturers, field officers and buildings that housed explosive factories but has not managed to kill these dangerous terrorists themselves. This means the leaders then have the opportunity to organize and order further missile attacks on Israeli cities and towns. The result is they have additional opportunities to murder our civilians.

Shurat HaDin is calling on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the IDF senior leadership to discontinue these misguided policies. As long as the terrorists are embedded in the Gaza civilian population, hide in civilian homes and hospitals, refuse to wear military insignias and launch missiles from heavily populated Gaza neighborhoods, the IDF has a right and a moral obligation to carry out the targeted killings of the terrorist leaders and missile crews without warnings. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are in clear violation of international law and the IDF has an operational necessity to hit the terrorists before they kill any additional Israelis. There is no need to warn the terrorists before the IDF strikes them and no moral reason to give the Palestinian civilian population a preference over the Israeli civilian population’s safety and protection. The IDF was formed to protect Israel’s civilians and it is to Israelis it owes its first obligations. As the great sage Hillel said: “If I am not for myself, who is for me?”

Thousands of  young Israeli soldiers do not have to risk their lives going into the terrorist enclaves of Gaza simply because the IDF wants to show the world how ethical we are.  The IDF must place Israel’s own interests above and beyond everything else. Hamas started this war, let them be responsible for safeguarding their own civilians. Discontinue the telephone warnings and the “knock on the roof” policies that allow the terrorists to fight another day.

Let us pray that this will end soon.

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