Are Israelis Allowed to Defend Themselves?

As deadly Palestinian attacks against Israelis continue – as of October 18 at least 8 Israelis have been murdered and many more injured – Palestinian leaders seem to be outraged that in trying to defend themselves Israelis sometimes kill their attackers. Both PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Secretary General of the PLO, Saeb Erekat, have spoken as if they believe that Israelis defending themselves from Palestinian attacks are somehow unjustly denying Palestinians their rights.

For example, in a speech on Palestinian TV on Oct. 14, Abbas said:

We have told the entire world from the U.N. stage that in no way will we accept the existing situation in occupied Palestine, nor will we surrender to the logic of oppressive force and to the policy of occupation and aggression adopted by the Israeli government and its settler herds, who are using terror against our people, our holy places, our homes and our trees and are executing our children in cold blood, just as they did to the boy Ahmad Manasra and to other children in Jerusalem and elsewhere. (emphasis added)

Of course, contrary to Abbas, not only is Ahmad Manasra alive – he was just arrested after being released from Hadassah Hospital – he was injured after he and his cousin had already critically wounded an Israeli man and an Israeli boy in stabbing attacks.

But it is clear Abbas believes that if in the course of killing or trying to kill Israelis, Palestinians are killed, they have been executed in cold blood, meaning Israelis have no right of self-defense.

Similarly, according to a report on Oct. 17 by the PA news agency WAFA, Erekat

called on United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, to open a prompt investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians over the past couple of weeks…
Palestinian civilians, including children, are systematically targeted and executed by the occupation forces outside the bounds of law….
Israel [is] violating … international law, international humanitarian law, and the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.

That is, according to Erekat, it’s “outside the bounds of the law” for Israelis to defend themselves against deadly Palestinian attacks, because such self-defense amounts to an “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution” and violates the “fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.”

Again, Israelis have no right to defend themselves against Palestinian attacks.

Of course, such rules are not thought to apply in other countries, where it is unquestioned that police officers and citizens in general can use deadly force in self-defense when lives are threatened, including if the assailant is armed with a knife, an ax or a similar weapon. In fact, the police in such cases are often hailed as heroes.

Here are some representative examples:

Oct. 18, 2015: Fresno police shot and killed a man who broke into a home and stabbed a relative multiple times early Sunday in central Fresno, Chief Jerry Dyer said…

The chief said that as the officer was trying to help the victim, the “suspect appeared and struck the officer in the face.

“The officer, fearing for this safety,” and believing the suspect was armed with a knife, fired the four rounds, fatally wounding the suspect, Dyer said.

Sept. 28, 2015: As Breann Lasley watched her younger sister run out of their house to get help, she thought it was for the last time.

“I just saw her go upstairs and I thought that was the last time I’d see Kayli because that’s when he started stabbing me. I said, ‘Kayli, he’s stabbing me, he’s stabbing me,'” Lasley recalled Monday…

a Salt Lake police officer … arrived as she was being attacked and stabbed multiple times with a knife. He shot and killed the intruder just after the man whispered to her that she was going to die…

Later, after Lasley had been taken to the hospital where she was treated for multiple stab wounds, including to her lower abdomen and leg, the officer called her.

“I couldn’t say anything except, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you,” Lasley recalled.

All she could think about was how one person had tried to take her life, and another person just four feet away was willing to potentially give his life for hers.

Sept. 17, 2015: Police in Berlin on Thursday shot and killed a man, who had been convicted in a 2004 plot against a visiting Iraqi leader, after he threatened pedestrians and stabbed an officer with a knife, a spokesman told CNN.

Aug. 25, 2015: Five months after his arrest for scaling a wall of the White House, a suburban Philadelphia man was shot and killed after slashing a sheriff’s deputy inside the Chester County Justice Center.

Gunshots rang out inside the courthouse at 201 W Market St. in West Chester, Pennsylvania around 11: 50 a.m. Tuesday after an armed man charged past metal detectors leading to a lockdown of the building.

July 29, 2015: Friends of Samuel Forgy, the University of Colorado student shot and killed by a Boulder police officer, described the applied mathematics major Wednesday as an extremely smart and funny person — and expressed shock at the violent circumstances surrounding his death.

Forgy, 22, was shot and killed late Monday night after police say he
confronted officers with a hammer on the stairs outside the 19th Street apartment he was subletting. Police say Forgy already had attacked two men with a knife while reportedly on LSD.

June 18, 2015: A 58-year-old man who attacked a uniformed New York City police officer with a knife near an elevated Brooklyn subway station on Thursday was shot dead by the officer after he refused to drop the knife, police officials said.

“He was brave,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said of [the police officer] at an afternoon news conference at Lutheran Medical Center, where the officer was in stable condition. “He pursued this perp, followed his training, did the right thing, went toward the danger.”

Oct. 23, 2014: A hatchet-swinging psycho with Islamic militant leanings turned a busy Queens street corner into a scene of bloody chaos Thursday, chopping a rookie cop in the back of the head and slicing a second officer on the arm before two other officers shot him dead.

Aug. 27, 2014: One person was shot by police at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon after attacking another officer with a knife…

“He ran into another officer and they struggled,” witness Barry said. “That’s when she (officer) knew it was time to put him down because somebody is about to get cut. By that time the other officer moved out the way and then she put him down.”

April 26, 2014: The knife-wielding man shot Friday night by a state trooper had beaten his father and girlfriend with a tire iron in 2009, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.

State police said today that David A. Pope, 32, was on parole for “multiple crimes,” including second-degree assault.

Police said Pope tried to attack a state trooper at a home in West Winfield Friday night, and the trooper shot Pope once in the abdomen. Police said this morning Pope was in critical condition at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica.
If the Palestinians really wanted to make peace with Israel, why would they deny to Israelis the fundamental right to protect themselves against someone who comes to murder them? Wouldn’t Palestinian leaders instead condemn these murders? Wouldn’t they urge their people to stop these attacks?

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