It's not just radicalised Islamists – what about foreign fighters who flock to the IDF?

Is the Government interested in UK citizens who have been fighting in Israeli uniform in Gaza in the past couple of weeks?

Share

Now I think it’s a good idea that the lads in blue are keeping their eyes open at Heathrow for British citizens who’ve been fighting in the Middle East. I hope they are doing a thorough job of it – and I mean thorough. I don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing missiles at Christian families in Syria. But on the other hand, I also don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing tank shells into the homes of Palestinians in Gaza.

In other words, I trust that the Met is keeping its watch for all potential criminals, whether their foreign military organisations carry the terrorist label or not. I don’t know of any Palestinians who’ve been firing rockets at Israel and hold UK citizenship – Mr Plod should check them out too. But it would be very interesting to know if the British government is taking as close an interest as it should in any UK citizens – even if they have any other passports – who have been fighting in Israeli uniform in Gaza in the past couple of weeks.

Let me be frank. Dozens of British supporters of Israel do serve in the Israeli army. The same applies for Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. And they don’t necessarily gravitate to being war criminals. This may not be what an Arab would say – and it is certainly not what Israelis would suggest. But there is plenty of evidence – from 1982 in Lebanon, from 1996 in Qana, from 2008-9 in Gaza and again in Gaza these past two weeks – that individual Israeli soldiers and pilots have committed acts which, under international law, are war crimes.

I’m struck by the words of the co-director of the Israeli veterans’ movement Breaking the Silence, Yehuda Shaul, who spoke at a meeting in Tel Aviv a couple of weeks ago about the brutalising effect of occupying other people’s lands. Mass arrests, the liquidation of even a suspicious “silhouette”, families paralysed with fear during searches. “You adapt to it all,” Shaul said. “The first time, you’re in a state of shock, the second time, a bit less, and at the end of the week, you do it quite naturally.” Interesting. It sounds as if Shaul is talking about being radicalised. Isn’t that what we say about certain other young British citizens with weapons who head off to the Middle East?

 

READ MORE: We have to prepare for a long campaign, warns Netanyahu
The children were playing in the street. The air strikes were tragically real

But what are we to expect when Major-General Gadi Eizenkot – now a deputy chief of staff in the Israeli army – pointedly said in a newspaper interview six years ago that he would use disproportionate force on a village or city from which rockets were fired, famously adding that “from our standpoint these are not civilian villages; they are military bases”? Which explains a lot of what happened over the past two weeks in Gaza. And as Muhammad Ali Khalidi, Philosophy Professor at York University in Toronto, points out, intentionally striking civilians in order to accomplish political ends is “the dictionary definition of terrorism”. After all, isn’t that what Hamas also does?

Read more: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
Israeli military releases video footage blowing up Hamas tunnel
Greek Orthodox church becomes a small refuge in Gaza

Let us hope and pray that no UK citizens have been involved in such terrible deeds. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea, would it, if the lads in blue had a friendly word with them when they arrive back at Heathrow – and insist on knowing exactly what they were up to when they wore another country’s uniform.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - West Yorkshire - Ashdown Group - FTC 2017

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car allowance (£5.5k)+ benefits: Ashdown Group: Ma...

Opilio Recruitment: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£15k - 18k per year + Benefits & OTE: Opilio Recruitment: Digital Media, Mob...

Recruitment Genius: Sales People & Team Managers - UK Wide

£67200 - £96000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Self-employed Sales People and ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - IT Outsourcing - £70,000 OTE

£30000 - £40000 per annum + £70,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tony Blair speaks on stage at the 2nd Annual Save The Children Illumination Gala  

Tony Blair's award from Save the Children raises an important question: are they joking?

Chris Maume
 

Lee Rigby report: What’s the use of spotting terrorist activity if you don’t tell anyone?

Jane Merrick
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital