Letter: Deportations breach international law

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Israeli Ambassador on television, and in your Letters column Lionel Bloch, have taken to task the British government and media for criticising Israel's attempted deportations. After the kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldiers, we are told, the deportation of 400 Palestinian hotheads is justifiable and a minimal reaction if these acts of terrorism are to be stopped.

Between 40 and 50 years ago, the British were in a not dissimilar situation to that of the Israeli authorities now. As occupying power (legally, by League of Nations and then UN mandate), their servicemen were subject to many acts of terrorism. Some of the terrorists have since become pillars of the Israeli government. They were not terrorists, it is said, but were conducting a fight for independence from the (legally) occupying power.

Today's Palestinian terrorists can make a similar claim, stronger perhaps because the occupying power is there only by right of conquest and on no other legal basis. They have yet to mete out to captured soldiery the sort of outrages reported of the Israeli freedom fighters in days gone by.

British reaction was doubtless very severe, but at least only followed trial and conviction of individuals. It might have been tempting to indulge in retaliatory mass deportations - most of the Israeli population had known countries of origin and many were in the country illegally. In comparison, today's deportees have no country of origin other than Palestine.

The British can be far from proud of their regime in Palestine, but surely they are entitled to criticise those whose behaviour sinks so much lower.

Yours truly,

HECTOR MACKENZIE

Thame, Oxfordshire

19 December

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