Saturday, April 08, 2006

Filmmaker's Family Demands Extradition: Jurisdiction A Problem

It is reported in today's Jerusalem Post that, a St. Pancras coroner's jury having returned a verdict of unlawful killing, the family of Michael Miller, late filmmaker has demanded that the British government seek extradition of the soldier who shot Miller.

It will be remembered that Miller was in the process of filming in Rafah in the Gaza Strip after dark when he was shot under circumstances that are murky and take a political twist depending on who you talk to. Depending on your point of view Miller was a casualty in a dangerous part of the world, or yet another martyr to Israeli aggression and lawlessness.

Let's dispose of the jurisdictional question first. It's a local matter, and Israeli military authorities did not find sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution.

In simple terms, the St. Pancras coroner's jury finding of homicide and two bits'll get you a cup of coffee. The writ of a coroner's jury in law abiding, civilized Britain does not reach very far into the mean streets of Gaza and the pressures soldiers are under.

Miller's lawyer remarked that there was a "culture of impunity" in the region and cited the death of ISM activists Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall as examples.

Hurndall, also on the mean streets of Rafah, ran out into the middle of a firefight to do who knows what and got shot for his trouble. As a practical matter, the person who shot Hurndall did not go unpunished-I do not think eight years in an Israeli slammer and a dishonorable discharge from the service would be considered impunity in anyone's language.

The case of Rachel Corrie is a little different. Corrie was killed trying to face down a heavily armored IDF bulldozer also on the mean streets of Rafah, and, as in the case of Hurndall, she died of her injuries when struck, either by the blade of the bulldozer or by the rubble it was moving. Depending on your point of view, she's either a martyr for the Palestinian cause-as if they need any more martyrs-or she was a misguided fool.

There's no middle ground here. Either you subscribe 100 per cent to one point of view or the polar opposite.

One thing's for sure. Rafah is a dangerous place to be, and it doesn't matter who you are.

What Hurndall, Corrie, Joe Carr and the rest of the apologists for every excess of Palestinian violence and hatred can't seem to get through their thick heads is that it IS a dangerous place to be, and street theater in the midst of armed soldiers used to being shot at is a recipe for disaster.

The only question left unanswered is why Corrie and Hurndall lasted as long as they did.


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