To: Binyamin (Fuad) Ben Eliezer MP
Minister of National Infrastructure
216 Jaffa St.
The topic: War crimes of the Shaked Special Forces under your command in the June ’67 war
Your attempt to avoid responsibility for war crimes carried out while you were commander of the Shaked Special Forces during the ‘67 war, as broadcast on Israeli public TV (Channel 1) by Ron Edelist in the documentary “Ruach Shaked” – “The Spirit of Shaked”, is typical of generals like you. When it suits them, they boast about their military achievements, but when their crimes are discovered, they run away like cowards.
The evidence exposed in the documentary by the participants in these crimes left us with no doubt: 250 Egyptian soldiers were murdered after they had laid down their weapons and were escaping to find refuge. The evidences was submitted by two soldiers from the unit, Yariv Gershuni, who later became a high ranking officer, Lieutenant Colonel (IDF reserves) and Yehuda Melamed who today serves as a senior physician in an Israeli hospital.
Lt Col Gershuni: “We received two Sikorsky helicopters for this mission. Our Piper aircraft would locate them (the Egyptian soldiers) from above, direct us, and we would land, spring out and kill them. Fuad (Binyamin Ben Eliezer) wrote on his trousers how many we killed… they were quite frightened. They tried to burrow holes in the sand to hide in and cover themselves with palm branches.”
Dr Melamed: “It should be said that it was unnecessary. The (Egyptian) forces did not endanger us and we had come from above.”
Lt Col Gershuni: “It felt like revenge… Nobody spoke about it for a long time, partly because it was unofficial, unorganized and without a justifiable target.”
Dr Melamed: “The problem is that we did it. This is what’s so bad. We didn’t contemplate whether it was appropriate. At the end of the war we were cocky, there is no other word … if it had taken place today, we could have stopped or even refused an order.”
These quotes, taken from the documentary, were published in Ehud Asheri’s column in Haaretz (March 9th 2007). Asheri defined what you did as “a hunting expedition of unarmed, defenceless soldiers.”
Even this definition, an understatement, is enough to put you on trial.
Dr Uri Milstein, who researched the crime and wrote about it in his book, said these murders were carried out after a cease fire had begun, while Egyptian soldiers were fleeing in panic without weapons, scared that the nightmare of the Deir Yassin massacre would be their fate. In reality, it turned out their fear was real. It is important to mention that Milstein is not a “self hating Jew”, as some leftist people are labelled by the right-wing Israeli masses, but a right-wing person, who is an Israeli patriot with similar values that you represent. In this case Milstein, the historian, showed professional integrity and did not try to distort the truth, although it is shameful to Israel.
Your behaviour in this episode, keeping a tally of the numbers killed on your trousers, puts you in the same category as warlords such as Pinochet or the junta of fascists who took over Argentina. There, crimes were committed on only a slightly different variation to yours – victims were thrown from airplanes into the sea.
You are not the first war criminal who has served as a member of the Israeli cabinet, but in the political reality of today, there is no chance, unfortunately, that you will be charged. Although Egyptians are understandably and justifiably angry in light of the documentary, I doubt that the Egyptian government will arrest and prosecute you.
Human rights defenders, however, will not stop doing all they can to find a place where you can be prosecuted. I assume, although I have no knowledge of this, that there are some who think in secret services terms, and may feel like doing to you what, according to some commentators, Israel did to the Iranian General recently.
I belong to those who struggle to prosecute war criminals in Israel and if we won’t succeed here, since the current political and legal situation in Israel is not allowed to prosecute you at home, we will do our best to find an international tribunal which has the proper jurisdiction. In Israel, to our embarrassment, there is no law that states war crimes are without statute of limitations. I am going to publish this letter in the internet and I hope you will sue me for slander so we can discuss the issue in court where I will claim in my defence that what I said is the truth.
Copy sent to: Menahem Mazuz – Israeli Attorney General.
March 15th, 2007