Mr. DeCONCINI. Mr. President, on December 13, 1992, the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas kidnaped and brutally murdered Nissim Toledano, a civilian Israeli border patrolman. Four days later, in a reaction to the murder, the Israeli Government carried out an executive order to temporarily expel 415 suspected activists within the Hamas organization. On January 26, 1993, I sent a letter to then-Ambassador of Israel Zalmon Shoval asking for the evidence used by the Israeli Government to justify the expulsions. While recognizing Israel's right to self-preservation and duty to protect its citizens from acts of terrorism, I was concerned that Israel's swift action might have compromised the deportees' human rights by neglecting their due process of law protections.
Mr. President, the response I received from Ambassador Shoval has allayed my concerns. HAMAS, an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, was formed in Egypt in the 1920's as an organization to recruit people to the Moslem faith. More recently, the group began militant activities against Israel with the establishment of the Islamic Jihad, or holy war. With its commitment to armed aggression, HAMAS accepted as its ideology `the liberation of Palestine in its entirety, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.' A HAMAS paper distributed to its members in 1990 called for the murders of Jews and the burning of their property, stating `every Jew is a settler and it is our obligation to kill him.' I believe any government is justified from protecting itself from individuals adhering to and acting on these convictions.
In promoting its ideology, HAMAS has grown more violent and ruthless toward the people and Government of Israel. Its tactics include drive-by shootings of Jewish civilians and military personnel, firebombings of homes, vehicles, military installations, and civilian businesses, car bombings in commercial and residential areas, and the murder of suspected Palestinian collaborators within HAMAS itself. Some of the most recent HAMAS attacks include the 1989 kidnaping and murder of Israeli defense forces members Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa'Adon, the 1990 murder of three civilian factory workers in Jaffa, and the 1992 killings of five more IDF members. The murder of Nissim Toledano was the precipitating incident in Prime Minister Rabin's decision to temporarily expel the HAMAS activists.
As HAMAS has become more violent, it has also become more powerful. I have recently received reports that HAMAS has replace Hezbollah as the popular violent arm of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. As such, HAMAS is gaining funding and military training from Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. HAMAS' military forces are now being trained in terrorist tactics in Lebanon's infamous Bekaa Valley. This financial and military backing has allowed HAMAS to extend its influence and terrorist tactics throughout the Middle East.
Most disturbing to me, however, is the fact that HAMAS is bent on derailing the current Middle East peace talks and reversing the not insignificant gains already achieved by the negotiators. The HAMAS covenant reads `there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except Jihad.
`The initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.' Because of HAMAS' willingness to carry out its extreme directives, the more radical terrorist factions in the region are embracing HAMAS as the new means toward achieving this end. To this Senator, there is no more important issue facing that region than the establishment and maintenance of peace. It is apparent that HAMAS is intent on ensuring that goal is not achieved.
Mr. President, in conclusion let me say that as a rule, I oppose deportation as a means of law enforcement. Too many protections of human rights are subject to exclusion under a general and unchecked policy of expulsion. In this specific instance, however, I believe Israel's temporary exclusion of members of the HAMAS organization was a reasonable
and warranted reaction to a disturbing pattern of disruption and violence.
If they are serious about bringing peace to their region, Israel's Arab neighbors should also take steps to censure the activities of HAMAS.
I ask unanimous consent that a copy of my letter to Ambassador Shoval and his response be printed in the Record at this point.
There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Washington, DC, January 26, 1993.
His Excellency Zalmon Shoval,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of Israel, Washington, DC.
Dear Ambassador Shoval: I am interested in learning more about the status and conditions of the Palestinians deported from Israel in December, 1992.
I have become increasingly concerned about the circumstances surrounding the deportation of the 415 suspected Islamic activists to Lebanon. I strongly acknowledge and respect the right of any nation to take appropriate actions against individuals or groups proven to be involved in terrorist activities. I remain concerned, however, about the apparent lack of evidence on which these expulsions were based. I would greatly appreciate learning of the evidence used by your government to determine the cause for deporting the individuals.
In addition, I am pleased with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's decision to reverse your cabinet's policy of not allowing United Nations contact with the deported Palestinians, and I encourage continued U.N. humanitarian assistance to them until the situation can be resolved.
I look forward to your response to this issue.
Embassy of Israel,
Washington, DC, February 2, 1993.
Hon. Dennis DeConcini,
Dear Senator DeConcini: Thank you for your letter of January 26th.
In response to your request regarding the reason and circumstances surrounding the temporary exclusion of Hamas activists, enclosed please find background information on the Government of Israel's temporary exclusion orders, on the ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice, and on Hamas and its ideology.
As you are already aware, in its meeting of February 1, the Israeli Cabinet decided to return one hundred of the men and reduce the expulsion period of the remaining men to one year. Attached please find a copy of the Israeli Government's decision, and excerpts from Prime Minister Rabin's press conference.
This recent decision of the Israeli Government is in line with Israel's policy to advance the peace process while maintaining Israel's security against terrorist attacks.
With best wishes,
Embassy of Israel,
Following the recent series of fatal attacks against Israelis carried out by extremist Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organizations, the Israeli Government decided to issue temporary exclusion orders against about 400 operatives and cadre of these organizations, including the HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad. On Thursday, December 17, 1992, these orders were carried out, after a temporary injunction issued against the orders was examined and rescinded by the supreme court.
The HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad organizations are branches of the extremist moslem brotherhood which operate in the territories under Israeli administration. The 1988 charter of the HAMAS states that `the liberation of all of Palestine, from the (Mediterranean) Sea to the (Jordan) River, is the most exhalted strategic goal' of the organization. The group declares that `it is an obligation to kill all Jews' (from HAMAS leaflet 65, 1990), and employs armed terrorism against Jews and Arabs alike. Its ideology rejects compromise or peace with Israel, and its terrorist actions are aimed, not only at killing Jews, but at killing the peace process as well. Two recent examples are the attempted car bombings carried out by HAMAS on November 21 and December 10, 1992. The latter, which ignited but failed to explode in a residential Jerusalem neighborhood, took place while negotiations were actually being held in Washington.
The following points should be taken into account when examining Israel's actions in this regard.
Any Democratic society, such as Israel, must defend itself against those who wish to destroy it and to murder its citizens. The innocent victims of HAMAS terrorism were brutally murdered, and were neither shown mercy nor given any right to appeal. Israel, as a state which respects the rule of law, grants these terrorists the rights which they did not grant their victims. Unlike many other democratic countries, Israel does not utilize the death penalty, yet chooses instead to simply remove the terrorists from the area for up to two years. Israel feels that this temporary exclusion is a more humane way of accomplishing the duty incumbent upon all free states--to stop terrorism, to protect its population, and to preserve the state from threats against its very existence.
The order provides for the exclusion of members of terrorist organizations whose actions endanger human lives. They are limited to a period of up to two years and can be appealed by a lawyer or family member within 60 days.
It has been alleged that these exclusion orders do not comply with international law, and in particular with article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention. However, as the official commentary to the convention makes it clear, the prohibition in that article against `individual or mass deportation' was drafted in the context of the arbitrary deportations carried out during World War II for the purpose of extermination, subjugation and forced labor. Israel's issuance of exclusion orders is not arbitrary but directed only at those individuals whose presence and hostile activity in the territories constitute a clear danger to human life. Moreover, the purpose of the orders is not to exterminate or subjugate the population but rather to maintain security and orderly government in the areas--as required by article 64 of the convention. Finally, unlike the wartime deportations which were intended to cause a permanent dislocation of population, these orders operate only for a limited period, which may be cancelled or reduced on appeal.
The temporary exclusion of individuals who constitute a danger to public safety is not restricted to Israel. In Britain, for example, the prevention of terrorism (temporary provisions) Acts empower the Secretary of State to make exclusion orders against those involved in the commission or instigation of acts of terrorism. Under the British regulations the order is effective for three years unless revoked earlier, and it may be renewed. In the case of Britain, there are no legal proceedings and there is no right of appeal.
Israel transported the 400 to the Israeli-Lebanese border, and brought them to the northermost area under the control of the South Lebanese Army of General Lahad. They were each given warm clothing, blankets, food and money, and released as close as possible to the Bekaa Valley, which they stated as their preferred destination. Once they were several kilometers inside the area under Lebanese Army control, their progress northward to the Bekaa was prevented. Although Lebanon and the Islamic organizations operating there have the facilities to receive them--and have done so in past cases--they chose instead to exploit the 400 for political gain, and to present them to the world as humanitarian victims, rather than as the terrorists that they truly are.
A central goal of the latest wave of fundamentalist terrorism is to torpedo the present peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Since these organizations reject Israel's right to exist, they are determined to destroy any attempt at compromise or accommodation with it. Israeli soldiers and civilians, as well as peace-seeking Palestinians, have become the victims of their brutal violence. Just recently, an arrested Islamic Jihad terrorist admitted to conspiring, under the direction of Jihad handlers in Jordan, to assassinate Faisal El-Husseini. Israel's present actions are meant to preserve the peace process, and to shield it from the growing Islamic extremist threat to its very existence.
Radical Islamic fundamentalist violence has become the primary threat facing the stability and security of the Western-oriented countries of the Middle East, from Algeria to Egypt to Saudi Arabia. The source of this threat is found in the underground pan-Arab Moslem brotherhood and in the state sponsorship provided by extremist Islamic regimes such as Iran. The creed of these Islamic fundamentalists calls for the establishment of an archaic Moslem empire first throughout the Middle East and later throughout the globe, through the liquidation of all non-Islamic factors and influences. The use of violence is a main tool in their struggle for Islamic supremacy, which threatens the entire free world.