Responses to the U.N. Gaza Conflict report

June 23, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Response from Israeli leadership and the WJC   to the report issued by the United Nations on last year’s Israel-Gaza conflict has been swift.

gaza2014reportIsrael’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel is a democracy committed to the rule of law. Time and again it is forced to defend itself against Palestinian terrorists who commit a double war crime: They deliberately target civilians while deliberately hiding behind Palestinian civilians. The Palestinians civilians they use as human shields include children, and they deliberately target our civilians while deliberately putting their civilians in harm’s way.

In defending itself against such attacks, Israel’s military acted, and acts, according to the highest international standards.

The report in hand was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution; it was given an obviously biased mandate; it was initially headed by a grossly biased chairperson who received money from the Palestinians and was forced to resign.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has a singular obsession with Israel. It has passed more resolutions against Israel than against Syria, North Korea and Iran combined. In fact, it has passed more resolutions against Israel that against all the countries of the world combined.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

So, Israel treats this report as flawed and biased, and it urges all fair-minded observers to do the same. Such fair-minded observers recently investigated Israel’s conduct in the Gaza campaign. They include senior generals from the United States and NATO countries. They found that not only did Israel uphold the highest standards of international law, in the laws of armed conflict, they said that Israel exceeded the highest standards.

Israel will continue to uphold its commitment to the laws of armed conflict despite the brutal tactics of its enemies. and it will continue to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing in accordance with highest international standards.

Netanyahu told the Knesset: “The report on Operation Protective Edge issued by the commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council is biased. The commission that wrote this report was appointed by a council that calls itself the ‘Human Rights Council.’ In effect, it does everything but look after human rights. This is a body that condemns Israel more than Iran, Syria and North Korea combined. It first appointed to head the commission a man who was caught inciting against the State of Israel and who also took money from the Palestinians. It first began to investigate events in the region from the day after – the day after – the kidnapping of the three youths, who were murdered. It is on this basis that one needs to consider its findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Israel is defending itself and is doing so in accordance with international law. We are not the only ones who say this. Last week we issued a detailed, professional report that evaluated our actions, in accordance with international law, against terrorists that fire at civilians and hide behind civilians. This is also backed up by the report issued by senior US and European generals who claimed, and reached the conclusion, that Israel defended itself in accordance with the standards of international law. But they say, ‘above and beyond’. One of the senior generals said that there is no country that acted like the State of Israel and went beyond the letter of the law to observe international law.

Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel is defending itself from a murderous terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and which has perpetrated many war crimes. Any country that wants to live would have acted this way. But the commission expects a country, the citizens of which have been attacked by thousands of missiles, to sit idly by. We will not sit, and have not sat, idly by. We will continue to take strong and determined action against all those who try to attack us and our citizens, and we will do so in accordance with international law.”

President Reuven Rivlin issued the following statement:

President Reuven Rivlin        Photo: Henry BEnjamin

President Reuven Rivlin Photo: Henry Benjamin

“Just one year has passed since the Israel Defense Forces were required to stand, as a protective edge, for the people of Israel. We lost many of our loved ones, and we still await the return of two of our late sons, and we still hope for the recovery of the wounded. Also last summer, the IDF proved its strength, ability, and above all, its uniqueness, and the ethical and moral place which it holds.

“I am proud, as all of Israel should be proud, of the moral strength, and the military abilities of the Israel Defense Forces. I do not see how anybody could judge us and tarnish our name. The moral dilemmas which we face require split-second decisions, when we have a duty and a right to defend the citizens of Israel – women, children, babies – under attack, and when our enemy tramples international law and uses its people as human shields.

“As strong as we are, and as sophisticated as our capabilities are, it is incumbent upon us to ask: When do we use force, how do we use it and for what purpose. I have no doubt that the soldiers and officers of the IDF know to ask this question in a timely manner, and to make difficult decisions in real time, without the need for investigations by external bodies. Only one who understands what force is, understands it limits.”

Robert Singer, CEO of The World Jewish Congress said: “It is most unfortunate that here is yet another UN Human Rights Council report that puts the democratic State of Israel and the terror group Hamas on the same level, that unfairly accuses Israel of deliberately

Robert Singer

Robert Singer

killing civilians in Gaza and that fails to address Israel’s right under international law to defend its very existence against the threats coming from Gaza.”

Singer added: “If further proof was still needed that the United Nations is biased against Israel, this is it. It is slanderous and wrong to suggest, as the report does, that the Israel Defense Forces is an immoral army, a serial perpetrator of war crimes and a force that deliberately disrespects its international obligations. Repeating it for the umpteenth time doesn’t make it true.

“The cause of the Gaza conflict last year was the behavior of Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza. Hamas was the aggressor, not Israel. But strangely, Hamas is barely mentioned in this report.”

Singer announced that the World Jewish Congress and dozens of other NGOs would organize a rally in Geneva next Monday (29 June) in support of Israel. It will coincide with the debate of the commission’s report in the Human Rights Council.

An official statement from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs read:
It is regrettable that the report fails to recognize the profound difference between Israel’s moral behavior during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organizations it confronted. This report was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate.
Israel is studying the Commission of Inquiry Report (COI) from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC). However, some initial comments can be made about the COI process in general:

1)    It is well-known that the entire process that led to the production of this report was politically motivated and morally flawed from the outset. Just as Israel seriously considered every complaint, no matter its origin, it will also seriously study this report. We take note of the fact that the authors of this report admitted that they lacked much of the relevant information.

It is regrettable that the report fails to recognize the profound difference between Israel’s moral behavior during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organizations it confronted.

2)    This report was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate, and initially headed by a grossly biased chairperson, William Schabas. The UNHRC has a singular obsession with Israel, passing more country specific resolutions against Israel than against Syria, Iran and North Korea combined – in fact, more than against all other countries combined. The commission of inquiry’s mandate presumed Israel guilty from the start and its original chairman, William Schabas, was compelled to resign due to a blatant conflict of interest (paid work for the Palestinians), which he concealed from the United Nations.

3)    The COI also lacked the necessary tools and expertise to conduct a professional and serious examination of armed conflict situations.

Israel will consider the report in light of these essential failings. It would encourage all fair-minded observers to do the same.

4)    Israel is a democracy committed to the rule of law, forced to defend itself against Palestinian terrorists who commit a double war crime: They indiscriminately target Israeli civilians while deliberately endangering Palestinian civilians, including children, by using them as human shields.

5)    In defending itself against attacks, Israel’s military acted according to the highest international standards. This was confirmed by a comprehensive examination by Israeli military and legal experts, as well as reports produced by internationally renowned military professionals.

6)    Israel will continue to uphold its commitment to the law of armed conflict despite the brutal tactics of its enemies. Israel will continue to investigate alleged wrongdoing in accordance with international standards and to cooperate with those UN bodies that conduct themselves in an objective, fair and professional manner.

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