(photo credit: Courtesy)
NEW YORK – Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben has addressed the Security Council’s session on protection of civilians in armed conflict, saying there are “no simple solutions” to the dilemmas involved in such protection, and denouncing Hamas and Hizbullah for their blatant disregard of civilians’ well-being.
Saying Israel is “encouraged” by the continued efforts of the Security Council to protect civilians in armed conflict, Reuben said asymmetric warfare, “which blurs the important distinction between combatants and civilians under the laws of armed conflict,” is a game-changer.
“In our region and in many other corners of the world, regular armies are increasingly finding themselves fighting terrorists or guerrilla organizations that deliberately operate within and in the vicinity of civilian populations,” he said, adding that such warfare causes a “horrific transformation of the civilian landscape.
“Israel’s experience illustrates that the terrorists’ blatant disregard for protecting human life is not restricted to the civilians of their adversary – it often extends to their own people,” Reuben said, adding that Hamas “cynically” places arms and munitions next to or near mosques, hospitals and schools. He also noted three Hizbullah weapon cache explosions in the past 16 months in southern Lebanese villages.
“Ultimately, any candid assessment of the challenges and dilemmas involved in the protection of civilians in contemporary battlefields must achieve a balance between several key principles,” Reuben said. “These include distinction and proportionality, military necessity, and humanity.”
Reuben noted that movement of international humanitarian personnel, in light of these concerns, is subject to military and security considerations.
“We cannot ignore that terrorists such as Hamas often abuse such access
privileges, which can endanger humanitarian workers and obstruct the
movement of aid,” he said.
Reuben sounded a similar theme to the letter he sent late last week to
UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, as well as Mark Lyall Grant, the
president of the Security Council, decrying rocket and mortar attacks on
Israeli towns from Gaza.
“These attacks reflect the continued buildup of arms and munitions by
Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip,” Reuben
wrote. “These latest incidents – a clear violation of international law –
demonstrate the acute security threats facing Israel on a daily basis.
“These attacks must be met with the firmest possible condemnation,”
Reuben’s letter continued, adding that “in response to the attacks from
the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Israel exercises and will continue to
exercise its right to self-defense, as appropriate, and will take all
necessary measures to protect its citizens.”