On July 23, 2014, a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council was held, to address “the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” The session was convened at the request of the following countries, among them some of the world’s foremost champions of human rights: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, China, Cuba, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Brunei, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia and Turkey. What follows is my assessment of the statement submitted by Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Pillay is right in describing the situation in the Gaza Strip as “critical,” although her opening statement referring to “occupied Gaza Strip” hints that human rights were not the focal point of the discussion. According to Pillay, “Israel announced” its military operation on July 7 for no reason other than to abuse the people of Gaza. “The hostilities” addressed are only Israeli strikes, not the terrorist attacks which triggered the operation. She talks of “escalation” without context, which in this case is a terror organization attacking a sovereign country with a barrage of rockets.
Only toward the end, after addressing the situation in Gaza, does Pillay explain that “three Israeli teenagers went missing” and were “subsequently found murdered.” There are no bad guys in this story, except Israel.
Pillay is correct in stating that civilians, including women and children, are suffering the most, but does not hint that a murderous terrorist regime may be responsible for this suffering.
Stating the percentage of civilian casualties is baseless, as Hamas has strictly decreed that all deaths must be reported as “innocent civilians” killed by Israel.
The main reason for civilian deaths during this operation is that Hamas deliberately places them in harm’s way.
It understands the impact this has on the international community, so it maximizes civilian deaths. Rockets are fired from schoolyards, so that retaliatory fire will kill children. People are sent to rooftops after warnings of an imminent attack. Civilians are ordered to stay in war zones despite being urged by the IDF to leave. Entire residential areas such as Shajaia have been turned into terrorist strongholds loaded with weapons and explosives.
It’s heartless and brutal – but it works.
Hamas’s “dead baby strategy” makes the world condemn Israel for killing civilians. We may never know the exact numbers, but it is also important to note that many uninvolved civilians have been killed directly by Hamas. Many of rockets fired by Hamas have fallen within the Gaza Strip. “Accidents” are very common when operating nonstandard weapons, and when weapon caches are deliberately placed in schools and mosques, every mishap costs the lives of innocents. Sometimes small-scale, pinpoint air strikes spark secondary explosions and even set off rockets. People executed by Hamas for collaborating with Israel are also presented as victims of “Israeli aggression.”
Every death of uninvolved civilians is tragic. But the responsibility falls solely on Hamas.
Only further on in her statement does Pillay express, for the record, her condemnation of “indiscriminate firing by Hamas and other armed groups.” She emphasizes that it is “unacceptable to locate military assets in densely populated areas or to launch attacks from such areas,” and even quotes international law, by stating that “civilian homes are not legitimate targets unless they are being used for, or contribute to, military purposes at the time in question.”
But then, instead of acknowledging the obvious – that Hamas is doing just that – she preaches on such things as proportionality, lack of military advantages and precautions – implying that Israel is overreacting.
Her call “to all actors” is shameful, as this addresses a UN member state and a terrorist organization as equals.
She then goes on to state that “civilians must not be targeted,” which is preposterous; Hamas directly targets civilians with the express intent of killing as many of them a possible, while Israel never targets civilians, and takes extraordinary precautions to minimize unintended harm.
How in the world can a UN body call on a terrorist organization to “abide by applicable norms of international humanitarian law and international human rights law?” They are terrorists, for heaven’s sake! It goes on and on. Pillay speaks of distinction between civilians and military objectives, proportionality, precautions and respect for the right to life – all principles which Israel holds dear, but which are mentioned by Pillay in the context of blaming Israel of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” while disregarding the barbaric acts of Hamas toward civilians on both sides.
Here is an excerpt which shows how badly constructed Pillay’s argument is: “Israel has stated that it has alerted Gazans before conducting strikes, including by using telephones, text messages and so-called warning ‘roof knocks,’ using relatively light munitions. Even if Israel has attempted to warn civilians to, for example, leave their homes or conducted an evacuation before an attack, this does not release Israel from its obligations under international humanitarian law. Any warning for civilians must meet with the requirements of international law, including that this warning be clear, credible and allows sufficient time for people to react to it.”
Israel has done more than any country in the history of warfare to protect civilians, but for Pillay, calling Gaza residents on the phone and begging them to evacuate doesn’t “meet with the requirements.”
Pillay mentioned the tragic death of the children on the beach in Gaza.
She knows very well that Israel would never target children deliberately, but this did not stop her from outrageously slandering Israel by stating that it was “shockingly evident” that this happened because of Israel “disregarding...international humanitarian law and...the right to life.”
The children probably died because of a tragic mistake. They certainly would not have died if Hamas had not turned Gaza into a terrorist base. Also, I cannot understand why my own children are in bomb shelters, while Gazan children are allowed to play on a beach terrorists operate from.
As Gazan children are sent to die by Hamas, its leaders hide underground.
Huge amounts of concrete were used for building tunnels for use in terrorist attacks, not bomb shelters.
Pillay goes on and on describing civilian casualties, without ever hinting that Hamas may have caused their deaths.
She tells of a shell striking a building, without explaining that IDF forces were returning fire after terrorists repeatedly shot at them from it.
This shallow narrative, as if dead civilians always mean the other side must be wrong, is granting terrorism victory in the public relations realm, and in fact issuing a green light to terrorists everywhere.
The more dead babies, the better the image of the “oppressed.”
We will surely hear more and more of Israel’s “crimes” in the coming months.
Hamas and the UN’s version will be: “Israel attacked Wafa hospital!” No one will care to hear the truth – that the hospital had been cleared of patients and turned into a terrorist stronghold from which heavy fire was being directed at IDF forces. There will be clear footage showing gunfire coming from the hospital windows, and recordings of repeated phone calls verifying that the building no longer served as a hospital, and warnings that the IDF was going to shoot back. But the accusation will still be: “Israel attacked a hospital.”
“There seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” Pillar tells us, adding that “every one of these incidents must be properly and independently investigated.” Pillay says that she can “only offer the facts, the law, and common sense,” but this current statement is based on Pillay’s “credible reports” gathered by her “office in Gaza” and “local human rights groups.”
I’m sure we can all trust that it will be an independent, unbiased, thorough and professional investigation.
“Israeli blockade on Gaza”? Has Pillay forgotten that Gaza has a shared border with Egypt? “Israeli occupation of Gaza”? Has Pillay forgotten that we left Gaza nine years ago? Pillay says Israel is to blame that Gazans are “prevent[ed]... from rebuilding their lives and communities after repeated military operations.” She also blames Israel for damaging Gaza’s water and sanitation facilities and of Gaza’s shortage in fuel, medicine and electricity.
Pillay and her pathetic organization are simply detached from reality.
The reality is this: The world has stood idly by as Hamas spent millions of Qatari dollars and international aid money on weapons and tunnels, draining all resources and directing them toward terrorism instead of construction and welfare. Israel supplies Gaza with fuel and electricity, and allows the entry of hundreds of truckloads of goods into Gaza. Israelis risk their lives every day to facilitate all this even during military operations, as the crossings and facilities are constantly bombarded by Hamas. The international community and Israel work hard to support the people of Gaza, while Hamas betrays them and dooms them to misery.
There was one part of Pillay’s statement which I agreed with, though: “The scenes we witness from afar, here in Geneva or around the world, via the 24-hour news channels and social media, provide only brief glimpses of the daily reality of conflict for Palestinians and for Israelis.”
She got that right, but even what she knows to be true, she manipulates and distorts.
The resolution by the UNHRC is despicable, not only because of injustice toward Israel, but because it empowers and enables evil terrorist regimes to carry out their monstrosities. UNHRC presumes to “protect all civilians and ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled worldwide,” but in fact it degrades human rights and endangers the region and the world.