Israelis can complain to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, that Hamas violated their human rights, as Zionist education NGO Im Tirzu encouraged them to do at a conference in the Knesset Wednesday evening.
The group describes itself as working “to strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel” and disseminated complaint forms at an emergency meeting of the Knesset Caucus Against Delegitimization of Israel, which can also be found on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ website Bar-Ilan University law professor Avi Bell, an expert on international law, said Israelis can complain that their most basic human right, the right to live, has been violated.
Hamas terrorism violates freedom of movement, the right to a home and encourages hatred based on religion, Bell said.
Bell said, however, that submitting the complaint is in a sense, recognizing the “State of Palestine” that signed on to the UN Convention on Human Rights.
Former ambassador to Canada and international law expert Alan Baker said “any civilian can submit a complaint against any country or any group for any violation of rights.
“We need to encourage people to submit complaints. We are doing this for the press and mostly for symbolic reasons, not because we’ll actually get paid damages for it,” he explained.
Caucus chairman Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) said the goal is “to create an Iron Dome against Hamas on a public diplomacy level. For the past decade, the terrorists and the left-wing in Israel and the world continue to use the Palestinians’ human rights against Israel, when the situation is the opposite. Israeli citizens are under attack from Hamas rockets and the IDF is defending civilians from Hamas’s crimes.”
Ze’ev said that if there was no Iron Dome, dozens of innocent civilians would have been killed.
The Shas MK said that after the war he would work to convince Israelis and people around the world that Jews had a right to live in all parts of the Land of Israel, including east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Im Tirzu CEO, Matan Peleg, said the battlefield continues in the diplomatic arena and that Human Rights NGOs have a lot of power.
“Hamas’s leader in Gaza praised these organizations for acting against Israel,” Peleg said. “Hamas realizes there is another war front, but we’re one step behind. We must move forward.”
Bell and Baker gave an overview of war crimes being committed by Hamas in Gaza.
Bell said that the Palestinian Authority applied to join the International Criminal Court, but had yet to become a member – Israel did not join it.
Hamas has committed six war crimes according to the ICC’s regulations, Bell said.
The first is that they attacked soldiers and civilians indiscriminately and any attack on civilians is a war crime. Second, they used weapons that cannot be aimed at a specific target, namely rockets, which is a crime even if there are no victims, Bell stressed.
The law professor added that the third war crime Hamas has committed is using human shields. A civilian location, like a school, hospital or mosque, counts in this category, as they are protected under international law. The fourth offense was the camouflaging of terrorist activities via protected symbols, such as the transport of Hamas fighters and weapons in Red Crescent ambulances.
Bell said that the use of children aged 15 and under as fighters was expressly prohibited and finally, taking hostages, which Hamas has yet to successfully do in Operation Protective Edge, but not for lack of trying.
Baker explained that the ICC “is not a court of countries, but of people. Whoever is sure that a war crime was committed – any from Prof. Bell’s list – can act so the ICC will investigate and maybe put people on trial.”
The UN Security Council can initiate an investigation and submit it to the ICC, Baker added.
“I reject all of that talk around the world that we commit war crimes. The IDF, in my opinion, does everything it can and has legal advisers for every brigade. Of course people are killed, that’s what happens in war, but the IDF does not aim at civilians,” Baker stated.
As for the IDF bombing schools and hospitals, Baker said that it is legal as long as they are being used by Hamas to attack Israel, but the IDF must try not to harm innocent civilians.
Still, Baker warned, “the assumption is that the ICC doesn’t just look at legal considerations, but also diplomatic ones.”