August 15, 2014
UN Secretary General, the Hon. Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017
It is with considerable sadness and disappointment that we write this letter to you, in the name of thousands of lawyers associated with the Legal Forum for Israel.
We heard and read with amazement and incredulity your recent statements accusing Israeli forces of violating international humanitarian law, and especially your statement of August 12, 2014, questioning of Israel’s respect for the principles of distinction and proportionality, and your call for an “investigation into the repeated shelling of UN facilities harboring civilians.”
We find these statements by you to be nothing less than shocking, deceitful and totally inaccurate.
We know that you have been fully briefed, and are well aware of the circumstances that have given rise to the hostilities between Israel and the Hamas terror organization, including the mass barrage of rockets fired by Hamas at Israel’s civilian centers, and the extensive offensive tunnels under Israel’s sovereign territory.
We also know that you are fully aware of the extraordinary lengths to which the Israeli forces have gone in order to ensure that all targets are legitimate military targets, and to fully observe the principles of distinction and proportionality – to the extent of suffering casualties because of this.
We know that you are fully aware of the repeated warnings given to civilians to distance themselves from those structures used by Hamas for purposes of combat.
We know that you are fully aware of the fact that Hamas, as a matter of its basic operational procedure, deliberately and willfully uses its civilians and its civilian structures, whether schools, hospitals, mosques or private homes, in order to shield its rocket emplacements, weapons manufacture facilities, tactical planning and operation centers and its stocks of rockets and other weapons.
You are fully aware of the fact that they do this deliberately in order to generate civilian casualties, as part of their propaganda warfare.
Yet despite your knowing all these facts, you have nevertheless found it necessary to play along with the Hamas tactics and to arbitrarily and falsely accuse Israel of violating humanitarian norms, and you have even determined “that these attacks should be investigated and those found responsible will bear the consequences of their actions.”
We have great difficulty in understanding the reasons for this deliberate deceit on your part. As secretary general of the United Nations, we would have expected you to live up to the principles set out in the UN Charter requiring you and your staff to “refrain from actions which might reflect on [your] position as international officials responsible only to the Organization.”
To lay the blame so blatantly and falsely on Israel, while totally ignoring the continued, willful and indiscriminate aggression by Hamas against Israel’s citizens, its utter disregard of humanitarian norms, and Hamas’s cynical violation of the basic rights to life of its own civilian population, you are undermining and discrediting your own position as secretary general, as well as undermining the guiding principles set out in the Charter, and discrediting the organization.
We are shocked at your utter disregard of the fact that the very UN premises of which you accuse Israel of attacking, have been cynically abused by Hamas and used as store-houses for ammunition, and launching pads for rockets.
Rather than falsely accusing Israel, one might have expected that as the executive head of the UN, you would have admitted responsibility of the UN for such abuse of its facilities, and instituted a thorough inquiry as to how and why UNRWA facilities were placed at the disposal of the Hamas terror organization, how and why the UN officials responsible for such facilities permitted this situation to occur, and why those rockets and other weapons that were discovered in such facilities were transferred to Hamas, for their continued use against Israel’s citizens.
In permitting the storage of weapons, and in transferring such weapons into the hands of Hamas, the UN has in fact permitted itself to become accessory to the commission of war crimes.
We expect and demand that you, as secretary general and executive head of the UN, immediately establish a high-level inquiry with a view to thoroughly investigating these crimes and ensuring that those found responsible will bear the consequences of their actions.
Mr. secretary general, your exaggerated, selective, biased and often false accusations against Israel and your total disregard of the truth, have irreparably discredited you and the UN.
Alan Baker, ambassador (ret’), attorney Nachi Eyal, director, International Action Division, CEO, Legal Forum for Israel.