“Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel is defending itself from a murderous terrorist organization that calls for its destruction,” Netanyahu stated. The opposition joined the prime minister in condemning the UN report, all of them pointing to its anti-Israel bias and neglect to mention profound human rights abuses by Hamas.
Upon the release of the Commission of Inquiry Report (COI) from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the 2014 summer war between Israel and the terrorist Hamas organization, in which the UNHRC accused both sides of committing war crimes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement at 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.”
‘Politically Motivated and Morally Flawed’ UN Report
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that Israel is studying the UNHRC report. It stated however, that 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,” and issued the following initial comments regarding 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.
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 lacked the necessary tools and expertise to conduct a professional and serious examination of armed conflict situations.
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.
IDF Observed Highest International Standards
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.
According to the MFA, “Israel will consider the report in light of these essential failings. It would encourage all fair-minded observers to do the same.”
“From the outset, the purpose of this report was to vilify the State of Israel and the IDF, with the ultimate aim of undermining Israel’s right to defend its citizens from attack,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely declared. “The Human Rights Council is a body which has completely discredited itself through its obsessive and prejudicial preoccupation with Israel, whilst turning a blind eye to genuine violations of human rights around the world.
“The State of Israel and the IDF scrupulously abide by the highest standards of international law. Israel’s robust legal system ensures strict oversight of military operations. The measures Israel took during the Gaza conflict to protect the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians are without parallel among other military forces. Israel is exceptionally proud of its principled conduct and will maintain its unswerving commitment to human rights and international law, irrespective of the well-orchestrated campaign to besmirch its name,” Hotovely concluded.
The COI is “a report with blood on its hands that is trying to turn Jewish blood into the cheapest product in the world,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett asserted. “This a report with blood on its hands because it’s trying to restrict soldiers who protected this country’s citizens; it’s trying to tie our hands.”
Bennett: Report Skipped Murder of Three Innocent Boys
With regard to the abduction and murder of three teens by Hamas terrorists in June 2014, Bennett noted that the report “skipped over the murder of the three boys as if it did not happen and [implying] there is no intention for it to be investigated.”
During the war, the IDF warned civilians when an attack was imminent. “The army sending text messages to areas it planned to attack is [apparently] unfit for investigation,” Bennett commented. “Soldiers who respected the ceasefire and in the meantime their comrades were kidnapped – these are all worthy of investigation.”
“This report is nothing more than a rubber stamp that gives a boost to terrorist organizations around the world by allowing them to continue to attack innocent civilians,” MK Haim Yellin said. “The UN secretary-general who ordered the construction of schools and clinics in Gaza that have since become terrorist structures is responsible for the slaughter and destruction in the area.”
“Israel does not carry out war crimes,” MK Avigdor Liberman, who served as foreign minister during the war, asserted. “The UNHRC and the committees it establishes regularly carry out crimes against humanity as they rewrite history and distort the reality that there is a country that fights to protects its children from a terrorist organization launching rockets at them and operating from within areas concentrated with children.”
“We will not accept a comparison between IDF soldiers and terrorists,” MK Tzipi Livni declared. “We will not agree to speak about IDF soldiers and terrorists in the same breath. This is an important distinction for any country fighting terrorism…. “We will not accept the world investigating IDF soldiers.”
Already last week, anticipating that the report would be highly biased, MK Yair Lapid, speaking at a meeting of his Yesh Atid party, said the COI was “born in sin” and accused the investigation of intentionally ignoring the kidnapping and murder of the three boys.
“The very establishment of this commission is another example of how the United Nations has gone out of its mind,” he said. “It’s not the IDF – the most moral army in the world — that the U.N. should be investigating, but rather itself.”
By United with Israel Staff
(With files from the GPO and the MFA)