The UN released on Monday another biased report on Israel’s war against Hamas last year, based largely on hearsay and alleging that Israel committed war crimes. Most disturbing, it repeats the lie that Israel intentionally targeted civilians.
The UN Gaza Inquiry which was tasked with probing alleged war crimes committed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge has found “credible allegations of war crimes” committed in 2014 by both Israel and Palestinian terror organization, the UN announced on Monday.
The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry (UNICI) on the 2014 Gaza conflict has “gathered substantial information pointing to the possible commission of war crimes by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups”, the UN said in a statement.
“The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” the chair of the commission, Justice Mary McGowan Davis told a press briefing.
This statement would serve to support’s Israel’s assertion that the UN commission is biased against Israel, and has neglected the “unprecedented human suffering” in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen as well as many other countries in the world, which the UN failed to probe.
Davis appeared dismissive when she mentioned the Israeli civilian population that came under attack from thousands of Hamas rockets during the war, saying “there is also on-going fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat”.
The 2014 report cited more than 6,000 Israeli airstrikes and approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired, “a huge increase in firepower used in Gaza.” The report did not say how it obtained this information, as the IDF, which holds this information, did not cooperate with the report.
The report counted 1,462 Palestinian civilians killed in the operation, a third of them children. The report failed to include the number of terrorists that were among the dead.
The “Palestinian armed groups,” which are in fact terror organizations, fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel in July and August 2014, killing 6 civilians and injuring at least 1,600. The report failed to point out that these rockets were fired indiscriminately at civilian targets, as opposed to the IDF which targeted terror infrastructures only.
The report relies on “survivors’ graphic testimony” describing air strikes ”that reduced buildings to piles of dust and rubble in seconds.” The report did not write if or how it sought to corroborate such testimonies.
The report charges Israel with intentionally targeting civilians. “The fact that Israel did not revise its practice of air-strikes, even after their dire effects on civilians became apparent, raises the question of whether this was part of a broader policy which was at least tacitly approved at the highest level of government.”
The commission further criticized the IDF’s conduct of warning civilians of an impending airstrike, a conduct that was internationally criticized for being way beyond the demand of the law and which compromised the fighting forces and the missions.
“There appears also to be a pattern whereby the IDF issued warnings to people to leave a neighbourhood and then automatically considered anyone remaining to be a fighter. This practice makes attacks on civilians highly likely.” The report neglected to comment on Hamas’ documented use of human shields, which exacerbated the number of civilian casualties and clearly constitutes war crimes.
“When the safety of an Israeli soldier is at stake, all the rules seem to be disregarded,” Davis alleged.
“The hostilities also caused immense distress and disruption to the lives of civilians in Israel,” the report said. It did not point out that if not for the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system, the number of civilian casualties would have been much higher.
The “indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel” by Palestinian terrorists only “appeared to have the intention of spreading terror among civilians there”.
In regards to the terror tunnels, they were used “to attack soldiers” according to the report, but not civilians.
The report concedes that the “idea of the tunnels traumatized Israeli civilians who feared they could be attacked at any moment by gunmen emerging from the ground.” The fact that the tunnels were successful in generating only “trauma” among the civilians was due to the IDF’s interception of the terrorists as they emerged from the tunnels.
The report also counts 27 Palestinians who were killed and 3,020 injured between June and August 2014 in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. “The number killed in these three months was equivalent to the total for the whole of 2013,” and the “commission is concerned about what appears to be the increasing use of live ammunition for crowd control by the Israeli Security Forces, which raises the likelihood of death or serious injury.”
The report fails to mention that these Palestinians were not randomly shot by Israeli security forces but were killed while executing terror attacks. The report further neglects to mention the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas, an event which heightened the tensions in the region and triggered Israel’s war against Hamas.
“Impunity prevails across the board for violations allegedly committed by Israeli forces, both in Gaza and the West Bank,” the report charges. “Israel must break with its lamentable track record in holding wrong doers accountable,” said the commissioners.
“Accountability on the Palestinian side is also woefully inadequate.” It is unclear what accountability the report was relating to.
Israel conducted extensive investigations into incidents in which crimes were suspected, but the UN commission found them lacking. “International journalists and many Palestinian eyewitnesses do not appear to have been interviewed by the Israeli authorities, which raises questions about the thoroughness of their investigation.”
Israel chose not to cooperate with the commission and “did not respond to repeated requests” by the commission for information and direct access to Israel and to the so-called “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
However, the commission obtained “harrowing first hand testimony” by means of Skype, VTC and telephone interviews. It also conducted face-to-face interviews with witnesses from Judea and Samaria, where there was no conflict, during two visits to Jordan and spoke to victims and witnesses from Israel who traveled to Geneva. The commission conducted more than 280 confidential interviews and received some 500 written submissions, according to their statement.
Announcing the release of the report Monday, Justice Davis and Dr. Doudou Diene outlined a number of steps the international community should take. One of these was that countries should actively support the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in relation to the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
“We were deeply moved by the immense suffering and resilience of the victims,” the commissioners concluded, “we just hope our report contributes in some small way to ending the cycle of violence”.
The commission is scheduled formally to present its report to the UN Human Rights Council on 29 June 2015 in Geneva.
Israel has already preempted the biased UN report with a report it published earlier this month, in which it clearly demonstrated how Hamas committed war crimes and provided an “informed understanding” of the events, accurately depicts the unfolding of the events and recounts in detail how and why Israel and the IDF took specific actions.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
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