The UN Human Rights Council released an advance version of its report on Operation “Pillar of Defense,” exonerating Israel and the IDF in many cases in which it had been previously alleged that the IDF committed war crimes.
When it relates to Gazan civilians killed by IDF fire during the operation, the UNHRC report concedes that there was a legitimate military target in the area in most of those incidents.
The report’s tone is more cautious than in past instances, in presenting its findings of alleged violations of international law by Israel:
“In some cases, more information would be required to make a more specific assessment. Based on the information available to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the IDF did not consistently uphold the basic principles of conduct of hostilities, namely, the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions. Further, the effectiveness, sufficiency and adequacy of precautions taken remains questionable in several cases.”
Surprisingly, the same report offers no such doubts when presenting Hamas’s violations:
“Palestinian armed groups continuously violated international humanitarian law, by launching indiscriminate attacks on Israel and by attacking civilians, thereby disregarding the principle of distinction. The armed groups failed to take all feasible precautions in attacks, in particular by launching rockets from populated areas, which put the population at grave risk. Furthermore, several Palestinians were killed by rockets launched by the armed groups that fell short and landed in the Gaza Strip.”
The report states that Omar Mishrawi, son of BBC reporter Jihad Mishrawi, was killed by a Hamas rocket. The UNHRC report states:
“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel. In addition, OHCHR received reports related to an incident in which two civilians, including a child, were killed, and five persons, including three children, were injured, as a result of what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short and hit a house in Al-Quds Street, near Khilla Gas Station, Jabalya, on 16 November.”
The first incident is the Mishrawi case; the second one concerns Mahmoud Sadallah. The photo of Mishrawi in agony while carrying his dead son, flanked by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah, became famous during the operation and was instrumental in Hamas’s propaganda against Israel. The photo of Sadallah, a four-year-old boy, was used for a photo-op with Egyptian PM Hesham Kandil and Haniyeh.
The UN itself investigated this case and believes that the attack came from a Hamas rocket, not Israel, contrary to the way the BBC reported it, as well as the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Daily Mail and others. They assume that Israel must be guilty by default.
NGO Monitor, a watchdog group following anti-Israel bias among nonprofits involved in the Middle East conflict, in relating to PCHR and HRW, issued the following statement:
“…These NGO allegations were particularly damaging due to powerful, widely-circulated images of the grieving father of the child, who is a journalist. The NGO and corresponding media accounts worked together to demonize Israel for the death of an innocent child… Rather than applying consistent and professional standards to fact-finding, the claims of HRW and PCHR are often the products of instant speculation and the a-priori presumption of Israeli guilt. Later, when detailed evidence emerges that contradicts their allegations, these NGOs fail to publish apologies and retractions.”
About the Author: Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.
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