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July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
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Posts Tagged ‘UNHRC’

Netanyahu Regrets Gaza Casualties, But Operation Continues

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Hamas terrorists are counting on using their human shields as ammunition against Israel. But that won’t stop the IDF from carrying out its mission to protect Israeli citizens with Operation Protective Edge.

That was the message conveyed Thursday morning in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond.

The prime minister was responding to a snippy condemnation by United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, who called for an investigation of the IDF’s actions in Gaza for “possible war crimes.”

Netanyahu reminded journalists the IDF is doing everything possible to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza. However, he said, nothing will prevent Israel from continuing to protect its citizens from the terrorist tunnels which “penetrate our state.”

The prime minister especially expressed his gratitude to British Airways, the national British airline, for continuing flights to Israel despite an FAA ban on flights to the Jewish State. British Airways is nearly the only European airline to do so, in the face of what was tantamount to nearly a Europe-wide boycott of Israel. This followed the lead of the United States, which issued a 48-hour ban on flights to Ben Gurion International Airport, using the excuse of shrapnel that fell from an Iron Dome interception of a Hamas missile fired from Gaza at Yahud, about a mile from the airport.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm that 20 rockets found last Thursday stashed in the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Rafah – located on the Gaza border with Egypt, where numerous terrorist tunnels have been built — had gone ‘missing.’

Ban ordered the world body to deploy experts to ‘deal with’ the situation but did not specify how he intended them to do that. Sources have said that UNRWA immediately turned the ordnance over to Hamas terrorists last week.

A second “discovery” of a new stash of missiles was revealed two days ago in another routine international inspection – this one so large that UNRWA was not willing to announce how many missiles there were. Instead, the agency said in its statement that it “immediately withdrew its staff” from the facility, which is located between two other schools where some 1,500 Gazans are taking refuge from the combat in the area.

Nor did UNRWA say how it disposed of those missiles either.

Ban “expresses his outrage and regret at the placing of weapons in a UN-administered school,” a United Nations statement said. UNRWA is sheltering 102,000 people in 69 of its schools amid the renewed violence.

“By doing so, those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children, UN employees working in such facilities and anyone using the UN schools as shelter,” the statement said.

PLO Envoy to UNHRC: “Israelis Warn Civilians Before Attacks, We Don’t”

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

by Aryeh Savir and Yaniv Hassidoff

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Ibrahim Khreisheh, admitted in an interview translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) that the Palestinian Authority unity government (PUG) — which includes Hamas — does not abide by international law and commits war crimes.

Kreisheh made the statement while responding to a question presented to him on PA TV last week about the PUG demand to appear to the International Criminal Court at The Hague (ICC) against Israel.

“The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missiles constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or missed, because it is directed at civilian targets… Therefore, targeting civilians, be it one civilian or a thousand, is considered a crime against humanity,” he said.

With regard to the current IDF effort to protect Gaza civilians in Operation Protective Edge, the PLO envoy acknowledged Israel is doing its best to avoid harming innocents.

“Please note that many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israeli army warned them to evacuate their homes before bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than intentional killing, because (the Israelis) followed the legal procedures.”

Khreisheh further stated that while firing from PLO-controlled areas, Hamas does not warn civilians before firing on them. By doing so, he said, the terrorist organization is committing a war crime.

“As for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to land, or about the operations we carry out.”

He concluded by saying that the Palestinian Authority unity government has no hope of pressing charges against Israel in the international court.

“Therefore people should know more before they talk emotionally about appealing to the ICC,” he commented.

Gaza terrorists fired more than 800 rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians by the sixth day of Operation Protective Shield on Sunday, July 13, 2014.

Rachel Frenkel to UNHRC: ‘Doesn’t Every Child Have the Right to Come Home Safely?’

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Rachel Frenkel, mother of one of three Israeli teens kidnapped by Arab terrorists on June 12, appealed for international assistance on Tuesday, speaking directly to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Switzerland.

Frenkel, who is a U.S. citizen and whose son Naftali, 16, was kidnapped June 12 as he hitchhiked home from Gush Etzion, was flown from Israel by ‘UN Watch’ to testify in Geneva before the agency.

The UN Watch nonprofit organization monitors United Nations activity.

Frenkel’s son was kidnapped together with another 16 year old, Gilad Sha’ar, and 19 year old Eyal Yifrach. The mothers of all three boys appeared before the committee, although only Frenkel spoke.

Frenkel thanked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for last week condemning the abduction of her son and his friends. She also thanked the International Committee of the Red Cross for stating publicly that it is against international law to take hostages.

She described her son for the committee members as a boy who “loves to play guitar and basketball,” and told them that he had texted her to say that he was “on his way home, and then he was gone. It is every mother’s nightmare.

“Much more could be done,” she added. “That is why we three mothers have come today, to make sure the world is doing everything it can to bring back our boys.”

She noted that it is “wrong to take innocent children, and use them as instruments in a struggle.

“Doesn’t every child have the right to come home from school safely?” she asked.

“We just want them back home in their beds… we just want to hug them again.”

Will Momentary Focus on UNRWA Expose PA and Hamas Abuses?

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

How a person feels about the vast and sprawling UNRWA organization – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – is a kind of proxy for how open he or she is towards understanding what actually happens in this part of the world as distinct from what people wish were happening.

If you think UNRWA is just great, deserves all the support we can give it, one of the mankind’s major humanitarian achievements, then you may be part of a hugely uninformed majority. A blog with the modest title “Call to Humanity” (just as one small example among many) reflects that standpoint, calling UNRWA “the oldest, most-established and perhaps the most successful international humanitarian operation in the world“.

It’s nothing of the sort as, for instance, the Red Cross (established in 1863) might point out. As for successful, there’s room for thinking very differently.

When UNRWA got started on December 8, 1949, it defined a Palestinian refugee as someone whose “normal place of residence” had been Palestine during the 23 month period ending in May 1948. Yes, that’s 23 months, not years.

In 1965, the class was widened dramatically by an UNRWA decision to extend coverage to third-generation refugees i.e. the children of parents who were themselves born after 14 May 1948, the day Israel came into formal existence and was massively attacked by all the Arab states.

This must have gone over well in certain quarters because in 1982, eligibility was extended to all subsequent generations of descendents, without any limitation. This chain of events is described in a recent monograph, “UNRWA: Blurring the Lines between Humanitarianism and Politics“, authored for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs by Dr. Rephael Ben-Ari.

What’s more, those “refugees” remain refugees even after they become citizens of other countries.

Given UNRWA’s broad definitions, it is therefore no wonder that the current number of Palestinian refugees, according to the Agency’s figures, amounts to nearly 5 million – half of the number of refugees in the entire world - whereas the formal number of original refugees who fled Palestine in 1948 was around 700,000 – 750,000 out of whom only 8 percent are still alive. [Ben Ari]

UNRWA has evolved into one of the largest programs of the United Nations. Its 30,000 employees are part of a structure that delivers services to its beneficiaries in ways that, elsewhere, would be considered government-like. But in the Middle East, government-like can be a fairly loose and unhelpful definer. For instance, though polio has erupted in the region, the government operated by the Hamas regime in Gaza is said to be refraining from spending any of its hard-earned military-equipment budget on anti-polio vaccine.

How effective is UNRWA? A different refugee agency (the Office of UN High Commission for Refugees) set up in the same year to serve the remainder of the world’s displaced innocents

has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. Today, a staff of some 8,600 people in more than 125 countries continues to help some 33.9 million persons [UNHCR website].

Yet people like the blogger we just mentioned keep putting UNRWA at the top of the heap.

Now, sixty-plus years after it got started, UNRWA is about to come under some brief scrutiny within the UN, though let’s quickly add that no-one expects anything good to come of it. Jonathan Tobin explains this in an article published yesterday on the Commentary Magazine website, called “Want Peace? Change UN’s Refugee Policy”:

A UN panel will discuss an effort to revise the rules under which the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) operates. The pending debate is the result of an initiative pushed by the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Judges and seeks to redefine who can be considered a Palestinian refugee and therefore a recipient of UNRWA’s largesse… This discussion not only calls attention to UNRWA’s misguided policies but also highlights an issue that is one of the chief obstacles to peace. Though UNRWA is tasked with helping the Palestinians and is, for lack of a Palestinian government or groups dedicated to providing their people with a path to a better life, their primary source of sustenance, it actually plays a central role in their continued victimization… Rather than help the refugees to adjust to reality, UNRWA’s policies have dovetailed nicely with a Palestinian political identity that regards accommodation to Israel’s existence as tantamount to treason. The Palestinian belief in a “right of return” for not just the original Arabs who totaled a few hundred thousand but for the millions who claim to be their descendants is only made possible by UNRWA’s willingness to go on counting second, third, fourth, and now even fifth generations of Palestinians as refugees. [Tobin]

UNHRC Appoints Falk 2.0

Friday, May 9th, 2014

The United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has appointed pro-Palestinian Indonesian diplomat Makarim Wibisono as its special investigator into Israeli actions and “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”

Wibisono has a history of accusations and statements against Israel, including saying that Israel has “ruthless contempt for the lives of the innocent,” and is perpetrating “callous attacks against terrorized and defenseless civilians,” according to a report in JNS.org.

Wibisono is replacing the anti-Israeli Richard Falk, or perhaps this is just a Falk 2.0 upgrade.

Either way it’s the UNHRC we’re talking about, so one can presume all the conclusions will be foregone anyway.

On Israel’s President’s Conference

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

 I would, in retaliation, host Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan “Apartheid Weeks.” Stephen Hawking has, apparently, no issues speaking in China and Iran, two countries with appalling human rights records. No one speaks about BDS of Saudi Arabia, where the list of human rights violations is endless. Where were their voices? Or Pakistan, with religious minorities facing persecution and violence against women? No one asked me to cancel my trip to Pakistan.

Recently I received an email from “a Palestinian in Vancouver,” in Canada, asking me to boycott Israel’s annual Presidential Conference, “Facing Tomorrow,” soon in Jerusalem, where I have been invited to speak.

The request for my boycott citied as reasons Israel’s human rights violations and mentioned that as Stephen Hawking boycotted the conference, perhaps I should, as well.

My response to my Palestinian friend is that the first time I was invited to speak at this conference three years ago, I went, hesitantly, not knowing what it was all about. I was so enthused by both my visit to Israel and the conference that I wrote extensively about the experience on my blog, and later named my own Not-for-Profit Organization “Muslims Facing Tomorrow” with an idea that one day, I would host a similar conference about ideas and a vision for a better tomorrow.

Upon my return, I praised the country and the people, but many of my Muslim friends were not interested in knowing these details. They only asked, “Were there any Palestinians at the conference and was the Israel-Palestinian issue discussed?” I was happy to respond that yes, there were Palestinians at the conference; I had even brought home a book on Islam from one of the Palestinian speakers there.

About human rights violations: granted that Israel, like every other country, has violations — but far fewer than those of the countries surrounding it. Israel is still the only liberal democracy in the area where one can find gender equality and freedom for its citizens. During my visits to Israel, I have, in fact, questioned Israeli Arabs and found that they are loath to leave the country where they enjoy freedom and human rights.

As I am accredited to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where I attend its sessions twice a year, I have a close connection with human rights. At the UNHRC, I hear a lot about humanitarian crises, and these do not include Israel. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Co-operation), for instance, – a group of 57 Arab and Muslim States which has a permanent delegation to the United Nations and is the largest international organization outside the United Nations — continuously slams and blames Israel for everything happening in the Arab and Muslim world and beyond. This incrimination of Israel has become the norm, and can be seen as a ruse to deflect or move focus away from the real problems besetting the Arab world.

BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel is also not a new movement, but has taken on a life of its own at academic institutions all over North America. This movement has led to “Israel Apartheid Week” events, ugly and nonsensical, at many universities. If I were a student, I would, in retaliation, host Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan “Apartheid Weeks.” But I know that is not the solution to the problems besetting these countries, and the crux of the issue is how freedom of speech can become the fine line between hate mongering and truth.

This incrimination also highlights the double standards held by academics such as Stephen Hawking: he had no issues, apparently, speaking in China and Iran, two countries that have appalling human rights records. But that is his problem.

My problem is that I am from Pakistan, a country where the word human rights has no meaning or recognition whatsoever. According to the Human Rights Watch World Report on Pakistan for 2012, Pakistan had a disastrous year — including increasing attacks on civilians by militant groups, religious minorities facing unprecedented insecurity and persecution, and where freedom of belief and expression are coming under severe threat as the presence of Islamists has grown by leaps and bounds. This does not even begin to address violations against women. The Aurat Foundation, a local women’s rights group in Pakistan, says the number of incidents of violence against women in Pakistan has increased at least seven percent over the past year.

Boycotts ‘Disproportionate’ UNHRC Meeting on Settlements

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

The Obama administration refused on Monday to participate in a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting on Israeli settlements and slammed the body for its “disproportionate” focus on Israel.

The council, based in Geneva, debated on Monday a January special report on the settlements that called for Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank and suggested that Israel may be liable for war crimes if it does not.

U.S. delegates would not speak during the debate, according to DPA, the German news agency, and in separate comments Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the body, said that “the United States remains extremely troubled by this council’s continued biased and disproportionate focus on Israel.”

Israel no longer associates with the Human Rights Council, in part because of last year’s so-called fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements that culminated in the report. Israel did not cooperate with the council on the settlements report because of the anticipated built-in anti-Israel bias.

The council repeatedly singles out Israel for criticism and has ignored major human rights abusers, some of which are members of the council.

The Obama administration reversed its predecessor’s policy of not participating in the council, and has noted some progress in getting it to address abuses in countries like Iran.

B’nai B’rith International’s representative at the United Nations in Geneva, Klaus Netter, said in a statement to the council that the report was counterproductive.

“Far from advancing the peace process between the two main parties, the fact-finding mission report has only reinforced Israel’s doubts about returning to active participation in this council and produced yet another source of conflict that may occupy this council’s attention for months or years to come,” he said.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/boycotts-disproportionate-unhrc-meeting-on-settlements/2013/03/19/

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