Israeli officials continue to analyze The Schabes Report sparked by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and authored by the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict.” Most have noted the striking anti-Israel bias in the report.
“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,” said a statement from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in response.
“This report was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate, and initially headed by a grossly biased chairperson, William Schabas.”
Schabas, a Canadian professor of international law, was found to have been a past legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a clear conflict of interest that he tried to conceal from the United Nations, according to the Foreign Ministry. Israel revealed the history, forcing Schabas to resign in February 2015.
“The Commission of Inquiry … lacked the necessary tools and expertise to conduct a professional and serious examination of armed conflict situations,” the ministry added.
The human rights watchdog agency NGO Monitor noted in a separate statement that the report was an “improvement” over its UN investigation-generated predecessors, including the 2009 Goldstone Report.
However, “it still quotes extensively from biased and unreliable political advocacy NGOs,” noted the agency.
“The UNHRC report would be entirely different without the baseless and unverifiable allegations of non-governmental organizations,” said Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor at NGO Monitor.
“Despite efforts to consult a wider array of sources, the report produced by McGowan Davis and her team lacks credibility as a result of NGO influence.”
NGO Monitor’s initial review of the Commission of Inquiry’s “detailed findings” showed that NGOs were referenced, cited, and quoted at a high volume: B’Tselem was the most referenced NGO with 69 citations, followed by Amnesty International (53), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (50), and Al Mezan (29). UNWRA and UN-OCHA were also featured throughout the report.
NGOs were also sourced for factual claims beyond their capabilities: in one instance, the report repeated B’Tselem’s conclusions about whether individuals in Gaza “posed  danger to other persons.”
Human Rights Watch, as opposed to a military expert, was quoted with regards to the “lethal radius for a 155mm high explosive projectile.”
Breaking the Silence was cited as the basis for the accusation that the IDF adopted “the vast scale of destruction…as a tactic of war.”
The lack of military expertise in the Commission and the UN staff clearly hampered the investigation and the resulting publication,” continued Herzberg. “In particular, the COI makes numerous assertions about feasible precautions, identification of military objectives, military necessity, and standards applied by reasonable commanders.
“In at least four independent studies by military experts, including Richard Kemp, the former head of British forces in Afghanistan, former senior U.S. generals and the former senior military officer for NATO all concluded that not only did Israel exceed the requirements of international law in the Gaza Conflict, but that its precautionary efforts to protect civilians were unprecedented in the history of warfare.”
NGO Monitor and UN Watch have prepared an independent, fully sourced and detailed book on the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict, called “Filling in the Blanks, which provides an alternative narrative to The Schabes Report. The book is available to readers for download in PDF format by clicking here.Hana Levi Julian