Last week we cautioned that an expected report by the UN Human Rights Council on last summer’s Operation Protective Edge would almost assuredly be highly critical of Israel’s conduct. After all, this was the language in the resolution launching the underlying investigation:
The Council strongly condemns the failure of Israel, the occupying Power, to end its prolonged occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory…and condemns in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The report, released on Monday, confirmed our worst fears. Although there are references to Hamas wrongdoing, the thrust of the 200-page document fundamentally condemns Israel for defending itself. It comes down hard on Israel for firing artillery at military targets embedded in civilian areas: “While not illegal as such, the use of such weapons in densely populated areas poses a high risk to the civilian population.” Israel’s practice of warning civilians to leave areas containing military targets about to be bombed – by firing a missile without a warhead, producing the so-called roof knocking effect – is given short shrift and deemed inconsequential.
Perhaps most revealing is the conclusion that the devastation wrought by Israeli forces and the lopsided casualty figures demonstrated that “impunity prevails cross the board” in Gaza – i.e., Israel was effectively able to do what it wanted to a hapless Gaza population. Seems like Israel is being faulted for not tying both hands behind its back instead of just one.
This one-sided report obviously was designed to set Israel up before international tribunals and also set the stage for a Security Council resolution, said to be in preparation, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines by a certain date.
We can only hope the Obama administration’s ill-advised threat after Prime Minister Netanyhau’s reelection to reevaluate its position vis-à-vis Israel at the UN was just momentary pique. Now is not the time to suggest to the Palestinians that they can end-run negotiations with Israel by securing UN fiat.