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UNHRC Accuses Israel of Possible War Crimes

June 28, 2015

“Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.”  (Isaiah 8:10)

On Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) released a report on last summer’s war with Gaza terrorists, stating that Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) took actions that “may amount to war crimes” and that it definitely made “serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”

Col Richard Kemp-British officer-war crimes

Colonel Richard Justin Kemp CBE is a retired British Army officer who served from 1977 to 2006.

In an article written for The New York Times, British Colonel and terrorist combat expert Richard Kemp said the report contains “words and actions from the United Nations that can only provoke further violence and loss of life.”

The report makes Israel responsible for the conflict because of its “protracted occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”  

The fact remains, however, that Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago.  It established a selective blockage in 2007 in response to Gaza attacks against Israel. 

While the report makes Israel responsible for the conflict, it excuses Gaza’s tunnels and rocket launching from populated areas, stating that “Gaza’s small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply.”

Kemp writes that the UN’s commission chair, Judge Mary McGowan Davis, offers no evidence to substantiate how the IDF violated international human rights laws.

“It is as though the drafters of the report believe that any civilian death in war must be illegal,” he wrote.

Mary McGowan Davis-war crimes

Mary McGowan Davis

The report also expresses the widespread naiveté that Hamas will stop its aggression if Israel stops responding to that aggression.

To its credit, item #79 of the report does “condemn the extrajudicial executions of alleged ‘collaborators,’ which amount to a war crime” by the Palestinian armed groups, a euphemism for Hamas.

Meanwhile, items 80–81 request that Palestinians initiate judicial proceedings against their violators of human rights laws, which Hamas has consistently failed to do—another naive expectation by the UN.

Ron Ben-Yishai of YNet warns that the report is an indication of how Israel would be treated in any war against Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.  He says that the main problem is that it “artificially tries to create a moral and legal symmetry between the State of Israel and the IDF—and Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations.”

The core failure of the report is that the commission paints Hamas and the IDF as employing the same combat ethics and operational procedures, which does not reflect reality.

The shattered remnants of an Israeli home in Beer Sheva after a Gaza rocket strike-war crimes

The shattered remnants of an Israeli home in Beer Sheva after a Gaza rocket strike.

The report makes no attempt to clarify that Hamas began the conflict by firing rockets on Israel.  

Nor does it mention attempts by the IDF to protect the civilian population of Gaza, which the UN has already acknowledged. 

Ben-Yishai says that this biased assessment of IDF strategies will make it even more difficult for the Israeli military to defend Israel in the next war if it has to comply with the UN’s recommendations.

The US State Department called on the United Nations to ignore the report, challenging the bias of the Human Rights Commission that sponsored it.

“We challenge the very foundation upon which this report was written, and we don’t believe that there’s a call or a need for any further Security Council work on this,” US State Department spokesman Retired Admiral John Kirby said during a press briefing, adding that the US already has an ongoing dialogue with Israel regarding its use of force and its right to self-defense.  (Times of Israel)

Admiral John Kirby US Department of State spokesperson

John Kirby became spokesman for the United States Department of State this year after retiring from the Navy as an admiral and serving as a Pentagon Press Secretary.

As the United Nations Human Rights Council prepares to vote on the adoption of the UN report on 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, Israel is working to remove the voting block within the council that always votes against Israel’s interests and in support of the Arab members.

If the report is adopted by the council, it will be passed on to the UN General Assembly, as was the case with the infamous Goldstone Report following the Gaza conflict of 2009, which was later recanted by the commission chair.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be asked to implement its findings.

Despite the report’s biased findings, Israel maintains that it operated according to the highest international standards during last summer’s Gaza conflict.  It, therefore, refused to co-operate with the probe from the beginning, but launched internal investigations of its own.

One senior official claims that a refusal to cooperate with the probe worked to Israel’s advantage.

“They would have reached the same conclusion and maybe even worse if we had cooperated,” the source said.

Colonel Richard Kemp testified to the commission in February, detailing his findings from a military perspective, which is published on his website.  (Richard-Kemp)

Kemp was also a part of the 11-member High Level International Military Group on the Gaza Conflict, which presented its findings to the UNHRC.

But as several commentators, including Kemp, have pointed out, the three-person civilian commission that prepared the report lacked military expertise to adequately understand the complex nature of war staged within civilian populations, which is outlined in the Hamas manual on urban warfare.

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