Friday, April 3, 2009

UN INVESTIGATING GAZA WAR CRIMES


South African jurist Richard Goldstone has been tapped to lead a four member United Nations team charged with investigating "all violations of international humanitarian law" committed during Israel's recent offensive in the Gaza Strip. The move comes after Israel absolved its troops of any wrongdoing in Gaza saying any such accounts were "hearsay" that had been "purposely exaggerated". The Israeli press created an outrage earlier when it reported the testimony of soldiers detailing the deliberate killing of civilians and destruction of property.

The intense assault on Gaza produced hundreds of non-combatant deaths. The Israeli military acknowledges killing as many as 460 civilians during its offensive. Rights groups pin the number closer to a thousand. Human rights observers say the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) committed both war crimes and crimes against humanity during its three week invasion of the coastal enclave. Aid groups accuse Israel of shooting at ambulances, blocking humanitarian supplies, shelling a United Nations compound, attacking relief workers, using banned chemical weapons against a civilian population, destroying aid supplies, ordering civilians to concentrate in an area that was shelled, and violating the terms of a cease-fire agreement before it was allowed to expire in December. Rights groups have denounced Israel's internal probes and called for an independent credible investigation into crimes committed by both sides. The government has already offered protection to any IDF soldier implicated in war crimes.

5 comments:

Bar Kochba said...

YA,

According to official Israeli statistics, 709 Hamas terrorists were killed, out of a total of 1,166 casualties. Hamas and the anti-Israel media deliberately inflated the number of civilians killed in order to make Israel seem guilty of "war crimes". Ignoring the fact that Hamas intentionally chose to hide among civilians and store weapons in mosques, hospitals and schools, the number of civilians killed is relatively low and is testament to the accuracy of Israel' air force.

Completely ignored is the fact that all civilians killed by Israel were accidental while Hamas has deliberately been firing at Israeli civilians for years. The Israeli civilian casualty rate was so low (thank G-d), partly due to the fact that Israel has been reinforcing the infrastructure of the homes in the South for years, while the Arabs have been using money to buy weapons, rather than invest in proper infrastructure. I hear no charges of war crimes against Hamas. Selective attention?

On June 17, 2008, after several months of indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas through Egyptian mediators, Hamas agreed to a cease-fire (tahadiya). Almost immediately afterward, terrorists fired rockets into southern Israel. Despite what it called a “gross violation” of the truce, Israel refrained from military action. In fact, during the six months the arrangement was supposed to be observed, 329 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel. Hamas continued to smuggle weapons and arms into Gaza, and fire rockets at Israel. Hamas never respect the cease-fire for even one minute.

The Arabs have been known to create stories of Israeli ttrocities, such as the Jenin massacre that simply wasn't. Israel faced a similar rush to judgment after reports of an Israeli attack on January 6, 2009 on a UN-run school in Jabalya. The building was not being used as a school at the time but was sheltering Palestinian noncombatants. Initial reports said at least 30 (the figure was later revised to 43) Palestinians were killed and UN officials claimed they had given Israeli forces coordinates of this building and others that they said were not associated with Hamas. The incident was immediately portrayed as a deliberate Israeli attack on innocent people.

Israel maintained that the building was being used as a shelter and that Israeli forces fired in the direction of the building because they were attacked by Hamas terrorists launching mortars from the area. Israel later identified two of the casualties at the site as Imad and Hassan Abu Asker, who served as heads of the Hamas mortar units in Gaza. A witness from Jabalya said that he had seen Abu Asker in the area of the school right before the attack when he answered a call for volunteers to pile sand around the camp “to help protect the resistance fighters.” In addition, two residents of the area near the school told the Associated Press they had seen a small group of terrorists firing mortar rounds from a street close to the school.

Journalists who investigated the incident and spoke to eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, concluded that no one in the school compound was killed. “The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.” As the Globe and Mail noted, this is very different than the UN’s allegation that the IDF had fired into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.

Nearly a month after the incident, following the publication of accounts discrediting UNRWA’s story, Maxwell Gaylord, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem, was forced to admit that Israel’s account was true after all, that the IDF mortar shells fell in the street near the compound, and not on the compound itself. Gaylord said that the UN “would like to clarify that the shelling and all of the fatalities took place outside and not inside the school.”

This was not the first time terrorists fired mortars near a school in Gaza, nor was it the first time terrorists exploited UN facilities. UN officials in Gaza, who never condemn Palestinian terror (the UN never passed a resolution condemning Hamas terrorism), have a long record of looking the other way while Hamas carries out its activities. UN officials in Gaza are there to help Palestinians and their bias often clouds their judgment and therefore independent verification is needed before accepting their claims.

As for the soldier's reports, they were not eyewitness but rather based on rumours. The press gobbled this up without any proof. Yet, if you want soldiers' testimonies, I suggest you visit http://www.soldiersspeakout.com/, a project were IDF soldiers offer their stories. Hopefully, you'll base yourself on facts and not anti-Israel induced ignorance.

Young Activist said...

Bar,
I tell you what, instead of having this back and forth discussion in the comments section I have a challenge for you. Let's debate in a 1,500 word or less article the following topic "The decision of Israel to invade Gaza and the conduct of the military during that operation were justified". I'll post both of our articles without any further comments by either of us on my blog for my audience to view and discuss and you'll do the same on your blog.

Bar Kochba said...

The problem is, YA, that I do not think that Israel's operation in Gaza was justified. I think that Israel did not clearly define its objectives and as such, the operation was simply useless. I think it served no purpose and accomplished nothing. And I have a problem with the IDF's "purity of arms" notion.

But anyways, I'll take you up on your offer. I'll try to do it before Passover. If its not up by Wednesday, it'll have to wait until Saturday night.

Young Activist said...

Okay, but I'm a little busy right now with travel, so I'm not sure exactly when I'll have mine ready.

Bar Kochba said...

Where are you going? Have a safe trip.