In a predictable development, Amnesty International (AI) has accused Israel of committing war crimes during its 50-day engagement with Hamas this past summer. The report, "Families Under the Rubble: Israeli Attacks on Unihabited Homes," claims the Israeli military demonstrated a “callous indifference” with regard to civilians. It further insists "the onus is on Israel to provide information concerning the attacks and their intended targets.”
AI gives the game away early in the report. First, in a 49-page report detailing eight specific cases of alleged "war crimes" and violations of international law committed by Israel, there is but a single paragraph acknowledging that "Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired thousands of indiscriminate rockets and mortar rounds into civilian areas of Israel.” A second paragraph notes that AI "has documented and is continuing to document serious violations of international humanitarian law, including unlawful killings and injures to civilians and destruction of civilian property, both by Israel and by and Palestinian armed groups,” but it is clear from this report that taking Israel to task first and foremost is the group’s priority.
AI’s primary indictment against Israel centers around the feckless notion of “disproportionate" response. It is the pernicious nonsense that posits higher rates of casualties and property damage in Gaza than Israel is de facto evidence of human rights violations. Conspicuously missing from that argument is the reality that Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups bear the lion’s share of the blame for the damage and casualties, because they routinely use their own civilians as human shields. And ostensibly civilian locations such as mosques and schools are routinely used as weapons depots.
That reality was driven home during the conflict, when the United Nations found terrorist rockets hidden in at least three of its own schools—one of which sat adjacent to other schools used to accommodate displaced Palestinians. Moreover, Washington Post reporter William Booth observed a “group of men” moving small rockets into a mosque, even as he further noted that Shifa Hospital in Gaza City had “become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.”
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) explained the dual motivation for such genuine callousness. “Hamas chooses to use these protected areas for military purposes in order to shield itself from IDF strikes,” they said at the time. “And to draw international condemnation of Israel if the IDF is forced to respond.”
AI’s take on terrorist inclinations? In a section of the report entitled “Precautions and ‘Human Shields,’” they explain that warring parties have "an obligation to protect civilians and civilian objects under their control against the effects of an attack by the adversary,” and the those adversaries must, to the extent feasible, “avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.” They use a Red Cross definition of feasibility, indicating that “no one can be required to do the impossible,” and that a party to the conflict "cannot be expected to arrange its armed forces and installations in such a way as to make them conspicuous to the benefit of the adversary.”
That’s a remarkable statement--one that seems to imply that AI is actually endorsing the use of human shields as a means of making military targets "less feasible” to attack. AI seemingly doubles down on this notion, insisting, "the fact that Palestinian fighters are located within civilian areas does not in any way negate Israel’s obligations to those citizens…”
Palestinian obligations to their own citizens, or the reality that they do in fact use them for human shields? Not even mentioned. Furthermore, AI dismisses as insufficient Israel’s unprecedented effort to minimize civilian casualties, despite the reality the IDF drops pamphlets, makes phone calls, etc. to warn Palestinian civilians (and by extension the terrorists) of impending attacks. Few armies on earth go to such lengths to protect the civilian population of their sworn enemy.
Israeli officials were quick to notice the blatant discrepancy. “The report does not mention the word terror in relation to Hamas or other armed Palestinian groups, nor mention tunnels built by Hamas to infiltrate Israel and perpetrate terror attacks,” read a statement from Israel’s embassy in London, where AI’s report was released. “By ignoring the nature of the enemy Israel faced in Gaza — a terror group recognized as such by the European Union, the United States, and others — Amnesty’s report fails to contribute to the important discussion needed to solve the conflict. Instead Amnesty serves as a propaganda tool for Hamas and other terror groups.”
At the end of the report, AI issues a series of recommendations for both sides and other states. The only recommendation for the Palestinians is that they should accept the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction over crimes committed since 2002, and accede to the “Rome Statute” of that Court, which has established four international crimes, defined as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
The list of recommendations for Israel includes that one, as well as granting AI access to Gaza, revising their military doctrines and tactics—and providing reparations to all victims of “serious violations of international law, including victims whose homes and properties were unlawfully destroyed or damaged during Operation Protective Edge.”
There is tremendous irony attached to that last recommendation. It is Israel, bowing to pressure from the international community following Israel’s and Egypt’s closure of its borders with Gaza, who supplied the territory with most of the cement used to build a series of terror tunnels with exits located in the Jewish State -- terror tunnels built by Palestinian children, costing at least 160 of them their lives, according to Hamas officials. Eighteen of the tunnels discovered by Israel used more than 800,000 tons of concrete, an amount more than enough to construct eight skyscrapers as big as Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest. Egypt discovered and destroyed additional tunnels under its border with the Gaza strip.
One thousand, three hundred and seventy of them.
AI’s recommendations to other states include similar legal suggestions, yet one other stands out: they believe all other nations should suspend shipping arms, munitions, weapons and military equipment to Israel until it is held accountable for its previous humanitarian violations, and mechanisms are put it placed to prevent future ones. Again no mention whatsoever of ongoing Iranian efforts to supply Hamas with weapons, or the Syrian-made rockets that have boosted Hamas's missile capability from a range of three or four miles, to approximately 70 miles.
This extended range puts the entire nation of Israel at risk of missile attack.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, an organization that monitors non-governmental organizations “claiming to advance human rights and humanitarian agendas,” adds some much needed perspective to AI’s claims. "Amnesty's claims had no validity when they were first made, without evidence, during the fighting, and they have no more credibility now, despite the façade of 'research' and ‘investigations,’” he declared. "For many years, we have shown that Amnesty's 'reports' on Israel lack credibility and are based on double standards that reflect a radical ideological agenda under the façade of universal human rights.”
It is far worse than that. AI suffers from a staggering level of self-inflicted myopia. Iran is in the middle of its latest round of human rights violations, including the execution of 560 citizens with dubious convictions over the past nine months. Several of those victims were minors. Acid attacks against women are also on the upswing, likely in response to an initiative allowing private citizens to enforce "morality" laws. ISIS has cut one of modern history’s bloodthirstiest swaths, torturing, raping and executing innocent men, women and children, and conducting a series of high-profile beheadings. Boko Haram has kidnapped more young girls, many of whom have been “married” or sold into slavery. And genocide is being perpetrated against Middle East Christians.
Yet AI chooses to focus on the efforts of Israel to defend itself against Hamas, a terror group whose charter of existence calls for Israel’s destruction. By contrast, Hamas gets a virtual free pass on that reality, as well as its determination to use its fellow Palestinians as cannon fodder whenever they deem it necessary. And we’re all supposed to wait for “continuing” documentation of humanitarian rights violations that may—or may not--get around to detailing the depredations of Hamas.
At a later date, of course. Until that time, the libelous assault on Israel will continue—even as the cavalcade of atrocities committed in the name of Islam are conspicuously ignored by the ideologically bankrupt organization known as Amnesty International.
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