(Communicated by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva)
14 July 2014
I have read the OHCHR press briefing from Friday, 11 July 2014, and I reject it outright.
I read it with a magnifying glass, looking for any combination of the words "Hamas" and "condemn". I have failed to find it. In the efforts to safeguard the human rights of Israelis, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and her Office have failed dismally.
The clarity of her message to Israel is in sharp contrast to the opaqueness of her message to Hamas. She has put to shame George Orwell’s doublespeak. She refused, over and over, to acknowledge the fact that Hamas is committing a double war crime: targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. Israel, on the other hand, is taking measures to avoid harming innocent civilians and to minimize casualties. Hamas exploits Israel’s policy by instructing its population to act as human shields for its arsenal of deadly missiles and for its leaders and terrorists.
I react with total disbelief to the High Commissioner of Human Rights’ call made to "leaders on all sides" to "abandon their poisonous rhetoric". Israel acted with utmost restraint when rockets started to rain on its cities and villages following the abduction and killing of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali, on June 12. Furthermore, Israeli leaders have condemned the murder of Muhammad Abu Khder and the suspects to the murder have already been arrested and await trial.
And Hamas? Where is Hamas’ condemnation of the perpetrators? Am I deaf? I cannot hear strong voices of empathy and condolences to the families of the youths, or condemnation of the deed itself. I believe I have perfect hearing, yet I hear nothing. I only hear Hamas celebrating the landing of missiles on the homes of Israeli civilians.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is misguided. The High Commissioner has lost her bearings. Focusing her criticism on Israel is wrong, biased, unjustifiable and, ultimately, unhelpful. If she actually wanted to be helpful in this situation, she would have condemned Hamas in the strongest manner.
So, once again, let me make the realities on the ground crystal clear:
Hamas – an internationally recognized terrorist organization – deliberately embeds its military operations deep in residential areas, and exploits its own civilian population as human shields. These actions are war crimes. Many of Hamas' commanders use their own homes for military purposes – including weapons storage, command and control centers and military communications. In videos uploaded to the IDF's YouTube channel, secondary explosions can be seen following IDF attacks on some of these houses – clearly indicating their military use. Under international law, when the exploitation of residential houses makes an effective contribution to Hamas' military actions, these buildings clearly become legitimate military targets.
When attacking these lawful targets, the IDF makes every effort to ensure such attacks are proportionate and to minimize any unavoidable civilian harm. The IDF has no desire to harm civilians, and is acting solely to weaken Hamas terrorist infrastructure and safeguard our civilians.
The IDF conducts its operations in full accordance with international law. IDF commanders are trained in international law and legal advisors are embedded at the highest level of the chain of command. The IDF employs a range of tools – including distributing flyers, personalized phone calls and text messages – to warn people in the vicinity of an impending attack.
Instead of raising doubts regarding Israel's commitment to the rule of law, the High Commissioner and her Office should be questioning why Hamas deliberately embeds its military operations in residential homes and civilian areas. A terrorist organization that uses its civilian population as human shields, and deliberately fires at the Israeli civilian population, is conducting war crimes – and should be denounced for doing so.
I believe the High Commissioner’s concerns for the implementation of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ have been fully answered. Her responsibility now is to condemn Hamas and to call on President Abbas to dissolve the Fatah-Hamas “unity government” pact, as well as to support Israel’s right to defend itself.
This is the only way to achieve peace in our region.