A United Nations report accusing the IDF of war crimes for its response to violent Hamas-led riots is marked by a “lack of expertise and muddled analysis,” a critique published Thursday by NGO Monitor assessed.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry (COI) found that “IDF soldiers deliberately shot at children and people with disabilities” in their response to the violent riots at the border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The riots, which began March 30 last year, were also known as The Great March of Return.
However, NGO Monitor, a watchdog group that exposes the bias of anti-Israel NGOs, observed that the UN report reflected a “lack of expertise and muddled analysis.” The critique noted that, for example, the UN report refused to define the riots as a combat situation, meaning that human rights law was applicable. However, the report later accused IDF soldiers of war crimes, which “is baseless, since war crimes can only where the laws of war are applicable,” NGO Monitor wrote.
The critique raised questions as to how the COI gathered the evidence it needed to draw its conclusions.
• The commission gathered testimony from Palestinian sources, including those with ties to Hamas and other terror groups, and accepted the premise that Israel was operating in a “law enforcement,” not combat, capacity.
• The testimonies were anonymous and unverifiable. When asked how the COI selected the 325 witnesses whose testimony was used or whether it interviewed the witnesses directly, the chairman had no answer and said that he’d provide the details at an unspecified later date.
• The information, in many cases, was “a near copy-paste” from NGO submissions to the commission. The COI’s list of children killed by the IDF came from the NGO Defense of Children International – Palestine, which has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist group.
NGO Monitor also noted that even though it provided the COI with “significant detail regarding the presence of violence – including use of guns, Molotov cocktails, stones, burning tires, incendiary kites, etc. as well as the exploitation of children to perpetrate these acts – along the Gaza border,” the commission classified the riots as “peaceful protests.”
Furthermore, the commission “deliberately focused on five main riot locations during the specific times of protests,” the critique noted. This meant that the COI “ignored essential context including that the riots were used as diversions to attacks occurring elsewhere.” An IDF report found that the majority of the 1,300 rockets from Gaza into Israel since March 30 were fired on Fridays and Saturdays, “immediately after mass violent riots.”
The commission also ignored explicit statements from Hamas’s leadership about the nature of the riots. “When we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public,” NGO Monitor quoted Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar as saying last May. “This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support.”
It also ignored an admission by Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil that during the May 14 riots, 50 of those killed were members of Hamas.
NGO Monitor referred to research done by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), which showed that “dozens of fatalities named by the CoI were members of or were tied to terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).” Among those identified by ITIC was Ahmad al-Shaer, a 16-year-old member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. His participation in the riots indicates “the recruitment of children into terrorist organizations.”
The COI report, according to NGO Monitor, is marred by the lack of expertise of its members in “in international humanitarian law or military operations.” This means that the report “ignores the applicable legal framework” and treats the violent riots as “civilian in nature.”
In addition to its various technical failings, the COI “was marred by a lack of transparency and accountability.” Its legitimacy was further compromised by being established by the UNHRC, which is “controlled by dictatorships and authoritarian regimes and known for extreme anti-Israel bias.”
“The Israel Project strongly condemns the malicious and disproportionate report issued Thursday by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the State of Israel’s defensive response to violent Hamas-orchestrated Gaza riots,” TIP CEO and President Josh Block said.
“The ‘Investigation’ is the latest in a long series of hostile actions taken by the UNHRC, whose obsessive hatred of Israel is codified in Agenda Item 7 that is exclusively devoted to discussing alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel is the only country in the UNHRC with a dedicated council item.
What ‘investigators’ described as ‘unarmed demonstrators’ were, in fact, violent rioters carrying guns, knives, stones, explosives, and Molotov cocktails with the intent to breach the security fence and infiltrate into the Jewish State to commit terrorist attacks.”
Block continued: “The ‘report’ falsely equates Israel’s defensive actions with deliberate acts of violence carried out by Hamas that forced Israel to take defensive steps in the first place. Israel, like any other nation, has the inherent right to defend its citizens from attacks and threats to their existence.
As part of its perverse strategy, Hamas sent civilians – many of them just children – to threaten Israel’s security and provoke the soldiers who defend it. The ‘report’ maliciously covers up violent excesses committed against innocent civilians by both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The ‘report’ also ignores Israel’s extraordinary and unprecedented efforts aimed at avoiding civilian casualties.”
Block concluded: “Unfortunately, the UNHRC has failed in its obligations toward one nation: Israel. We call on the UNHRC to immediately abolish discriminatory Agenda Item 7. Likewise, we call on the United Nations and all affiliated bodies to undergo much needed reform to correct their chronic anti-Israel bias.”
[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr ]