Article from the jcpa.org website by Amb. Alan Baker, May 28, 2018 –
From the Institute for Contemporary Affairs – Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation – Vol. 18, No. 13
– The Gaza border clash was not a situation of armed conflict, nor had it anything to do with the laws of armed conflict and occupation of territory. It was routine border protection by a sovereign state, from within its sovereign territory, facing a blatant threat of border violation by violent elements on the other side of the line.
– Accusing Israel of committing war crimes, massacres, and violations of international humanitarian law, as well as invoking criteria and norms – including the customary international law rule of proportionality – characteristic of situations of armed conflict, has no relevance vis-à-vis the situation along the delimiting fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
– The highly publicized visit by the Palestinian Foreign Minister to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), armed with a new set of complaints of war crimes and violations of the Geneva Conventions along the fence, cannot be considered to be anything other than a flawed and cynical manipulation of the Court.
The Gaza assault on Israel’s border fence.
The recent, ongoing flood of international criticism and censure against Israel, and specifically the time-worn mantra accusing Israel of a “disproportionate and indiscriminate” response to the Hamas–organized “Peaceful March of Return,” calls for comment as to the bona fides of those who so easily and glibly make such accusations.
Perhaps the most obvious, blatant, and fatuous example of this new spate of Israel-bashing is the rehashing of the accusation that Israel acted in a “disproportionate and indiscriminate” manner. This is repeated by European leaders whenever Israel is obliged to defend itself and its territory.
Pavlovian European Responses
This automatic allegation was most recently voiced by the EU foreign affairs representative, Federica Mogherini, and other senior European leaders, who did not bother to indulge themselves in ascertaining the facts of the situation.
In her statement of May 14, 2018, Mogherini ignored the violent nature of the Hamas demonstration, stating, “Israel must respect the right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force.”
In a similar vein, French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Israel’s “heinous acts” of targeting “unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip.” The French Quai d’Orsay added its own contribution stating, “After several weeks of violence and with a growing number of Palestinian victims on the Gaza Strip again today, France again calls on the Israeli authorities to show discernment and restraint in the use of force, which should be strictly proportional.”
The German foreign ministry, while acknowledging Israel’s right to defend its security, stated: “Exercising the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest must not be exploited and used to violate Israel’s legitimate security interests on the border to the Palestinian territories. At the same time, the defense of these legitimate interests must remain proportionate.”
Amnesty International, released its statement, entitled “Israeli forces must end the use of excessive force in response to ‘Great March of Return’ protests.”
This international fixation accusing Israel of disproportionate and indiscriminate force generated a particularly lopsided resolution by the UN Human Rights Council. It condemned “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, including in the context of peaceful protests, particularly in the Gaza Strip, in violation of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and relevant United Nations resolutions.”
The Human Rights Council decided to “urgently dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests.
Does “Proportionality” Require Israel to Sacrifice Israelis?
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a curious, but typically virulent, irresponsible, and hate-filled statement added:
The stark contrast in casualties on both sides is also suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response: on Monday, on the Israeli side, one soldier was reportedly wounded, slightly, by a stone. Killings resulting from the unlawful use of force by an occupying power may also constitute “willful killings” – a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Failing to see the facts: High Commissioner of the United Nations (UN) for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein of Jordan. (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)
Do Prince Zeid and the other international leaders suggest a twisted sense of proportionality that Israel’s defense against 40,000 hostile border invaders requires an equal number of Israelis killed? Only then they would be assuaged?
Prince Zeid’s statements and his rabid hostility toward Israel are incompatible with the UN Charter requirement that UN officials “refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization.”
This is specifically relevant in light of the UN Staff Regulations and Rules setting out the basic rights and obligations of staff, which specify:
While staff members’ personal views and convictions, including their political and religious convictions, remain inviolable, staff members shall ensure that those views and convictions do not adversely affect their official duties or the interests of the United Nations. They shall conduct themselves at all times in a manner befitting their status as international civil servants and shall not engage in any activity that is incompatible with the proper discharge of their duties with the United Nations. They shall avoid any action and, in particular, any kind of public pronouncement that may adversely reflect on their status, or on the integrity, independence and impartiality that are required by that status;
As opposed to this current international uproar against Israel, the real facts of the situation are rapidly coming to light.
What Are the Facts about the Battle of the Gaza Fence?
The “peaceful” march of return and protests were presented by the Hamas propaganda machine and rapidly digested by the international community. The goal of the ostensibly innocent Palestinian civilians, according to Hamas, was to “break out” of the Gaza Strip area, liberate Jerusalem, and protest the limitations imposed as part of Israel’s maritime closure on the importation of certain dual-use materials into the Gaza Strip.
But this was far from the peaceful “picnic” publicized and plied by Hamas and the Palestinian leadership to the leaders of the international community and in the international media.
It involved attempts by Hamas operatives, hiding among those ostensibly innocent civilians most of whom were recruited, encouraged, or forced by Hamas to charge the fence separating sovereign Israeli territory from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Their declared aim was to destroy and break through the fence, enter near-by Israeli villages, kill and kidnap Israelis, and ultimately “liberate Jerusalem.”
This “peaceful” protest involved:
– lobbing explosive devices against the fence and the Israeli soldiers defending it;
– attaching explosive devices to the fence to explode and kill Israeli soldiers trying to dismantle them;
– launching incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons to fall on Israeli residents of the villages close to the fence across the dividing line and burn Israel fields and agricultural produce;
– as Hamas organized these attacks above ground, its engineers are still excavating attack tunnels 10 meters below to allow terrorists to infiltrate Israel; and
– Away from the Western media, Hamas leaders incited their followers in Arabic: “We will take down the border and tear out their [Israelis’] hearts from their bodies.”