Tag: Gaza War

YOM HAZIKARON 5777: ISRAEL HONOURS FALLEN SOLDIERS & VICTIMS OF TERRORISM

 

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony at Yad Labanim: Prime Minister’s Office, Apr. 30, 2017 — A cloud of grief hangs over the State of Israel today.

Where is World Outrage Over Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul?: Richard Kemp, Jim Molan & Arsen Ostrovsky, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017— On May 1, Israelis will observe Remembrance Day, honoring soldiers who fell in defense of the Jewish state, and victims of terrorism.

Israel's Covert War Against Hezbollah's Artillery: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, Apr. 28, 2017 — Reports of attacks in Syria attributed to Israel may indicate—one could certainly assume—a new stage in Israel's defense against Hezbollah and Iran.

No Nuclear Weapons in Syria? Go Thank Israel: Louis René Beres, Israel Defense, Apr. 27, 2017 — Plausibly, it is only because of Israel's earlier preemptions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities that the Middle East is not presently awash in Arab nuclear weapons.

 

On Topic Links

 

Tell the UN: Jerusalem is Israel’s Eternal Capital (Petition): The Israel Project, May 1, 2017

Such a Moving Video Commemorating the Fallen Heroes of the Israel Defense Forces: Israel Video Network, May 1, 2017

In Our Forgetfulness, We Turned Our Children Into Heroes: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times Of Israel, Apr. 30, 2017

Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers: Tami Shelach, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017

 

AS WE GO TO PRESS: UNESCO TO FIRE ANOTHER VOLLEY AT ISRAEL – ON INDEPENDENCE DAY — The UN cultural agency is set to pass a resolution on Tuesday — Israel’s 69th Independence Day — that indicates rejection of the Jewish state’s sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem. The resolution also harshly criticizes the government for various construction projects in Jerusalem’s Old City and at holy sites in Hebron, and calls for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza without mentioning attacks from the Hamas-run Strip. Submitted to UNESCO’s Executive Board by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, the resolution on “Occupied Palestine” will most likely pass, given the automatic anti-Israel majority in the 58-member body. According to Israeli officials, Germany was a driving force behind a deal that would see all EU states abstain in exchange for the removal of the most incendiary anti-Israel passages. But on Monday, Italy announced that it would vote against the resolution, apparently ending the effort to forge a European consensus. (Times of Israel, May 1, 2017)

 

 

PM NETANYAHU’S REMARKS AT THE

MEMORIAL CEREMONY AT YAD LABANIM                                                     

Prime Minister’s Office, Apr. 30, 2017

 

A cloud of grief hangs over the State of Israel today. It always hangs over the families, the parents, the widows and partners, the brothers and sisters. Our loved ones fell in Israel’s battles in the line of duty, in battles and in brutal terror attacks. Ever since the dagger of bereavement pierced our hearts, the course of our lives has been forever changed, but today we commemorate our mutual guarantee and shared fate, which connect all parts of the nation to the family of bereavement. This is the true source of our strength, and to a high degree unique to the State of Israel. It is our unique source of resilience and strength.

 

Together we bow our heads in memory of the 23,544 who fell in our nation’s battles and the thousands more who were killed by murderous terrorists. We are one people, and it is clear to all of us that were it not for the sacrifice of these men and women – we would not be free in our own land. In fact, we would not be here at all. It is thanks to them that we exist, thanks to them that we live.

 

This morning at Mount Herzl we inaugurated the new National Hall of Remembrance. It is a splendid building that commemorates all the fallen. I see it as an important symbol emphasizing the foundations of our existence in our land. I see it as an important symbol expressing the unity of bereavement. This small country is all we have – home and homeland, future and hope. Our roots were planted deep into this land thousands of years ago, and for generations we were loyal to it. We renewed our national sovereignty in this land seven decades ago.

 

The State of Israel is a miracle of history – in its rebirth and in its tremendous achievements. This miracle and these achievements are also especially notable given our ongoing resilience in the test of fire and blood. We stand as a fortified wall against our enemies. We do not show weakness. We do not loosen our grip from the weapons in our hands because we know that this is the only way to push back the thickets of evil that refuse to accept our existence. This is the only way we will achieve peace with those of our neighbors who want peace. At the same time, during this long campaign, we maintain our humanity. We just heard the tremendously moving stories of the fallen. One feels not only the loss, but also their humanity. Simultaneously, we maintain our democratic, free, vibrant and moral society. However, there is a heavy price for this – a personal price for you, the families, and a national price for all of us. We have experienced it personally, and you know: each family and its pain.

 

It is actually our loved ones who went to battle from whom we draw comfort. The wick of their lives was cut off in a moment, but the spark of the sense of mission that burned in them still glows. During the War of Independence, before he died, Zvi Guber wrote, “Can a lead bullet kill courage and purity of spirit?”

 

Sixty-nine years have passed and that purity of spirit has remained unchanged: Each generation and the magnificence of its spirit, each generation and the discovery of its strength. Brothers and sisters in the family of bereavement, you are the foundation of Israeli society. You raised exemplary sons and daughters, you instilled in them the values of man and nation, and you serve as a bridge between all sectors of Israeli society: Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Circassians – citizens of Israel are profoundly grateful to you.

 

Together, we will continue to defend our land, protect it, build it. This is the true legacy of the fallen. The people of Israel hold its fallen soldiers in their hearts, and every day we pay them honor and wish them eternal glory. May the memory of our children be forever blessed. We will remember them all forever.

 

 

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WHERE IS WORLD OUTRAGE OVER HADAR GOLDIN AND ORON SHAUL?

Richard Kemp, Jim Molan & Arsen Ostrovsky            

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017

 

On May 1, Israelis will observe Remembrance Day, honoring soldiers who fell in defense of the Jewish state, and victims of terrorism. At an age when most teenagers are getting ready to go off to university or travel abroad, Israelis devote at least two to three years of their lives to defending and protecting their country, the only Jewish state, and by extension the West’s front line of defense in the global war against Islamic terrorism.

 

Two such soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the State of Israel were Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed in action by Hamas during Israel’s defensive 2014 war with the terrorist group, Operation Protective Edge. On August 1, 2014, hours after a United Nations- and US-brokered humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect, Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel in Gaza, ambushed an IDF unit and killed Hadar, who was only 23 years old. Hamas then took his body and have been holding it hostage in Gaza since, treating it contemptuously as both a bargaining chip and an instrument to torment his family.

 

Shaul, who was only 20 years old at the time, was also killed by Hamas, when he left his armored personnel carrier to repair the vehicle and Hamas fired on his unit, killing him, and likewise taking his body and malignly holding it in Gaza. Holding the bodies of soldiers killed in action and refusing their return to their next of kin for burial is a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law. As is using the soldiers’ bodies as bargaining chips, which Hamas continues to do. Only last week, the terrorist group released a morbid video including a song in Hebrew, taunting the families of Goldin and Shaul, again in breach of international law. To this day, almost three years since their abduction, Hamas refuses even to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access.

 

That Hamas, a fanatical Iran-funded Islamist terrorist organization, does not abide by even a modicum of international law and basic human decency is beyond dispute. But where is the international outcry? Only last week, the international community was up in arms over a large group of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israel. These were however violent murderers convicted of terrorism-related offenses. Moreover, Israel affords these prisoners full rights under international law, including access to ICRC, and returns bodies of terrorists killed attacking Israelis.

 

Yet the same international community, overflowing with concern over the welfare of Palestinian terrorists, can’t even feign interest in the Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hamas. Where is the Red Cross? Virtual silence. Where is the UN, under whose auspices the cease-fire during which Hadar was killed and kidnapped was brokered? Silence. Awaking only occasionally to condemn Israel in New York or Geneva, but turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism. Where are self-professed human rights groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch? Silence again.

 

Perhaps to them the human rights of Jews and Israelis are not worthy? What about Mahmoud Abbas? The Palestinian Authority president claims he wants peace, yet instead seeks to embrace Hamas and glorify those who kill Israelis. You can be certain that if Goldin and Shaul were British, Australian, American, French or Russian soldiers, there would be an international outcry. But only silence and sheer neglect when it comes to the lives of Israelis.

 

We understand there are many pressing humanitarian concerns facing the world today, not least in the Middle East, but the world must not forget Hadar Goldin, who was killed and taken hostage during a UN cease-fire, as well as Oron Shaul. This is not only a matter for Israelis, but a basic humanitarian issue. These young soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, could be any of our soldiers, defending the West from global jihad.

 

The international community, which is seeking to rebuild Gaza and promote peace in the region, should make any further efforts conditional upon the immediate and unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers’ bodies. The Red Cross also has a fundamental duty to speak up. Meantime, the UN, aided and abetted by the Obama administration, exerted great pressure on Israel to accept this cease-fire, and therefore bears primary responsibility for ensuring the return of the bodies of Goldin and Shaul. The families of these young men deserve, and by law are entitled to, a proper decent burial at home in Israel. It is time the world showed that Israeli lives matter too.                                   

 

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ISRAEL'S COVERT WAR AGAINST HEZBOLLAH'S ARTILLERY

Ron Ben-Yishai                                                            

Ynet, Apr. 28, 2017

 

Reports of attacks in Syria attributed to Israel may indicate—one could certainly assume—a new stage in Israel's defense against Hezbollah and Iran. This self-defense has lasted for more than a decade, but now it seems that it focuses on one particular thing: defense against artillery; mainly, the missiles and rockets that Iran provides the Hezbollah to strike a critical blow against Israel's home front. Hezbollah and Iran's goal is to be able to threaten vital infrastructures—water, electricity, healthcare services, transport, airfields and emergency supplies—in a way that Israel will have a difficulty to recover from should a strike occur.

 

The new stage in Israel's strategic defense may have not started today, but is now picking up pace as Israel has completed its multi-layer missile defense system David's Sling, which became operational several weeks ago—completing what may be the most important layer in Israel's defense system. This system, formerly known as Magic Wand, is designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 km to 300 km, which essentially covers most of Israel's territories.

 

The Iranians and Hezbollah understand that the IDF's missile defense system, which is the first and only of its kind, challenges them and their ability to threaten and deter Israel. Even if they are not interested in starting a war with Israel at the moment, they always seek to preserve their level of deterrence against it. For that reason, Iran has decided to change course and instead of arming Hezbollah with hundreds of thousands of imprecise missiles, they are now transitioning to an arsenal comprised mostly of precise missiles and rockets, some of which are even GPS-guided.

 

The explanation for that is simple: The Iranians and Hezbollah understand that David's Sling is capable of intercepting more than 80% of their rockets, and so they intend to battle it using sheer volume—making it so that the IDF's defense system has too many threats to defend against than it possibly could. The Iranians also want to make sure that at least some of the missiles that will manage to pierce through Israel's defense system will not just land in open fields, and so they are upgrading Hezbollah's massive artillery—which is estimated to have more than 130 thousand missiles and rockets.

 

The aim is for the arsenal to be comprised of a larger percentage of guided and precise missiles and rockets, which even if only a few of them manage to avoid being shot down they will still inflict massive amount of damage. This strategy is obvious to the IDF and worries Israel's security operators a great deal. In fact, due to Iran's increasing potential of nuclear capabilities it is now considered to be the main and most dangerous threat to the State of Israel due to its potential for large devastation in Israel's home front.

 

Israel is fully aware of these threats, and is therefore making efforts to gain intelligence on Iran's attempts to arm Hezbollah with precise artillery and prevent Israel from stopping those shipments, sent to Hezbollah forces through Syria. The attacks attributed to Israel on arms depots in Syria, if indeed carried out by it, show the increases efforts by both the Iranians to arm Hezbollah and by Israel to prevent it from taking place. Iran is sending these shipments by—among other methods—commercial flights of Iranian or Iranian-owned airlines out of the assumption that Israel won't know that a regular commercial flight from Tehran to Damascus will also carry missiles and rockets, most of which in pieces.

 

It is not unthinkable that Israel's intelligence is working to learn of these attempts. The battle between Iran and Israel's intelligence systems is held behind a thick cover of secrecy. The Iranians don't want to admit that they are arming Hezbollah through Syria since it breaches rules made by the United Nations Security Council. On its end, Israel is not admitting or denying that it is sabotaging these shipments. And so, both sides are exploiting plausible deniability for their own interests, even if these "military installations" are hard to hide or ignore once they catch fire do to some "unknown missile strike."                

 

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NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN SYRIA? GO THANK ISRAEL                                                                    

Louis René Beres                                                                                                 

Israel Defense, Apr. 27, 2017

 

Plausibly, it is only because of Israel's earlier preemptions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities that the Middle East is not presently awash in Arab nuclear weapons. In this connection, US President Donald Trump might have had to make far more risky calculations in launching his recent retaliation for the Syrian chemical weapons attack if Bashar al-Assad had already acquired a recognizable nuclear counter-retaliatory capability. Also worth noting is that if the long-lasting Damascus regime had not been the object of very successful Israeli defensive strikes back in 2007, nuclear weapons could eventually have fallen into the fanatical hands of Shi'ite Hezbollah, or – if the al-Assad regime should fall – Sunni ISIS.

 

Israel's first use of anticipatory self-defense against a potentially nuclear Middle Eastern adversary was directed at Saddam Hussein's Osiraq reactor near Baghdad on June 7, 1981. Precisely because of Israel's courageous and correspondingly international law-enforcing operations in both Iraq and Syria, America and its allies do not currently have to face enemy nuclear regimes or their terrorist nuclear proxies. Significantly, as corollary, it was the world community's failure to act in a similarly timely fashion against North Korea that contributed mightily to our now expanding security woes regarding Kim Jong-un.

 

In essence, thanks to Israel's Operation Opera on June 7, 1981, and also its later Operation Orchard on September 6, 2007, neither Iraq nor Syria will be able to provide Islamist terrorists with game-changing kinds of destructive technology. To be sure, nuclear weapons in these countries could conceivably have made End Times theology a meaningfully palpable strategic reality. We may now be more operationally precise. On June 7, 1981, and without any prior forms of international approval, Israel destroyed Osiraq. Left intact, this Saddam Hussein-era reactor would have been able to produce enough fuel for an Iraqi nuclear weapon. Moreover, had Prime Minister Menachem Begin first pleadingly sought formal approvals from the "international community," that residually vital expression of self-defense would assuredly have failed.

 

Law also matters. Under international law, war and genocide need not be mutually exclusive. Although it had been conceived by Mr. Begin as an indispensable national security corrective for Israel, one desperately needed to prevent an entirely new form of Holocaust, Operation Opera ultimately saved the lives of thousands or perhaps even tens of thousands of Americans. These were and still remain US soldiers fighting in all the subsequent "Iraqi wars."

 

During the attack on Osiraq, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor before it was ready to go "on line." Ironically, immediately following the attack, the general global community reaction had been overwhelmingly hostile. The UN Security Council, in Resolution 487 of June 19, 1981, expressly indicated that it "strongly condemns" the attack, and even that "Iraq is entitled to appropriate redress for the destruction it has suffered."

 

Officially, the United States, perhaps not yet aware that it would become a distinctly primary beneficiary of this unilaterally defensive Israeli action, issued multiple statements of conspicuously stern rebuke. Today, of course, particularly as we worry about both al-Assad war crimes and prospective ISIS advances, matters look very different. Indeed, in June 1991, during a visit to Israel after the first Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney presented Maj. Gen. David Ivry, commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF), a satellite photograph of the destroyed reactor. On the photograph, Cheney inscribed: "For General David Ivry, with thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job he did on the Iraqi nuclear program in 1981, which made our (American) job much easier in Desert Storm."

 

International law is not a suicide pact. Israel did not act illegally at Osiraq. Under the long-standing customary right known as anticipatory self-defense, every state is entitled to strike first whenever the danger posed is "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation." For such manifestly compelling action, it does not require any antecedent approvals by the United Nations.

 

It was the United States, not Israel, which issued a unilateral policy statement, in 2002, declaring that the traditional right of anticipatory self-defense should immediately be expanded. Here, Washington's strategic and jurisprudential argument hinged, correctly, on the starkly unique dangers of any nuclear-endowed enemy. The National Security Strategy of the United States was issued by the most powerful country on earth. In comparison, Israel, which had claimed a substantially more narrow and conservative view of anticipatory self-defense back in 1981, is small enough to fit into a single county in California, or twice into Lake Michigan.

 

Serious students of world affairs are more or less familiar with what happened at Osiraq back in 1981. But what about the attack that took place in Syria, during Operation Orchard, in 2007? In this second and later case of an Israeli preemption designed to prevent enemy nuclear weapons, the operational details are much more hazy. In brief, the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, consciously reasserted the 1981 "Begin Doctrine," this time within the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria. Several years later, in April 2011, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) authoritatively confirmed that the bombed Syrian site had indeed been the start of a nuclear reactor. Olmert's decision, like Begin's earlier on, turned out to be "right on the money."

 

It's not complicated. International law is not a suicide pact. All things considered, Israel's 1981 and 2007 defensive strikes against enemy rogue states were not only lawful, but distinctly law enforcing. After all, in the incontestable absence of any truly centralized enforcement capability, international law must continue to rely upon the willingness of certain individual and powerful states to act forcefully on behalf of the entire global community. This is exactly what took place on June 7, 1981, and, again, on September 6, 2007.

 

Going forward, Jerusalem and Washington now need to inquire further: What about Iran? Should Tehran sometime agree to provide its surrogate Hezbollah militias with some of its own evolving nuclear technologies, Iran could find itself marshaling considerable and potentially decisive influence in regional terror wars. Then, endlessly sectarian conflicts raging throughout Iraq, Syria, and other places could continue to grow until every remaining flower of human society were irremediably crushed. If that should actually happen – an even more plausible scenario if there should be a simultaneous or near-simultaneous coup d'état in already-nuclear Pakistan – we might then all still bear impotent witness to a world spinning further out of control… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Tell the UN: Jerusalem is Israel’s Eternal Capital (Petition): The Israel Project, May 1, 2017—Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital — but the UN is set to ERASE Israel’s right to any of the city. Demand the un stop its war of lies against Israel. Sign the petition here.

Such a Moving Video Commemorating the Fallen Heroes of the Israel Defense Forces: Israel Video Network, May 1, 2017—The 23,144 thousands of Israeli soldiers and citizens who have been killed in the Land of Israel were the best and the finest of Israel’s youth. It is due to their bravery that we live the lives we live today in the Land of Israel. Their sacrifices are a beacon of light for all to learn from. They serve as role models of self-sacrifice to all for what we as an old nation, in an ancient land who have built up a modern-day State – need to do in order to preserve our way of life. May their memories be blessed.

In Our Forgetfulness, We Turned Our Children Into Heroes: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times Of Israel, Apr. 30, 2017—On Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance, let the politicians and generals talk of “heroes” and “commemoration.” I can speak only of children. Heroes, after all, are just children who grew old enough that we forgot their childhoods. In this forgetfulness, we put rifles in their hands, ran their sore feet through mud and sand, and sent them out to fight.

Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers: Tami Shelach, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017—Israeli society is built in such a way that there is no one who is not connected to someone who fell during their IDF service, either during or between wars. Sometimes it’s a loved one from your immediate or extended family, a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, or a fellow soldier. They may be secular or religious Jews, Druse, or members of other religions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UN GAZA WAR REPORT: LESS BIASED THAN “GOLDSTONE” — BUT ISRAEL UNFAIRLY BLAMED FOR DEFENDING ITSELF AGAINST HAMAS TERRORISTS

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

UN Gaza War Report Leaves No Room for Israeli Self-Defense: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, June 22, 2015 — After months of anticipation, the report by the United Nations Human Rights Council about last summer’s Gaza war is out today and its contents are no surprise .

UNHRC Report: Less Biased, But No Less Lethal: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2015— While seriously problematic from the Israeli legal perspective, the UN Human Rights Council’s report on the 2014 Gaza war, made public on Monday, is far less biased than the Goldstone Report on the 2008-9 Gaza fighting.

Latest Study Offers Another Gloomy View of Eternal Stalemate Between Israel and Gaza: National Post, June  23, 2015 — It’s all so depressingly familiar now: another war in the Middle East, another report.

Next Time, Ask a General: Mitch Ginsburg, Times of Israel, June 22, 2015 — The UN report on last summer’s Gaza war, while more even-handed than its predecessor — written shortly after the 2008-2009 conflict — is still willfully or perhaps unknowingly ignorant of modern military affairs.

 

On Topic Links

 

Attorneys at War: Willy Stern, Weekly Standard, June 15, 2015

Ahead of UN Report on 2014 Gaza War, Multinational Mission of Generals Find: "Israel Not Only Met But Significantly Exceeded International Legal Standards": UN Watch, June 12, 2015

The Schabes Report Had ‘Biased Mandate’ and ‘Unreliable Sources’: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, June 22, 2015

The Gaza War 2014: Hirsh Goodman and Dore Gold, eds., JCPA, June 2015

Filling in the Blanks: Documenting Missing Dimensions in UN and

NGO Investigations of the Gaza Conflict: Gerald M. Steinberg and Anne Herzberg, eds., NGO Monitor, June 2015

 

 

 

UN GAZA WAR REPORT LEAVES NO ROOM FOR ISRAELI SELF-DEFENSE                                                            

Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                                                                  

Commentary, June 22, 2015

 

After months of anticipation, the report by the United Nations Human Rights Council about last summer’s Gaza war is out today and its contents are no surprise. While the UNHRC acknowledged that Hamas’s indiscriminate firing of rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and towns were acts of terrorism, it concentrated most of its fire on Israel’s attempts to defend its territory and citizens. The UNHRC not only described Israeli actions as “disproportionate and indiscriminate” but also considers the blockade of Gaza to be a violation of Palestinian human rights and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court.

 

But while the toll of Palestinian civilian deaths was a tragedy, the UN Gaza war report is predictably skewed not just in terms of its mischaracterization of what were, in fact, highly restrictive rules of engagement that often put Israel Defense Forces personnel in danger, but also seeming to grant Hamas impunity to wage a terror war against Israel’s existence. In effect, what the UNHRC is doing is to create rules that allow Hamas to hide amid a civilian population, using them as human shields, and then to claim those trying to stop terror are the real criminals. The United States must not only reject this dangerous precedent, but it ought to withdraw from a biased UN agency that seems to exist largely to single out the Jewish state for unfair treatment.

 

The UNHRC takes the view that the large number of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli fire around or in their homes is, almost by definition, proof that the IDF misbehaved. Just as wrongheaded is the claim that Israel’s efforts to warn Palestinians to leave specific areas or even specific structures is insufficient to ward off charges of war crimes. But as this feature by Willy Stern published this month by the Weekly Standard shows, the legal process by which IDF strikes are approved is geared toward saving civilian lives goes beyond any notion of what international law requires. Indeed, the Israeli rules, which often endanger Israeli soldiers and allow terrorists to escape simply because of the possibility that civilians might be harmed, are such that they go well beyond the practices what other Western nations, including the United States in its conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq observe.

 

But when one boils down the UN report to its essentials, it comes to this: The only sort of Israeli action in Gaza that might pass the HRC’s test would be if Israeli soldiers knocked on every door and politely asked if there were any terrorists there and then left if they were told there weren’t. The fact that Hamas deliberately fires its rockets amid and from civilian structures places those in those buildings in harm’s way. Israel tries to warn civilians to leave and even goes to extreme measures such as firing duds at buildings in order to get noncombatants to evacuate them. But Hamas made it clear to civilians that those fleeing the fighting would be considered collaborators if they didn’t stay put. That’s a death threat that Gazans rightly treat as more worrisome than the prospect of being caught in a firefight involving the Israelis. The UNHRC standard is damaging to Israel, but it also hurts the Palestinians since it effectively leaves them at the mercy of the Islamist tyrants that have seized control of Gaza.

 

Moreover, asking the Israelis not to use heavy weapons in urban areas essentially gives Hamas a further incentive to dig in, as it did, in residential neighborhoods and then dare the Israelis to try to root them out. The results of such actions are sometimes tragic. Though any such deaths are awful, given the scale of the fighting initiated by Hamas, a death toll of even the number of civilians claimed by the UNHRC (other reports place the number of civilians much lower since the UN wrongly allows the Palestinians to declare many Hamas personnel to be noncombatants) is actually quite low. As I noted last week, the fact that other reports and even the verdict of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States is that Israel not only acted properly but also constituted a model for the conduct of armed forces in asymmetrical conflicts illustrates the UNHRC’s bias.

 

But the main question to be asked here is how a war launched by a terrorist organization operating an independent Palestinian state in all but name can be defended against by the victims of their attacks without incurring some civilian casualties. The point is not just that Hamas’s goal is to kill as many Jewish civilians as possible while the IDF goes to extreme lengths to avoid such deaths. Rather, it is that once a terrorist group sets up operations in an area under its control, sovereign nations attacked by these killers must have the right to conduct defensive operations intended to halt rocket fire and the use of tunnels for kidnapping and murder. If the soldiers of such nations are to be deemed war criminals for using heavy weapons or for mistakes that inevitably happen in the heat of battle amid the fog of war, then what the UNHRC is doing is to create rules that give the terrorists impunity.

 

Moreover, if blockades of areas run by such terrorists bent on destroying their neighbors — the purpose of Hamas’s “resistance to Israel is not to adjust its borders in the West Bank, but to eliminate the Jewish state — are also illegal, then such criminal groups will likewise be granted impunity to set up such states and conduct wars without fear of international sanctions. That Israel’s blockade of Gaza ensured that food and medical supplies continued to flow into the strip even during the war proves how absurd the UN standards are when applied to Israel.

 

It is that last phrase that is the operative concept at work here. We know that the UN would not dare label any military operation such as the one conducted by Israel as illegal were it carried out by any other nation. The UNHRC largely ignores real human rights crises elsewhere in the world (including next door to Israel in Syria where hundreds of thousands have died) in order to concentrate its condemnations on the Jewish state. The fact that the chair of this commission who guided it for most of its life was a bitter critic of Israel and issued statements prejudging its outcome made this bias even more explicit.

 

In the end, the UNHRC report does nothing to clarify how nations should conduct wars. But it does tell us everything we need to know about the need for civilized nations to cease supporting an agency that purports to speak in the name of human rights but instead bolsters hate.             

                                                                                   

                                                                                   

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UNHRC REPORT: LESS BIASED, BUT NO LESS LETHAL    

Yonah Jeremy Bob                                                                                                

Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2015

 

While seriously problematic from the Israeli legal perspective, the UN Human Rights Council’s report on the 2014 Gaza war, made public on Monday, is far less biased than the Goldstone Report on the 2008-9 Gaza fighting. However, where it attacks the IDF’s conduct, in some ways it is far more sophisticated than Goldstone. In addition, whereas the International Criminal Court in 2008- 9 was just a distant threat, it now sees the Palestinians as having a state that can officially file war crimes complaints and is deep into a preliminary examination of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

At a macro level and looking toward the ICC, the main problems the UNHRC report poses for Israel are the questions of command responsibility, whether Israel can disclose enough information to show its attacks on residences were justified, and whether it can defend its policy of using artillery even after pervasive reports of civilian casualties caused by such weaponry. Command responsibility refers to the idea that senior military and political leaders can be found guilty of war crimes if their targeting policies violate the laws of armed conflict. The State Comptroller’s Office is the only authority that has been tasked by Israel to look into the issue, making its coming report an urgent matter, if only to show that the government and defense community are not ignoring it.

 

It can be argued that Israel made an unforced error in failing to enact a law spelling out command responsibility, as had been suggested in 2013 by the quasi-governmental Turkel Commission, which looked into the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident in which naval commandos killed 10 Turkish activists trying to run the Gaza blockade. However, it can also be argued that waiting for publication of the UNHRC report helped clarify the issues on which Israel should press forward more quickly.

 

Regarding disclosure, Israel will likely say it has divulged far more in the way of operational details in its investigations of alleged war crimes than any other country. This might be true, but it could also consider disclosing even more details in an effort to fight for the high ground in the legitimacy debate, even if the details are less than what the HRC’s investigative commission appeared to demand – which is a standard that seemed to brush off the need to protect intelligence sources without citing a basis under the laws of armed conflict.

 

As for the use of artillery, Israel will likely confront questions about its policy by attacking the commission’s level of military expertise. The HRC report makes reference to having had a military expert involved to assess military issues, but certain aspects of its conclusions will likely raise an Israeli accusation that those who authored the report did not understand the exigencies of what is feasible on the battlefield. One example might be where the report rejects the IDF’s claim that in a particular instance, aerial support was not available.

 

The report rejects the IDF’s explanation of its use of what the commission viewed as less-accurate weaponry, arguing that the country’s vast air power belied the claim of a lack of aerial support – although this rejection appears weak since it is not based on any factual knowledge of the circumstances. In fairness to the report, Israel did not cooperate with the HRC commission, in some instances forcing it to make estimates. Many, even on the Israeli side, consider the decision against cooperation to have been tactically imprudent.

 

But Israel can hardly be slammed too hard for its decision not to cooperate, since it was chaired for most of its existence by Canadian legal expert William Schabas, who eventually resigned over disclosures that he had accepted payment from the PLO for prior legal advice. On a micro level, Israel has its work cut out for it in defending itself against specific war crimes allegations regarding the August 1 Hannibal Protocol incident, attacks in the Shejaia neighborhood on July 19, 20 and 30, and particularly troubling incidents like the July 16 naval shelling that killed four boys on Gaza beach. Despite Israel’s detailed explanation as to why it closed its own investigation into the Gaza beach incident, the report questions whether Israel could not have done more to clarify that the four boys were not Hamas personnel. Similar questions are likely to be raised across the board.

 

From the Israeli perspective, the report is far harsher on Hamas than were past UN reports, whether it be over indiscriminate rocket fire or purposely using civilian areas to stage attacks. In one surprising instance, the report even suggests that Hamas could be guilty of war crimes not only for murder and attempted murder from the direct lethal power of its rockets, but could also be guilty of the more indirect war crime of terrorizing a populace. The report also clearly rebukes Hamas for storing weapons in UN facilities and other civilian locations.

 

Despite all of its findings against Hamas, however, the report manages to find a way on most issues to skew toward a final conclusion that condemns Israel and employs a moral equivalence between the sides without really explaining its basis. Ultimately, on all of the points where Israel is likely to attack the findings, the report focuses far more than did past reports on areas where Israeli legal defenses could be more vulnerable. In addition, many of its findings against Israel are more nuanced and less blanket than in the past. This combination could prove legally lethal as the ICC considers whether to further inject itself into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.                                  

                                                                                   

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LATEST STUDY OFFERS ANOTHER GLOOMY VIEW OF                      

ETERNAL STALEMATE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND GAZA                                                                         

National Post, June 23, 2015

 

It’s all so depressingly familiar now: another war in the Middle East, another report. Monday’s release of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s findings into last year’s conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip made grim enough reading on its own, with its vivid descriptions of innocent civilians, on both sides, torn apart by heavy weapons. The certainty of such events repeating themselves makes reading it all the gloomier a task.

 

The report, which notes that it did not receive co-operation from either side, was the product of interviews with witnesses, reviews of photographic and video evidence and publicly released materials. The conclusions are about what you would expect: both Israel and various Palestinian terror organizations are cited for probable war crimes. In Israel’s case, the concerns mostly lie with the use of heavy weapons in populated areas, resulting in more civilian casualties than can be justified on the basis of military necessity. In the case of the Palestinian terror groups, the report condemns firing mostly unguided weapons into populated areas, or simply declaring population centres to be military bases. Likewise the observed pattern of basing long-range weapons and troops in the immediate vicinity of schools, hospitals, mosques and homes.

 

On balance, the report is generally reasonable, and includes some suggestions Israel could do well to adopt, including limiting use of the heaviest artillery calibres and largest air-dropped bombs in populated areas, as well as providing more time to evacuate dwellings selected for targeted destruction. The report also lamented that, in many instances, Israel did not provide much justification for why certain targets were selected for destruction, while conceding that in many instances, Israel may well have had such justification, which it refused to share for reasons of operational security.

 

The problem with the report, as with others before it, is that it misses the point. Yes, the Israel Defense Forces can and should learn from every conflict, and find ways to do better — though they already show more restraint than any nation should reasonably be expected to. But there is simply no way to compare the conduct of Israel, a Western democracy with civilian-led armed forces, with Gaza — essentially a terrorist enclave run by numerous, often competing armed groups, which tragically happen to share the same geographic space as a million trapped civilians.

 

Israel would no doubt prefer to fight its battles out in an open field somewhere, where it can bring all its high-tech military might to bear in a crushing, decisive military blow. Unfortunately, it happens to be located next to a heavily populated urban area full of well-armed people that hate it — and who aren’t shy about launching attacks from civilian installations, among other violations of the laws of war. Israel has tried unilaterally withdrawing all its troops from the area; that hasn’t precisely worked out. So long as groups in Gaza continue to rain rockets and mortars on Israeli civilians, and dig tunnels below the border, Israel will have to keep defending itself where its enemies are attacking it from — with all the carnage that urban fighting inevitably entails.

 

It’s a bleak reality, but a reality nonetheless. The only real cause for hope can be found on Israel’s other borders: those with Jordan, Egypt and even the West Bank. Israel is clearly capable of living in peace with Muslim, Arab neighbours. In Gaza, it lacks only a willing partner. Israel should indeed read this latest UN report, and implement such of its recommendations as make military and moral sense. But until and unless fresh leadership comes to Gaza, it will still face the same existential dilemma.

                                                                       

                                                                       

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Mitch Ginsburg                                         

Times of Israel, June 22, 2015

                       

The UN report on last summer’s Gaza war, while more even-handed than its predecessor — written shortly after the 2008-2009 conflict — is still willfully or perhaps unknowingly ignorant of modern military affairs. What it needed, aside from Israeli cooperation and an open mind, was a general, preferably one who has commanded troops under fire in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

 

The first thing this officer could have provided is perspective. Whether one accepts the UN death toll, as provided by the Hamas Interior Ministry, or the Israeli one, an international reader still has no way of knowing if the tragic toll in human life — of civilians as opposed to enemy combatants — is disproportionately or even outrageously high.

 

A senior Israeli officer told me during the war, after detailing all that is being done to spare civilians, that even if the ratio comes out as one militant killed for every two civilians, “I’d sign off on that.” He said the US ratio in Iraq was far worse than that. Since there are no UN reports investigating US or British actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, and no independent organization chronicling the precise ratios, it is hard to know.

 

A general would have helped, too, with an understanding of artillery and mortar use. The report actually cited a Times of Israel article about the need to restrict the use of “statistical” weapons in an urban surrounding. This is true. It is needed. But the report fails to discern between offensive targeting and defensive fire. In Shejaiya, with Hamas handling is military operations “de facto” from al-Wafa hospital, according to an Israeli investigation, the intense artillery blasts, consisting of 600 rounds within the span of an hour, was defensive. It was needed because Israeli troops were trapped under fire. A more serious report would discern the difference between these two situations.

 

Another problem is the lack of study of Hamas doctrine. The claim that Israel may have committed war crimes by failing to differentiate between civilians and combatants could use a careful illustration of the way Hamas builds its own fortifications — hiding weapons in mosques, and situating rockets near schools and medical clinics. That said, the report is right to put the onus on Israel’s Military Advocate General’s Corps to investigate the Israel Defense Forces. Of course, distinguishing between enemies and civilians is difficult during a modern war and it is complicated by an enemy that often poses as a civilian — either wearing women’s clothes or traveling in an ambulance. But if the IDF is to credibly counter the stated “lamentable track record in holding wrongdoers accountable,” it must, for instance, either charge the soldiers involved in the July 23 and July 25 incidents in Khuza’a — in which civilians waving white flags were targeted and, in one case, killed — or explain the details of the incident.

 

The final operational issue is proportionality. There is no formula to judge whether an attacking army is acting within the confines of that law. And yet it is possible that the army, as the report asserts, may have exceeded its limits during the hours immediately after the August 1 abduction of Lt. Hadar Goldin. Operating amid the shock of a Hamas-ruptured ceasefire and the news of a soldier’s abduction — an Israeli Achilles’ heel — the army reportedly fired 2,000 pieces of ordnance on Rafah during the morning hours. Dozens of civilians were killed. The report states that, according to some, “the proportionality test may take into account strategic considerations in determining the military advantage.” In other words, that denying Hamas the leverage of holding an Israeli captive is central to Israel’s military objective and therefore a massive counter-strike is warranted. The commission rejected this out of hand, stating that this “is not [a] valid consideration.” The leverage, the report explained, “does not depend solely on the capture of a soldier, but on how the Government of Israel decides to react to the capture in the aftermath.”

 

This isolated case requires the opinion of the MAG Corps as the IDF looks ahead to future conflicts, in which the enemy will continue to try and attack Israel’s soft spot. A military authority on the panel, though, along with Israeli cooperation and a willingness to accept Israeli facts about the army’s targeting practices — and not merely the anonymous testimony of Breaking the Silence — would likely have shown the truth about this war: It was awful, of course, but while the Palestinians undoubtedly suffered and continue to suffer more than Israelis, the very fact of this suffering does not make the IDF and the government of Israel guilty of systemic war crimes. The report did spread the blame to Hamas and inserted some doubt into its own rather far-reaching allegations, stating that Israel “may” have committed war crimes, rather than stating it as fact, as Judge Richard Goldstone did in 2009, before reality forced him to recant.

 

 Contents

                                                                                     

On Topic

 

Attorneys at War: Willy Stern, Weekly Standard, June 15, 2015 —For three straight days starting on July 15, 2014, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) made thousands of phone calls to the residents of Shejaiya in northern Gaza. The locals were encouraged to evacuate their homes before IDF tanks rolled across the border.

Ahead of UN Report on 2014 Gaza War, Multinational Mission of Generals Find: "Israel Not Only Met But Significantly Exceeded International Legal Standards": UN Watch, June 12, 2015—The report of the UN's controversial Schabas-Davis commission of inquiry on Gaza is to be released imminently, and will be debated on Monday, June 29th, before the Human Rights Council. 

The Schabes Report Had ‘Biased Mandate’ and ‘Unreliable Sources’: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, June 22, 2015 —Israeli officials continue to analyze The Schabes Report sparked by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and authored by the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict.” Most have noted the striking anti-Israel bias in the report.

The Gaza War 2014: Hirsh Goodman and Dore Gold, eds., JCPA, June 2015—Israel was the target of thousands of rockets and mortar attacks against its civilian population, with some Israeli areas targeted that had three times the population density of Gaza. Israel clearly acted out of self-defense. – See more at: http://jcpa.org/the-gaza-war-2014/#sthash.UGfoDD6f.dpuf

Filling in the Blanks: Documenting Missing Dimensions in UN and NGO Investigations of the Gaza Conflict: Gerald M. Steinberg and Anne Herzberg, eds., NGO Monitor, June 2015—This report provides an independent, fully-sourced, systematic, and detailed documentation on some of the key issues related to the renewal of intense conflict between Hamas and Israel during July and August 2014.

              

IDF, FACING GROWING THREATS, LEARNS FROM GAZA WAR

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

The Growing Threats From Multiple Arenas for Gadi Eisenkot: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2014 — New IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will have more than his fair share of work in the next four years.

Israel’s Air and Missile Defense During the 2014 Gaza War: Uzi Rubin, BESA, Feb. 11, 2015 — In the escalation that precipitated the 2014 Gaza War (Operation Protective Edge) and during the war, Israel was subjected to the fiercest and longest reaching rocket assault in its history, including the rocket fire from Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon War.

In Prepping for Hezbollah Battle, Army Draws Lessons From Gaza: Mitch Ginsberg, Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2014— On November 20, 2005, the IDF’s Military Intelligence directorate spread word to the army’s forward bases on the Lebanon border that a complex Hezbollah mission was afoot.

From the Shores of Nova Scotia, Israel’s First Soldiers: Rob Gordon, National Post, Jan. 5, 2015— The Fort Edward blockhouse in Windsor, Nova Scotia is one of the oldest wooden fortifications still standing in North America.

 

On Topic Links

 

Defense Minister Ya’alon: India a “True Friend” to Israel: Ahuva Balofsky, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 18, 2015

Israel, India 'Open' to Joint Production of Military Hardware: I24, Feb. 18, 2015

Navy Installs Advanced Underwater AquaShield Detection System: Lilach Shoval, Israel Hayom,  Feb. 6, 2015

Between Dresden and Gaza: Ehud Yairi, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 11, 2015

 

                                                                                          

THE GROWING THREATS FROM MULTIPLE ARENAS FOR GADI EISENKOT                                                        

Yaakov Lappin                                                   

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2015

 

New IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will have more than his fair share of work in the next four years. As he assumes the commander’s seat and surveys the rapidly changing arenas that surround Israel, Eisenkot will see a region that is falling apart, but in which familiar enemies remain, building up their attack capabilities for the next conflict. From the outgoing chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, Eisenkot has received a military that is more integrated, flexible, and hi-tech, and which enjoys more intelligence than ever before.

 

Military Intelligence collects tens of millions of pieces of data on Israel’s enemies every single day. Some of this information is used to build target banks, for when war next breaks out. Some is used to conduct daring, covert operations behind enemy lines, which remain classified and unknown to the media and the public.

 

Yet some of the most immediate challenges facing Israeli security cannot be thwarted with the help of intelligence. These include the tense powder keg that is the West Bank, which is becoming more explosive by the day. Should a third intifada break out, it will likely be characterized by unorganized mass violence that cannot be prevented by intelligence. Such a development could come by the spring, due to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s diplomatic offensive against Israel, now under way internationally. This offensive could spread from the diplomatic arena to the territories in very little time.

 

Elsewhere, however, the intelligence being gathered by the IDF will prove pivotal: against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon; Hamas in Gaza; and potentially, further in the future, against Iran, which poses a double challenge: its nuclear program and its regional proxy terrorism network. Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal of 150,000 projectiles has no known parallel, according to Gantz, who earlier this year challenged an audience to show him “four to five countries that have what Hezbollah has” in terms of a projectile stockpile, adding, “you won’t.” In Gaza too, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are quickly replenishing their rocket supplies, and work on tunnels has begun in earnest. Global jihadi elements like al-Qaida and Islamic State are filling vacuums in Syria and the Sinai Peninsula.

 

Gantz has spent four years poring over these threats and restructuring the IDF to adapt to them. His efforts have seen the rise of a territorial division on the Golan Heights that specializes in dealing with the hidden threats in Syria’s chaos. They also led to a more autonomous Southern Command that is better prepared for the myriad threats developing in the Strip. Additionally, thanks to new networks of digital command and control systems, the air force, ground forces, and navy now cooperate more than ever, and are able to share target data. This allows for accurate firepower to be deployed in ways that may have been considered science fiction not long ago.

 

But much work remains. The IDF’s ability to cope with rocket fire without a large-scale ground maneuver remains limited to an unsatisfactory degree. As Iran and the US continue to negotiate over Tehran’s nuclear program, it is fair to assume that Gantz fostered the IDF’s long-range strike capability. On Monday, Gantz issued a veiled warning to the government during his farewell speech, saying, “In the hour that we will have to turn our eyes to farther challenges, it is important to remember, at the same time, to extend our hands to allies, to create fields of interest that promote solutions, and which can ensure that our nation does not dwell alone.” He remained deliberately vague and did not name those allies, but it seems reasonable to believe that Gantz hinted at the need to safeguard the strategic alliance with the US, to avoid international isolation, and to make more of an effort to reach diplomatic progress with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

 

                                                                       

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ISRAEL’S AIR AND MISSILE DEFENSE DURING THE 2014 GAZA WAR                                                                 

Uzi Rubin                                                              

BESA, Feb. 11, 2015

 

In the escalation that precipitated the 2014 Gaza War (Operation Protective Edge) and during the war, Israel was subjected to the fiercest and longest reaching rocket assault in its history, including the rocket fire from Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon War. In preparation for the assault against Israel, the Palestinian factions in Gaza amassed more than 10,000 rockets, some with ranges reaching most of Israel’s territory. Nearly half of this stockpile consisted of locally produced rockets by the newly established Palestinian military industries, and inspired and supported by Iran. More than 4,500 rockets and mortar bombs were fired from Gaza during the fighting. The rocket fire interrupted civilian air traffic to and from Israel’s major international airport and threatened Israel’s gas fields in the Mediterranean. The Palestinians added an air threat to their rocket assault, launching armed UAVs toward Israel’s main metropolitan centers. In spite of intensive efforts by Israel’s Air Force and Navy to destroy the launchers, the Palestinian rocket fire was neither silenced nor reduced in intensity until an agreed cease fire ended the fighting.

 

The Palestinians’ offensive achievement was matched by Israel’s defensive success. Israel’s Air Defense Command deployed an efficient active defense array consisting of the Iron Dome rocket defense system and the Patriot air defense system. The nine Iron Dome batteries that protected most of Israel’s civilian areas shot down nine out of every ten rockets aimed at their defended areas. The Patriot batteries shot down Palestinian armed UAVs and brought their assault to a full stop. Therefore, the casualties and damage from the Gaza rockets were significantly less than in previous rocket assaults. Israel’s active defenses provided the sinews for Israel’s public resilience, safeguarded Israel’s international air and sea ports, and allowed most Israelis in the threatened localities to continue their daily lives with minimal interruptions.

 

Skeptics in Israel and the US voiced doubts about the disclosed achievements of the Iron Dome system. US critics used commercial and private videos of rocket interceptions to allege that the system was significantly less successful than claimed. The low number of casualties was attributed by them to the efficiency of Israel’s public alert system and extensive shelter network, as well as the supposedly low lethality of the Gaza rocket warheads. However, a comparison of losses and damages in the 2014 Gaza War to those from the 2006 Lebanon War, when no active defense system existed, refute the critics’ allegations.

 

The 2014 Gaza War exposed the powerful war machine that the Gaza Palestinian factions had been building since the middle of the previous decade. In spite of Israel’s defensive success, the fighting revealed gaps that require corrective action, including adding Iron Dome systems, improving the capability to shoot down UAVs, countering the mortar bomb threats and providing the Israeli Navy with the means to defend Israel’s energy sources in the Mediterranean against rockets.          

[To Read the Full Booklet Click the Following Link—Ed.] 

                                                           

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IN PREPPING FOR HEZBOLLAH BATTLE,

ARMY DRAWS LESSONS FROM GAZA                                                                                             

Mitch Ginsberg                                                                                                   

Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2015

 

On November 20, 2005, the IDF’s Military Intelligence directorate spread word to the army’s forward bases on the Lebanon border that a complex Hezbollah mission was afoot. It’s not clear how detailed the warning was; the volume of threats is always significant and the foot soldiers doing the grunt work on the borders are often inured to alarm. More often than not, the threats are duly noted and the routine prevails. A company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade, though, sat down that afternoon and re-addressed the threat he faced. Hezbollah, were it to attack, would come for a static position near the border fence. He assessed the possible approach routes, the possible targets, and set out a string of counter-ambushes along the flanks of the stationary positions, equipping the squads with precision weapons and other essentials.

 

Toward evening, a four-man Hezbollah squad, moving in formation and armed to the teeth, approached, under a veil of mortar fire, from precisely the direction that Lt. Elad Yaakobson had presumed. The Hezbollah men, dressed in black and carrying an armed rocket-propelled grenade, were backed up by high-powered, off-road motorcycles and jeeps. The mission, it was clear, was to abduct a soldier. A marksman, at the time a corporal only eight months into his service, kept his cool and picked off each of the four attackers, foiling the raid.

 

The company commander, by changing the alignment, “solved the problem for the entire state of Israel,” said Lt. Col. Dotan Razili, the deputy commander of the army’s Company and Battalion Commander Course, which came to a close this week in the Negev Desert with a live-fire drill. “That’s what we expect from them.”  He spoke shortly after Israel allegedly assassinated an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general and an iconic Hezbollah commander along with several other combatants traveling in a convoy in the Syrian Golan Heights, prompting vows of revenge, or “destructive thunderbolts,” in the words of Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

 

Trailing a group of Golani Brigade soldiers, advancing alongside the settling skip of machine-gun fire and the mechanical screech of tank treads, Razili detailed the lessons of the last war, in Gaza, and the ways they are applicable to future conflicts, perhaps with Hezbollah. Nasrallah, he said of the organization’s leader, “wants to conquer a city,” perhaps in the Galilee. The border town at the tip of the Galilee’s panhandle, Metulla, he suggested, “is definitely a possibility.” The army constantly practices perimeter defense and the invasion of enemy strongholds or towns in which the enemy is embedded. It does not, however, drill its infantry soldiers in the practice of taking back an Israeli town seized, in its entirety, by enemy forces. “The main element is to lessen the shock and make sure they’ll act,” Razili said, noting that no Israeli village or town has fallen since Kibbutz Nitzana, in 1948, “and the trauma of that endures till today.” What, precisely, is the extent of Hezbollah’s capabilities, he allowed, remains unclear to the IDF. “There’s no doubt that it acquired certain skills in Syria” — namely, the assault of towns and cities, operating in larger groups — “and we really don’t like it. We understand that the challenge is growing and increasing.”

 

The solution, for the asymmetric threats lurking amid the cities of Gaza and Lebanon, are most readily addressed, he said, by bolstering two principles of warfare: adaptation, which led to the success in Rajar; and deception, which was lacking during the 50-day operation in Gaza. Deception, Razili said, “was slightly forgotten by us.” It’s in the army’s central principles of war, ranked fourth, as opposed to eighth position in the US Army, but, with time, he added, “the matter was less and less emphasized; it was diluted a bit.” He said he didn’t want to talk about the IDF as Goliath but that, at times, in an effort to cut losses and to get an operation done, the army has acted like the biblical giant of the Philistines. “But we tell the company and battalion commanders: You are David.” This means living in the field, knowing the field, and connecting the dots of evidence until, “as in a children’s workbook,” the enemy’s force structure emerges. “Look at the field,” he said. “Even if you do not always understand everything. Look at the system. Find the mines, locate the anti-tank squads, figure out the mandatory channels. See the system. Now attack the weak spots.”

 

Armies, though, as opposed to small organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah — whose learning curve has been improved by a series of massive Israeli blows, Razili said — learn slowly. In order to bridge the gap, the Company and Battalion Commander Course staff went down to the Gaza border staging area during the war and conducted Q&A sessions with recent graduates who had fought in the war, asking what, in the trial by fire, was found to be lacking. The results were both surprising and intuitive. The staff found that the armor-infantry union worked well, even in the urban environment; that dogs, so long as they are not too hot and tired, are invaluable in detecting explosives; that army radio frequency and not encoded telephones were crucial to successfully managing a field force; that the army still has no real notion of how to silently or noiselessly cross its own border fence en masse; and that mines often chart a path to gunmen and gunmen to mines.

 

On tunnels, Razili and other officers were understandably tight-lipped, saying only that the lessons learned surrounded locating the tunnels, flushing the militants out, and fighting around them but not within the underground space, which is generally the domain of Special Forces. Surprisingly, diarrhea represented a significant problem. The people of Israel brought food down to the staging area en masse. The soldiers ate and took more for the road. “The mom made the schnitzel in Tel Aviv,” Razili said, “so by the time it reaches the guys, it can be a problem.” Additionally, living in the field often means living without bathrooms. Alcohol gel, the officers told the staff, was shipped in mid-operation, and only then was the problem contained.

 

Lt. Ilay Galon, the deputy commander of the Paratroopers Brigade’s recon unit during the operation, completed the course this week and will command a paratrooper Basic Training company in March. He fought in Gaza for five days. On July 21, in southern Gaza, after moving from house to house to locate tunnels and Hamas squads, his team came under a highly organized attack: One soldier was killed, 14 more were wounded. The battle was face-to-face, at close range. Galon took a bullet in the thigh. One lesson, Galon said, is that every soldier needs to know the basics of first aid. “It’s talked about a lot, but it’s not always really practiced,” he said. Additionally, in the battles awaiting Israel, he said, the concept of gathering force in a line for a charge against the enemy is not relevant. “It’s one on one,” he said, explaining that a soldier’s individual skills, in what he termed guerrilla warfare, would decide many battles.

 

And finally, the new graduate said that although many of the battles would seem to be based in urban environments, the army is right to keep the initial emphasis on the field and then, in more advanced training, to teach the elements of urban and subterranean warfare. “It’s the base,” he said, “and the base comes first.”As for the old adage that armies tend to prepare for the previous war, Razili acknowledged the difficulty. “It’s always true,” he said. “We could be wrong. A new war is always a challenge. But if you give the basics — how to take apart the enemy’s system, how to pick the right tool from the toolbox — then it should work.”

                                                                       

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FROM THE SHORES OF NOVA SCOTIA, ISRAEL’S FIRST SOLDIERS                                                             

Rob Gordon                                                                                                                  

National Post, Jan. 5, 2015

 

The Fort Edward blockhouse in Windsor, Nova Scotia is one of the oldest wooden fortifications still standing in North America. It played a major role in the Explusion of the Acadians in 1755, helped defend Nova Scotia in the War of 1812 and, in a truly odd twist of history, assisted in the creation of the State of Israel. Fort Edward sits atop a wind-swept hill over looking the former mill town of Windsor. The town has bragging rights as the birthplace of ice hockey and hometown to some of the world’s largest pumpkins.

 

But there is another less known boast; in the summer of 1917, Windsor was home to some of Israel’s founding fathers and the place where the forerunner of the Israeli Defence Force was forged. In the shadow of the blockhouse, hundreds of Jewish boys from New York, Montreal, Russia and Palestine first put on a uniform and learned how to handle a rifle. It was here that the Jewish Legion was formed up — one of the first all-Jewish military forces in modern times. Although the legion trained in Canada, the soldiers where never part of the Canadian army. They were considered British imperial forces and came under British command.

 

Young recruit David Ben-Gurion arrived to train with the Jewish Legion on June 1, 1918. Like all the legion’s recruits, Ben-Gurion was paid 50 cents a day. The future first prime minister of Israel roughed in a bell tent and slept on the bare Nova Scotia earth. “In this camp there are all types to be found among Jewish people, from the most lofty-minded idealists and the highly educated to coarse and evil-minded individuals, born criminals,” is how Ben-Gurion described his first impressions of the camp in a letter to his wife Paula just days after getting Nova Scotia. One of Ben-Gurion’s brothers-in-arms in Windsor was Ze’ev Jabotinsky, an ardent Zionist who was one of the co-founders of the Jewish Legion. Jabotinsky, like many of the legion soldiers, saw forming a Jewish military unit as essential to their dream of creating an Israel. While learning the ins and outs of military life in Nova Scotia in April 1918, soldier-poet Abraham Isserman wrote the following:

 

“A million more must follow:

You! Join in with the brave:

Or else their faith is hollow,

And Zion seeks her grave.”

 

The coarse, the evil-minded and the lofty that Ben-Gurion trained with appear to have been well-treated by the local people of the Annapolis Valley town. One account in the local paper talks about the joyous celebration of the Jewish New Year in 1918 when 500 legionaries gathered at the Windsor opera for a kosher meal. On July 1, 1918 Windsor celebrated Dominion Day, the Jewish Legion was invited to take part but the soldiers wanted the “Jewish flag” to fly along side the Canadian and British flags. “At first they didn’t fly the Jewish flag, and our boys were going to refuse to take part in the parade. I went to the major and demanded that the Jewish flag be displayed as well, and at once he gave the order to fly the blue and white flag,” Ben-Gurion wrote to his wife.

 

The 39th Battalion of the Windsor-based Jewish Legion was dispatched to fight the Turkish troops of the Ottoman Empire in June 1918. The legion fought in the Jordan Valley with the 39th Battalion, listing 23 dead. Many, many more were disabled or died because of malaria or other disease. But the First World War was coming to a close and that meant the Jewish legion was be stood down by the British. Still the legion achieved what many of its members wanted; formally-trained, professional Jewish soldiers stationed in the Middle East. And many of the legion’s former soldiers formed the backbone of Jewish defence teams protecting villages.

 

The rifle training, the marching in unison and the military mind-set learned at Fort Edward stuck with Ben-Gurion all his life. In 1996, a letter was discovered from the former prime minister of Israel to the mayor of Windsor describing the importance of what happened beneath Fort Edward in 1917-1918. “In Windsor one of the great dreams of my life — to serve as a soldier in a Jewish Unit to fight for the liberation of Israel (as we always called Palestine) became a reality, and I will never forget Windsor, where I received my first training as a soldier, and where I became a corporal.”

 

Today there is no mention of the Jewish Legion at Fort Edward. That should change, says Jon Goldberg of the Atlantic Jewish Council. “Its important what happened there. Important for Canada, Nova Scotia and Israel,” said Goldberg in an interview. Goldberg had always heard rumours of the Jewish Legion, but only became fully aware of the unit and its Nova Scotia roots 15 years ago when he was shown a picture of the unit on parade at Fort Edward. Parks Canada has studied the contribution of the Jewish legion to the history of the Fort Edward, but so far the tale of the corporal-turned-statesman, and the 1,100 Jews who joined him, hasn’t been publicly etched into the fort’s official history. Perhaps that will soon change.

 

 

Contents                                                                                     

 

 

On Topic

 

Defense Minister Ya’alon: India a “True Friend” to Israel: Ahuva Balofsky, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 18, 2015 —Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon left Monday for a historic, official visit to India, the first ever by an Israeli defense minister.
Israel, India 'Open' to Joint Production of Military Hardware: I24, Feb. 18, 2015 —Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon on Wednesday attended the biennial Aero India show, which is at the center of India's military modernisation plans.

Navy Installs Advanced Underwater AquaShield Detection System: Lilach Shoval, Israel Hayom,  Feb. 6, 2015—During Operation Protective Edge in the summer, a small force of Hamas naval commandos managed to approach the Israeli coast from the sea, undetected by military surveillance until the group reached the shore.

Between Dresden and Gaza: Ehud Yairi, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 11, 2015—It is the appropriate time to acquaint some readers with, and remind others of, events that took place 70 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                    

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Amb. Alan Baker: The Latest Hamas-Israel Confrontation — Some Pertinent Legal Points

Much is being written and spoken about in the international media and by leaders in the international community regarding the recent violence between the Hamas terror entity in the Gaza Strip and Israel, especially given the graphic pictures displayed by the various media sources. But there are pertinent legal points that do not always figure in this barrage of selective, often inaccurate, and even malicious commentary and criticism.

The following points summarize some of the legal aspects of this situation:

The Inherent Character of Hamas as a Terrorist Entity

 

The professed ideological foundation of Hamas, as set out in its national charter1 , aligns it integrally with the Muslim Brotherhood and clearly identifies it as a terrorist entity. According to Hamas’ ideology, Israel has no place in the world and its declared goal is the destruction of the Jewish state: “Hamas strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” In addition, the organization promotes an anti-Semitic ideology that glorifies jihad and the killing of Jews.

 

Whether the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip is regarded as a component of the Palestinian Authority, following the recent April 2014 unification accord with the head of the PLO Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen),2 or as a “quasi-state,” a “non-state entity,” or even as a “state” (with borders and government), its character as a terrorist entity is well-established and universally recognized.

 

Such recognition includes formal and legal classification and outlawing of Hamas as a terror organization by the United States, Canada, the European Union, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Japan.3

 

Its declared modus operandi advocates and espouses terror against Israel as the means to achieve its ends. It views every Israeli man, woman and child as a legitimate military target thereby justifying its terrorist attacks by missiles, suicide bombings, murder and abductions. It openly admits its strategy of terrorizing Israel’s civilian population through the use of rockets and missiles indiscriminately aimed at Israel’s towns and villages. Its leaders and spokesmen are on public record admitting their responsibility for such acts of terror. Thus the indiscriminate rocket fire is consistent with its ideology, which sees Israeli civilian casualties as strategic and tactical military successes. 4

Terrorism in International Law

 

International law and practice outlaw the use of terror, for whatever reason or justification. This is confirmed in a number of resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, especially following the 11 September 2001 attacks against the United States.5

In its resolution 1269 (1999)6   the Council, in the first operative paragraph of the resolution:

 

“Unequivocally condemns all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed, in particular those which could threaten international peace and security”.

 

More specifically, United Nations Security Council resolution 1566, dated October 2004, passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, states as follows:

 

“Condemns in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism irrespective of their motivation, whenever and by whomsoever committed, as one of the most serious threats to peace and security”. “….criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act, which constitute offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature.” 7

 

No less than 16 international conventions and protocols have been adopted between 1963 and the present day by the United Nations, criminalizing all aspects of international terror, including significant landmark resolutions of the UN General Assembly. Together they represent the clear consensus of opinion of the international community in outlawing all forms of terror.8

 

One such UN Convention, the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings9 , determines:

 

“1. Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this Convention if that person unlawfully and intentionally delivers, places, discharges or detonates an explosive or other lethal device in, into or against a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system or an infrastructure facility:

 

(a) With the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury; or

 

(b) With the intent to cause extensive destruction of such a place, facility or system, where such destruction results in or is likely to result in major economic loss.”

 

Similarly, in this context the operative provisions of the unanimously supported 1994 “UN Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism” 10 are no less relevant:

 

“1. The States Members of the United Nations solemnly reaffirm their unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism, as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed, including those which jeopardize the friendly relations among States and peoples and threaten the territorial integrity and security of States;

 

2. Acts, methods and practices of terrorism constitute a grave violation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations, which may pose a threat to international peace and security jeopardize friendly relations among States, hinder international cooperation and aim at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the democratic bases of society;

 

3. Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or another nature that may be invoked to justify them;”

 

In addition to the multinational instruments outlawing terror, there is an extensive series of regional counter-terror conventions, encompassing the African Union, OAS, ASEAN, CIS, SHARC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Council of Europe, EU Action Plan, Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conference11 .

International Crimes and Criminal Responsibility by Hamas

 

The terrorist actions practiced by Hamas – both indiscriminate targeting of Israeli towns, villages and civilians, as well as the exposure of its own residents as human shields — are violations of international law and internationally accepted humanitarian norms, specifically, the violation of the rule of distinction, which requires combatants to limit attacks to legitimate military targets.12

 

As such these constitute both crimes against humanity and war crimes, prosecutable before the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as before municipal courts and tribunals that are guided by universal criminal jurisdiction.

 

Advocating a religious holy war aimed at creating a regional Islamic entity encompassing the whole of the territory of Israel, and the call to “liberate Palestine” and to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine”13 appear to contravene the provisions of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide.14

 

The 1998 Rome Statute that founded the International Criminal Court (ICC) declares that the court is intended to deal with “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.” Specifically, it gives the court jurisdiction regarding the above-mentioned crimes, and in the absence of a referral by a state, it enables both the UN Security Council and the court’s prosecutor to initiate investigations. 15

 

Hamas has its own structured military force, political and social institutions, and de facto control over a defined territory, and has launched thousands of rockets towards Israeli towns, terrorizing and jeopardizing the lives of thousands of Israelis. Hamas, even as a non-state entity, or part of a non-state entity, is considered by all accepted criteria, to be fully accountable under international humanitarian law for its actions in carrying out its terror attacks against Israeli civilians and for using its own civilians as human shields.Thus, its leadership, commanders and fighters are punishable for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

 

In her article “Accountability of Hamas under International Humanitarian Law” jurist Sigall Horowitz states the following16 :

 

“Under international law, non-state actors are bound by customary IHL norms when they become a party to an armed conflict. Thus, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone held as follows: “it is well settled that all parties to an armed conflict, whether states or non-state actors, are bound by international humanitarian law, even though only states may become parties to international treaties.” 17

 

Regarding the individual criminal responsibility of Hamas members Horowitz adds:

 

“…the use by Hamas members of Qassam and Grad rockets in connection with the armed conflict, may amount to a war crime under the Rome Statute. Accordingly, these acts may entail the individual criminal responsibility of Hamas fighters who committed, ordered or assisted them, or otherwise contributed to their commission. These acts may also entail the individual criminal responsibility of Hamas military commanders and political leaders, under the principle of superior responsibility.“18

 

In addition to the crime of conspiring and attempting to commit genocide referred to above, the following acts of terror carried out by Hamas constitute serious crimes of concern to the international community:

Indiscriminate Targeting Israeli towns and Villages and Civilians with rockets

a. 1907 Hague Regulations19 :

 

            Article 25: “The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.“

 

b. 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions20 :

 

            Article 48: “In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives”.

 

            Article 51(2): “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited“.

 

            Article 51(4): “Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:

(a)  those which are not directed at a specific military objective;

 

(b)  those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or

 

(c)  those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.”

 

            Article 57 requires that civilian population, civilians and civilian objects be spared in the conduct of military operations, and that all feasible precautions be taken in order to avoid and minimize incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects, and the giving of effective advance warning of attacks.

 

Using Civilians as Human Shields

 

    Deliberately storing and firing rockets from within, or in close proximity to hospitals, mosques, schools and houses in densely-populated areas, both to shield and camouflage rocket emplacements and in order to deliberately generate Israeli military action against such emplacements and thereby endanger Palestinian civilians, constitutes a war crime.21

 

    The storing of rockets in an UNRWA school in Gaza is perhaps a typical example of this crime, which generated a statement of condemnation by UNRWA itself.22

 

    The use of one of Gaza’s central mosques – the Al-Farouq Mosque in the Nuseirat refugee camp – for storing rockets and weapons and as a compound for Hamas operations is a further example of this crime.23

 

    Article 51(7) of the 1977 Protocols to the Geneva Convention24 states:

 

“The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.”

 

    Article 58(b) requires avoiding locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.

 

The following provisions of the ICC Statute refer to such crimes:

 

    Article 7: crimes against humanity — the multiple commission of “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.”

 

    Article 8: war crimes – large-scale commission, as part of a plan or policy of intentional attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians and civilian objects; intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental  loss of life or injury to civilians; attacking or bombarding towns, villages dwellings or buildings which are not military objectives; utilizing the presence of civilians to render certain points, areas or forces immune from military operations; and using children under fifteen to participate in hostilities.

 

Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

 

International law recognizes two basic rights to self-defense, conventional international law as set out in Article 51 of the UN Charter:

 

“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations…”25

The second right is that of customary international law, based on the Caroline case (1837) which established a right of self-defense in the face of a necessity which is “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation”.26

Israel’s right to invoke the Article 51 right to self-defense vis-à-vis terrorist attacks against its towns and villages was curiously denied by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 2004 Advisory Opinion on the Israeli Security Fence case27 on the grounds that the threat can only come from another “state.”  This strange conclusion has been rejected both by judges of the court as well as international jurists.

 

As stated by Judge Higgins (UK):

 

“I do not agree with all that the Court has to say on the question of the law of self-defence. In paragraph 139 the Court quotes Article 51 of the Charter and then continues “Article 51 of the Charter thus recognizes the existence of an inherent right of self-defence in the case of armed attack by one State against another State.” There is, with respect, nothing in the text of Article 51 that thus stipulates that self-defence is available only when an armed attack is made by a State. The question is surely where responsibility lies for the sending of groups and persons who act against Israeli civilians and the cumulative severity of such action…..

 

This is formalism of an un-evenhanded sort.”

 

In a similar vein, Judge Buergenthal (U.S.)28 criticized the above conclusion as being “dubious” and stated29 :

 

“…the United Nations Charter, in affirming the inherent right of self- defence, does not make its exercise dependent upon an armed attack by another State.”

 

“Attacks on Israel coming from across that [green] line must therefore permit Israel to exercise its right of self-defence against such attacks, provided the measures it takes are otherwise consistent with the legitimate exercise of that right.”

 

In several key resolutions, the Security Council has made clear that “international terrorism constitutes a threat to international peace and security” and has affirmed the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense as recognized by the Charter of the United Nations in the face of such terror.

 

This has been reiterated in resolution 1368 (2001) 30 , adopted only one day after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, in which the Security Council  invokes  the  right of self-defense in calling on the international  community to combat terrorism. Similarly in Security Council resolution 1373 (2001)31 adopted pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council “reaffirmed the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence as recognized by the Charter of the United Nations as reiterated in resolution 1368 (2001)”.

Needless to say, neither of these resolutions imposed any limit on their application to terrorist attacks by State actors only, nor was an assumption to that effect implicit in these resolutions.32

Claims Being Made against Israel

Collective Punishment

 

The claim that Israel is collectively punishing the population of the Gaza Strip, enunciated by the UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg,33 is both wrong and based on misleading legal assumptions. As stated above, Israel’s actions are directed towards one strategic and tactical purpose – not to punish the population but to halt the indiscriminate rocket fire and use of infiltration tunnels to carry out acts of terror against the civilian population.

While international law bars “collective punishment,”34 none of Israel’s combat actions against Hamas constitute collective punishment, whether in the form of imposition of penalties on individuals or groups on the basis of another’s guilt, or the commission of acts that would otherwise violate the rules of distinction and/or proportionality.35

However, the deliberate and systematic exposure by Hamas of its residents to Israeli combat activities, rather than permitting them to enter shelters and tunnels, and the systematic intimidation and threat of terror through   indiscriminate daily rocket attacks directed against Israeli towns and villages, constitute collective punishment of millions of Israeli citizens as well as Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip and as such, are flagrant and willful violations of the norms of international humanitarian law.

Deliberate Targeting of Residences

 

Israel is being falsely accused by the United Nations and others of deliberately and willfully targeting residences.36

 

Tragically, one of the many violations by Hamas of international humanitarian norms is the conduct of its terror activities within residential areas throughout the towns and villages in the Gaza Strip, including the use of commanders’ own homes where their families and other civilians may be residing. These houses have been used for weapons storage, command, control, and communication centers.

 

The use of houses, homes and other residential structures for military purposes endangers them and render them as legitimate military targets under international law.

 

Article 52(2) of the First Geneva Protocol37 specifically refers to the obligation to limit attacks to military objectives – “objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage;”

In order to accurately determine military targets, the IDF employs advanced methods, including multiple levels of intelligence, the provision of legal advice; and extensive prior training provided to operational commanders. Even when a house is considered by all relevant legal criteria to be a legitimate military target, the Israeli forces minimize potential harm to the surrounding civilian population through real-time visual coverage in order to assess the civilian presence at a target; provision of advance warning before striking a target; and the careful choice of weaponry and ammunition in order to minimize harm to civilians.38

 

As such, Israel has no policy of deliberately targeting civilians or civilian property, and makes every effort to give effective advance warning of impending strikes that could potentially affect the civilian population.

 

Despite the deliberate policy and practice of Hamas to forcibly use civilians, including children, to shield their rocket and weapons emplacements, Israel has gone to great lengths in responding to the Hamas rocket attacks to ensure minimal harm to such civilians.  This includes providing early warnings to persons residing or located in, or in the vicinity of houses targeted because of their use for purposes of planning acts of terror, storing weapons or as rocket emplacements, and public appeals to non-combatants to distance themselves from such targets.39

The Claim of Disproportionate Force/Casualties

 

Allegations in the international media and by international organizations and some governmental representatives40 that Israel’s actions are “disproportionate” and thus in violation of international law, are both factually and legally incorrect .

 

The requirement of proportionality in armed conflict is a measure of the extent of force needed in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. It is not a comparison between casualties of the parties involved, nor of the damage caused during the fighting.41

 

A monograph entitled “Applying the Principle of Proportionality in Combat Operations,” published by of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed conflict42 , states:

“…harming civilians is not in  itself  illegal.  An injury to civilians  or  damage  done  to  civilian  objects  as  a  side-effect  of  a  military  operation  may  be permissible provided that it is proportionate to the military gain anticipated from the operation.

 

This principle is considered part of customary international law, which binds all states. It has become  part  of  the  positive  law  of  armed  conflict  (IHL)  with  its  codification  in  the  First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1977. Article 51 para. 5b) states that “[a]n attack  which  may  be  expected  to  cause  incidental  loss  of  civilian  life,  injury  to  civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated,” is prohibited.”

 

The tragic and regrettable fact that there are more civilian casualties and property damage within the Gaza Strip than there are in Israel is not a function of disproportionate use of force by Israel, or use of disproportionate weaponry, but of the fact, as outlined above, that Hamas forcibly and deliberately utilizes civilians and civilian structures and homes as human shields.  The buildings  are used for their rocket emplacements and command centers, thereby knowingly exposing the residents to harm with a view to both preventing Israeli actions against their rocket launching and other military facilities, and to cynically parade dead civilians  in front of television cameras that transmit these gruesome pictures around the world with captions blaming Israel.

 

In so doing, Hamas is committing a double war crime by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians while at the same time embedding its weapons, leaders, operatives and infrastructures in the midst of uninvolved Palestinian civilians.

 

Similarly, the fact that Hamas prevents civilian access to its underground web of tunnels and bomb shelters, reserving them for its military commanders and for storage of rockets, and the fact that Israel has developed extensive framework of shelters as well as its “Iron Dome” anti-missile defensive system, cannot be used as basis for accusing Israel of disproportionate force.

The Comparison of Casualties

 

Perhaps one of the most reprehensible practices of the international media is the so called “body-count” comparison, and the sad conclusion that disproportionality is exemplified by the fact that more Palestinians are killed than Israelis.43 The absurd assumption that this comparison makes is that more Israeli casualties would be preferable in order to “even-out” the count. Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system, which has protected thousands of potential Israeli civilian casualties from Hamas rockets, is blamed as the cause of this disparity in casualties.

 

Clearly Israel cannot be held responsible for such an equation. As in any armed conflict, and especially in light of the circumstances of the present one, civilians are tragically killed and injured. Unlike Hamas, Israel does not have a policy of deliberately targeting civilians, but regrettably, whether due to the fact that Hamas deliberately exposes its civilians to shield targets, or whether due to the occasional human or targeting error or inaccurate mapping, civilians are casualties.

 

Israel has very strict policies of investigating such instances, and in cases of alleged war crimes or negligence, taking the appropriate legal and disciplinary action.

Threats to Institute Action against Israeli Leaders in the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Amongst the media hype and political declarations by Palestinian leaders and senior elements within the international community, there is a constant wave of threats to institute proceedings for alleged war crimes against Israel’s leaders and military commanders before international and national criminal tribunals.,

 

As outlined above, Israel’s code of military law and command structure require strict conformity with international humanitarian norms, and any allegation of violation of such norms by soldiers or commanders are duly investigated and where appropriate, legal proceedings are instituted within Israel’s military justice framework. As such, the threats to institute action in the ICC are unrealistic and fail to consider the requirements of the statute of the ICC.

 

However, the openly-admitted and blatant series of war crimes committed by Hamas and its leaders as detailed in this paper and the lack of any will, capability, legal framework or means within the Hamas or Palestinian legal structure of investigating and trying such crimes, require that they be referred to the ICC with a view to ensuring that the leaders and instigators of the Hamas terror infrastructure be brought to criminal justice.

Closing Points

 

This paper is intended to place the current Hamas-Israel conflict within the proportions of international law and practice, with a view to dispelling some of the media hype and exaggeration, and the selective and biased statements and allegations being made against Israel.

 

Armed conflict in any circumstances involves situations in which civilians are regrettably affected. International law aims to limit harm to innocent civilians by ensuring that the involved parties conduct the hostilities in accordance with humanitarian norms with a view to preventing, as much as is possible, civilian casualties.

 

Israel, a sovereign state with an army that conducts itself in accordance with such norms, is making every effort to abide by them, despite the blatant, willful and indiscriminate violation by Hamas, both vis-a-vis its own population as well as vis- a-vis Israel’s population.

One hopes that the crimes against humanity and the war crimes committed by the leaders and senior terrorist commanders of Hamas will not go unpunished, and that the international community will act to ensure that they do not benefit from impunity.

 

* * *

Notes

1 Hamas Charter, http://www.acpr.org.il/resources/hamascharter.html see Article 2:
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.
See also article 7:
Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter.
And Article 13:
There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game
2 http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/19580
3 See U.S. “Country reports on terrorism 2005″, United States Department of State. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. U.S. Dept. of State Publication 11324. April 2006. p 196
see also http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm.
See Canadian “Currently listed entities”. Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. November 22, 2012.
See EUCouncil Common Position 2003/651/CFSP.
See Jordan policyhttp://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3978/king-abdullah-hamas  .
SeeCairo court bans activities by Palestinian Hamas in Egypt, brands it a terrorist organization. Associated Press. March 4, 2014
4 See headline in “Middle East Eye”, 8 July 2014 “Hamas claims responsibility for rockets fired at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa” – See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israels-army-prepared-ground-assault-gaza-official-275282816: “For the first time, the Ezzedine al- Qassam Brigades strike Haifa with an R160 rocket, and strike occupied Jerusalem with four M75 rockets and Tel Aviv with four M75 rockets,”
See also “Hamas claims responsibility for rocket fire on Israel”.http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Hamas-claims-responsibility-for-rocket-fire-on-Israel-361830and “The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the rockets fired toward Tel Aviv”http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Rocket-alert-sirens-sound-in-Zichron-Yaakov-120-km-north-of-Gaza-362087
See also i24newshttp://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/36623-140708-gaza-israel-launches-operation-protective-edge “In a video statement that was broadcast across Arab media late on Thursday evening, the brigade said: “The more shahids falling make us stronger and more determined for victory. For the first time yesterday, we showered from the north of the homeland to the south in Dimona. Tens of rockets showered the center of the occupation. That is only a few of what is waiting…”
See also Fatah joins Hamas and Islamic Jihad in missile launches | The Times of Israelhttp://www.timesofisrael.com/moderate-fatah-joins-hamas-and-islamic-jihad-in-missile-launches/#ixzz37KhRmK25
See also http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/israeli-warplanes-pound-gaza-strip/story-e6frg6so-1226982452456?nk=30dd8b2330cf43d6507b130e303ae6c6 “The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it had fired four M75 rockets at Jerusalem, which lies 65 kilometres from the Palestinian enclave. It also claimed to have launched a rocket at Haifa, 165 kilometres away. There was no report of anything hitting the northern port city but the army said a rocket did fall on Hadera, 100 kilometres north of Gaza. Hamas militants also said yesterday they fired four rockets at Tel Aviv, 60 kilometres north of Gaza, setting sirens off across the city. Earlier, another rocket aimed at Israel’s commercial capital was shot down by the Iron Dome antimissile defence system.”
See also: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.604437 Hamas armed wing has warned airlines that it intends to target Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport with its rockets from Gaza and has told them not to fly there, a statement by the group said on Friday.
See also http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/182770#.U8I-Yy2KCM8 State Department spokeswoman reminds reporters that Israel is defending itself against endless rocket attacks by Hamas. “There’s a difference between Hamas, a terrorist organization that’s indiscriminately attacking innocent civilians in areas where there are innocent civilians in Israel, and the right of Israel to respond and protect their own civilians. And that’s what we’re seeing on the ground take place,”
See Canadian Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/lopsided-rocket-warfare-rages-on-between-israel-and-hamas/article19578271/“Hamas also showed no sign of letting up its missile strikes against Israel, acknowledging responsibility for scores of rockets fired Friday against Israeli centres including the launch of a powerful Iranian-built Fajr-5 against Tel Aviv.”
http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/article_xinhua.aspx?id=229441“The armed wing of Islamic Hamas movement, al-Qassam Brigades, said on Saturday that it will fire new rockets called J80 into Tel Aviv and its suburb at 9:00 p.m. local time. It is the first time that Hamas declared in advance that it will fire rockets into Israel. The group claimed responsibility for launching hundreds of rockets into Israeli over the past five days against the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip”.
Washington Free Beaconhttp://freebeacon.com/national-security/hamas-rockets-from-gaza-target-haifa-reach-far-into-northern-israel/:  “The barrage of rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip reached far beyond the known range of Hamas’ missile arsenal, hitting the northern Israeli town of Hof HaCarmel on Wednesday. The town is just south of Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks and said that Haifa was the intended target.”
See also http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_07_08/Israeli-Defense-Forces-launch-operation-Protective-Edge-against-Hamas-6359/
“The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attacks. ‘Al-Qassam fired dozens of rockets on Netivot and Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ofakim in response to the Zionist aggression,’ a statement said. ‘Qassam rockets are a natural reaction to the Israeli crimes against our people.’”
5 See UN Security council resolutions 1267 (1999) of 15 October 1999, 1373 (2001) of 28 September 2001, 1540 (2004) of 28 April 2004 as well as its other resolutions concerning threats to international peace and security caused by terrorism.
6 http://www.mefacts.com/cached.asp?x_id=10835
7 http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/un/66959.htm
8 http://www.un.org/en/terrorism/instruments.shtml
9 http://www.un.org/law/cod/terroris.htm
10 http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/49/a49r060.htm
11 https://www.unodc.org/tldb/en/regional_instruments.html
12   See Yoram Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities Under the Law of International Armed Conflict, 82 (2005).
13 Article 6 of the Hamas charter
14 78 UNTS 277
15 http://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-be94-0a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf. See specifically Articles 7(1)  and (2)a (Crimes against humanity) and Article 8(2)(b)(i)(ii)(iv) (War crimes), and Article 13 (Exercise of the court’s jurisdiction)
16 See Sigall Horowitz “Accountability of the Hamas under International Humanitarian Law”, 2009 Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs  http://jcpa.org/article/accountability-of-the-hamas-under-international-humanitarian-la/ Horowitz adds “…it can safely be argued that Hamas fighters, who daily targeted Israeli civilians by launching Qassam and Grad rockets, violated the provisions of Common Article 3 (to the Geneva conventions)”
17 Quoted in Horowitz article, citing Prosecutor v. Sam Hinga Norman, Case No. SCSL-2004-14-AR72(E), Decision on preliminary Motion Based on Lack of Jurisdiction (Child Recruitment), 31 May 2004, para. 22. – See more at: http://jcpa.org/article/accountability-of-the-hamas-under-international-humanitarian-la/#sthash.MX0iG9Iu.dpuf
18 Ibid. See also Lisbeth Zegveld, Accountability of Armed Opposition Groups in International Law(2002).
19 http://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=D1C251B17210CE8DC12563CD0051678F  Art. 25, Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The Hague, 18 October 1907.
20 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflictshttp://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=8A9E7E14C63C7F30C12563CD0051DC5C
21 For a detailed exposure of the use by Hamas of homes of senior Hamas operatives as command centers and weapons storage facilities see http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20677/E_116_14_1313703276.pdf
22 http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-strongly-condemns-placement-rockets-school. Evidently, according to media reports, this did not prevent the UNRWA officials from transferring the rockets found in the school, to the Hamas authorities. See http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/280357
23 http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20672/E_113_14_1401598645.pdf
24 See note 10 above
25 http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter7.shtml
26 http://www.uni-miskolc.hu/~wwwdrint/20042rouillard1.htm
27 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf at para 139
28 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1687.pdf
29 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1687.pdf
30 http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2001/SC7143.doc.htm
31 http://www.un.org/en/sc/ctc/specialmeetings/2012/docs/United%20Nations%20Security%20Council%20Resolution%201373%20(2001).pdf
32 See Thomas Franck, “Terrorism and the Right of Self-Defense”, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 95, 2001, pp. 839-840
33 http://rt.com/uk/173592-clegg-israel-gaza-ceasefire/
34 http://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_cha_chapter32_rule103
35 “International Law and the Fighting in Gaza” Justus Reid Weiner and Abraham Bell, 1 Global Law Forum 2008 at page 16 http://jcpa.org/article/international-law-and-the-fighting-in-gaza/
36 See statement by Robert Turner, director of UNRWA operations in Gaza at http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/official-statements/statement-director-unrwa-operations-gaza-robert-turner-unfolding
37 See note 10 above
38 http://www.idfblog.com/blog/2014/07/10/idf-strikes-houses-gaza-used-military-purposes/
39 http://israelaa.ca/palestinian-envoy-to-unhrc-israelis-warn-civilians-before-attacks-we-dont/
40 Argentina condemned the violence in Gaza and Israel’s “disproportionate” use of military force http://www.telam.com.ar/english/notas/201407/2801-argentina-condemned-the-violence-in-gaza-and-israels-disproportionate-use-of-military-force.html see also Turkey condemns “disproportionate” Israeli violence in Gaza http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Turkey-condemns-disproportionate-Israeli-violence-in-Gaza see also British parliament accuses Israel of war crimes.https://socioecohistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/british-parliament-accuses-israel-of-war-crimes/
41 http://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_cha_chapter4_rule14
42 Janina Dill “Applying the Principle of Proportionality in Combat Operations” http://www.elac.ox.ac.uk/downloads/proportionality_policybrief_%20dec_2010.pdf
43 Stephanie Gutman “The Body-Count Cliché – The victim-loving Western media have a weakness for Palestinians.
http://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2014/07/the-body-count-cliche/?utm_source=Mosaic+Newsletter&utm_campaign=41f995f534-2014_7_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0b0517b2ab-41f995f534-42449961 See also Time magazine, Eric H. Yoffe, July 14, 2014, 2014 “The Bizarre Moral Criticism Against Israel” http://time.com/2982215/israel-gaza-casualties/
Publication: Jerusalem Viewpoints
– See more at: http://jcpa.org/article/hamas-israel-confrontation-legal-points/#sthash.KNmohENH.dpuf

Prof. Frederick Krantz: AFTER GAZA, IRAN

 

AFTER GAZA, IRAN

Frederick Krantz

 

Israel’s brief, intense war with Hamas in Gaza, initiated by the terrorist movement’s renewed rocketing, is over.  A shaky truce, negotiated through a U.S.-pressured and Moslem Brotherhood-affiliated Egyptian President Morsi, is, so far, holding.

 

   While the Gaza leadership has emerged from its hiding-holes to claim “victory”, it’s clear that–thanks in large part to powerful pin-point counter-bombing of the IDF and the remarkable, over-80% effectiveness of the new “Iron Dome” anti-missile batteries—Israel came off well in the exchange.   (Hamas claims over 160 fatalities, while Israel suffered five dead.)

 

   Several leading Hamas terrorist figures were killed in carefully targeted strikes. And Hamas’ Iran-supplied stock of new, long-range Fajr-5 missiles, several of which reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, has been destroyed, along with other rocket caches and many of the supply-tunnels from contiguous Egyptian territory.

 

   Some Israelis (particularly in the South, most subject to Hamas’ attacks) would have preferred a ground invasion to, finally, wipe out the Hamas leadership and all the hidden (among civilian schools, hospitals, and houses) rocket bases.  Such a move may yet be necessary, either because the current truce breaks down, or because, after an interval, as after Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, Hamas will resume its missile terrorism.

 

   But for now, with a January 22, 2013 Israeli election looming, and the far more serious Iranian problem on the near horizon, a solid defeat of Hamas and a truce  backed by Egypt’s commitment to prevent further rocketing, is sufficient.

 

   Israel’s fundamental, over-riding concern must now be the immanent Iranian nuclear capacity. A recent IAEA report indicates that a multiplying number if centrifuges means Iran can generate sufficient uranium to arm a bomb in about three months—that is, by late spring (March-April) 2013, shortly after the Israeli election.

 

   That election must be seen as a referendum on Netanyahu’s Iran policy, which very clearly states that Israel will not allow the Iranians to reach nuclear capability. The U.S. position, different, and fuzzier, emphasizes the actual building of a nuclear weapon; it gives U.S. policy makers more time, perhaps up to a year, before having to act.

 

   But Israel’s “red line” is more concrete, and cogent: the time-lag between achieving “capability”, and actually building a bomb-tipped missile, may well be quite short; and in any case, achieved capability alone will greatly enhance Iran’s power in the region.  And waiting until Teheran actually has a verifiable weapon may well be too late.

 

   This is a chance Israel cannot take; for Israel, the issue is existential, and a mistake on here is irreversible and potentially fatal. The US, not the focus of initial attack and infinitely larger and more powerful, can afford to be more patient. 

 

   For the Jewish state, one bomb exploded over Tel Aviv will mean what the Iranians have consistently been threatening, genocide. Israel’s existence, as the legatee of the Jewish People, and the realization of Zionism’s vision of Jewish sovereignty and national independence, is neither negotiable nor, finally, answerable to the vagaries of world “opinion”. 

 

   Hence we should be ready for an Israeli attack—led by a reinforced post-election Likud government–on Iran’s nuclear installations sometime in or after late spring, 2013. And we must anticipate the criticism and hostility of the “international community” and, perhaps, of the newly re-elected President Obama.

 

   The testing time of Israel and the Jewish People is fast approaching; it, and we, have not asked for this, but ein brera, there is no alternative.  And we must all be ready to pass the arduous, and imminent, test being prepared for us.

 

(Dr. Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,

and Editor of its Israfax magazine. He is Professor (History), 

Liberal Arts College, Concordia University, Montreal)

 

WHEN ISRAEL WITHDRAWS— LESSONS FROM SINAI, LEBANON & GAZA

 

 

 

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NETANYAHU MULLING WEST BANK PULLOUT
TO STAVE OFF ‘DIPLOMATIC TSUNAMI’
Barak Ravid
Haaretz, April 12, 2011

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing a withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops from the West Bank…to block the “diplomatic tsunami” that may follow international recognition of a Palestinian state within the “1967 borders” at the United Nations General Assembly in September.…

Conversations with two Israeli sources with ties to Netanyahu’s bureau led to the conclusion that [a] withdrawal in the West Bank…would see the IDF forces redeploy and security responsibility handed over to the Palestinian Authority. This would mean that in Area B—[as defined in the Oslo Accords]—where Israel has security responsibility and the Palestinians civilian policing functions, full control would be ceded to the PA. In addition, some parts of Area C, where Israel has complete control, will become Area B.…

Netanyahu is still uncertain to what extent the withdrawal would be.…

 

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY: THE FIRST DISENGAGEMENT
Michael Omer-Man
Jerusalem Post, April 22, 2011

 

On April 23, 1982, just over three years after then-Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty between their two countries, Israel painfully evacuated the last of its settlements in the Sinai Peninsula—Yamit.

As stipulated in the 1979 peace treaty, Israel was required—within three years—to withdraw all of its 2,500 civilians and thousands of military personnel from the Sinai, which it had captured in the 1967 Six Day War. With three years notice as well as economic and relocation compensation packages provided by the government, most of the Israeli residents of Sinai had long departed before the April 1982 deadline approached.…

Ideologically opposed to the withdrawal, however, dozens of religious and some secular Israelis descended on the remaining settlements in the Sinai, intent on using their bodies to oppose the evacuation. Bypassing army checkpoints erected to prevent objectors from reaching the soon-to-be-demolished Sinai settlements, dozens of religious Zionist youths sailed south past the Gaza Strip and entered the coastal settlement of Yamit.

Some of the youths…barricaded themselves in the basement of a building in Yamit with explosives, threatening to blow themselves up in an act of collective suicide rather than allow the army to forcefully evacuate them.… [B]oth chief rabbis of Israel at the time, including Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, traveled to Yamit and attempted to talk down the suicidal yeshiva students through a ventilation pipe. [Eventually], they agreed to disassemble their explosives, though they remained holed up in their underground bunker refusing to be evacuated.

Another…group of objectors who made their way down to Yamit in order to physically protest its evacuation—secular students intent on showing that the struggle was not only a religious one—was led by Tzahi Hanegbi, son of legendary Lehi fighter and MK Geula Cohen.… Revisiting those times in an interview with The Jerusalem Post over 20 years later, Hanegbi described how he and members of his group of students chained themselves to the top of a 28-meter monument but decided not to physically struggle against the soldiers sent to evacuate them. “We just stood there, sang Hatikva, chained ourselves and were taken down [via a ladder],” he recalled.

The traumatic scenes most widely remembered by the Israeli public, however, were not those described by Hanegbi. Disturbing images of club wielding holdouts on rooftops, attempting to keep the inevitable siege of IDF soldiers at bay, were etched into the national collective memory. Similarly, pictures of soldiers dragging children from their homes momentarily shattered the purity of the inseparable relationship between the IDF and Israel’s citizens. Twenty-three years later, nearly identical images would have a similar effect when the army was charged with evacuating Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.

In a twist of fate, the general charged with carrying out the final evacuation of Yamit was none other the man who decades later would order the largest-ever evacuation of Jewish settlers, then-defense minister Ariel Sharon.

On the morning of the evacuation, hundreds of IDF troops were sent to [Yamit]. While groups such as those led by Hanegbi put up symbolic resistance to the evacuation orders, others put a more determined and physical fight. No serious injuries took place either among the holdouts or the soldiers sent to remove them, but the scene nonetheless turned ugly.

Just one day later, acting on orders from Sharon and Begin, the IDF blasted Yamit into a massive pile of rubble. The logic behind the dramatic demolition was to prevent a large Egyptian population center from sprouting on the newly delineated border. Although the peace treaty was expected to hold…there was a fear of encroachment.

The evacuation of Yamit represented two major events in the Israeli collective memory. In a historical context, it was the last action taken before Israel’s first peace treaty with an Arab state formally came into effect.… On an emotional level…the day was remembered as the first time an Israeli government uprooted its own citizens from towns it had asked and encouraged them to populate, an experience that would be traumatically repeated 23 years later.

 

THE LEGACY OF A TEETERING PEACE
Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, February 14, 2011

 

One of the first casualties of the Egyptian revolution may very well be Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. The Egyptian public’s overwhelming animus towards Jews renders it politically impossible for any Egyptian leader to come out in support of the treaty. Over the weekend, the junta now ruling Egypt refused to explicitly commit itself to maintaining the treaty.…

Ayman Nour, the head of the oppositionist Ghad Party and the man heralded as the liberal democratic alternative to Mubarak by Washington neo-conservatives has called for the peace treaty to be abrogated. In an interview with an Egyptian radio station he said, “The Camp David Accords are finished. Egypt has to at least conduct negotiations over conditions of the agreement.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has been outspoken in its call to end the treaty since it was signed 32 years ago.

Whatever ends up happening, it is clear that Israel is entering a new era in its relations with Egypt. And before we can begin contending with its challenges, we must first consider the legacy of the peace treaty that then prime minister Menachem Begin signed with then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat on March 26, 1979.…

The peace treaty contains an entire annex devoted to specific commitments to cultivate every sort of cultural, social and economic tie imaginable. But both Sadat and his successor Mubarak breached every one of them. As the intervening 32 years since the treaty was signed have shown, in essence, the deal was nothing more than a ceasefire. Israel surrendered the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and in exchange, Egypt has not staged a military attack against Israel from its territory.

The peace treaty’s critics maintain that the price Israel paid was too high and so the treaty was unjustified. They also argue that Israel set a horrible precedent for future negotiations with its neighbors by ceding the entire Sinai in exchange for the treaty. Moreover, the Palestinian autonomy agreement in the treaty was a terrible deal. And it set the framework for the disastrous Oslo peace process with the Palestinian Authority 15 years later.…

Since Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1981, it has been the state’s consistent policy to ignore Egypt’s bad faith. This 30- year refusal of Israel’s leadership to contend with the true nature of the deal this country achieved with Egypt has had a debilitating impact both on Israel’s internal strategic discourse as well as on its international behavior.

As the US-backed demonstrators in Tahrir Square gained momentum, and the prospect that Mubarak’s regime would indeed be overthrown became increasingly likely, IDF sources began noting that the IDF and the Mossad will need to build intelligence gathering capabilities towards Egypt after 30 years of neglect. These statements make clear the debilitating impact of Israel’s self-induced strategic blindness to our neighbor in the south.…

On the international stage, our leadership’s refusal to acknowledge that Egypt had not abandoned its belligerent attitude against Israel was translated into an abject refusal to admit or deal with the fact that Egypt leads the international political war against Israel. Rather than fight back when Egyptian diplomats at the UN initiate anti-Israel resolution after anti-Israel resolution, Israeli diplomats have pretended that there is no reason for concern.…

Israel failed to consider the implications of signing a deal with a military dictator on the prospects for the deal’s longevity. In an interview with Der Spiegel last week, the Muslim Brotherhood’s puppet Mohamed ElBaradei explained those implications. As he put it, Israel has “a peace treaty with Mubarak, but not one with the Egyptian people.…”

 

ISRAEL AND HEZBOLLAH PREPARE FOR WAR
Asaf Romirowsky & Avi Jorisch
National Interest, April 21, 2011

 

Hezbollah and Israel are once again facing the void, and both parties appear to be preparing for another confrontation. According to press reports, since its 2006 hostilities with Israel, Hezbollah has amassed more than forty thousand weapons, spread out over one thousand facilities across southern Lebanon. Once again, these strongholds are reportedly situated in civilian areas.… Policymakers and analysts alike in Washington, Paris, London, Beirut, and Jerusalem are beginning to brace themselves for the spark that will light up the eastern Mediterranean.

Israel pulled out of Lebanon in May 2000…not as a result of a peace agreement, cease-fire, or informal understanding on the status of forces on the border, but as a unilateral move. Hezbollah and its supporters interpreted the withdrawal as a milestone in the organization’s development as a military and political force in Lebanon, and as a resounding victory in its struggle against the “Zionist entity.” The withdrawal was depicted as a great defeat for Israel, a sentiment shared by many Israelis. As Hezbollah often claims…this was the “first Arab victory in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The summer of 2006 paid off for Hezbollah—and other sub-state actors across the region. Palestinians have adopted Hezbollah’s military tactics [believing they can get Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, as it did from Gaza], including the use of short-range missiles and hit-and-run operations designed to draw the IDF into combat in populated areas. This has gradually forced the IDF…to change their way of dealing with terrorist organizations.…

Hezbollah still maintains (though in muted tones) that it wishes to implement a mullatocracy modeled on the Islamic Republic of Iran.… For its part, Hamas has established the Islamist Republic of Gaza and runs it based on its founding charter, which calls for “the reinstitution of the Muslim state.… Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the ca[u]se of Allah its most sublime belief.” [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah has repeatedly used his group’s willingness to die as a strategic bulwark: “The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.…”

Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Gaza have effectively become the front lines of…the Arab-Israeli conflict.… We should be prepared for the battle to continue as both Hezbollah and Israel gear up for more hostilities.

 

THE NEXT GAZA WAR WILL BE A COORDINATED ATTACK
Neil Snyder
American Thinker, April 15, 2011

 

On Thursday, April 7, an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip by a Hamas terrorist slammed into an Israeli school bus loaded with children and exploded. [One teenager] was killed, [and] the message was clear: Israeli citizens, even little children, aren’t safe anywhere. Immediately following the attack, a barrage of mortar fire from Gaza hit near Israeli towns in the Negev. Israel responded with helicopter gunships, and in short order Hamas announced that a ceasefire would go into effect.… Two days later, Hamas resumed firing rockets and mortar shells at Israel. That’s a ceasefire Hamas-style.

If you follow events in Israel closely, you recognize the routine. First Hamas engages in indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. Next Israel responds. Then Hamas announces a unilateral ceasefire. Soon thereafter, the attacks resume, and Israel responds. Eventually, a full-scale war breaks out. It’s as predictable as clockwork. That’s how the Gaza War of 2008-2009 began, and that’s how the next Gaza war will start—only the next Gaza war will be markedly different.

Since the end of the last Gaza War, we’ve witnessed a flurry of activity to rearm Hamas and Hezbollah. For example, in November 2009, Israel seized a ship carrying Iranian arms bound for Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border. According to Israel’s deputy naval commander, Rani Ben Yehuda, the cargo included “dozens of containers with hundreds of tons of arms.” Later reports revealed that the shipment contained more than 500 tons of weapons.

Just last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad admitted that he has allowed Iranian weapons to flow through Syria to Hezbollah, and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has made it clear repeatedly that Hezbollah will cooperate with Hamas if another Gaza war breaks out. Those weapons are needed for an attack on Israel.…

In February 2011, the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to emerge from the shadows and engage openly in political activity for the first time in 57 years. Following Mubarak’s resignation, Muhammad Ghannem, a leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, told the Iranian news network Al-Alam that the Egyptian people need to prepare for war with Israel. Supplying weapons to Hamas is a step in that direction. Mubarak worked with Israel to prevent weapons from flowing into Gaza though the Sinai Peninsula, but the Brotherhood’s lust for Israeli blood raises serious doubts about that arrangement as we look to the future. Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have made peace with Israel.… As the Muslim Brotherhood gains political strength in Egypt, you can bet that it will change.

In March 2011, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reached an agreement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to build an Iranian naval base in Latakia, Syria’s largest port, from which Iran can operate freely in the Mediterranean Sea. Within days of the announcement, Israel intercepted a Gaza-bound ship leaving Latakia carrying Iranian weapons to Gaza. Syria is on Israel’s northeast border, and the two countries have been sparring over the Golan Heights since the end of the 1967 Six Day War. Under the dictatorial regimes of Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar, Syria has served as field headquarters for Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and a host of other Islamist terrorist organizations brazenly committed to Israel’s annihilation. Will they take part in the next Gaza war? With Assad’s power diminishing and Islamist groups in Syria increasing their strength, the answer is probably “yes”—if not directly as combatants, then as guerrilla fighters.…

Iran’s attempts to change the balance of power in the Middle East and North Africa by picking off one country after another is evident in Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Saudi Arabia as well. President Obama’s missteps in response to Iran’s gains caused Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to reexamine the United States’ role in the region. Rather than deferring to the U.S., Abdullah sent Saudi troops into Bahrain to help quell violence there, and, according to Martin Indyk, former special assistant to President Bill Clinton and former U.S. ambassador to Israel, the King “views President Obama as a threat to his internal security.” Moderate Arab leaders feel the same way. They have every reason to believe that President Obama will not come to their aid if they need help, but Iran stands ready to assist Islamist elements throughout the region.

We’re witnessing the fruition of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s plan to destroy Israel. His first step was to announce his intention to the world. Some mocked him, but he meant business. Next, he worked to undermine political regimes in every country in the region and to strengthen Islamist elements beholden to him. All the while, he has worked feverishly to develop Iran’s nuclear capability. Today, Israel is surrounded: Hamas in Gaza on the west, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt on the south and southwest, Hezbollah in Lebanon on the north, a host of emerging Islamist terrorist organizations in Syria on the northeast, and on the east, a weakened monarch in Jordan attempting to restrain radical Islamists. With Ahmadinejad’s unswerving support, the only step remaining is a coordinated attack on Israel.

Given its proximity to the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Israel’s most populous region, Gaza is the logical place for the war to begin. From southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has promised to join the fight, probably with an attack on Haifa, Israel’s third-largest metropolitan area. Syria, Egypt, and Jordan may join the fight as well, and Israel could end up fighting a war for survival on all sides, much like the Six Day War. But things have changed markedly since 1967. The U.S. is weaker in the Middle East than it has been in decades, and Islamist groups are stronger than they have ever been. There should be no doubt that the next Gaza war won’t resemble the 2008-2009 war, and it could start at any time.

(Neil Snyder taught leadership and strategy at the University of Virginia for 25 years.)

 

ISRAEL’S INDIVISIBLE LEGITIMACY
Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, March 18, 2011

 

Over the past several years, a growing number of patriotic Israelis have begun to despair. We can’t stand up to the whole world, they say. At the end of the day, we will have to give in and surrender most of the land or all of the land we took control over in the 1967 Six Day War. The world won’t accept anything less.… [However], the notion that Israel has no choice but to surrender Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians is wrong and dangerous.…

The first problem with this view is that it confuses the focus of Palestinian and international attacks on Israel with the rationale behind those attacks. This is a mistake Israelis have made repeatedly since the establishment of the Fatah-led PA in 1994.

Immediately after the PA was set up and IDF forces transferred security control over Palestinian cities and towns in Judea and Samaria to Yasser Arafat’s armies, Palestinian terrorists began attacking Israeli motorists driving through PA-controlled areas with rocks, pipe bombs and bullets.

Then-prime minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin blamed the attacks on “friction.” If the Palestinians didn’t have contact with Israeli motorists, then they wouldn’t attack them. So Israel built the bypass roads around the Palestinian towns and cities to prevent friction.

For its efforts, the Palestinians and the international community accused Israel of building “Jews-only, apartheid roads.” Moreover, Palestinian terrorists left their towns and cities and stoned, bombed and shot at Israeli motorists on the bypass roads.

Then there was Gaza. When in 2001 Palestinians first began shelling the Israeli communities in Gaza and the Western Negev with mortars and rockets, we were told they were attacking because of Israel’s presence in Gaza. When the IDF took action to defend the country from mortar and rocket attacks, Israel was accused of committing war crimes.

[Many] said then that if Israel left Gaza, the Palestinian attacks would stop. They said that if they didn’t stop and the IDF was forced to take action, the world would support Israel.… After Israel expelled every last so-called settler and removed every last soldier from Gaza in August 2005, Palestinian rocket attacks increased tenfold. The first Katyusha was fired at Ashkelon seven months after Israel withdrew. Hamas won the elections and Gaza became an Iranian proxy. Now it has missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv.

As for the international community, not only did it continue blaming Israel for Palestinian terrorism, it refused to accept that Israel had ended its so-called occupation of Gaza. It has condemned every step Israel has taken to defend itself from Palestinian aggression since the withdrawal.…

The lesson of these experiences is that Israeli towns and villages in Judea and Samaria are not castigated as “illegitimate” because there is anything inherently illegitimate about them. Like the bypass roads and the Israeli presence in Gaza, they are singled out because those interested in attacking Israel militarily or politically [consider them] an easy target.

The Arabs, the UN, the Obama administration, the EU, anti-Israel American and Israeli Jews, university professors and the legions of self-proclaimed human rights organizations in Israel and throughout the world allege these Israeli communities are illegitimate because by doing so they weaken Israel as a whole. [And even if] Israel…bow[ed] to these people’s demands, they will not be appeased. They will simply move on to the next easy target. Israeli Jewish communities in the Galilee and the Negev, Jaffa and Lod will be deemed illegitimate.…

So what can Israel do?

The first thing we must do is recognize that legitimacy is indivisible. In the eyes of Israel’s enemies there is no difference between Itamar and Ma’aleh Adumim on the one hand and Ramle and Tel Aviv on the other hand. And so we must make no distinction between them. Just as law abiding citizens are permitted to build homes in Ramle and Tel Aviv, so they must be permitted to build in Itamar and Ma’aleh Adumim. If Israel’s assertion of its sovereignty is legitimate in Tel Aviv, then it is legitimate in Judea and Samaria. We cannot accept that one has a different status from the other.…

Once we understand that Israel’s legitimacy is indivisible, we need to take actions that will put the Palestinians and their international supporters on the defensive.… It is hard to stand up to the massive pressure being brought to bear against Israel every day. But it is possible. And whether defying our foes is hard or easy, it is our only chance at survival. Either all of Israel is legitimate, or none of it is.

GOLDSTONE: “CIVILIANS NOT TARGETED”— VINDICATION, OR IS THE DAMAGE IRREPARABLE?

 

 

 

RECONSIDERING THE ‘GOLDSTONE REPORT’
ON ISRAEL AND WAR CRIMES
Richard Goldstone

Washington Post, April 1, 2011

 

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts—chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis—that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying—its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.…

Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.…

Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel.… The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.… So, too, the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds.…

Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war.

(Richard Goldstone chaired the U.N. fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict.)

 

THE GOLDSTONE MEA CULPA
Isie Leibler
Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2011

 

One would surely have expected that when Richard Goldstone felt impelled to belatedly retract his previous appalling defamation of Israel, he might have selected a more appropriate outlet to make his statement than an obscure op-ed column in a Washington newspaper. Goldstone should at least have gone on record requesting the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) which orchestrated his report to enable him to express his mea culpa from its podium.

But let us be under no illusions. No statement or action can undo the immense damage that Goldstone’s blood libel inflicted upon the Jewish people. Being Jewish and claiming to be a Zionist gave the report additional credence for many uninformed outsiders. The hatred it unleashed is almost irreversible and his report became the most effective component of the campaign of demonization and delegitimization against us.

It portrayed us to the world at large as savages, war criminals indulging in premeditated murders against innocent Palestinian women and children. His substantiation at this late stage of the veracity of the IDF statistics which insisted that the vast majority killed in the conflict were Hamas terrorists will do little to neutralize the previous statements portraying Israeli soldiers as deliberate murderers.

Like the medieval blood libels, these evil lies are likely to remain embedded in the consciousness of people for hundreds of years. There is no way to express our rage over the damage that this dreadful man inflicted upon his people. He is reminiscent of the Jewish converts who turned on their own people and published anti-Semitic tracts in order to ingratiate themselves with their Christian keepers.

Even now, Goldstone still sanctimoniously insists that had Israel collaborated with his kangaroo court commission of enquiry, the report would never have appeared in its present form. He fails to point out that Israel indirectly provided the information but his committee distorted and misrepresented the data in order to further demonize us.

There are of course other guilty accomplices, including Jews and Israelis who collaborated with Goldstone in his efforts to defame us. Amongst the most prominent were those associated with the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, which months earlier, paved the way for Goldstone with a series of wild allegations against the IDF based on rumor and hearsay that were subsequently proven to be without foundation. Yet the massive Haaretz coverage of these discredited reports were featured on the front pages of newspapers throughout the world and helped create the hostile climate paving the way towards the United Nations Human Rights Council report branding us as war criminals.

Needless to say, the same applies to the NGOs and anti-Israeli Diaspora Jews who endorsed the findings, and organizations such as J Street which promoted Goldstone amongst members of Congress. It is unlikely that they will follow Goldstone’s lead and apologize.

One also recalls the deplorable behavior of the European nations who abstained or voted in support of the despicable resolution. Not to mention our duplicitous peace partner Mahmoud Abbas whose spokesmen today reiterated their position depicting the IDF as war criminals.

It is perhaps also appropriate to observe that Libya, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia which were amongst the main countries promoting the campaign of defamation against us at the UN Human Rights Council are now currently in the public eye. When one observes the current behavior of their governments towards their own citizens one can appreciate the absolute sham of the United Nations and its subcommittees. In a sane environment, the odious inappropriately titled Human Rights Council would be disbanded. This will not happen and it is almost comical to observe Goldstone calling on the HRC to now condemn genocidal Hamas’s “heinous acts in the strongest terms.…”

 

GOLDSTONE THE BELATED PENITENT
David Horovitz
Jerusalem Post, April 2, 2011

 

Yom Kippur has evidently come early this year for Richard Goldstone. He couldn’t quite bring himself, in his Friday article “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes,” to write, “I have sinned, forgive me.”

But the astounding piece in The Washington Post by the Jewish justice, who presided over the Goldstone Report that accused Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, represents nothing less than an apology to Israel.… How dramatic the about-face. And how terrible that it was necessitated.

How tragic, that is, that Goldstone so misplaced his moral compass in the first place as to have produced a report that has caused such irreversible damage to Israel’s good name. Tragic least of all for the utterly discredited Goldstone himself, and most of all for our unfairly besmirched armed forces and the country they were putting their lives on the line to honorably defend against a ruthless, murderous, terrorist government in Gaza.

The “if I had know then what I know now” defense Goldstone invokes to try to justify his perfidy is typically flimsy, of course. Sanctimonious even now, Goldstone complains about Israel’s “lack of cooperation with our investigation.” But as he knows full well, Israel could not possibly have formally cooperated with his inquiry, which had been constructed by the obsessively anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council with the precise intention of blackening Israel’s name, legitimizing its enemies and curtailing its capacity to defend itself in future conflicts—such as the one Israel may have to fight quite soon if the current upsurge in Hamas rocket fire continues.…

Notwithstanding [Israel’s] absent formal cooperation, however, the truth about what happened in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009—the truth that Goldstone now disingenuously claims to have discovered only after he filed his malicious indictment of the IDF and of Israel—was readily available to him at the time.

Israel did informally make the necessary information available to his committee in the shape of detailed reports on what had unfolded. And open sources, honestly evaluated, left no doubt that Hamas was the provocateur, that Hamas was deliberately placing Palestinians in harm’s way, that Hamas was lying about the proportion of combatants among the Gaza dead. Open sources also left no doubt that the IDF—far from deliberately targeting civilians; the bitter accusation at the heart of Goldstone’s report—was doing more than most any military force has ever done to minimize civilian deaths, even as it sought to destroy the terrorist infrastructure and pick out the terrorists who had been firing relentlessly into Israel’s residential areas. [Editor’s note: Prior to the Gaza incursion, the IDF is known to have dropped leaflets and made telephone calls to civilians giving them advance warning to evacuate.]

Only now, 18 months after he submitted his incendiary accusations against Israel, has Goldstone brought himself to acknowledge what a fair-minded investigation would have established from the start—that the IDF emphatically did not seek to kill civilians in Gaza. As he puts it in the simple phrase that should reverberate inside every foreign parliament and every human rights organization that rushed to demonize Israel: “Civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.…”

Unfortunately, Goldstone’s “reconsideration” will not garner a thousandth of the publicity or have a thousandth of the impact that his original, baseless accusations against Israel drew. Governments—including, to what should be their abiding shame, self-styled friends of Israel in Europe and beyond who failed to vote against this report—will not rush to deliver the apology they owe our government and our soldiers. They will not rush to recalibrate their policies. They will not now rush to issue statements expressing their confidence in Israel’s capacity to properly investigate allegations of misdoings by its military, even though the man who had previously given cover for their criticisms has now reversed himself and penned an article endorsing Israel’s processes for self-investigation.

The statesmen and the NGOs that savaged us, using the Goldstone Report as their “proof,” will not now, prompted by Goldstone’s reversal, ratchet up their criticisms of Hamas. They will not now express their outrage at the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to exploit the Goldstone Report to harm Israel—a key milestone on the PA’s road toward international recognition for a unilateral declaration of statehood. They will not now demand that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas abandon his current effort to negotiate “unity” with Hamas, a terrorist group avowedly working for the destruction of Israel and, as Goldstone now writes, “purposefully and indiscriminately” targeting Israel’s civilians.

They should, but they will not. They have moved on now. Israel’s guilt has long-since been “established.” And no matter that the man who certified it has belatedly internalized the gravity of the big lie he helped facilitate.

Nor either, pitifully, will the media organizations that so hyped the baseless allegations of Israeli war crimes now allocate similar broadcast-topping coverage and front page space to Goldstone’s belated exoneration of Israel. It will be a surprise, indeed, if we see the world’s most resonant newspapers following Goldstone’s lead and penning texts acknowledging that their reports and their analyses and their expert opinion pieces were wide of the mark.

And we had best not hold our breath, either, for Israel’s own internal critics—including certain widely cited newspapers and so-called watchdog groups that amplified the allegations of deliberate killings of civilians, and that so often seem to want to believe the very worst about Israel in the face of all reasonable evidence to the contrary—to emulate the judge’s shift.

The hollow Goldstone now writes that “I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the UN Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.”

Given that “history of bias” at the council, one can only wonder, yet again, why Goldstone consented to do its dirty work for it, to such devastating effect. His duplicitous investigation has had a toxic effect everywhere on the second battlefield—in diplomatic and legal forums, in the media, on university campuses, in global public discourse. He poisoned Israel’s name. And on the real battlefield, he gave succor to our enemies, encouraging them to believe that they could kill us not with mere impunity, but with active international empathy and support. He alleged that we were an immoral enemy, and thus he put all of our lives at greater risk.

An apology just isn’t good enough. The very least he owes Israel is to work unstintingly from now on to try to undo the damage he has caused.

Yom Kippur came early this year for Richard Goldstone. His show of penitence has come far too late.

 

RICHARD GOLDSTONE’S LEGACY
Avi Bell
Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2011

 

Last Monday, I debated with Richard Goldstone about the controversial Goldstone Report at Stanford Law School. Three days later, Justice Goldstone finally admitted, in The Washington Post, that, contrary to the report’s assertions, Israel did not intentionally target civilians. A Palestinian outfit called the International Middle East Media Center carried a story this weekend lamenting that “racist Zionists” at the debate …were responsible for convincing Goldstone of the error of his ways. Sadly, this is, at best, only partly true.…

Even with the friendly format, Richard Goldstone cannot have enjoyed the criticism. As I watched him sitting through the debate stone-faced, his wife sitting next to him, and as I thought back on his lengthy resumé, I recognized the enormous tragedy of a man, once lauded as a champion of human rights, becoming a shill for a terrorist organization.

Goldstone had been proud to take credit for his work in prosecuting war criminals before such institutions as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. And now he had to listen to his professional colleagues demonstrate how the Goldstone Report distorted international law and, as The Washington Post editorialized, made a “mockery of impartiality, with its judgment of facts.”

When the Goldstone Report was first published in 2009, with a brew of blood libels and legal fallacies that exceeded even the usual anti-Israel vitriol produced by the UN Human Rights Council, Goldstone went on a PR offensive. He took to the airwaves to try to sell the idea that the report, which conspicuously and repeatedly denied or whitewashed nearly all of Hamas’s crimes, was accurate in accusing Israelis and Israel’s leadership of the most monstrous crimes and motives. Even then, Goldstone’s going was not easy. The Economist, generally cold to Israel, condemned the report as “deeply flawed,” and a “thimbleful of poison.” A barrelful is more like it.

Now Goldstone has produced less than a thimbleful of contrition. He still refuses to acknowledge the cocktail of lies and distortions that comprise the Goldstone Report. Goldstone has refused to disavow the report’s attempt to eliminate laws against terrorism from the international legal codex.… He has not renounced the preposterous characterization of Gaza as territory under Israeli occupation, or the report’s shocking claim that Israel’s limited economic sanctions against the Hamas government are an unlawful form of collective punishment. He continues to remain silent on the report labeling all Israelis liars to stamp Hamas’s anti-Israel libels with the imprimatur of truth. He has not yet expressed remorse about the report’s gratuitous inclusion of anti- Jewish slurs, such as its endorsement of the bigoted claim that Israeli Jews are dehumanized and paranoid.

Goldstone said during the debate that no one has disputed the report’s factual allegations. But this is demonstrably false and Goldstone knew it, because he was looking right at me when I reminded him of this fact during the debate. He did not repeat the claim in The Washington Post.…

Israel’s investigations started before the Goldstone Report, just as they do after every major IDF combat operation. Being professional and thorough, Israeli investigators gathered all the relevant evidence, and continued for as long as it took to arrive at answers that would hold up in court. Unsurprisingly, the investigators could not corroborate even one of the Goldstone Report’s accusations as printed.

The Palestinians, by contrast, never have and never will impose any criminal price upon Palestinians for crimes against humanity victimizing Jews; indeed, both the Fatah-led and Hamas-led Palestinian governments still name public buildings after terrorists. No one has investigated Hamas’s use of civilian shields, its commandeering of hospitals and ambulances, or many of its other war crimes.

Goldstone excused the report’s harsh pronouncements of Israeli guilt on the grounds that his mission did not have contrary evidence. But this is both false and irrelevant. The mission had plenty of contrary evidence, including photographs and testimony, which it willfully disregarded. Where evidence was lacking, the responsible course was to admit that the mission did not know what had happened. Instead, the report repeatedly and unjustifiably presumed Israel guilty and Hamas innocent.

Goldstone’s belated and partial acknowledgement of error has not undone the report’s damage. The reputation of the UN Human Rights Council is at a nadir. Legal scholars have observed that if the Goldstone Report’s perverted legal standards become those of international law, international law will no longer have any relevance to modern warfare.

Hamas enjoys newfound legitimacy as it pursues its express goals of destroying the Jewish state, waging eternal war on the Jewish people, and subjecting its own citizens to its puritanical and xenophobic interpretation of Islamic law.… Israelis, meanwhile, are harassed around the world by opponents of the Jewish state hiding behind the report’s distorted version of international law; last week, President Shimon Peres was threatened with arrest in Switzerland by activists claiming that the Goldstone Report “proves” his guilt.

It is a legacy to be ashamed of. And it is now Richard Goldstone’s.

(Avi Bell is a professor at Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Law and the University of San Diego School of Law. He participated in a debate on “The Goldstone Report and the Application of International Law to the Arab-Israeli Conflict.”)