Major Jewish Groups Lambaste ‘Deeply Unfair’ UN Report on 2014 Gaza War
A wide array of Jewish groups condemned on Monday a U.N. report that accused Israel and Hamas of committing possible war crimes from either side of the Israel-Gaza border, during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer “strongly criticized” the report, saying, “It is most unfortunate that here is yet another UN Human Rights Council report that puts the democratic State of Israel and the terror group Hamas on the same level,” said Singer. “If further proof was still needed that the United Nations is biased against Israel, this is it.”
He placed the blame for last summer’s violence, which saw about 6,000 Israeli airstrikes and about 4,800 Gazan rockets fired at Israel, on Hamas.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee meanwhile called the report “deeply unfair, inaccurate and misleading.”
“Hamas indiscriminately waged a war of aggression against Israeli civilians while inhumanely exploiting Gaza residents as human shields. Any suggestion of moral symmetry between the actions of Israel and those of the terrorist organization Hamas is a malicious affront to the truth,” said AIPAC in a statement.
“Israel deserves praise rather than criticism,” said AIPAC. “During the conflict, Israel risked the lives of its own soldiers to spare civilian lives by providing Gaza residents with advance warning of impending attacks.”
AIPAC warned that reports like this one could be “eroding the credibility” of the UNHCR.
“The Commission was flawed from its inception,” said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris. “First, the Council chose as commission chairman Canadian law professor William Schabas despite his having worked for the Palestinian Liberation Organization,” he said, referring to the former head of the committee the rights council tasked with studying the Gaza war. Schabas resigned in February, and was replaced by former New York supreme court judge Mary McGowan Davis.
Harris also criticized a line in the report that claims Gaza was occupied territory, along with the West Bank and east Jerusalem. He said Hamas were the true occupiers of the Gaza Strip, since wresting complete control from the Palestinian unity government in 2007.
A contributor to the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs report on the 50-day operation last summer said that despite the allegations against Israel, the UNHRC could not ignore the war crimes Hamas had committed.
“They couldn’t ignore the fact that Hamas had attacked Israel indiscriminately, with thousands of missiles fired into populated areas, some with twice the population density of Gaza,” said Hirsch Goodman, a former military correspondent and founder of the media strategy program at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
“They couldn’t ignore that Hamas had put together attack tunnels that were meant to allow a flow of hundreds of bombers, terrorists and others secretly into Israel to cause mass slaughter … that Hamas used its own people as human shields,” he said, adding that “never before has the U.N. human rights council accused Hamas of war crimes.”
Goodman said the current report was more “balanced” than the fact finding mission the U.N. established for the 2008-2009 Gaza war, because it “expresses belief in Israel’s system of justice… It doesn’t accuse Israel of deliberately targeting civilians. It notes Israel’s attempts to warn civilians in advance.”
“[The report] is much more balanced than before,” he said, adding it makes no specific recommendation to take any of these charges to the International Criminal Court. That the U.N. would deliberate possible war crimes by Hamas is a “huge change,” he said.