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May 24, 2018 3:39 pm

Human Rights Watch: Israel Should Let Gazans Break Through the Fence, Since They Pose No Danger

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Gazans send ignited kites over the border with Israel as part of the weekly Friday protests at the southern border on May 4, 2018. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

Sari Bashi, the “Israel and Palestine advocacy director” at Human Rights Watch (HRW) — who never advocates for Israel — wrote another anti-Israel screed in Foreign Policy that shows just how hateful and ignorant HRW is towards Israel.

First of all, Bashi completely ignores the point of the Gaza demonstrations –to incite tens of thousands of civilians to breach the border fence, and attack Israeli civilians with guns and knives. Bashi doesn’t even mention the word “return” in the entire article, claiming that the protests were both about the US embassy and about general anger at the Israeli “siege.”

Once Bashi falsely frames the protests — something she does deliberately, since she selectively quotes the social media of the riot organizers and ignores the point of the “Great Return March” — she goes on to claim that Israel did not use the correct methods to defend itself from a threat that she doesn’t admit exists:

[U]nder the international standards for policing demonstrations, even the use of rocks or firebombs does not justify lethal force, absent an imminent threat to life.Yet under the international standards for policing demonstrations, even the use of rocks or firebombs does not justify lethal force, absent an imminent threat to life. It doesn’t matter whom the protesters support or who, if anyone, encouraged them to demonstrate. Lethal force can only be used when strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life.

The Israeli government acknowledges the international law enforcement standard but says its forces will fire live rounds even before a threat to life becomes imminent, because it believes that Hamas will exploit the presence of thousands of demonstrators to breach the border fences. That essentially empties the word “imminent” of any meaning. It ignores the nonlethal means, such as tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets, that Israel can and should exhaust to protect its border.

It took me maybe 30 minutes of research to find out exactly why Israel cannot accurately or effectively use those means to protect against thousands of  violent rioters hell bent at breaching the fence and pouring into Israel. But the teams of researchers at HRW confidently claim not only that these means would work, but also that Israel isn’t using them as much as it can, without saying what facts back up that claim.

Beyond that, HRW is implying that Israel wants dead civilians, because there is some secret way that HRW knows that Israel could use non-lethal means in ways that Israel refuses to use:

Even if those methods were to fail (and they haven’t been exhausted), Israel would be justified in using lethal force only if a border breach presents an imminent threat to life. Israeli troops and snipers currently fire from well-fortified positions inside Israel, behind two fences, and, in key locations, behind ditches dug to prevent border crossings. They receive footage from drones hovering over Gaza and have backup from additional personnel and equipment located farther inside Israel.

Essentially, Bashi is arguing that Israel is too aggressive in stopping Gazans from cutting through the fence and pouring through the breach by the thousands — and then, even if thousands would rush through, that the IDF must wait until the Palestinian attackers take out their knives and raise their arms to stab Jews before the IDF can intervene.

How insane is that?

If the IDF would follow HRW’s advice, it would be forced to kill hundreds of people, rather than the few dozen that were killed.

Moreover, Sari Bashi — of course does — not mention that even Hamas admits that the vast majority of those killed were Hamas members — which proves that Israeli snipers were only aiming to kill the militant organizers of the protests who were directing their human shields to breach the fence.

The entire riots are Hamas military operations to breach Israel’s border, and civilians are used to cover the military aims.of Hamas. Arguably, the laws of war are the proper framework for Israel, not the laws of domestic police work, as HRW tries to frame this.

Yet even under HRW’s framework, Israel is doing everything possible to limit civilian deaths. Given that the number of civilians killed is quite small compared to the number of militant organizers, it is apparent that Israel’s actions at the border have saved far more civilian lives than HRW’s proposed solution of waiting for the fence to be breached and for thousands of Gazans to attempt to run into Israel and enter civilian communities before the IDF can respond with deadly force.

(h/t Ari)

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