The UN report on the Gaza demonstrations condemns Israel. No surprise.
The weekly “great march” alongside the security fence was supposed to be a totally peaceful demonstration by Palestinian civilians. However, with Hamas working behind the scenes on the Palestinian side, this demonstration turned into a violent confrontation. In February of this year, the United Nations (UN) presented their findings on the Gaza demonstrations held between March and December 2018.
Both parties’ actions during the demonstrations were investigated. However, the UN report is largely dedicated to the condemnation of only one party, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The commission mainly accuses IDF soldiers of killing demonstrators who didn’t pose an imminent threat to life, including children.
The UNknown: Objectivity is sought but rarely present
The UN’s report is drafted by an ‘independent international commission of inquiry’. But how reliable is such a commission if we look at the overall relation between the UN and Israel?
Every year for the past five years, over 20 UN resolutions have been directed against the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel. Whereas approximately 5 UN resolutions were directed at all countries in the world, combined! Let’s be clear: over a striking 80% of the UN resolutions were directed against Israel only. Israel does not claim to be faultless, but these numbers are astonishing.
Critical questions and concerns from members of the international community such as the UN are essential for the sake of justice. However, these numbers reveal a disproportionate targeting of Israel. It makes one wonder how objective this UN report is.
“In the commission’s view, the demonstrations were civilian in nature.”
The report mentions that 183 allegedly ‘innocent’ Palestinians lost their lives. However, the statistics of the Intelligence and Terrorism information center (ITIC) confirm that “as for the identity of the fatalities 150 of 183 Palestinians were found to be affiliated with Hamas or with other terrorist organizations”.
The IDF qualified their actions by stating that members of Hamas were among the civilian protestors. They were responding to a new security threat, as the protests masked terror activities which include the launching of both incendiary kites and balloons filled with explosives. These in many cases were thrown by children. The devices caused many thousands of acres of farmland, animals and wildlife to burn creating an ecological disaster.
“Children are intentionally killed by the IDF”
35 of the 183 Palestinian losses were unfortunately children. The UN report accuses the IDF of having intentionally killed these children. But the real question is, who is responsible for these losses? The report does not reveal the sad context of Hamas using children as a method of warfare. Children are used as both human shields and child soldiers.
The education system in the Gaza strip, controlled by Hamas, systematically encourages children from a very young age to join the battle, to become martyrs. Later on, as adolescents they will attend summer camps where they will undergo military training. Ultimately, the children will be brainwashed to believe that Israel is their enemy, up to the point where they will join the demonstrations and risk their lives for the sake of Hamas. This is a despicable method, however, one that is never condemned by the UN.
Not only the Palestinian children, but the entire Palestinian population suffers under Hamas’ de facto control. Hundreds of protesters were paid to join the protests and others were coerced. Why did the UN report not mention this abuse even once? Again, critical reports and concerns on the conflict and demonstrations must be raised. But wouldn’t it be fair to investigate both sides with the same attention?
Adhering to international standards
It is beyond any dispute that alleged misconducts of IDF soldiers should be investigated and if necessary prosecuted. But the question is by whom? The UN calls upon the International Criminal Court (The ICC) in The Hague to investigate the actions of IDF soldiers. However, the ICC has no standing if Israel takes care of the investigations itself. This is what is called the principle of complementarity.
This principle is simple but ultra-relevant: The ICC cannot investigate alleged crimes when a country domestically opens a serious investigation adhering to international standards.
The Turkel Commission (consisting of independent international legal observers), in 2013, verified that the Israeli self-investigation system meets these international standards. An example of Israel’s willingness to scrutinize itself, is the case of IDF soldier, Elor Azaria.
Azaria shot in the head and fatally wounded a neutralized terrorist while standing less than 2 meters away from him. This disproportionate reaction has been investigated and led to the conviction of Elor Azaria for manslaughter on 4th of January 2017. This case proves that Israel is not afraid to investigate their own defense forces, although the investigations received a lot of criticism from the Israeli public. Examining your own defense forces is not a popular policy. Nevertheless, Israel continues to do so for the sake of justice and democracy.