Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jumping to conclusions

According to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay (not known as a friend of Israel), the casualty figure in Gaza of 600 killed so far is "significant."  The Turkish PM Erdogan has ludicrously called it a "genocide."  But, wait a minute this number from Hamas itself includes Hamas and other terrorists killed in combat or while launching rockets at Israel (usually not wearing any uniform).  According to an analysis of the casualties by Al Jazeera (also not known as a friend of Israel) 68% of the casualties are young men of military age (18-35).  Israel claims 90% are combatants and Hamas claims 25%, so 68% is probably a reasonable estimate, especially since Israel uses targeted strikes.  According to this number that means that 32% or ca. 192 civilians have been killed in 2 weeks of intense bombing and ground attacks, in a densely populated area containing 1.6 million people.  I would say that this number is relatively "insignificant" when you consider that there is intense fighting going on and that up to now 29 IDF soldiers have been killed in combat.  There seems to be a general attitude, as we have experienced before, that Israel will be damned whatever the numbers.  By comparison, ca. 1,000 civilians are being killed every week in Syria, and ca. 350 were killed every week by US forces during the invasion of Iraq.  The reason the civilian death toll in Gaza is so relatively low must be due to the many precautions Israel is taking to avoid civilian casualties.
Pillay also said publicly that some of Israel's actions in Gaza amount to war crimes, such as targeting the homes of terrorist leaders.  After all, if the terrorist leader is not there and is in hiding and only his family is there and they are killed, that amounts to a war crime.  But, it could also be that the terrorist leader is there and the home was being used as a military headquarters, in which case it is a legitimate target.  Only an unbiased investigation after the event will find whether Israel had enough evidence to justify such a targeted attack.  I am convinced that Israel would not target a house unless it had good evidence that it was a legitimate target, otherwise it would not be worthwhile for the IDF to attack it.  Pillay should hold her criticism until there is a consideration of actual evidence, rather than shooting from the hip. Nevertheless the UNCHR voted to investigate Israel for "war crimes" but did not mention Hamas, even though Hamas is clearly carrying out war crimes by indiscriminately firing rockets at Israeli cities and using its own population as human shields (this behavior has been documented).  Of course the UN agency has a majority of Muslim and affiliated states from Africa and S. America as well as Russia and China that vote with them.  PM Netanyahu labelled this decision "a travesty."
Another UN action causes grave concern.  For years we have been warning that UNRWA, the UN Palestinian welfare organization, is aiding and abetting terrorists.  The Palestinians are the only group of "refugees" in the world that have a UN agency dedicated solely for their needs, while all other refugees in the world come under the UNHCR (High Commissioner for Refugees), including the Syrian refugees.  Not only does UNRWA employ Palestinians who are members of terrorist organizations, but they glorify Palestinian "martyrs" (suicide bombers) in the UNRWA-run schools, and they store military equipment there.  In two cases it has been found that there are caches of missiles stored in UNRWA schools.  Chris Gunnes, their spokesman in Gaza stated that he did not know about this (he was shocked!) and that when he learnt he ordered that they immediately be turned over to the appropriate authorities.  Who are the "appropriate authorities," why Hamas of course.   It has been suggested that Israel suspend all cooperation with UNRWA (which would severely curtail its operations) and initiate a process to wind it down, sixty years after it was founded, and let the Palestinians be treated as all other refugees in the world, that would be fair.


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