by Hugh Fitzgerald
The United Nations Human Rights Council, well known for its grotesquely unbalanced inquiries into the behavior of Israel, whose actions receive more attention from the UNHRC than do the actions of any other country, has just announced that it will be holding a special session to look into Israeli actions in the 11-day Gaza war that just concluded. A report on this UNHCR session is here: “UNHRC poised to approve war crimes probe into Israel on Gaza, Jerusalem,” by Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2021:
The United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to establish a commission of inquiry into Israeli actions against Palestinians uroing the period leading up to and including the 11-day Gaza War that ended on May 21.
In particular, the committee would investigate Israeli activity in Gaza and Jerusalem as well as the ethnic riots that broke out in mixed cities within sovereign Israel.
A commission of inquiry only into “Israeli actions.” Israel will be in the dock for possible “war crimes.” Nothing is said about the UNHCR investigating the actions of Hamas, as if it could not possibly have committed war crimes. Note what the UNHCR will not be investigating. It will not be investigating the Arab mobs who were whipped into a frenzy on top of the Temple Mount, from where they threw large rocks and Molotov cocktails on Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall, some 70 feet below. It will not be investigating the rocks and Molotov cocktails flung as well at the Israeli police who were only trying to maintain order on the top of the Temple Mount. It will not be investigating the unprovoked attacks by Arabs on Jews – especially the Orthodox — in Jerusalem, attacks that were proudly shared on TikTok, and meant to be both admired and emulated.
Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority submitted a resolution for the creation of a fact-finding mission which will come to a vote on Thursday, when the UNHRC will hold a special session in Geneva. It is expected to receive the majority vote in the 47-member body.
The text calls in particular for accountability for Israel actions.
The commission would be authorized to make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility, for such violations, and justice for victims,” the Resolution states.
It would explore the “alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up to and since 13 April 2021, and all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.”
I assume that the “systematic discrimination and repression based on national ,ethnic, racial or religious identity” refers not to efforts by Hamas to achieve its goal of destroying the Jewish state, but only to Israel’s attempts to defend itself. No mention will be made by the UNHCR that the war began with a volley of hundreds of rockets on May 10, to which Israel then responded. Hamas in the end fired 4,350 rockets toward Israel, all at civilian targets. Some 640 fell short, landed in Gaza,and according to the IDF, killed about 60 people, almost all of them civilians.
Israel’s mission to the UN in Geneva responded immediately, noting the absence of Hamas’s firing of rockets against Israeli cities and towns.
“No mention of Hamas. No mention of 4300+ rockets,” it stated, adding, “we call on Member States to speak up & oppose this resolution.”
Thursday’s special session will be the 30th one that the UNHRC has held since its inception in 2006, out of which nine focused on Israel. No other country has been the subject of so many special sessions.
Nine out of 30 special sessions of the UNHRC have been devoted to that mighty malefactor that bestrides the Middle East like a colossus. Israel is in fact no colossus; the tiny Jewish state which has had to fight three wars – in 1948, 1967, and 1973 – for its every existence. And Israel has also had to fight other wars against terrorist groups — the PLO, the PFLP, Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad — bent on the Jewish state’s destruction. These have included four wars in Gaza against Hamas and two wars in Lebanon, against the PLO and Hezbollah. Israel has also had to try to prevent thousands of terrorist attacks that constitute what Israelis call “the wars between the wars.” Yet it is Israel, the object of so many wars and such murderous terrorism, that is perennially in the dock of the UNHRC, while such countries as China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey remain largely uninvestigated for human rights violations. .
There have been at least five fact-finding missions into Israeli military actions in the past, including one on the Hamas-led “Great March of Return” as well as on past Gaza wars.
No mention will be made in whatever report the UNHCR finally releases — having first made sure that the Arab and Muslim members of the Commission are fully satisfied with the result — of the Arabs who started beating up Jews in Jerusalem in mid-April. What has always been a property dispute between Jewish owners and Arab tenants over a handful of properties in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem has been turned by Palestinian propagandists into a sinister plot by the Israeli government – which is not a party to the property dispute –to “Judaize” Jerusalem. Some 209,000 Arabs live in east Jerusalem, which has been part of Israel since 1980; no attempt has been made by Israel in more than 40 years to expel the Arabs from their lawfully-owned property or to move Jews into their homes.
No mention will be made, in whatever report the UNRHC concocts, of Hamas’ practice of storing its weapons in civilian areas, and even in civilian buildings, such as schools, hospitals, houses and apartment buildings, and mosques – an attempt to use civilians as shields against Israeli attack. Finally, the Israeli practice of warning inhabitants of buildings that are soon to be attacked, through telephone calls, leafletting, and the “knock-on-the-roof” technique, will either go unmentioned, or be belittled as insufficient. That Israel managed to hit 1,600 targets, and to be responsible for at most 50-70 civilians in an area as densely-populated as Gaza, testifies both to the astonishing precision of Israeli pilots, without precedent in the history of modern warfare, and to the great care that was given to minimizing civilian casualties by warning Palestinians – civilians and fighters alike — well in advance of impending attack, sometimes giving them as much as one or two hours to leave. Residents of the Jala building, for example, where Hamas’ intelligence and weapons development offices were located, along with the offices of both AP and Al Jazeera, were warned by Israel to leave a full hour before the attack was to be launched They all did leave in time; there were no casualties. In order to warn civilians the IAF was willing to let some important Hamas operatives escape. The IDF believes that many of the civilian casualties in Gaza – possibly 60 of them – were caused by Hamas itself, when 640 of its own rockets malfunctioned, fell short, and landed not in Israel, but in Gaza.
None of this, of course, will be included in the UNHCR report. Israeli “war crimes” will be the sole subject, beginning with the “unprovoked attacks” by Israeli police on “peaceful” demonstrators on the Temple Mount, the “police invading the Al-Aqsa mosque,” the attacks by “Jewish mobs on innocent Arabs in Jerusalem,” the attempt by Israel to evict Palestinians from the houses their families “have lived in for centuries” in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, and then the unacceptably “”disproportionate” bombardment, by the IAF, over 11 days, of the nearly helpless Palestinians who “want only to be left alone to live in peace.” Those “nearly helpless Palestinians,” let’s not forget, started the war with a volley of several hundred rockets aimed at civilian targets, including Jerusalem.
As for those 4,350 rockets that Hamas ultimately fired at Israel, the Israelis really shouldn’t be complaining. After all, 90% of them were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome. What’s the big deal? How dare Israel act as if it is the injured party, when in its pilots managed to hit 1,600 targets, and cause far more damage than Hamas managed to achieve? The UNHCR report will no doubt make clear that this mismatch between mighty Israel and the nearly-helpless Hamas was most unfair. Being the stronger party, with better bomb shelters and anti-missile defenses, Israel must, be unambiguously condemned by the UNHCR. And, of course, it will be. The U.N. Human Rights Commission can do no other.
First published in Jihad Watch.