War Crimes

The first big anti-israel news story of the Gaza conflict was the alleged bombing, on Tuesday, of a UN-run school which resulted in the deaths of 40 or so children. What happened, of course, was that Hamas set up a mortar launcher in the school or on its grounds. The IDF returned fire and destroyed the launcher and its crew. Among those killed were Imad and Hassan Abu Askhar, who ran Hamas mortar crews.

This video, posted by the IDF on its YouTube channel earlier today, shows how Hamas will position a rocket or (in this case) mortar launcher within a few feet of a school, not because school grounds are somehow ideal locations from which to fire ordnance, but in hopes of causing civilian casualties:

One wonders, too, what was going on at the UN-run school. Why were dozens or hundreds of children present? Is the UN unaware that Gaza is a war zone? Schools have been closed in Israeli towns that are subject to Palestinian rocket attacks. Why on earth would the UN, or whoever, be assembling students in a location where they can easily be turned into “martyrs” by Hamas? Were classes really being conducted in this alleged school, in the middle of a bombardment? There is a story here, waiting to be told.

The second big anti-Israeli story was the alleged bombing of a house in Gaza City that contained 110 Palestinians, of whom around 30 were allegedly killed. I don’t know yet what the facts of this incident are, and neither does Navi Pillay, the United Nations’ “High Commissioner for Human Rights.” Nevertheless, she has called for an investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes:

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called Friday for an independent war crimes investigation in Gaza after reports that Israeli forces shelled a house full of Palestinian civilians, killing 30 people.

Navi Pillay told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council that the harm to Israeli civilians caused by Hamas rockets was unacceptable, but did not excuse any abuses carried out by Israeli forces in response.

Pillay went further in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., saying an incident in Gaza City this week “appears to have all the elements of war crimes.”

Here is what puzzles me: we know that the IDF goes to great lengths, including telephoning and sending text messages to Palestinians to warn them of impending attacks, to avoid civilian casualties. No doubt civilians have inadvertently been killed and injured in the course of Israel’s effort to defend itself against Palestinian aggression. But when that happens, it’s an accident, or the result of a deliberate effort by Hamas to maximize civilian casualties.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that atrocities have been carried out in Gaza over the past week, as we noted here:

Fatah officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken. …

Meanwhile, sources close to Hamas revealed over the weekend that the movement had “executed” more than 35 Palestinians who were suspected of collaborating with Israel and were being held in various Hamas security installations.

Further, as we noted here, Hamas is “‘doing very bad things’ to Fatah activists in Gaza.”

Murdering people, shooting them in the legs, breaking their hands and “doing very bad things” to them would seem to be human rights violations about which the UN should be concerned. Certainly, if there were reports that Israel were doing such things–on purpose, not accidentally due to Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields!–the UN would be salivating with glee. Further, these atrocities would seem to be low-hanging fruit. After all, Hamas has actually bragged about the number of Fatah loyalists it has murdered or maimed. No great investigation is need to prove that these human rights abuses have occurred. So why is the UN completely ignoring them in favor of a witch hunt directed against Israel?

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