Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Who do you trust to investigate alleged war crimes in Israel/Palestine? The IDF or the UN?

Recently I was asked my opinion of video produced by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) justifying its massacres of innocent civilians because Hamas allegedly uses Gazans as human shields. See

My first response was that this slick two-minute youtube video is mere propaganda. It's as if the police created a video justifying why it killed a youth  and used excessive force in Ferguson. How credible would that be?

But perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe the allegations in this video have some truth to them.

If Israel really believes that Hamas uses its citizens as human shields and has therefore committed war crimes,  it would support an impartial investigation that would prove its allegations. And who is more qualified to do a credible investigation than the UN?  

Well, maybe that’s the problem.  Israel believes that that the UN is biased. Instead, Israel wants to investigate itself, much like the police in our country when accused of brutality. Can the police police themselves? Can a country at war credibly investigate war crimes that it has allegedly committed? Ask the blacks in Ferguson, or New York, or virtually any other city in the US if they trust the police to investigate themselves...

Is Israel unbiased? Would the world accept the results of its self-investigation?
In comments made to Governor Cuomo, Netanyahu made clear that the world is divided between the evil doers (Hamas, Isis, the Muslim extremists) and the righteous (Israel and the US).

“This is the kind of moral divide that is evident today in the world, and on one side you have Israel and the United States representing democracies committing to human rights, committing to a real future for our people; and on the other side, you have the likes of ISIS and Hamas, Islamist tyrannies that have no inhibition and pursue their grisly creeds and their grisly deeds.”
For Netanyahu, there is no “moral equivalency” between the two sides. It is hard to imagine how Israel can do a fair and impartial investigation with this attitude.

Netanyahu also claims that UN doesn't condemn Hamas’ rocket attacks and is therefore biased, but this is untrue. The UN chief rights investigator Navi Pillay has stated publicly that Hamas and Israel have both committed acts that may be war crimes:

"There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes," Pillay told an emergency session on Israel's Gaza offensive at the UN Human Rights Council, citing attacks that have killed Palestinian civilians, including children.

She said Israelis also had a right to live without constant fear of rocket attacks.

"Once again, the principles of distinction and precaution are clearly not being observed during such indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups," she said.

Pillay has made it clear that the actions of both sides need to be investigated.

Just as we sometimes need a civilian review board to hold police accountable when there have been allegations of police brutality, nations need to be held accountable by an international tribunal when war crimes have allegedly been committed.

I’ll say more about the alleged use of human shields in a later blog.


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