Ronald Scheinberg


Today (December 15, 2023), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) posted on “X” the following missive (apparently in response to reports that the Israel Military was beginning to pump water from the Mediterranean to flood the 300-odd kilometers of tunnels that Hamas dug under the Gaza Strip):

Israel’s flooding of tunnels with saltwater could have severe human rights impacts, some long term. Goods indispensable to civilian survival could also be at risk, as well as widespread, long-term & severe environmental damage [may result?]. Civilians must be protected.

 This missive is just so wrong on so many levels.

First, it is gibberish. Human rights impacts? How can saltwater impact human rights, and just what “long term” human rights impacts would those be? And what goods indispensable to civilian survival would be at risk from this saltwater? As for environmental damage, yes, that may be a consequence, but that is a big “may” – if the Hamas tunnels are as good as they are purported to be, the pumped in saltwater should not seep out.

Second, to admonish Israel about wanting to destroy the Hamas tunnels is too rich. Hamas built this tunnel network over the span of many years. All which while the UNHR-affiliated UN agency known as UNRWA silently watched this construction project and made no effort to stop it.

Finally, “Civilians must be protected” is, indeed, a fine sentiment. Yet the UNHR said nothing about the Hamas massacre for the three days after it occurred on October 7th. And then their message on October 10th was, under the headline, UN Human Rights Chief urges States to defuse “powder keg” situation in Israel and OPT, as incalculable suffering, massive death tolls take hold: “UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Tuesday issued an urgent plea to all States with influence to take steps to defuse the “powder keg” situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Nowhere does he point to Hamas as the instigators or condemn the breaking of the then current ceasefire by Hamas, and how dare he claim that Gaza is an occupied Palestinian Territory – Israel left Gaza 18 years ago!

About the Author
Brown University, BA 1980 Harvard Law School, JD, 1983 Commercial Aircraft Finance Lawyer Author: The Commercial Aircraft Finance Handbook (2nd ed., 2019)
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