The imminent UN report on Gaza

Better late than never – Recent authoritative submissions

Extract from the report by a group of high ranking military leaders

“Each of our own armies is of course committed to protecting civilian life during combat. But none of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the IDF last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population in such circumstances.”

Although the Israel government refused to cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza War, a number of concerned citizens and NGO’s presented cogent well researched submissions to the Commission whose report is due to be released in advance of the scheduled June 29 debate before the Human Rights Council.

Unfortunately the commission’s refusal to open the evidence it has examined to public scrutiny will make it difficult for fair minded people to attempt to evaluate the report when it is published. However, a substantial listing on the internet, of some of the above mentioned informative documents that were submitted to the commission, will enable members of the public as well as journalists and politicians to make informed evaluations.

Filling in the blanks
I refer for example to UN Watch and NGO Monitor’s book, “Filling in the Blanks”:
The book focuses on some of the central dimensions related to international humanitarian law and human rights that are essential to understanding the context and combat in asymmetrical war. Contributors include Professor Gerald Steinberg, Anne Herzberg, Hillel Neuer, Jonathan Schanzer, Uzi Rubin, Richard Kemp CBE, and Trevor Norwitz, all experts in their fields, these authors are available for interviews about its contents.

It will be recalled that Professor William Schabas resigned as chairman of the commission after disclosure that he had performed legal work for the PLO in the past. He was replaced by Judge Mary McGowan Davis as chairperson, the other panelist being Dr. Diène. Since the subject of the inquiry deals with military engagement and since neither of the two members of the UN probe has a military background, the authoritative reports (even though late) by acknowledged NON-ISRAELI military experts cannot be ignored. The reports by the following two NON-ISRAELI high level military leaders are examples of the highly relevant information that has become available.

a) Group that visited Israel in May 2015
The preliminary findings of a High Level International Military Group that was granted an unprecedented level of access when it visited Israel in May 2015 deals comprehensively with the situation. It was led by General Klaus Naumann, former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, the most senior officer in the Alliance, and 10 other former chiefs of staff, generals, senior officers, political leaders and officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Spain, Italy, Australia and Colombia.

The mission reported inter alia that Israel was eventually compelled to fight against Hamas and other Gaza extremists in a legitimate war, necessary to defend its citizens against sustained attacks and that after the war started Israel made repeated efforts to terminate the fighting. Hamas rocket attacks deliberately and indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilian population centres including Ben Gurion International Airport, disrupting and threatening international civil air traffic.

“There is no doubt that all of these attacks constitute war crimes.”

The report added that Hamas used materials diverted from humanitarian supplies to construct tunnels in many cases emerging close to civilian communities.

“We can only conclude that these tunnels were designed, at least in part, to attack, kill and abduct Israeli civilians. This again constitutes a war crime.”

 

“Hamas launched attacks against Israel from the heart of its own civilian communities in Gaza and positioned its munitions and military forces there also, including in schools, hospitals and mosques. As well as carefully documented IDF evidence of this, we have viewed international media footage confirming several cases and are aware of senior Hamas officials’ own claims to have used human shields. A recent report by the UN Secretary General confirmed that in some cases Hamas even used UN facilities for storing munitions and launching attacks.”

“Each of our own armies is of course committed to protecting civilian life during combat. But none of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the IDF last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population in such circumstances.”

“Our overall findings are that during Operation Protective Edge last summer, in the air, on the ground and at sea, Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard..We saw clear evidence of this from the upper to the lower levels of command. A measure of the seriousness with which Israel took its moral duties and its responsibilities under the laws of armed conflict is that in some cases Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.”

The report was signed on May 31, 2015 by
was signed on May 31, 2015 by
Giulio Terzi – former Foreign Minister of Italy.
General Klaus Naumann – former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.
General Vincenzo Camporini – former Chief of the Defence Staff of Italy.
Admiral Jose Maria Teran – former Chief of the Joint Staff of Spain.
Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper – former US State Department Ambassador at Large for war crimes issues.
Mr Rafael Bardaji – former National Security Adviser for the Spanish government.
Lieutenant General David A Deptula – former Standing Joint Force Air Component Commander, United States Pacific Command.
Major General Jim Molan – former Chief of Operations, Headquarters Multi National Force, Iraq and Commander of the Australian Defence College.
Colonel Eduardo Ramirez – Member of Colombian Congress and former Chief of Security, Colombia.
Colonel Vincent Alcazar – former senior United States Air Force officer in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Colonel Richard Kemp – former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.

b) The New face of conflict (March 2015)
Equally important is the comprehensive report by a task force comprising
General Charles Wald, USAF (ret.), Task Force Chair Former Deputy Commander of United States European Command
Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell IV, USA (ret.) Former Commander, U.S. Army North
Lieutenant General Richard Natonski, USMC (ret.) Former Commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command
Major General Rick Devereaux, USAF (ret.) Former Director of Operational Planning, Policy, and Strategy – Headquarters Air Force
Major General Mike Jones, USA (ret.) Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command

In addition to the above reports a substantial number of credible in-depth submissions are listed on the web site http://www.maurice-ostroff.org/?page_id=1681

About the Author
Maurice Ostroff is a founder member of the international Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers, better known by its acronym CoHaV, (star in Hebrew), a world-wide umbrella organization of volunteers active in combating anti-Israel media and political bias and in promoting the positive side of Israel His web site is at www.maurice-ostroff.org
Comments