'Israel did everything to protect Gaza civilians'

Sunday, October 18, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Goldstone Report accusing Israel of war crimes during the recent Gaza war. No surprise there. But there was one bright spot during the session - the testimony of a top British military officer who insisted that Goldstone was wrong, and that Israel had in fact gone out of its way to protect innocent lives in Gaza.

In his address before the council, Commander (ret.) Richard Kemp, who previously commanded all British forces in Afghanistan, said that during the conflict that raged in Gaza from mid-December of last year till mid-January, "the Israel Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare."

Kemp noted that the IDF dropped over two million leaflets over areas of Gaza and made hundreds of thousands of phone calls to warn civilians prior to attacks on terrorist forces, often eliminating the crucial element of surprise. Israel also called off many attacks on terrorist forces for fear of harming civilians being used as human shields.

While other modern Western armies would probably take the above measures while being scrutinized by the media, Kemp said they would not go the extra mile like the IDF did by allowing huge quantities of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza at the very height of the fighting.

Kemp also pointed out that the only real evidence Goldstone had of Israeli war crimes were the testimonies of individual Palestinians living in Gaza, and since they live under the thumb of a violent terrorist regime, they cannot constitute credible evidence.

"Hamas, like Hizbullah, are expert at driving the media agenda," he said. "Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distoring incidents."

Indeed, Palestinian Authority Minister of Justice Ali Al-Khashan told reporters in Ramallah on Saturday that any lawsuits against Israelis on the basis of the Goldstone Report will have to wait, since the report contains no concrete evidence of war crimes, nor has the PA been able to find any.

"We do not have any documentation for the Israeli crimes," Al-Khashan admitted.

He said the PA is trying to get around this hurdle by becoming a member of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where it can more easily launch cases against Israelis even without compelling evidence.

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