The predictable accusations of “war crimes” following Israel’s offensive against the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza simply do not mesh with international law, an Israeli expert said on Thursday.
On at least three occasions during the war, United Nations facilities were damaged by retaliatory Israeli strikes. Despite the fact that UN-run schools had repeatedly been found to be housing Hamas rockets, these facilities were still being used to shelter displaced civilians.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called these incidents “outrageous” and “indefensible,” and his reaction has fueled demands that Israel be dragged before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
But an Israeli expert speaking to Army Radio said the Jewish state has nothing to fear from any UN or other international inquiry, as it did not violate the accepted rules of war in the targeting of these particular UN facilities or areas nearby.
“The international community needs to actually read the Geneva Conventions,” the expert said, noting that the Fourth Geneva Convention “makes clear that the moment a protected facility is used for a military purpose, it loses its protected status.”
The relevant portion of the Fourth Geneva Convention is Article 28, which specifically states that “the presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.”
In other words, Hamas’ use of human shields is the true violation of international law, whereas Israel was fully within its legal rights to continue responding militarily even when the terrorists used UN facilities as cover.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman laid the onus on the UN itself, insisting that the world body must do more to ensure its facilities are not utilized by terrorist forces targeting Israel.
In a press conference conducted in English yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would have been a “moral mistake” not to attack terrorists using civilian areas as cover.
Furthermore, Netanyahu insisted that the international reactions to the Gaza war are a test for the entire free world, and not for Israel alone.
“…nearly everyone says that they support Israel’s right to defend itself… But there are those who refuse to…let Israel exercise that right. They would allow Hamas to attack with impunity, because they say ‘they’re firing from schools or from mosques or from hospitals and Israel should not take action against them,’” said Netanyahu.
The prime minister explained that submitting to such demands would be “a moral mistake…an operational mistake. Because that would validate and legitimize Hamas’s use of human shields, and it would hand an enormous victory to terrorists everywhere and a devastating effect to the free societies that are fighting terrorism.”