25 December 2012

Human Rights Watch (partially) changes its tune - but only partially

Here's a turn up for the books: HRW "blasts Hamas for targeting Israeli civilians with rockets". This comes, of course, just a very few months after the founder of HRW had attacked his creation for its lack of balance in reporting of the Middle East. I wonder, he wrote a tad cynically, whether that attack has had an effect on funding? The new report says that "Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population have no lawful justification and are a war crime...assigning Hamas blame for civilian deaths in Israel and Gaza during last month’s Operation Pillar of Defense." Note, especially, that "civilian deaths in...Gaza" quote.

Regrettably, that isn't because Hamas brought it on itself, but because of the rockets that fell short. That said, the report does note that "“Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.”." As the report makes clear, "...armed groups repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter-fire." Elsewhere, it is noted that this is a war crime. Just because Hamas has " “[a] limited military arsenal that relies on largely indiscriminate rockets [this] does not justify a failure to respect the laws of war, which apply to all sides in a conflict whatever their capabilities...”."

At last, someone who the so-called "progressives" might take some notice of has made this point: Hamas and the rest of the terrorist organisations are committing a war crime every time they fire a rocket indiscriminately at Israeli civilians.

Of course, HRW can't leave it there. This report "comes a week after an HRW paper pounded Israel for journalists’ deaths in Gaza during the conflict." My memory may be faulty here, but weren't those "journalists" Hamas activists in a car boldly labelled "Press"? I always thought that the laws of war didn't protect activists (be they IDF members or Hamas activists) operating in disguise.

Ah well, where Israel's concerned, it can never be all good news, can it?

Two other stories to go with this one: firstly, Syrian rebels are claiming that the Assad regime used chemical weapons in a raid on a rebel held town; and, from the same Times of Israel issue, it is reported that the Egyptian forces have intercepted a shipment of rockets intended for Gaza, and did this in the Sinai penonsula. Only 17 of them, but that's 17 fewer that will be available to launch towards Israel.

 By: Brian Goldfarb