Israel and International Law

“Though Israel may often be deserving of criticism, what is missing is the comparable criticism of equal or greater violations by other countries and other groups. This constant, often legitimate criticism of Israel for every one of its deviations, when coupled with the absence of legitimate criticism of others, creates the impression currently prevalent on university campuses and in the press that Israel is among the worst human rights violators in the world….it is not true, but if it is repeated often enough, it takes on a reality of its own.”

- Alan Dershowitz

There is one country in the Middle East that is ranked as “free” by the human rights group Freedom House — Israel. Like any society, Israel is imperfect, but, like the United States and other western democracies, it is possible to change policies through the ballot box, the judiciary and peaceful protest. Israel is, nevertheless, attacked by BDS proponents and other critics for alleged violations of international law.  Here are responses to arguments that Israel’s security barrier, blockade of Gaza and military operation against terrorists in Gaza were inappropriate:

The Security Barrier

  • Israel did not want to build a fence, and resisted doing so for more than 35 years. If anyone is to blame for the construction, it is Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other Palestinian terrorists.
  • The security fence does create some inconvenience to Palestinians, but it also saves lives. The deaths of Israelis caused by terror are permanent and irreversible whereas the hardships faced by the Palestinians are temporary and reversible.
  • Many countries, including Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Spain and India have barriers. The United States is building a fence along part of its border with Mexico to prevent illegal immigrants from coming into the country, not terrorists who seek to murder American citizens.
  • The security barrier is not being constructed to prevent the citizens of one state from escaping; it is designed solely to keep terrorists out of Israel
  • The security barrier was created in June 2002 as a reaction to suicide bombings, which killed hundreds of Israeli men, women and children
  • Over 90% of the barrier is a fence; the remaining  portion uses walls in urban areas prone to attacks by snipers.
  • The High Court of Israel ruled the fence is consistent with international law and Israel’s right to protect Israeli citizens.
  • The security fence has only one purpose: to keep the terrorists out and thereby save the lives of Israel’s citizens, Jews and Arabs alike.
  • When violence stops, and peace is achieved, the fence can be moved, opened or torn down.

The Gaza Blockade

  • When Israel ended its occupation of Gaza, it did not impose a blockade. However, once Hamas seized control over Gaza, armed combatants engaged in acts of terrorism against Israel. Nearly 10,000 rockets were directed towards civilians in Southern Israel. These are recognized war crimes.
  • Israel declared a blockade to prevent rockets and other weapons from being smuggled into Gaza.
  • According to the law of blockade derived from customary international law, since Israel is involved in an international armed conflict (IAC) in Gaza, it has the right to both a naval and land blockade of Gaza (http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-48994620100602)
  • Israel has no legal responsibility for Gazans since it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip; nevertheless, it continues to provide supplies as well as electricity.
  • Ships involved in flotillas to break the blockade are warned against going to Gaza. Israel has permitted them to land in Israel and to transport humanitarian supplies to the Palestinians. In the first quarter of 2010, Israel allowed 48,000 tons of food into Gaza, lifting the monthly average from 12,000 to 16,000 tons of aid. (http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/Behind+the+Headlines/Israeli_humanitarian_lifeline_Gaza_25-May-2010.htm)

The Goldstone Report

  • The Goldstone Commission was created to investigate alleged war crimes during the conflict between Israel and Hamas during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008/January 2009.
  • Following the report’s release, Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said, “The mandate was unbalanced, one-sided and unacceptable…”310
  • The four-person panel, led by Judge Richard Goldstone, based virtually all of its 575-page report on unverified accounts by Palestinians and NGOs. The Goldstone Commission fixated on Israel’s incursion into Gaza while failing to adequately address the provocation – three years of Hamas rocket bombardment of Israeli towns and villages – that led to the Israeli operation.
  • The Goldstone Report is rife with inaccuracies, mischaracterizations and falsehoods. The report makes no mention of Hamas’ illegal activities in Gaza, such as using human shields and utilizing mosques, hospitals and schools as bases of operation, and downplays the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians. By not holding Hamas accountable for targeting Israeli civilians, the report essentially legitimizes terrorism and criminalizes self-defense.
  • The Commission systematically favored witnesses and evidence put forward by anti-Israel advocates, and dismissed evidence and testimony that would undermine its case. (http://www.goldstonereport.org/ )

Links

  1. Alan Dershowitz’s analysis of the Goldstone Report: http://www.goldstonereport.org/pro-and-con/critics/517-alan-dershowitz-the-case-against-the-goldstone-report-a-study-in-evidentiary-bias-270110
  2. The Goldstone Mission FAQ’s by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: http://www.mfa.gov.il/GazaFacts/Goldstone/israel-gaza-faq-goldstone-mission.htm?WBCMODE=PresentationUnpYair+Tsaban
  3. Statement by Amb Leshno Yaar to the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign+Relations/Israel+and+the+UN/Speeches+-+statements/Amb_Leshno_Yaar_UN_Human_Rights_Council_29-Sep-2009.htm?WBCMODE=PresentationUnpYair+Tsaban
  4. Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip: The Main Findings of the Goldstone Report Versus the Factual Findings: http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/g_report_e1.pdf
  5. Goldstone Report Endorses Unreliable Witnesses: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=18&x_article=1728
  6. Response of United nations Association of Israel (UNA Israel) to the Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict: http://www.wfuna.org/atf/cf/%7B84F00800-D85E-4952-9E61-D991E657A458%7D/UNA%20Israel%20response.pdf
  7. Palestinian, Iranian and international reactions to the Human Rights Council’s decision to endorse the findings of the Goldstone Report: http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e086.htm
  8. The Goldstone Report: A Study in Duplicity: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=1736
  9. US Congress resolution denouncing bias of Goldstone Report: http://www.unwatch.org/atf/cf/%7B6deb65da-be5b-4cae-8056-8bf0bedf4d17%7D/RES.CONGRESSGOLDSTONE.PDF
  10. 10.  UK commander challenges Goldstone Report: http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.5537773/k.291E/SelfDefense_is_not_a_Crime_of_War.htm
  11. 11.  EYE on the UN – the Goldstone Inquiry: http://www.eyeontheun.org/view.asp?l=47&p=982
  12. 12.  Honest Reporting: The Goldstone Report Rewarding Palestinian Terror: http://www.honestreporting.com/articles/45884734/critiques/new/The_Goldstone_Report_Rewarding_Palestinian_Terror.asp
  13. 13.  PMW: Palestinian witnesses: Hamas used civilians as human shields in Gaza War: http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=1304
  14. 14.  JCPA: How the Goldstone Commission understated the Hams threat to Palestinian civilians: http://jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=1&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=442&PID=0&IID=3086&TTL=Blocking_the_Truth_of_the_Gaza_War