Disproportionate Use of Force Operation Cast Lead UN Watch

UN Watch: In Gaza It’s Guilt by Numbers…….

Disproportionality” and the
Guilt-by-Numbers Argument

UN Watch Intervention
UN Human Rights Council, 9th Special Session
Delivered by Mr. Hillel Neuer, 12 January 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

Much of this session has revolved around a fundamental misconception—one so elementary, and yet, in recent weeks, so pervasive in the United Nations, the media, and influential circles of opinion the world over.

The misconception is that in the current war between Hamas and Israel, culpability is to be determined by simply comparing the amount of deaths and casualties on each side, and then reaching a verdict.

Israel must be the guilty party, goes the logic, because the numbers are so much higher on the Hamas side.

Certainly this is the implied argument of the tally provided in the resolution that is before us today. Its tongue-in-cheek tone about Israeli casualties seeks to dismiss the quantity and quality of Israeli suffering from Hamas crimes, choosing to qualify the rockets fired against Israeli civilians as “crude.” The terror of ten thousand rockets over eight years is ignored.

In the diplomatic world, this guilt-by-numbers argument find expression in the frequently heard accusation that Israel is acting “disproportionately.” And with its superficial simplicity—comparing numbers—and repeated so often, the argument seems to have prevailed.

Yet where does one find in international law, in state practice, or in common sense, a rule, precedent or rationale to support this proposition?

The answer: nowhere.

The proportionality obligation under international law is completely different. It requires that a military operation be directed at a legitimate military objective, and that expected collateral damage not be excessive in relation to the anticipated military objective.

In the past 8 years, Hamas and its allies fired 10,000 rockets against the civilians of Israel. Which sovereign country represented here would tolerate such aggression, and allow a terrorist group, sworn to its destruction, to play Russian roulette with its women and children?

No one.

The truth is that Hamas is committing a double war crime: deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and hiding behind their own.

Hamas hides their guns and bombs in mosques, they booby-trap schools, they put their terrorist headquarters under hospitals. Hamas doesn’t commit “violations” of international humanitarian law, their entire raison d’etre and modus operandi—to murder civilians, to destroy a state—negates the very notion of international humanitarian law.

They and their sponsors bear full responsibility for the tragic casualties that ensue. They alone have the power to end the hostilities.

Precisely because it’s so hard to deny that Israel is acting in self-defense, the last refuge of those who would automatically blame Israel is the misused charge of “disproportionality.”

No matter how often Israel is attacked, whatever actions it takes in self-defense is denied by the blame-Israel voices under one or another pretext.

Mr. President, where was the U.N. Human Rights Council when these 10,000 rockets were being fired, day after day over eight years? What is the credibility today of all those who chose silence?

Thank you, Mr. President.

The Tundra Tabloids is still waiting for an adequate defense by those who deem the Israeli operation in Gaza was …”disproportionate”, describing in exact detail what portion of international law shows Israel’s response in Gaza was indeed disproportionate. They must also produce adequate comparisons of states involved in a similar conflicts who used a proportionate amount of force. Crickets chirping. KGS

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