The NGO Exploitation of International Law on Gaza Explained
This from the
"The exploitation of international legal rhetoric is a major weapon in the political war to delegitimize Israeli anti-terror operations, including the recent operation in Gaza. Under this strategy, crystallized at the NGO Forum of the UN's 2001 Durban Conference, the terminology of international humanitarian and human rights law is applied selectively to charge Israel with "violations of law", "crimes against humanity", "war crimes", "disproportionate force" and "indiscriminate attacks". In contrast, the violation of Gilad Shalit's human rights and Hamas use of human shields are ignored. NGOs use the legal language to increase the credibility or seriousness of the charges, and in the Gaza conflict, many are calling for international "investigations" and "lawfare" (i.e. filing lawsuits against Israeli officials in different countries) based on these accusations. NGO Monitor's report covers over 500 statements made during this conflict by more than 50 NGOs, and can be viewed in full by clicking here.
The main points in this report include:
- In contrast to NGO claims that Israel used "disproportionate force", pursuant to article 2(b)(iv) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the test for proportionality is actually whether civilian harm is "clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated". Casualty ratios are not relevant, and this standard does not require equivalency in weaponry.
· NGO claims that Israel deliberately targets civilians or does not attempt to distinguish between civilian and military targets are entirely without foundation. The IDF has legal advisors embedded with combat units making analyses prior to any military action. In contrast, the NGOs leveling these charges do not possess military expertise, detailed information on the dispersal of weapons by Hamas, and they are not privy to Israeli targeting decisions. Such information is essential in order to make a credible evaluation of Israeli military responses to the thousands of rocket attacks by Hamas.
- The NGO charge of "collective punishment" is false, both legally and factually. "Collective punishment" refers to the imposition of criminal penalties, not economic sanctions. Israel is in compliance with article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and allows access for humanitarian supplies well in excess of its legal obligations while under attack.
- Calls for "war crimes" investigations and lawsuits are part of the NGO anti-Israel 'lawfare' strategy, in order to harass Israeli officials with civil lawsuits and criminal investigations and to promote a negative media image of Israel. Rather than obtaining "justice" for victims, these cases are intended to punish Israel for its anti-terror methods, to prevent future operations, to interfere with Israel's diplomatic relations, and to advance boycotts and other aspects of the Durban strategy. NGOs have used this tactic extensively in the past and to date, these cases have been dismissed at the preliminary stages. See NGO Monitor's monograph, NGO "Lawfare": Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, for more information on this issue.
- NGO silence on the rights under international law for Gilad Shalit is a significant moral failing by these self-proclaimed defenders of human rights and international law. Shalit, held hostage by Hamas since June 2006, is entitled to the rights and protections of prisoners of war guaranteed in the Third Geneva Convention, including the right to unfettered access to the Red Cross. Hamas has flouted international law and very few NGOs have mentioned this or called Hamas to account or demanded enforcement of Shalit's rights.
- Hamas's exploits schools, mosques, hospitals and cultural centers to carry out its attacks in flagrant violation of article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. According to article 28, Israel is not prohibited from attacking a military target simply because there are civilians present. Civilian deaths that result are clearly the responsibility of Hamas and not Israel.
NGO Monitor's Executive Director is, Prof. Gerald Steinberg.
Members of NGO Monitor's International Advisory Board include Elie Wiesel, Prof Alan Dershowitz, Sir Martin Gilbert and R. James Woolsey
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