The United Nations
Human Rights Condemn Jews for All The Evils In the World Council set up a Commission headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone (an attempt on their part to give the illusion of impartiality) held hearings last week in Geneva. A delgation from Israel attended to give voice to the victims of Hamas’ violence.
by Noam Bedein
On July 6th, I traveled to Geneva to testify before the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Participating in the delegations were Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin, Dr Alan Marcus the director strategic planning branch in Ashkelon, Ophir Shinhar of Sapir College, and Dr. Mirelda Sidrer who was injured during a rocket attack on a medical facility at the Ashkelon mall.*From left to right: Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin, Dr. Mirelda Sidrer, Hillel Neuer and Dr. Alan Marcus.
The Israeli delegation also included Noam Shalit, who impassionedly spoke on behalf of his son, Gilad, who was abducted three years ago by Palestinian terrorists and has since been held by Hamas.
The Israeli government officially refused to cooperate with the UN mission, since the UN investigation had already formulated conclusions asserting that Israel had committed war crimes during the December-January war.
At the same time, however, the head of the UN fact finding mission, South African Judge Richard Goldstone, told the Israeli media that he would like to hear both sides of the conflict. “The aim of the public hearings was to let the face of human suffering be seen and to let the voices of the victims be heard.”
In preparation for the Geneva hearing, the UN mission invited the Sderot Media Center , a Sderot NGO, to prepare material, footage and information regarding the impact of the Gaza bombardment of the Israeli civilian population in the Negev during the Gaza war. The UN Mission aimed to at obtain an unofficial Israeli perspective.
Before the UN hearing in Geneva, the Israeli delegation received a briefing from Hillel Neuer, head of NGO ‘UN Watch.’ Neuer provided background on the UN fact finding mission and the agenda of each judge on the UN investigating board.
During the days leading up to the testimony, it was not easy to sleep – as the only resident of Sderot and the western Negev in this delegation, knowing that there would be only 30 minutes to convey how aerial terror has devastatingly impacted the civilian population of Sderot.
At the same time, the UN afforded an opportunity for Sderot Media Center, which specializes in communicating the human story of Sderot and life under continuous rocket terror to decision makers around the world , to finally reach the UN.
While the delegation got ready to testify in the “lion’s den,” it was less than sobering to know that one of the UN judges included Professor Christine Chinkin from London. In a Sunday Times article published on January 11th , Judge Chinkin supported the allegation that “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self defense, it’s a war crime.”
Israeli reporters in Geneva asked hard questions:
Why testify before a such a ‘neutral’ judge who claims that Israel does not have the right to defend her citizens and whose actions “ amount to aggression violating international law and human rights law?”
Why testify when the government of Israel itself has boycotted the investigation which already formulated it allegations against Israel before the investigation commenced?
However, the presence of a UN invited delegation from Israel created a precedent.
Hillel Neuer of UN Watch noted that never in the 16 years of operating in Geneva had there ever been a time when the UN invited and even sponsored a delegation from Israel to give testimony – until now.
This time, the UN provided an opportunity for ordinary people from Israel to make their voices heard across the world. It was an honor as a resident of Sderot to partake in such an event.
Yet the long road to peace and justice for Sderot and Negev residents does not end before a panel of UN judges or a commissioned report.
Residents of Israel who act as witnesses to terror against the Jewish people, are obligated to speak up and convey the experience of what it is like to live under sustained rocket attacks-defined as a terror act and crime against humanity.
After screening two short videos in front of the panel of UN judges, which depicted the 15 seconds that Sderot residents and their children have to run for their lives when the rocket alarm is activated by impending Gaza rockets, I concluded my presentation with the following thoughts and questions.
“I do not have enough fingers, to count on my hands the amount of times rockets exploded just a few meters from a kindergarten–would any other western democracy in the world tolerate even one rocket being fired towards their territory? Why is it that we must wait, until a kindergarten or classroom packed with children, is struck directly by a rocket in order for Israel to gain international support, to protect and do what is right for our own people?”
US President Barack Obama put it best when he visited a devastated home in Sderot during the 2008 campaign:
“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same think.”
There were no questions or reactions from the UN judges. We will all have to wait, along with all the residents of southern Israel, to peruse the Geneva verdict on the war when the UN Mission report will be released in September.
*For more news coverage on the Israeli delegation in the UN and SMC’s presentation, click on the news sites below:
Israel National News: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/132246
This Kangaroo court that the UN set up came to their conclusion that Israel had no right attacking Gaza and had committed hundreds of War Crimes. But is that the truth? Let us see:
by Anav Silverman
The UN Fact Finding Mission will likely heap more blame against Israel
The three-week Gaza war has been keeping the UN obsessively busy with months of inquiries and a fact-finding mission into supposed Israeli war crime violations.
In May, the UN came out with a report accusing Israel of “negligence or recklessness” in the Gaza war. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would seek compensation from Israel for damages amounting to $11 million to UN facilities. Led by Ian Martin, former head of human rights group Amnesty International, the UN inquiry said Israel was at fault for nine incidents where UN property was damaged.
Indeed, the report apparently did not point out the millions of dollars in damages that Hamas rockets caused in the southern region of Israel or call for an investigation into the nine Israeli schools that Gaza missiles struck during the war.
Israel’s deputy UN ambassador Daniel Carmon told Reuters that the report was one-sided. “We were really shocked to see a report where the board is limiting itself to the facts of damages only, ignoring the context, ignoring that there is war against terrorism.
According to The Australian, the UN inquiry apparently made no mention of the UN’s initial accusation that Israeli shells directly hit a UN school in Jabaliya, killing more than 40 civilians.
UN officials accused the IDF of firing a mortar rocket at an UNRWA school on January 6, killing 43 people. CNN, France24, China Daily, Indian, Express BBC World, and the Israeli Haaretz all ran headlines stating that an Israeli strike Killed 40 people at UN School. The New York Times added the word “reportedly” in its headline.
Only one international newspaper, the Canadian Globe and Mail came out three weeks later with a follow-up story to the UN allegation, entitled Account of Israeli Attack Doesn’t Hold up to Scrutiny.
Reporter Patrick Martin found that physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses including a teacher in the UNRWA school yard at the time of the shelling revealed that no one inside the compound had been killed. “Those who died were all outside on a street where the mortar shells landed.”
According to the Globe and Mail article, the teacher who was interviewed refused to give his name because he said UNRWA staff told him not to talk to news media.
Furthermore, the article points out that John Ging, UNRWA’s operations director in Gaza, blamed Israel for the confusion over where the victims were killed. “Look at my statements…I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made such allegations.”
Indeed, in the European Observer (Jan. 7), Ging condemned the attack as “horrific” and suggested that Israel knew it was targeting a UN facility. “We have provided the GPS co-ordinates of every single one of our locations,” he told the BBC in response to the alleged Israeli attack on the school. “It’s very clear that these are UN installations.”
Only on February 2, 2009, did the United Nations finally admit that it had made a mistake – calling the misleading statements “a clerical error.” According to Haaretz, Maxwell Gaylord, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem, admitted that IDF mortar shells fell in the street near the compound and not in the compound itself. “We would like to clarify that the shelling and all of the fatalities took place outside and not inside the school,” said Gaylord.
Meanwhile, the damage had been done. The misleading UN statements and media coverage had led to international outrage with strong condemnations against Israel popping up everywhere.
Not surprisingly, a clerical error of such significance was simply not deemed newsworthy by much of the international press. Except for the Canadian Globe and Mail, and Israeli newspapers including Haaretz, little international media coverage was given to Gaylord’s statements.
By June, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was spearheading another investigation. Led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, the UN investigation has focused its investigation in Gaza, interviewing Hamas along with Palestinians. Israel has refused to cooperate in the investigation, citing anti-Israel bias by the investigation’s sponsor, the UN Human Rights Council, who has issued numerous reports on Israeli treatment of Palestinians but little on the Palestinian rocket terror impacting southern Israelis.
The UN fact finding team includes Christine Chinkin, a law professor at the London School of Economics who signed an editorial published in the Sunday Times in January calling the Israeli offensive a war crime.
Come September, when the UN report is due, can one really expect an impartial, objective examination of the Gaza war? The recent comments of a Hamas official perhaps summed it best. In an AP news article (June 9), Ahmed Yousef said that he hoped the UN report would be “like ammunition in the hands of the people who are willing to sue Israeli war criminals.”
These are dark days for Israel. Hamas can attack Israeli cities with impunity and the world says nothing, does nothing. But let Israel strike back and the world screams bloody murder. Hamas purposely uses schools, hospitals and mosques as rocket firing bases, training centers and ammo dumps, the media and the world give them a pass on it. Yet International Law is very clear on this issue:
Hamas exploits schools, mosques, hospitals and cultural centers to carry out its attacks in flagrant violation of article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This factor is minimized or ignored by numerous NGOs, and the emphasis is placed on Israel to avoid civilian casualties. But international law is clear: in cases of human shields, civilian deaths that result are clearly the responsibility of Hamas and not Israel.
Like usual Hamas will be looked upon as a victim of terror while the true victims will be condemned and vilified. Why? Because they are Jews. Because the world (especially those on the left) are upset that they stopped Hitler from destroying the Jews. Because the world would like to finish the job the great Muslim Savior: Adolph Hitler started, but never got to finish.
You can help change this trend. You can write, call or e-mail your Congressman, your Senator, the President, your local newspaper. Tell someone how you feel about this! Remind them that Israel left Gaza in 2005 with the promise that it will bring peace, and that it was the Palestinians who kept attacking Israel, bring upon themselves the destruction that happened in Gaza.
And if you are able to, you can support the Sderot Media Center. The few dollars you donate goes a long way. Just click here and follow the instructions.
And please, remember the people of Sderot in your prayers. Pray for the peace of Israel.