Human Rights Watch, taking Israel’s side (again)

HRW's pro-Israel partisanship on 'Protective Edge'

The NYC-based organization Human Rights Watch, which has grown increasingly closer to the US government over the years, has sunk to a new low in the kneejerk response it published July 9, to Israel's deadly 'Operation Protective Edge'. See how.
WhereWhatHC comment
HeadingPalestine/Israel: Indiscriminate Palestinian Rocket AttacksA definitive and damning statement here, about the nature of all Palestinian rocket attacks
SubheadIsraeli Airstrikes on Homes Appear to be Collective Punishment This statement, in much smaller type, is far less definitive.
LedePalestinian rocket attacks on Israel appear to be indiscriminate or targeted at civilian population centers, which are war crimes, while Israeli attacks targeting homes may amount to prohibited collective punishment.Now, we have a hint of caveat regarding the nature of Palestinian rocket attacks-- that they "appear to be indiscriminate or... "-- but we also have a definitive judgment that all such attacks "are war crimes", which is true. But where is HRW's evidentiary basis for the claim that all Palestinian rocket attacks "appear to be indiscriminate"? It's a known fact that the impacts of rockets that land in Israeli military areas are subject to military censorship. The general public (and HRW) only ever hear about the ones that land near civilian areas... Then, those rocket attacks are deemed to be "war crimes", while regarding Israeli attacks that specifically target the private residences of accused Hamas leaders/commanders, HRW says only that they "may amount to prohibited collective punishment". Baloney. Targeting a private home that is not being used as a military command center is a war crime just as much as is indiscriminately targeting civilian areas. If Hamas commanders are alleged to live in those homes in Gaza, then how about the large number of serving IDF officers and soldiers who live in those Israeli cities? Why are Israel's targets in Gaza in any way more allowable than the the Palestinian rocketeers' targets in Israel?
Para 2, topPalestinian armed groups in Gaza have launched scores of rockets into Israel since June 13, 2014. When fired indiscriminately or targeted at Israeli population centers – as these attacks seem to be – they are serious violations of the law of armed conflicts. Look at the second sentence here. No qualification at all regarding "some of" these rockets having been thus fired. HRW is here to tell us (while presenting no evidence) that *all of them* "seem to be", or have been, thus targeted. Again, no mention of the effects of Israel's censorship.
Para 2, bottom[Israeli] Attacks on the homes of fighters that do not serve an immediate military purpose – as, again, some of these seem to be – are acts of collective punishment, which the laws of war prohibit.No, HRW, such attacks are not *just* acts of collective punishment. They are clear violations of the principle of discrimination, which in the laws of war requires military commanders to discriminate between valid military targets and civilian objects or infrastructure. Israeli targeting of Palestinian homes is a *war crime*, just as much as is any Palestinian targeting of Israeli homes. Both are violations of the principle of discrimination.
Para 3“Regardless of who started this latest round, attacks targeting civilians violate basic humanitarian norms,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “All attacks, including reprisal attacks, that target or indiscriminately harm civilians are prohibited under the laws of war, period.”So sad to see that my old friend Joe Stork, once a stalwart defender of Palestinian rights, has become so seduced by the glamor (and lovely salaries!) of HRW that he now playing this role of shill.
Para 5 Israeli officials claimed that Palestinian fighters lived in the targeted homes. In two cases, Israeli forces reportedly warned residents of houses in the southern Rafah and Khan Yunis governorates to leave minutes before attacking the buildings. Since any fighters in the house presumably leave after such warnings, the attacks appear intended to destroy the houses themselves, which shelter family members who have nothing to do with an armed group. The military spokesperson stated on July 8 that the military had targeted four homes of “Hamas activists who are involved in terrorist activities.”Note, that the Israeli officials are *not* quoted as saying that the alleged "Palestinian fighters" were using these homes as command centers, just that they were their homes. This is a clear violation of the principle of discrimination (see above.)
Para 11 A warning, which can help avoid civilian casualties, does not absolve the attacking party from targeting only military objectives or from the duty to refrain from any attack if anticipated civilian casualties and damage to civilian property in the circumstances of the actual attack are disproportionate to the expected military advantage, Human Rights Watch said.They get this right.
Para 12 Palestinian fighters engaged in armed conflict with Israel, and homes that armed groups use to store arms or for other military purposes, could be considered combatants and military objectives, although attacks directed at military objectives need to be proportionate and discriminate. There have been no reports of secondary explosions after Israeli airstrikes on the homes, which would have indicated that armed groups had stored explosives or rockets there. Israel has not explained what military advantage it gained by attacking the homes.They get this right. But the conclusion-- that the IDF has been targeting Palestinian homes that are not valid military objectives-- should have been embedded in HRW's summary judgment. I.e., Israel's acts were not just "collective punishment", they were clear violations of the principle of discrimination (and that of proportionality), and thus were war crimes.
Para 14 The unguided rockets launched by Gaza armed groups are inherently indiscriminate and incapable of being targeted at possible military targets in or near Israeli population centers, Human Rights Watch said. The laws of armed conflict prohibit indiscriminate as well as deliberate attacks on civilians.Were, actually, all the Palestinian rockets "unguided"? Would we conclude from HRW's analysis here that it would be better if the Palestinian rockets had better guidance systems?
Para 16-21 Years of punitive Israeli restrictions on imports of fuel, electricity, and equipment needed to repair Gaza’s electrical grid, in addition to Egypt’s refusal to open its border to increased shipments of goods to Gaza, have left Gaza’s medical facilities and personnel ill-equipped to cope with large numbers of casualties.It is only here, down at the bottom of HRW's statement that they make any reference at all to the deeper, ongoing situation of crisis that Gaza's 1.8 million people have been living through for many years. But Joe Stork andhis colleagues at HRW do nothing to declare these terrible conditions, imposed by Israel on the Palestinians of Gaza, as an ongoing and quite illegal act of collective punishment.

2 thoughts on “Human Rights Watch, taking Israel’s side (again)

  1. donald

    Have you contacted them and have they replied? I agree with your criticisms–it’s disappointing. HRW is a valuable resource, but they are slanted.

    Reply
  2. Bud

    HRW’s primary contributor is George Soros. HRW circulated exaggerations and outright lies about Serbia, Georgia, Libya, Syria, etc. to justify US meddling.

    Reply

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