So far we are doing just that.
But of course we see the inevitable, as Arab and Muslim nations work overtime at the UN to secure a resolution in the Security Council ordering Israel to cease all military action. This came after UN Secretary-General Ban’s comment about “Israel’s excessive use of force.”
I hope and trust that nothing will come of attempts to get the Security Council to stop us, because there will be a US veto of any such effort.
This is from a White House briefing yesterday:
“For six months, a ceasefire, a state of calm, was in place between Hamas and Israel. Recently, Hamas refused to renew it. During that ceasefire, Hamas continued to fire rockets. Last week, Hamas substantially increased its rocket and mortar attacks on the people of Israel.
“Hamas has once again shown its true colors as a terrorist organization that refuses to even recognize Israel’s right to exist. In order for the violence to stop Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel…”
This places onus on Hamas, where it belongs.
I cannot pass on the opportunity to share what Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of UNRWA had to say about this:
“Palestinians in Gaza believed Israel had called a 48-hour ‘lull’ in retaliatory attacks with Hamas when Israeli warplanes launched a massive bombardment of militant installations in the Gaza Strip.”
This woman, once again, takes the side of terrorists against Israel, employing misinformation. The fact is that it was a 24 hour lull, that rockets were shot during that 24 hours, and that after this time Hamas indicated it didn’t want to continue and shot even more rockets.
This, which should be a signal lesson in terms of what we deal with, is coming from the head of a UN relief and humanitarian organization. She has no business meddling in political affairs, but frequently does.
But I’m seeing a lot of encouraging signs here.
First, from our side, as Olmert has instructed top staff to refrain from referring to a truce. There is no intention here of conveying the sense to the world that we’re ready to pack it in. We’re not.
Our ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, delivered the same message: The operation would continue, she said, for “as long as it takes to dismantle Hamas completely…The main goal is to destroy completely this terrorist gang, which makes people on both sides of the border, in Gaza and in Israel, suffer daily.”
We’re deeply sorry about innocent deaths, she said, which we try our very best to avoid. But we’re not going back to the sort of ceasefire we had before.
Israel is “concerned” about international criticism, “But first of all, we have the right to defend ourselves and we have the duty to protect our citizens. This comes before the understanding, which we hope to receive, of the international community.”
And I say Bravo! to this. I will leave aside for a moment precisely what she meant by dismantling Hamas. (Her staff said she meant only infrastructure, but she may have been exposing an intent that Olmert and company very clearly have avoided mentioning, but which the head of the air force has now alluded to as well.) The point is that we’re doing what we must as a sovereign nation — not appeasing, not cowering before the world.
Across the board, our public relations effort is showing itself to be smooth and effective. It even includes an IDF YouTube site on which military actions can be seen. The latest one I’ve seen shows Hamas people loading Kassam rockets on a truck when they are targeted. www.youtube.com/user/idfnadesk.
And Binyamin Netanyahu, I am most pleased to say, has stopped all campaigning and joined the public relations effort on behalf of the IDF and our nation. He is exceedingly effective at this.
On the international scene, I’m seeing a sort of disarray with regard to stances on the operation that is exceptional. Whatever is said for public consumption, a good many nations are glad Hamas is getting its comeuppance.
In some instances support for Israel is direct:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said forthrightly that the responsibility for the current situation lies “clearly and exclusively” with Hamas. Her Chancellery website speaks of Israel’s “legitimate right” to defend its people and its territory.
Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, has said, “These people are nothing but thugs, so Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas that indiscriminately kill their own people.”
Then there is this statement from Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg of the Czech Republic:
“Let us realize one thing: Hamas increased steeply the number of rockets fired at Israel since the cease-fire ended on December 19. That is not acceptable any more. Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel?…I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth.”
In other instances it’s an attitude reflected more by what is not said or done:
Qatar has offered to host an Arab summit to discuss the situation in Gaza, but both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are offering various reasons as to why this might not be a good idea.
There is actually a report that a pro-Gaza demonstration in Saudi Arabia was broken up by police shooting rubber bullets. The Saudi government, of course, denies this.
Of course, there are also those nations quick to criticize Israel. In this regard we are hearing from Great Britain and France, as well as from the EU. The primary charge made is that this is “disproportionate use of force.”
And so I want to focus here on the legal ramifications of this and similar accusations.
A key source to rely on with regard to this is a Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs briefing by Dr. Dore Gold, who heads the Center. (Emphasis has been added):
“The charge that Israel uses disproportionate forces keeps resurfacing whenever it has to defend its citizens from non-state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpetuate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel’s current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it. (Israel is not expected to make Kassam rockets and lob them back into Gaza.)
“When international legal experts use the term ‘disproportionate use of force,’ they have a very precise meaning in mind. As the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Rosalyn Higgens, has noted, proportionality ‘cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury – it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression.’ In other words, if a state, like Israel, is facing aggression, then proportionality addresses where force was specifically used by Israel to bring an end to the armed attack against it. By implication, force becomes excessive if it is employed for another purpose, like causing unnecessary harm to civilians.
” [As to civilian casualties] …What was critical from the standpoint of international law was that if the attempt had been made ‘to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage – but is directed at a target with very large military value – would be lawful.’ Numbers matter less than the purpose of the use of force. Israel has argued that it is specifically targeting facilities serving the Hamas regime and its determined effort to continue its rocket assault on Israel: headquarters, training bases, weapons depots, command and control networks, and weapons-smuggling tunnels. This way Israel is respecting the international legal concept of proportionality.
“…the attack becomes a war crime when it is directed against civilians (which is precisely what Hamas does) or when the ‘incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.’ In fact, Israeli legal experts right up the chain of command within the IDF make this calculation before all military operations of this sort.”
There’s more. Please see the entire report at: www.jcpa.org.
On this same JCPA site, there is a second briefing by Justice Reid Weiner and Avi Bell on our actions in Gaza and international law. Noteworthy here is this:
Attacks on Israeli Jews that are part of a larger aim to kill Jews are in violation of Article 1 of the Genocide Convention. Israel and other signatories to this Convention are to “prevent and punish” those who carry out such acts, as well as those who conspire with them, incite them, and are complicit in their acts.
“The Convention thus requires Israel to prevent and punish the terrorists…” (emphasis added)
This quote from Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu ‘Ita from a TV interview (cited by Bret Stephens) makes clear that the above stipulation is, indeed, highly relevant: “The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine.”