Following its insensitive and macabre efforts to downplay the repercussions and atrocities of Operation Protective Edge, Israel has now attempted to ridicule the UN Human Rights Council report on last summer’s aggression. The report, which Israel pronounced as “morally flawed”, has accused both Israel and Palestinian resistance groups of war crimes, contradicting Israel’s “internal investigation” that justified every intentionally targeted civilian death as collateral damage and thus, bequeathing impunity to the state’s false morality conjectures.
While drawing attention to state complicity with regard to war crimes committed by Israel, the report employs the same non-committal rhetoric that shifts evidence towards the realm of probability. “Directing attacks against civilians constitutes a violation of the principle of distinction and may amount to a war crime.” Such statements indicate that the report’s value will probably serve as some form of heightened awareness and confirmation of the massacre that took place last summer but fail to provide a foundation with which to hold Israel accountable for its premeditated actions.
A statement released by the Israeli Foreign Minister criticised the UNHRC report, stating it was “commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate.” Additionally, the statement attempts to reinforce the internationally-adopted drivel that seeks to create a false dimension of morality and terror. Quoted in the Times of Israel, the Israeli Foreign Ministry statement reads: “It is regrettable that the report fails to recognise the profound difference between Israel’s moral behaviour during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organisations it confronted.”
So moral, in fact, that the report juxtaposes widespread destruction, displacement and murder committed by the Israeli army, against the “trauma” allegedly endured by Israeli settlers of siren sounds and fear of being “attacked at any moment by gunmen bursting out of the ground” – the latter with reference to the tunnel network utilised by Palestinian resistance and which was annihilated by Israel in its quest to prevent Palestinians from making legitimate use of their territory within historic Palestine.
Predictably, Israel deemed the report biased, despite its refusal to participate and cooperate with the commission during its investigations. Netanyahu has instead accused the UNHRC of slander – a predictable response that is well ingrained in Israel’s international repertoire and also rendered evident in recent altercations with the organisation.
It is disconcerting, albeit expected, to observe that the UNHRC’s use of language falls into the same confines of affirming war crimes yet at the same time allowing Israel to navigate the obscure parameters that still provide impunity. This is particularly evident in the report’s recommendations to Israel, the Palestinian Authority, as well Palestinian resistance movements. Calling upon Israel to abide by international law when its very existence is an infringement of that law renders the recommendations ludicrous, allowing Israel the opportunity to colonise further territory as long as certain requirements and definitions are implemented.
Conversely, the UNHRC report expects Palestinians to relinquish their anti-colonial struggle – in other words, “to stop all rocket attacks and other actions that may spread terror among Israeli civilians.” The UNHRC report is indeed biased, yet employs hypocritical subtlety in order to disguise its role as part of the international agenda that makes no distinction between civilians and a settler population willingly complicit in Israeli state violence.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.