[This is a selfish post – more so than normal! – as one aim is to save links to a crucial report and commentary bound to come in handy in future discussions.]
JINSA is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. They commissioned a report to assess Operation Protective Edge, asking several retired generals for their opinion. (You know, people who know the odd thing about real combat, and the laws of warfare – as opposed to the crap espoused by the media.)
The Elder of Ziyon’s excellent post about the report (here, including a link to the report) has some great extracts and commentary.
A limited selection follows:
Elder: The authors know the Laws of Armed Conflict far better than the NGOs do. They recognize Hamas’ unique tactics of cynically putting their own civilian population in danger in order to add a public relations dimension to what they call “unrestricted warfare.”
What does the report say?
JINSA Report: But Hamas did not just stop with using civilians as a passive defense tactic. Its contribution to unrestricted warfare doctrine was to ensure maximum political pressure would be exerted on Israel by, at best, acting in reckless disregard of civilians’ safety or, at worst, consciously and actively provoking IDF fire on Gazan civilians. It did so in part simply by virtue of embedding itself among the surrounding civilian infrastructure. Simultaneously it launched rockets and attacked IDF forces from within or in direct proximity to international safe havens – especially UNRWA facilities – and from civilian buildings, often forcing civilians to congregate in these areas immediately afterward. Further, Hamas reportedly discouraged or actually prevented civilians from leaving buildings after the IDF targeted them with warning communications and munitions. Hamas’s strategy for victory depended on incurring civilian casualties among its own people.
Here’s some more:
JINSA Report: Numerous individuals claiming to be experts in the relationship between law and military operations quickly seemed to accept Hamas’s assertions of unlawful IDF operations. On July 23, 2014, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated: “There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes.” The U.N. Human Rights Council subsequently issued a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations” in Gaza. In September, Human Rights Watch issued a report declaring that “three Israeli attacks that damaged Gaza schools housing displaced people caused numerous civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war.” And, in November, Amnesty International concluded that the IDF’s “use of large aerial bombs [to attack civilian homes] suggests that these attacks either were intended to cause the complete destruction of the targeted structure or a determination to ensure the killing of targeted individuals without due regard to the killing and destruction to those in their immediate vicinity,” which would constitute “prima facie evidence of serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
These condemnations were premised on premature, effects-based assessments of military operations, or on the same flawed understandings of the law that Hamas was promoting, while refusing to apply that same law to its own actions. These routine distortions of the actual law applicable to military operations produced a fundamentally false narrative of legal compliance and non-compliance during this conflict, one that misrepresented Israeli attempts to minimize civilian deaths and the legality of their targeting Hamas and other factions engaged in military operations.
In short, as the Elder puts it:
Amnesty, HRW and the UN make pronouncements about the laws of armed conflict without actually knowing those laws. And by distorting the law, they ironically end up endangering more civilians. Which is a strategy that Hamas embraces.
The report should be bookmarked. If you come across someone keeping to the Amnesty line, this gives you the detailed information to rebut the line. From a knowledgeable authoritative source…
The enemy within takes a pot shot
And the follow up to this, again highlighted (here) by the wonderful Elder of Ziyon, was the response of the enemy within, in this case the New Israel Fund‘s Naomi Pass:
Elder: Naomi Paiss, self described “Pro-Israel progressive VP New Israel Fund,” sided with the anti-Israel NGOs and tried to say that the report was ipso facto inaccurate based purely on who sponsored it.
This was done on Twitter.
So what did the Elder do? He put her on the spot.
You can guess what happened next.
The sound of a critic undone.
I see no alternative to quoting the Elder’s biting conclusion:
We won’t see any substantial critique of the report that exonerated Israeli actions in Gaza, written by military experts who are sorely lacking from NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The reason is that they know that they are wrong. They know that they cannot argue with these generals on the topic of international law or the law of armed conflict, because they would lose. They know that if they would be intellectually honest they would have to drop their entire anti-Israel positions, which is the source for much of their funding.
I’m sure that Paiss didn’t even read the report before dismissing it out of hand. Because she is not pro-Israel nor is she pro-truth. She reflexively chose to support those whose anti-Israel bias is proven and palpable.
So these esteemed NGOs, and purported “pro-Israel” organizations like the NIF, will continue to ignore the report for as long as they can, hoping it gets no traction. And if there is enough pressure, they will find someone to nitpick about a minor part of the report and the entire crowd will point to that as a “rebuttal.” They’ll say things like “But look at all the houses destroyed!” as if that point isn’t discussed in the general’s report.
They’ll resort to sarcasm and deflection and misdirection. But none of them will honestly take on the challenge of answering the report itself.
Because Israel’s critics aren’t intellectually honest. And Naomi Paiss’ tweets prove it.
But I am more than willing to be proven wrong if someone is willing to write a real critique of the JINSA report.
Score another for the Elder.