HRW Report And Hamas’ Response: Laughs All Round

Photo: IDF Spokesperson

Human Rights Watch have released a report castigating Hamas for “violating the laws of war” by trying to harm civilians during Operation Pillar of Defense.

Armed Palestinian groups firing rockets at Israeli cities violated the laws of war during Operation Pillar of Defense, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Monday.

“Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” said HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.”

The group also found that Gazan groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee, justified targeting civilian centers as reprisal for Israeli strikes, an act also banned under international law.

The report also acknowledges what we have been saying for a long time: the terrorists fire rockets from densely populated neighborhoods, placing palestinian civilians in harms way. In other words, Hamas is culpable for their deaths.

Furthermore, such groups “repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter- fire,” the report said.

The detailed report included examples of rockets being launched from densely populated areas in Gaza, and noted that groups fired from underground tunnels with hatches for the first time.

But the report contains some truly head scratch-inducing findings, like this:

HRW faulted Palestinian armed groups for failing to alert civilians or urge them to evacuate prior to launching rockets in their vicinity.

As the main political power in the Strip, the human rights group said, Hamas was responsible for reining in the behavior of other groups.

“As the ruling authority in Gaza, Hamas has an obligation to stop unlawful attacks and punish those responsible,” Whitson said.

Given Hamas is itself a terrorist organization which aims to kill as many Jews as possible, the idea they would alert Israeli civilians or urge them to evacuate prior to launching rockets, or punish other terror organizations for helping accomplish the same goal, is laughable.

And speaking of laughable, I now present to you Hamas’ response to the report.

Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, rejected the Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s claim about war crimes by Hamas, and stressed that the resistance group only targets Israeli soldiers in response to attacks on Palestinian civilians.

“Fighters of (Ezzedine) Al-Qassam Brigades (the military wing of Hamas) target Israeli soldiers and bases but the Zionist enemy hides this and claims that our fighters are targeting civilians,” The spokesman of Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Obeideh, said on Tuesday.

Yet the very same Hamas spokesman only yesterday lauded the group’s achievements in targeting civilians!

Hamas’ armed wing on Monday hailed 2012 as the year that changed the rules of its confrontation with Israel.

“Though this distinction was not exclusive to this year, I can understand that its outcome appeared this year, namely by mid-November during the new battle as resistance made unprecedented achievements,” al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Ubayda told Ma’an

Abu Ubayda said sending rockets to populated areas of Israel was one of the group’s distinctive achievements of the year.

Update: Yosef points out that when HRW faults Palestinian armed groups for failing to alert civilians or urge them to evacuate prior to launching rockets in their vicinity, they are referring to palestinian civilians and not Israeli ones as I suggested. Duh, how did I miss that?

Update: Here is the actual report.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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