War Crimes Committed by Hamas / Israel's Formal response to Goldstone's Report


After the Goldstone Report was published, Israel Foreign Ministry published Israel's respond to the report. Enclosed the chapter on Hamas's war crimes.
(other chapters will follow)

A: Both prior to and during the IDF operation in Gaza, Hamas flouted the Law of Armed Conflict, terrorizing Israeli citizens through an endless barrage of rocket and mortar attacks, and deliberately using Palestinian civilians, as well as protected U.N., educational, medical, administrative and religious facilities, as a cover for its operations. In adopting such methods of warfare, members of Hamas committed internationally recognized war crimes, and made it impossible for the IDF to avoid collateral damage to civilians and civilian objectives in pursuit of legitimate military objectives during the operation.

Both United Nations officials and the international community have condemned Hamas' deliberate, systematic and widespread use of rocket attacks, mortar attacks and suicide bombings intentionally directed at civilian targets in Israel. These attacks violated the basic principles of distinction. Any doubt about this is resolved by the fact that Hamas itself has boasted of its intention to hit population centers, which constitutes a war crime.

Hamas deliberately targets rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli population centers and cheers when one of its rockets or mortars succeeds in hitting a civilian target. It is therefore clear that the purpose of Hamas' incessant rocket attacks on Israel's southern towns and cities, in addition to causing death, injury and destruction, is to spread terror among Israel's civilian population. Hamas is therefore guilty of repeated and deliberate violations of the Law of Armed Conflict, and because these violations were willful, its leaders and operatives are guilty of committing war crimes.

Q: How did Hamas abuse its own civilian sites as cover for its military operations?

A: The Law of Armed Conflict not only prohibits targeting an enemy's civilians; it also requires parties to an armed conflict to distinguish their combatant forces from their own civilians, and not to base operations in or near civilian structures, especially protected sites such as schools, medical facilities and places of worship.

Despite the clear proscriptions of international law, the intentional abuse of civilian areas for military advantage is central to Hamas' battlefield strategy. Hamas' strategy was two-fold: (1) to take advantage of the sensitivity of the IDF to civilian casualties on the Palestinian side, in an attempt to deter the IDF from attacking legitimate military targets; and (2) where the IDF did attack, to wield an excellent propaganda weapon against Israel, featuring civilian casualties as well as damage to homes and public institutions. In other words, Hamas chose to base its operations in civilian areas not in spite of, but because of, the likelihood of substantial harm to civilians.

Hamas operatives regularly fired rockets into Israel from within or near their own residential and public buildings, including schools, mosques and hospitals.

During the Gaza operation, Hamas continued to launch attacks from densely populated areas and protected sites. In fact, as IDF forces advanced into Gaza, Hamas began relying even more heavily than before on rocket and mortar launches from the midst of urban centers. Hamas' abuse of civilian neighborhoods resulted in significant destruction. In conducting rocket attacks from within civilian sites, Hamas committed grave breaches of the principle of distinction, as well as the obligation not to put its own civilians at risk.

Hamas exploitation of civilians as human shields: Photographic evidence
Hamas Exploitation of Civilians as Human Shields - IICC, Jan 2009
Hamas exploitation of civilians - Selected videos

Video: Hamas mortar crew operating inside a Gaza school compound
Video: Hamas firing positions within civilian areas
Video: Human shields in 3D

Q: What other war crimes did Hamas commit against its own people?

A: In addition to staging rocket attacks from civilian areas, Hamas conducted much of its fighting during the Gaza operation from bases within private residences and public facilities, which Hamas assumed the IDF would be reluctant to attack. Hamas' main base of operations during the Gaza operation was located inside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, which was not attacked by Israeli forces out of concern for the inevitable harm to civilians also present in the hospital. Hamas' decision to place the lives of hundreds of patients, doctors, and nurses in danger in this manner, however, is in clear breach of the principle of distinction and its particular application in the case of medical facilities.

Similarly, Hamas abused the protection accorded to places of worship, making a practice of storing weapons in mosques. During the Gaza operation, the IDF found repeated and conclusive evidence of such use.

There is also considerable evidence that Hamas misused a variety of other public institutions as operational bases. Hamas also intentionally located its military activities adjacent to sensitive sites, such as schools and U.N. facilities, or in the midst of residential neighborhoods.

During the Gaza operation, Hamas frequently commandeered the homes of civilians as temporary bases to attack Israeli forces. According to some reports, Hamas operatives took pride in endangering the lives of civilians and refused their pleas to go away, telling them "It will be a great honor if you will die with us."

Video: Explosion in mosque caused by stockpiled munitions

Q: What other abuses did Hamas commit?

A: During the Gaza operation, Hamas systematically used medical facilities, vehicles and uniforms as cover for terrorist operations, in clear violation of the Law of Armed Conflict. This included the extensive use of ambulances bearing the protective emblems of the Red Cross and Red Crescent to transport operatives and weaponry; the use of ambulances to "evacuate" terrorists from the battlefield; and the use of hospitals and medical infrastructure as headquarters, situation-rooms, command centers, and hiding places.

According to Newsweek, Palestinian gunmen admitted using the al-Quds hospital for firing at Israel and a report from Corriere della Sera confirms that the grounds, ambulances and uniforms of the al-Quds hospital had been hijacked by terrorist operatives. The same report also alluded to Hamas' occupation of Shifa hospital. Hamas operatives made particular use of ambulances, which frequently served as an escape route out of a heated battle with IDF forces. Such acts constitute serious violations of the Law of Armed Conflict.

Video: Hamas terrorists use UN ambulance

Q: In what other ways did Hamas protect itself at the expense of its own civilians?

A: Another tactic of Hamas during the Gaza operation involved booby-trapping homes, roads, schools and even entire neighborhoods with mines and explosives, in order to inflict casualties on advancing IDF forces. This practice recklessly endangered the nearby civilians and buildings, which inevitably suffered during explosions.

The use of booby traps by Hamas often created a multiplier effect with respect to collateral damage from IDF strikes and advancing forces. Secondary blasts from Hamas explosives destroyed homes and injured civilians who would have been unharmed were it not for the use of such tactics.

In addition to hiding behind civilian facilities, Hamas uses civilians themselves, including women and children, as human shields. Armed operatives mingle routinely with civilians in order to cover their movements. On February 29, 2008, Fathi Hamad, a Hamas legislator, openly boasted about the practice on al-Aqsa TV. These practices purposely endangered civilians and therefore breach the Law of Armed Conflict, contravening the fundamental principle of distinction between combatants and non-combatants.

Video: Gaza school and zoo wired with explosives

Q: How did Hamas exploit the children of its own civilians?

A: Hamas routinely exploited children in military support roles for intelligence gathering, tunnel digging, weapons smuggling, collecting weapons from dead terrorists, and logistical support, all in clear violation of international law.

During the summer of 2008 Hamas organized "summer camps" for teenagers in the Gaza Strip in order to provide them with military training and militant indoctrination. The clear intent of these training camps was the recruitment of the child participants into the Hamas organization and its militant anti-Israeli ideology.

The practice of using children as fighters or for other military purposes violates the Law of Armed Conflict, including prohibitions against allowing children to take part in hostilities.

Video: Hamas terrorist grabs a boy to use as a human shield

Q: What humanitarian aid did Israel provide to the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and how was it provided?

A: Israel's humanitarian effort included several components:

Ensuring continuous supplies of humanitarian aid through the crossing points, such as food, medical supplies and fuel.
Coordination of evacuations and other humanitarian movements within the Gaza Strip and between Gaza and Israel.
Unilateral suspensions of military operations to enable re-supply of the population and humanitarian relief activities.
Ensuring the functioning of essential infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
On the eve of the operation in Gaza, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a specific meeting with representatives of the ICRC and other organizations to establish clear channels of cooperation, and to ensure the continuing flow of humanitarian supplies and medical assistance to Gaza during the operation.

During the Gaza operation itself, the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration ("CLA") operated a 24 hour operations room tasked with communicating with the IDF and international organizations to deal with real time problems and requests.

A total of 1,511 trucks carrying 37,162 tons of supplies entered the Gaza Strip from Israel through the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings from the commencement of the Gaza operation and for its duration. The IDF coordinated the entry of 706 trucks carrying donations from international organizations and various countries and consignments of medical supplies received from various sources during the Gaza operation.

A special medical coordination center was set up in the Gaza District CLA, which dealt with assistance to civilians in danger and with evacuation of the wounded and dead from areas of hostilities.

The IDF also set up and manned (24/7) an Infrastructure Coordination Center to monitor the situation in Gaza, identify needs and coordinate repairs to infrastructure in areas of hostilities, at risk to the lives of Israeli technicians.

Beginning January 7, 2009, the IDF unilaterally suspended military operations for at least three hours each day ("humanitarian pauses"), to enable re-supply of the population and other humanitarian relief activities. It is important to understand that, in contrast to Hamas' actions which jeopardized the civilian populations of Gaza and obstructed the distribution of humanitarian supplies, Israel put into place significant systems and resources to try to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the civilian population were met.

Video: Humanitarian aid delivered to Gaza
Video: Israel reconstructs Gaza's electrical infrastructure
Video: Foreign nationals leave Gaza

Q: Israel went out of its way to try to get humanitarian relief to the Palestinian civilians. What did Hamas do?

A: Far from taking measures to protect Palestinian civilians during the fighting in Gaza, Hamas forces prevented humanitarian relief, coordinated by the IDF with various international aid organizations, from reaching its intended recipients. While the IDF observed humanitarian pauses in fighting, Hamas fired rockets during these periods, attacked crossing points into Gaza through which much-needed supplies arrived, and hijacked those supplies once they crossed the border.

All of these actions violate the Law of Armed Conflict, which requires parties to allow the entry of humanitarian supplies and to guarantee their safety.

During the period between January 8, 2009 and January 17, 2009, Hamas fired a total of 44 rockets and mortars at Israel during humanitarian pauses. Hamas and other terrorist organizations have also continued a practice of launching attacks against crossing points, which provide the only entry points for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas' attacks on crossing points continued during the Gaza engagement, but perhaps the most serious interference with humanitarian relief efforts by Hamas consisted of hijacking humanitarian supplies once they arrived in Gaza. On January 12, 2009 it was reported by the Jerusalem Post that "Hamas raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders."

There were numerous reports of Hamas confiscating aid shipments meant for Palestinian civilians. Among these was a report by UNRWA on February 3,2009, that Hamas armed assailants seized, by force, 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels from its distribution center at the Shati refugee camp. This action was strongly condemned by U.N. officials, who demanded an immediate return of the aid. On February 5, 2009, UNRWA suspended all imports of aid into the Gaza Strip after 10 truckloads of flour (equivalent to 100 tons) and rice (equivalent to 200 tons) imported from Egypt for UNRWA were taken from the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza.

Hamas' willful and repeated interference with the supply of essential goods and services to Gaza qualifies as a grave breach of the Law of Armed Conflict and a war crime under international law.

Abuse of Israel's Humanitarian Policy for the Purpose of Terrorist Activity

© Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs - The State of Israel.


War - words - Bullets

The War of words synchronizes itself with the war of bullets - This lesson needs to be a conclusion for next time.
We should NOT wait and hope for a Goldstone to come to us with soft words. We should expose the inhumanity of this side of Islam where-ever it rises!

This article here, much as it is true, lacks the impact by being late!


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