Int’l group tells UN: Israel abided by laws of war during Operation Protective Edge
Just ahead of a UN report on alleged war crimes, high-level former military commanders and military leaders release summary of fact-minding mission , concluding that Israel was careful to abide by the law.
A multi-national group of former senior military and political leaders on Friday released its findings that during Operation Protective Edge, “Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.”
The release of the findings comes not long before the UN Human Rights Council’s release of its fown indings on Israel’s actions during last summer’s conflict.
Unlike the Human Rights Council’s committee, which some suspect of one-sidedness and with which Israel is not cooperating, the commanders and statesmen who arrived as friends of the Friends of Israel organization – including former heads of state – have received full cooperation from Israel, on both a political and military level.
The group appointed 11 individuals from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Australia, and Colombia. The visit to Israel occurred in late May.
Heading the delegation was General Klaus Naumann, former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee – the most senior officer in NATO.
“Our mission to Israel was unprecedented,” said the group in the summary of its findings. “We were the first such multi-national group of senior officers to visit the country. We were granted a level of access to the Israeli government and Defense Force that has not been afforded to any other group, from the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya’alon, right down to the field commanders responsible for fighting the battle on the ground.”
The group said it was aware of allegations that Israel committed war crimes during Operation Protective Edge. But it said it had reached the opposite conclusion. According to the group, it found instead that Israel had sought to avoid a conflict for months despite receiving rocket fire at civilians, and was ultimately forced into a defensive war. Furthermore, the group said that deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians by Hamas and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields were clearly war crimes.
“We believe that in general Israeli forces acted proportionately as required by the laws of armed conflict and often went beyond the required legal principles of proportionality, necessity and discrimination,” read the findings. “The measures taken were often far in excess of the requirements of the Geneva Conventions. They sometimes placed Israeli lives at risk. To an extent these steps also undermined the effectiveness of the IDF’s operations by pausing military action and thus allowing Hamas to re-group and replenish.”
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