On February 28, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) published a report claiming it had grounds to believe that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) committed war crimes by deliberately shooting at Gazan children during the border demonstrations otherwise known as the “Great March of Return” that began on March 30, 2018.
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA) condemns this claim, which is part of ongoing anti-Israel bias pervasive in the UN Human Rights Council. According to the report, “unless undertaken lawfully in self-defense, intentionally shooting a civilian not directly participating in hostilities is a war crime.” To claim that the IDF shot at civilians not directly participating in hostilities is part of what the Israel UN delegation has deemed a “theatre of the absurd.”
Said Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin:
“Hadassah is appalled by this United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is the only army in the world that drops leaflets letting citizens and military alike know that anyone who comes within 300 yards of the border fence is considered a combatant. Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA) calls on the UNHRC to redirect its resources to investigating the actions of Hamas, which has targeted Israeli civilians since taking power over the Gaza Strip.
The IDF makes every effort to avoid any direct altercation with combatants, regardless of age and especially when minors are present. Hamas routinely uses women and children as human shields. Hadassah rebukes in the strongest possible terms the premise that the IDF engages in war crimes or crimes against humanity in armed conflict. We look to the United Nations for moral clarity, and this report is anything but.”
Hamas engages in war crimes daily by violating the international law of armed conflict, which prohibits the exploitation of the presence of civilians in proximity to fighting, exposing protected persons to unnecessary risks, deliberately causing the death or injury of such persons, or using civilians to impede or halt an attack on otherwise lawful targets. The tactic of using human shields gained the attention of the United States government, which in December signed into law the Hadassah-supported STOP Using Human Shields Act, which would impose sanctions on groups like Hamas and Hezbollah who have for too long put their own people in danger in favor of a political agenda. By using propaganda espousing martyrdom and jihad, Hamas creates a culture that glorifies those who attempt to harm or kill Israeli civilians.
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said in response to the publication of the report: "The countries of the world should consider their membership in the Human Rights Council, which supports a murderous terrorist organization. This council is blinded by hatred of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces, and wastes its resources and time in political attacks and spreading lies. The report ignores the only truth: that IDF soldiers acted morally to protect Israeli citizens while Hamas sent children to the fence and used them as human shields."