Richard Kemp, second from left, with UN Watch executive director Hillel
United Nations, Geneva, June 29, 2015
GENEVA, July 1 - UN Watch and its partners
organized a battery of high-profile events at the United Nations on Monday,
covered by Reuters and other major media, allowing senior international
military, legal and political figures to expose the gross distortions of the
Schabas-Davis report, presented that day by the Commission of Inquiry into last
summer's Gaza conflict.
Click at right to take action. See
below the powerful plenary speeches by Col. Kemp, Maj. Gen. Jones, and Lt. Col.
Corn; followed by links to video from the expert panel event.
The thrust of the Schabas-Davis report, named after the PLO's
legal consultant who initiated and headed the probe for six months and the judge
who completed it, is that Israel's political and military leaders (together
with Hamas terrorists) should be investigated and prosecuted for "possible war
crimes" in international tribunals, as well as in domestic courts worldwide.
At their side event, UN Watch and NGO Monitor released a major
alternative report to the UN's Gaza inquiry, entitled Filling in the
Blanks, and invited the contributors to present.
Below are remarks from the day-long UN debate -- followed by the
interventions that were facilitated by UN Watch together with NGO Monitor, and
with the cooperation of JINSA.
Mary McGowan Davis, Chair of
Commission of Inquiry:
"Let me now turn to our
key findings. First, the attacks by the IDF on homes
"The strikes may have constituted military tactics reflective of a
broader policy, approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest
levels of the Government of Israel... Current accountability mechanisms may not
be adequate to address this issue... The parties should cooperate fully with the
preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any
subsequent investigation that may be opened.”
"Israel is the worst racist regime in the world. Israel is the biggest
violator of human rights in the world. The case must be referred to the ICC for
crimes against humanity."
State of Palestine: "We
examined the report, and we can now say it is balanced to a great extent...
Israeli leadership… deliberately planned this barbaric
Algeria for the African
Group: "We urge the government of Israel to take all necessary measures
to put an end to the impunity that prevails currently."
Tunisia on Behalf of the Arab
Group: "We condemn the barbaric aggression against the besieged and
occupied Palestinians... The report shows the need to establish accountability
to investigate violations during this Israeli aggression."
Pakistan for the Islamic Group: "These attacks
were result of a broader policy conceived by higher echelons of the Israeli
Iceland: "No one cannot
stay immune to the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza."
Ireland: "We commend the
Commission of Inquiry's work despite serious onstacles put in their way. Ireland
regrets Israel’s decision not to cooperate. The right to self defense does not
give confer Israel carte blanche to act with disproportionate force.
This is a serious and conscientious document, balanced, sober, and
Venezuela: "The inquiry
demonstrated that Israeli armed forces once again acted as a terrorist
organisation, by deliberately attacking civilians with the intention of
murdering them… Criminal responsibility for those whjo perpetrated this
RESPONSE BY UN WATCH
Testimony of Colonel Richard Kemp,
commander of British Forces in
I fought in combat zones around the world during 30 years’ service
in the British Army. I was present as an observer throughout the conflict in
Mr. President, during the 2014 Gaza conflict, Hamas, to its
eternal shame, did more to deliberately and systematically inflict death,
suffering and destruction on its own civilian population, including its
children, than any other terrorist group in history.
Hamas deliberately positioned its fighters and weapons in civilian
areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack these targets,
which were a clear and present threat to the lives of Israel’s own civilian
While the IDF made efforts, unprecedented in any other army, and
exceeding the requirements of the laws of war, to save Palestinian civilian
lives, including warning them to leave target zones, Hamas forced them to remain
in those areas.
Unable to defeat Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause
large numbers of casualties among their own people in order to bring
international condemnation against Israel, especially from the United
This was the cornerstone of Hamas’s strategy. It was Hamas’s
strategy, not illegal Israeli action, as this report shamefully alleges, without
a shred of evidence, that was the reason why over 1,000 civilians died in
By denying this truth, and by refusing to admit the manifest
reality that the conflict in Gaza was caused by Hamas’s war of aggression
against Israel, this report faithfully reiterates Hamas’s own false
This council has for too long allowed itself to become a tool of
Hamas’s murderous strategy. By unjustly condemning Israel, by refusing to
condemn Hamas’s repeated and unprovoked aggression, this council has
consistently validated and encouraged Hamas’s tactics.
I urge all delegates to this council to reject this report.
Failure to do so amounts to support of Hamas terrorism and will result in
further rounds of violence in Gaza and Israel. The price for that will be paid
in the blood of the people of Gaza and Israel.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Testimony of Major-General
Michael D. Jones
former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central
My name is Mike Jones, a retired U.S. Army general officer who,
with four other retired U.S. generals, conducted a JINSA-sponsored, but
independent, study of the 2014 Gaza conflict. We conducted research, and
interviewed Israeli, UN, and Palestinian Authority officials. Our focus was what
the U.S. should learn from the conflict, but our report is relevant to the
I am pleased your report acknowledged that all combatants are
required to abide by the law, and that Hamas’ and other groups’ indiscriminate
rocket fire at Israel was unlawful.
However, it is disappointing that the
report fails to condemn these groups for unlawfully failing to distinguish
themselves as combatants, as well as purposefully co-locating amongst civilians,
knowingly placing them at risk, with absolutely no military necessity to do
I am also disappointed that the report, while acknowledging that
lawful targeting is a balance between the military necessity and the known risk
to civilians, came to conclusions without sufficient information to make a
judgment. Specifically, they condemn the IDF for engagements without any
information on the IDF’s objectives, military necessity, or known information on
Our team did have access to much of that information. We concluded
that the IDF consistently applied lawful criteria in their targeting.
Conversely, we concluded that based on verifiable information on the launch
sites, weapons and ammunition storage, command locations, and the trajectories
of fired weapons, that Hamas habitually violated the law by attacking civilian
targets with no military value, and deliberately placing Gazans at risk without
It is also disappointing that none of the Commissioners had
military experience, nor did they use the studies that we and other military
professionals who do have experience in conducting lawful combat operations have
Thank you Mr. President.
Testimony of Lt. Col. Geoffrey Corn, law
former senior law of war adviser for U.S. army
Thank you, Mr. President. I am Geoffrey Corn, a Professor of Law
and the U.S. Army’s former senior expert on the Law of Armed Conflict. I advised
an independent JINSA-commissioned Task Force on the 2014 Gaza conflict.
I commend the Report’s recognition that all parties to armed
conflict must implement and respect the Law of Armed Conflict. While objective
critiques of military operations can contribute substantially to the
understanding, implementation, and evolution of the Law of Armed Conflict,
findings and recommendations must derive from credible information, legal
interpretation, and operational expertise. Otherwise, any critique risks
distorting the essential balance between mitigating the suffering of armed
conflict and the dictates of military necessity – one that has defined the law
since its inception.
I believe the Report lacks this foundation. First, it treats
questionable interpretations of this law as conclusive, and fails to apply the
principle of distinction comprehensively. Specifically, it omits assessment of
how an enemy’s systemic failure to distinguish himself from civilians, and
deliberate exploitation of the perception of civilian status, impacts the
reasonableness of attack judgments.
Second, the Report reflects common but invalid tendencies toward
“effects based” condemnations of targeting judgments. Combat effects are
relevant when considering compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict, but cannot
substitute for recreating the context of attack decisions to determine whether
they were reasonable. Limited access to operational information may make this
process difficult, or even impossible, but does not justify substituting effects
as the touchstone of legality.
Third, the Report is not based on credible military operational
expertise. This is exacerbated by the tactical context of close combat in an
urban environment against an enemy deliberately refusing to comply with its
distinction obligation. The Report’s judgments regarding military advantage are
attenuated from the true nature of military operations, therefore undermining
the credibility of ultimate legality assessments.
Thank you, Mr. President.
UN Watch is grateful to BBI for yielding its plenary slot for Lt. Col.
to the U.N. Gaza Report: Panel of Experts
Side event at United Nations
Human Rights Council
co-sponsored by UN Watch & NGO
The main response was delivered on live webcast in a packed
hall inside the UNHRC building in front of diplomats, major media and human
rights activists. Reuters and Yahoo News published photos
of the speakers and a description of the event. Full video of the 2-hour panel
Moderator: Hillel Neuer, Executive Director, UN
Dr. Uzi Rubin, Founder, Israel Missile Defense
Organization - Click for video
Anne Herzberg, Legal
Advisor, NGO Monitor - Click
Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Foundation for the
Defense of Democracies - Click
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO
Monitor - Click for video
Jones, Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command - Click
Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn, Former law of
war expert, U.S. army - Click for video
Col. Richard Kemp,
Former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan Click for video