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Human Rights Watch, Hamas, and Dead Palestinian Children

Human Rights Watch put out a press release on Christmas Eve, entitled “Palestinian rockets unlawfully targeted Israeli civilians“. Its unfortunate timing explains, perhaps, why it has not been reported on by newspapers which normally follow Israeli-Palestinian affairs closely, such as The Guardian.

There is an element of dark comedy in the following rather odd statement:

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

The notion that Hamas might stop such attacks – either by itself or by its allied groups – is laughable. They glory in them, and revel in the supposed cowardice of Jewish civilians running for shelter. It goes without saying that Hamas has lyingly claimed that their rockets lack the necessary precision to hit military targets. Previously, they’ve boasted of their success in terrorising Jews:

The Qassam Brigades committed itself to turn the life of Zionists into hell, and make them regret their heinous crimes against the innocent and crush their pride and to soak their noses in the dirt.

Hamas does this, because 87% of the Palestinian population supports their tactics, and believe that they constitute ‘victory’.

One of the most interesting parts of the HRW report is this:

Some rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups fell short and struck inside Gaza. On November 16, a rocket that appears to have been launched from within Gaza hit a crowded street in the Gazan town of Jabalya, killing a man, 23, and a boy, 4, and wounding five people.

As the Algemeiner notes, this is a reference to the death of 4 year old Mahmoud Sadallah, whose body was then handed to Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, as a photo opportunity:

Holding back tears, Kandil kissed the boy’s lifeless body as he was presented him by Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Kandil said,”What I saw today in the hospital, the wounded and the martyrs, the boy … whose blood is still on my hands and clothes, is something that we cannot keep silent about.”

Incidentally, the fact that this child’s lifeless body was hoicked around in order to muster support for the very people who killed him has not been mentioned by The Mirror who published – and then silently took off its website – a major feature on this tragedy.

A couple of days earlier – and more widely reported, including by the former IRA propagandist, Roy Greenslade in The Guardian – Human Rights Watch also accused Israel of targeting civilians, specifically journalists:

Four Israeli attacks on journalists and media facilities in Gaza during the November 2012 fighting violated the laws of war by targeting civilians and civilian objects that were making no apparent contribution to Palestinian military operations.

Although the opening statement is very forthright, the rest of the report is not. For example, we are told the following:

 A second attack that afternoon on the building’s third floor appears to have been on a military target, killing one member of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, Ramez Hareb. If Palestinians involved in military operations were meeting in the Shoruq Tower, as the IDF claimed, they were placing civilians at unnecessary risk in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said. The IDF apparently contacted at least one international journalist in the building to warn them to evacuate.

As the Elder of Ziyon has observed, this is precisely what was going on. HRW should have acknowledged Islamic Jihad’s culpability for the endangering of civilian life, ideally in the headline of its press release.

The majority of those who died during the last Gaza conflict have now been identified as members of various Gaza based militias, including Hamas. The civilian casualty rate is astonishingly low, particularly for a conflict which involved missiles being launched from within built up areas, despite the fact that the terrorist militias could instead have chosen to launch them from open and waste areas where Palestinian civilians, at least, would not be endangered.

But then, that’s Hamas’ strategy. Kill Palestinian children and use their bodies to whip up hatred of Israelis. Try to kill Israeli civilians, and then lie about it  to the Western press, while celebrating it in the Palestinian press, whose readers love this stuff.

Human Rights Watch has had its fair share of scandals in recent years. In 2009, HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson travelled to Saudi Arabia, which abuses the human rights of its own citizens as a matter of policy, to raise money to help the group fight against ‘pro-Israel groups’. The next year, it had to sack Scott Long, who had used his position to wage an insane vendetta against Peter Tatchell. Then, a few days ago, they removed the Hamas supporter, 9/11 conspiracy theorist and antisemite Richard Falk from its governing committee, after the issue was highlighted by UN Watch.

Still, it is nice that it has recognised that Hamas sometimes commits war crimes.