by Meira Svirsky
(JNS) — Human Rights Watch released a new report documenting rocket and mortar attacks launched in May by Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip against Israel.
In that conflict, “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” the terror groups fired more than 4,360 rockets and mortars on Israel’s civilian population, killing 12 citizens, two of them Arabs.
While the report acknowledges that the terror groups “violated the laws of war and amount to war crimes,” it also repeats the organization’s previously disproved fallacies about alleged war crimes committed by Israel, as well as falsely accusing Israel of continually failing to investigate those “crimes.”
“Palestinian armed groups during the May fighting flagrantly violated the laws-of-war prohibition on indiscriminate attacks by launching thousands of unguided rockets towards Israeli cities,” said Eric Goldstein, acting Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The failure of both Hamas authorities and the Israeli government to provide accountability for alleged war crimes by their forces highlights the essential role of the International Criminal Court.”
The report also falsely lays the blame for the fighting on Israel, attributing what it calls the May “hostilities” by Palestinian terror groups, as well as those in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2019, to “Israel’s sweeping closure of the Gaza Strip, which began in 2007, and discriminatory efforts to remove Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem — policies and practices that are part of the Israeli government’s crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, after which Palestinian terror groups used the territory as a launching pad for attacks against Israel’s civilian population. While Israel has always maintained the policy of allowing humanitarian aid into the Strip — even during the latest attacks in May — Israel took the action of closing the Strip in 2007 to stop the flow of weapons and other materials used for terror against Israel.
In the report, HRW fails to mention these facts, choosing instead to begin its historical account of Israel’s “crimes” in 2007.
The organization also fails to report truthfully about the “efforts to remove Palestinians from their homes” in what they term “occupied East Jerusalem.”
The homes referred to are in the Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon HaTzadik) neighborhood of Jerusalem. All of the homes in question are owned by Jews who were chased out of their properties by the Jordanians in 1948, during Israel’s War of Independence.
In 1976, after being presented proof of ownership, an Israeli court ruled that the homes belonged to their Jewish owners. In 1982, the Arab residents of the homes signed a legal agreement allowing them to stay in the homes as rent-paying tenants.
The recent controversy surrounding the homes began when Arab residents refused to continue paying rent, saying that they were coerced into signing the 1982 agreement. This prompted the Jewish owners to call for their eviction. In May, the case was heard by the Israeli Supreme Court, which said it would delay making a decision to allow for a Palestinian request for an opinion on the case by Israel’s attorney general.
The May attacks on Israel by Palestinian terror groups were partially a response to this ruling.
Unlike in HRW’s previous and first report on the recent conflict, released in July, this one acknowledged, “Munitions apparently directed toward Israel that misfired and fell short killed and injured an undetermined number of Palestinians in Gaza.”
One such incident investigated by the organization included a Palestinian rocket attack that misfired and hit the Gaza city of Jabalya, killing seven Palestinian civilians and wounding 15.
In its first report, HRW blamed Israel for the incident, despite the fact that the Israel Defense Forces had long presented concrete evidence that the missile resulted from a “failed launch attempt by a terror organization in Gaza.”
There was no acknowledgment or correction by HRW of its previous mistake in the current report.
Ultimately, the report continually concludes that the circumstances of the fighting and the ensuing “alleged war crimes” on both sides “highlight(s) the importance of the International Criminal Court’s investigation into Israeli and Palestinian conduct.”
All who have followed the ICC’s biases in its current investigation against Israel know where that will lead.
Meira Svirsky is a Jerusalem-based journalist and author and the former editor of ClarionProject.org.