Photo: AP
Gaza casualties. More than 1,500 innocent civilians killed in 1999 NATO bombings in Belgrade
Photo: AP
Ben-Dror Yemini

Israel bashers, let's talk about proportion

Op-ed: UN gave its full support to forces operating on its behalf, despite mass killing of civilians. So where do anti-Israel activists get the chutzpah to talk about 'genocide' and 'war crimes'?

Proportion, we are told. Proportion. So let's talk about proportion. Forget about Dresden, where the Allies' bombings left tens of thousands of people dead within three days. About 10,000 dead a day. Let's take a look at a slightly closer little war.



It was a war waged only through airstrikes. And in a war as in a war, innocent people were killed too. In fact, mostly innocent people. On April 14, 70 refugees were killed while seeking shelter in the village of Korisa. On May 30, a retirement home was bombed. Twenty elderly men and women paid with their lives. It’s unclear what their sin was. That same day, 11 people were killed in a train bombing. A hospital was bombed too, three people were killed, and one stray bomb even reached the capital of the neighboring country.


It didn't happen in Fallujah or in Chechnya. It happened in Belgrade, in central Europe, in the 1999 NATO bombings. About 500 fighters were killed, alongside a much bigger number, 1,500 according to an American general, of innocent civilians, including quite a few children. The Serbs themselves said the death toll had reached more than 5,000.


There were no mass protests in European cities against NATO at the time, but there was criticism. Amnesty Intrnational even accused NATO of committing war crimes. So it did.


NATO's planes, let me remind you, were not forced to deal with rockets fired at London or Paris from civilian population centers. The bombed entity did not threaten to destroy Germany or Holland. The official television channel in that entity did not call for the annihilation of the European, "to the very last one of them."


Among the NATO forces, it should be mentioned, there were zero casualties. Were you looking for proportion? Well, NATO has shown it to us.


It happened before that in Somalia too. The United Nations sent special forces to Mogadishu. Hundreds of civilians were turned, willingly or forcibly, into a human shield for the reign of terror which took over the country. The result was mass and indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians.


They had excuses. NATO Spokesman Jamie Shea explained the mass killing of innocent people by saying that "there is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher."


David Stockwell, the chief spokesperson for the UN forces in Somalia, explained: "There are no sidelines or spectator seats – the people on the ground are considered combatants." The UN gave its full support to the forces operating on its behalf, despite the mass killing of civilians.


So where, we should ask the anti-Israel campaign activists, do you get the chutzpah to talk about "genocide," about "war crimes" and about proportion.


The two-edged sword

"Each and every missile launched from Gaza against Israel constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses," Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian Authority's representative at the UN Human Rights Council, said in an interview to the PA television.



Khraishi has not become a Zionist. He has complaints against Israel. He knows that the council he sits in has an automatic majority against Israel, and that if the Palestinians were to suggest that the council condemn Israel for spreading malaria in Africa, that proposal would be accepted.


But he was referring to a body which is supposed to a bit more serious: The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. The idea to sue Israel there is raised every now and then. Khraishi tried to explain to the instigators that it’s a double-edged sword. The Palestinians have a unity government. Every crime committed by Hamas is a crime committed by the Palestinian Authority. They share mutual responsibility.


Khraishi added that "many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing." He added that the Palestinians did not warn anyone about where the missiles launched from their side were about to fall, and so it was considered a crime according to international law.


Therefore, you should stop being so enthusiastic about appealing to the ICC, he told the Palestinians. Someone should say that to some Israelis as well.


פרסום ראשון: 07.18.14, 12:34
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