Israel Foreign Minister Livni in DC

On my way to work this morning, I noticed a brief mention in the paper that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today. After doing some more research, I realized that Secretary Rice was again not intending to address Israel’s disproportionate attacks on civilians. We sent her a letter today to reiterate our concerns about ongoing human rights violations by both Israel and armed Palestinian groups.
 
While Amnesty International recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself and has also called on Hamas and other Palestinian groups to immediately cease all unlawful attacks, Israel does not have a right to use disproportionate force, target civilians or civilian buildings. In the recent conflict, there has been growing evidence that Israel has failed to adhere to the principles of distinction and proportionality in its military actions. Yesterday’s bombing of the UN compound in Gaza City was only the most recent example for that. The US government as a strong supporter of Israel and a provider of military equipment should have a louder voice in speaking out on the issue of protecting civilians in Gaza – unfortunately it continues to fail to do so.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

38 thoughts on “Israel Foreign Minister Livni in DC

  1. As a long time member and supporter of AIUSA, I want to let you know that, although I do agree with you about the extent of Israel's force in Gaza, I do not think that the stance of AI is fair and balanced. You have not spelled out anything that guarantees that Israel will not continue to be bombarded. I think you need to look more closely at Hamas' position and focus more on stopping the hostilities from both sides. I do not agree with AI's position and cannot support it.

  2. Open Letter to President Barack Obama

    Dear Mr. President,

    I know you're very busy right now. Please take a few minutes of your time to speak out AGAINST the Palestine massacre. People listen to you and hang on your every word. You could speak out and this unjustified war would stop.

    Please do not remain silent. People remained silent during the African Holocaust. People remained silent during the African Slave Trade. People remained silent during Jim Crow.

    Please, please do not remain silent while innocent men, women and children are being slaughtered.

    Gaza Carnage Counter

    Respectfully submitted,

    –Imani Sankofa

  3. I am deeply troubled by the inflammatory language that critics of Israel use. The Vatican official who spoke of Gaza as resembling a concentration camp needs a history lesson, for if indeed the Gazans were treated as Germans treated their concentration cam[ victims, there would be few Gazans left alive within a year. And while hundreds of thousands of men women and children were processed in the camps, let's remember that there were no passionate "humanitarian" outbursts by any official of the Vatican.

    To take a more common example thereis the author of one of the previous comments to this posting who calls on people to speak out against Israeli's violence calling it a massacre and comparing it to the African Holocaust. If by "African Holocaust" she is referring to Rwanda, nearly a million people died and it was, I believe, truly genocide in that there seems to have been a conscious intention to destroy the Tutsi population of Rwanda. If she refers to Darfur, the death toll there is estimated at between 200,000 to 300,000. The violence in the Sudan, at least initially, has been characterized by a fairly systematic effort on the part of the Arab Sudanese to terrify the Black Muslim population in the south of the country. It has involved massacres–attacks specifically directed against villagers, the destruction of whole villages, systematic rape and enslavement. And I must add, while the inncoents have suffered where is the moral outrage of the Arab world? I have yet to hear of any protest in any Arabic or indeed Muslim country over the loss of life in Darfur.

    If I am too harsh, forgive me, But I can only say that I find the intensity of the moral outrage directed at Israel and the relative calm with which so much of the world accepts the far more grievous acts of violence committed and being committed around the world both hypocritical and frightening.

    Much has been said about Israel's violation of the International law of proportionality in its use of force. This may well be the case, but is this something to decide at this moment. Is it inconceivable that the attacks on the two UN buildings were mistakes? Technology is not perfect and even less so are the men making the decisions on the ground. What is more, for my part I truly do not understand what is and what is not a proportional response. Is it simply a matter of the numbers of casualties. You killed ten of my people, so I can kill ten of yours? Can a reasonable consideration of future dangers enter into the equation–specifically the danger that Hamas will acquire more sophisticated weaponry that will be able to inflict considerable casualties on Israeli civilians in the near future if nothing is done to forestall the smuggling of weapons into Gaza? Under what conditions would Israel's assault on Gaza be deemed proportionate? Can it ever be given the conditions in Gaza? Can someone offer an example of proportionate response on the part of a nation that was under attack as Israel certainly was?

    But to return to my initial point, regarding the demagogic rhetoric of those condemning Israel. Those who insist on proportionality in the use of force ought to be as concerned with proportionality in the use of the languagewith which they describe the tragedies and horrors of this world. Some evils are greater than others. Some horrors more horrible than others. It is our moral obligation to distinguish among them.

  4. As a long time member and supporter of AIUSA, I want to let you know that, although I do agree with you about the extent of Israel’s force in Gaza, I do not think that the stance of AI is fair and balanced. You have not spelled out anything that guarantees that Israel will not continue to be bombarded. I think you need to look more closely at Hamas’ position and focus more on stopping the hostilities from both sides. I do not agree with AI’s position and cannot support it.

  5. Open Letter to President Barack Obama

    Dear Mr. President,

    I know you’re very busy right now. Please take a few minutes of your time to speak out AGAINST the Palestine massacre. People listen to you and hang on your every word. You could speak out and this unjustified war would stop.

    Please do not remain silent. People remained silent during the African Holocaust. People remained silent during the African Slave Trade. People remained silent during Jim Crow.

    Please, please do not remain silent while innocent men, women and children are being slaughtered.

    Gaza Carnage Counter

    Respectfully submitted,

    –Imani Sankofa

  6. I am deeply troubled by the inflammatory language that critics of Israel use. The Vatican official who spoke of Gaza as resembling a concentration camp needs a history lesson, for if indeed the Gazans were treated as Germans treated their concentration cam[ victims, there would be few Gazans left alive within a year. And while hundreds of thousands of men women and children were processed in the camps, let’s remember that there were no passionate “humanitarian” outbursts by any official of the Vatican.

    To take a more common example thereis the author of one of the previous comments to this posting who calls on people to speak out against Israeli’s violence calling it a massacre and comparing it to the African Holocaust. If by “African Holocaust” she is referring to Rwanda, nearly a million people died and it was, I believe, truly genocide in that there seems to have been a conscious intention to destroy the Tutsi population of Rwanda. If she refers to Darfur, the death toll there is estimated at between 200,000 to 300,000. The violence in the Sudan, at least initially, has been characterized by a fairly systematic effort on the part of the Arab Sudanese to terrify the Black Muslim population in the south of the country. It has involved massacres–attacks specifically directed against villagers, the destruction of whole villages, systematic rape and enslavement. And I must add, while the inncoents have suffered where is the moral outrage of the Arab world? I have yet to hear of any protest in any Arabic or indeed Muslim country over the loss of life in Darfur.

    If I am too harsh, forgive me, But I can only say that I find the intensity of the moral outrage directed at Israel and the relative calm with which so much of the world accepts the far more grievous acts of violence committed and being committed around the world both hypocritical and frightening.

    Much has been said about Israel’s violation of the International law of proportionality in its use of force. This may well be the case, but is this something to decide at this moment. Is it inconceivable that the attacks on the two UN buildings were mistakes? Technology is not perfect and even less so are the men making the decisions on the ground. What is more, for my part I truly do not understand what is and what is not a proportional response. Is it simply a matter of the numbers of casualties. You killed ten of my people, so I can kill ten of yours? Can a reasonable consideration of future dangers enter into the equation–specifically the danger that Hamas will acquire more sophisticated weaponry that will be able to inflict considerable casualties on Israeli civilians in the near future if nothing is done to forestall the smuggling of weapons into Gaza? Under what conditions would Israel’s assault on Gaza be deemed proportionate? Can it ever be given the conditions in Gaza? Can someone offer an example of proportionate response on the part of a nation that was under attack as Israel certainly was?

    But to return to my initial point, regarding the demagogic rhetoric of those condemning Israel. Those who insist on proportionality in the use of force ought to be as concerned with proportionality in the use of the languagewith which they describe the tragedies and horrors of this world. Some evils are greater than others. Some horrors more horrible than others. It is our moral obligation to distinguish among them.

  7. Michael,
    Thank you SO much for your very well written response! After reading AI's postings I, too, am outraged and feel not only disappointed with AI, but overwhelmed because there is so much to say to counter AI's simple minded position I don't even know where to begin!

    Your comments capture an important part of it. I would just like to add that A.I. is assuming Israel has reacted "disproportionately" by targeting civilians/civilian objects. How does AI distinguish a civilian from a military person? What if the civilian's home is a military base? What if the civilian IS the terrorist? Women and children have been used in the fight against Israel and successfully caused devastation. For example, one Palestinian women was brought to an Israeli hospital for treatment. After her release, she returned to the hospital as a suicide bomber and killed the doctors who had saved her life. and what about medical vans in Gaza that are used to store Hamas' ammunition?

    Does AI naively think that just by being generous with aid and kind acts that the Palestinians/Arabs who are against Israel will think differently? Perhaps the moderates who are only seeking a better life for themselves will, but the radicals, who are really the source of this conflict, won't. They are seeking Israel's destruction not because Israel reacts "disproportionately" but because the country's location is strategically inconvenient to their goals of spreading Islam and having power/control in the Middleeast and, ultimately, in the western world.

    The terrorists' biggest weapon are the humanitarian organizations like AI who they can count on to speak up against Israel. They leave Israel in a no-win situation. The terrorists have little value for anyone's life, including Palestinians. They set Israel up by turning civilian objects such as the Palestinian's homes into military launch sites. If Israel responds back, simple minded organizations like AI automatically declare human rights violation and want to punish Israel. If Israel does not respond, their civilians remain unprotected and terrorists continue to grow their operations. AI suggests that Israel can react in less destructive ways to achieve its goals. Really? Again, how can AI be so confident? Is A.I. now a military expert on the fight on terrorism in the middle east? What is the acceptable level of danger Israeli soldiers should have to face in combat so that Israel is "less destructive"?

    I find AI's position rather naive, assuming peace can be achieved through goodwill acts. Sometimes that can be the case, but sometimes your enemy cannot be reasoned with. Diplomacy has been tried many times in this conflict. Sometimes it does simply have to come to a battle where, unfortunately, innocent people are caught in the middle (especially in a war on terrorism) in order to avoid greater numbers of casualties in the future.

    Finally, I think it is worth emphasizing that the number one reason for the Palestinians issues is violence. If there were less attacks on Israel, they would have more movement across the border, and more opportunities to develop and have a better life for themselves. Why is Israel called the occupier? I honestly do not understand. Israel left Gaza for the Palestinians (and paid a very painful price). The State of Israel was established through the U.N. Since then, additional land Israel "occupied" was captured in wars that Israel did not initiate. So why is Israel referred to as an "occupier"?

  8. Michael,
    Thank you SO much for your very well written response! After reading AI’s postings I, too, am outraged and feel not only disappointed with AI, but overwhelmed because there is so much to say to counter AI’s simple minded position I don’t even know where to begin!

    Your comments capture an important part of it. I would just like to add that A.I. is assuming Israel has reacted “disproportionately” by targeting civilians/civilian objects. How does AI distinguish a civilian from a military person? What if the civilian’s home is a military base? What if the civilian IS the terrorist? Women and children have been used in the fight against Israel and successfully caused devastation. For example, one Palestinian women was brought to an Israeli hospital for treatment. After her release, she returned to the hospital as a suicide bomber and killed the doctors who had saved her life. and what about medical vans in Gaza that are used to store Hamas’ ammunition?

    Does AI naively think that just by being generous with aid and kind acts that the Palestinians/Arabs who are against Israel will think differently? Perhaps the moderates who are only seeking a better life for themselves will, but the radicals, who are really the source of this conflict, won’t. They are seeking Israel’s destruction not because Israel reacts “disproportionately” but because the country’s location is strategically inconvenient to their goals of spreading Islam and having power/control in the Middleeast and, ultimately, in the western world.

    The terrorists’ biggest weapon are the humanitarian organizations like AI who they can count on to speak up against Israel. They leave Israel in a no-win situation. The terrorists have little value for anyone’s life, including Palestinians. They set Israel up by turning civilian objects such as the Palestinian’s homes into military launch sites. If Israel responds back, simple minded organizations like AI automatically declare human rights violation and want to punish Israel. If Israel does not respond, their civilians remain unprotected and terrorists continue to grow their operations. AI suggests that Israel can react in less destructive ways to achieve its goals. Really? Again, how can AI be so confident? Is A.I. now a military expert on the fight on terrorism in the middle east? What is the acceptable level of danger Israeli soldiers should have to face in combat so that Israel is “less destructive”?

    I find AI’s position rather naive, assuming peace can be achieved through goodwill acts. Sometimes that can be the case, but sometimes your enemy cannot be reasoned with. Diplomacy has been tried many times in this conflict. Sometimes it does simply have to come to a battle where, unfortunately, innocent people are caught in the middle (especially in a war on terrorism) in order to avoid greater numbers of casualties in the future.

    Finally, I think it is worth emphasizing that the number one reason for the Palestinians issues is violence. If there were less attacks on Israel, they would have more movement across the border, and more opportunities to develop and have a better life for themselves. Why is Israel called the occupier? I honestly do not understand. Israel left Gaza for the Palestinians (and paid a very painful price). The State of Israel was established through the U.N. Since then, additional land Israel “occupied” was captured in wars that Israel did not initiate. So why is Israel referred to as an “occupier”?

  9. Galit,

    Israel is referred to as an 'occupier' in Gaza because although the Israeli gov't removed the settlers and troops from within the Gaza Strip, they retained complete control over the air and sea space and land crossings. They control imports/exports and the flow of people into and out of the strip. Since they exert complete control over the territory and inhabitants they are still considered as the occupying power with responsibility to the inhabitants of the territory.

    As an occupying power, it has a host of responsibilities – one of which is the protection of the people they are occupying.

    Amnesty International doesn't take sides or any political position. It judges all parties to a conflict by the same guidelines – condeming both the rockets being fired into southern Israel which are indiscriminate in their nature and have killed and injured civilians and acts by Israeli forces that appear to violate the rules of war and the blockade of Gaza which is collective punishment – unlawful under the Geneva Conventions.

    AIso your understanding on 'disproportionality' is a bit off. It's not the targetting of civilian structures or civilians – that would be more the law of 'distinction'. A proportional response has to do more with the military risk assessment which must be done when targetting. Does the military advantage outweigh the risk of civilian deaths or damage to a civilian infrastructure? Rules of war (as well as rules of engagement) stipulate that civilians must be protected, not endangered. Is the value of killing one Hamas member in his home outweigh the loss of 12 members of his family and a couple of his neighbors?

    Well, there's too much to go into now, but you must realize that many of your statements are based on assertions by the Israeli gov't. Conclusions can't be reached until an independent, international inquiry is conducted into accusations by both sides.

    The AI research team is in the Gaza Strip right now. You can follow their blog postings at:
    http://livewire.amnesty.org/author/donatellarover

  10. Galit,

    Israel is referred to as an 'occupier' in Gaza because although the Israeli gov't removed the settlers and troops from within the Gaza Strip, they retained complete control over the air and sea space and land crossings. They control imports/exports and the flow of people into and out of the strip. Since they exert complete control over the territory and inhabitants they are still considered as the occupying power with responsibility to the inhabitants of the territory.

    As an occupying power, it has a host of responsibilities – one of which is the protection of the people they are occupying.

    Amnesty International doesn't take sides or any political position. It judges all parties to a conflict by the same guidelines – condeming both the rockets being fired into southern Israel which are indiscriminate in their nature and have killed and injured civilians and acts by Israeli forces that appear to violate the rules of war and the blockade of Gaza which is collective punishment – unlawful under the Geneva Conventions.

    AIso your understanding on 'disproportionality' is a bit off. It's not the targetting of civilian structures or civilians – that would be more the law of 'distinction'. A proportional response has to do more with the military risk assessment which must be done when targetting. Does the military advantage outweigh the risk of civilian deaths or damage to a civilian infrastructure? Rules of war (as well as rules of engagement) stipulate that civilians must be protected, not endangered. Is the value of killing one Hamas member in his home outweigh the loss of 12 members of his family and a couple of his neighbors?

    Well, there's too much to go into now, but you must realize that many of your statements are based on assertions by the Israeli gov't. Conclusions can't be reached until an independent, international inquiry is conducted into accusations by both sides.

    The AI research team is in the Gaza Strip right now. You can follow their blog postings at:
    http://livewire.amnesty.org/author/donatellarover

  11. Galit,

    Israel is referred to as an 'occupier' in Gaza because although the Israeli gov't removed the settlers and troops from within the Gaza Strip, they retained complete control over the air and sea space and land crossings. They control imports/exports and the flow of people into and out of the strip. Since they exert complete control over the territory and inhabitants they are still considered as the occupying power with responsibility to the inhabitants of the territory.

    As an occupying power, it has a host of responsibilities – one of which is the protection of the people they are occupying.

    Amnesty International doesn't take sides or any political position. It judges all parties to a conflict by the same guidelines – condeming both the rockets being fired into southern Israel which are indiscriminate in their nature and have killed and injured civilians and acts by Israeli forces that appear to violate the rules of war and the blockade of Gaza which is collective punishment – unlawful under the Geneva Conventions.

    AIso your understanding on 'disproportionality' is a bit off. It's not the targetting of civilian structures or civilians – that would be more the law of 'distinction'. A proportional response has to do more with the military risk assessment which must be done when targetting. Does the military advantage outweigh the risk of civilian deaths or damage to a civilian infrastructure? Rules of war (as well as rules of engagement) stipulate that civilians must be protected, not endangered. Is the value of killing one Hamas member in his home outweigh the loss of 12 members of his family and a couple of his neighbors?

    Well, there's too much to go into now, but you must realize that many of your statements are based on assertions by the Israeli gov't. Conclusions can't be reached until an independent, international inquiry is conducted into accusations by both sides.

    The AI research team is in the Gaza Strip right now. You can follow their blog postings at:
    http://livewire.amnesty.org/author/donatellarover

  12. Edie,
    Thank you for your reply – it was very helpful. Your statement, "Conclusions can’t be reached until an independent, international inquiry is conducted into accusations by both sides" is especially important. Both sides to the conflict should be held to the same standards and appropriately investigated. Until this is done, we should not assume and headline that "Israel is conducting war crimes". It is irresponsible for any establishment, including A.I., to make this statement.

    I have tried to raise some of the points made by the Israeli gov't to present another side to the story and show readers that there may be more to this conflict than meets the eye, so we should not jump to conclusions.

    You write, the acts by Israeli forces appear to violate the rules of war. The appearances have not been proven to be facts, and the Israeli gov't strongly protests such allegations. On the other hand, Hamas, as a terrorist organization, openly declares itself to be in violation of international law on many levels. To ignore this distinction in reacting to the crisis empowers Hamas and diminishes A.I.'s credibility. A.I. needs to be more conscientious in its assessments if it is to be viewed as having a balanced position.

  13. Galit,

    Israel is referred to as an ‘occupier’ in Gaza because although the Israeli gov’t removed the settlers and troops from within the Gaza Strip, they retained complete control over the air and sea space and land crossings. They control imports/exports and the flow of people into and out of the strip. Since they exert complete control over the territory and inhabitants they are still considered as the occupying power with responsibility to the inhabitants of the territory.

    As an occupying power, it has a host of responsibilities – one of which is the protection of the people they are occupying.

    Amnesty International doesn’t take sides or any political position. It judges all parties to a conflict by the same guidelines – condeming both the rockets being fired into southern Israel which are indiscriminate in their nature and have killed and injured civilians and acts by Israeli forces that appear to violate the rules of war and the blockade of Gaza which is collective punishment – unlawful under the Geneva Conventions.

    AIso your understanding on ‘disproportionality’ is a bit off. It’s not the targetting of civilian structures or civilians – that would be more the law of ‘distinction’. A proportional response has to do more with the military risk assessment which must be done when targetting. Does the military advantage outweigh the risk of civilian deaths or damage to a civilian infrastructure? Rules of war (as well as rules of engagement) stipulate that civilians must be protected, not endangered. Is the value of killing one Hamas member in his home outweigh the loss of 12 members of his family and a couple of his neighbors?

    Well, there’s too much to go into now, but you must realize that many of your statements are based on assertions by the Israeli gov’t. Conclusions can’t be reached until an independent, international inquiry is conducted into accusations by both sides.

    The AI research team is in the Gaza Strip right now. You can follow their blog postings at:

    http://livewire.amnesty.org/author/donatellarovera/

  14. Edie,
    Thank you for your reply – it was very helpful. Your statement, “Conclusions can’t be reached until an independent, international inquiry is conducted into accusations by both sides” is especially important. Both sides to the conflict should be held to the same standards and appropriately investigated. Until this is done, we should not assume and headline that “Israel is conducting war crimes”. It is irresponsible for any establishment, including A.I., to make this statement.

    I have tried to raise some of the points made by the Israeli gov’t to present another side to the story and show readers that there may be more to this conflict than meets the eye, so we should not jump to conclusions.

    You write, the acts by Israeli forces appear to violate the rules of war. The appearances have not been proven to be facts, and the Israeli gov’t strongly protests such allegations. On the other hand, Hamas, as a terrorist organization, openly declares itself to be in violation of international law on many levels. To ignore this distinction in reacting to the crisis empowers Hamas and diminishes A.I.’s credibility. A.I. needs to be more conscientious in its assessments if it is to be viewed as having a balanced position.

  15. You're absolutely right Galit that no one, including AI, should make irresponsible claims. Please be aware that AI does not make any statement lightly. The research team, who has been following this whole conflict closely with resources and contacts both in Israel and the Gaza Strip, were one of the first international independent, third party observers allowed into the strip last Saturday.

    AI was one of the first, if not THE first, to confirm the use of white phosphorus in populated areas. Although these weapons are legal, if used inappropriately, they break the rules of law defined by int'l legal bodies including the Geneva Conventions and as an 'indiscriminate' weapon, it's mis-use is a war crime. Please refer to the legal briefing issued by AI on applicable laws in the Gaza Strip.
    http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/007/2009

    The team has identified several other war crimes being committed by Israel and Hamas both as well as crimes against humanity. For instance, intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or individuals not taking part in hostilities is a war crime. The rockets being fired by armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas, would fall under this definition.

    Terms such as 'war crime', 'disproportionate', 'distinction', 'necessity', 'crimes against humanity', etc … all have detailed and specific definitions and aren't entered into lightly. The briefing (above) discusses some of the following which is applicable to both sides:

    - Intentionally launching a disproportionate attack is a war crime.
    - Launching an indiscriminate attack resulting in loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is also a war crime.
    - Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, is a war crime.
    - Intentionally shielding a military objective using civilians is a war crime.
    - Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in humanitarian assistance is a war crime.

    Many of these actions have been substantiated already; some concerning Israel, some concerning Hamas.

    My apologies for going on so long. Please be assured that AI does not speculate or take sides. Any statement made has been investigated and substantiated with evidence.

    Since there are people that don't trust even human rights organizations that base their work wholly on international bodies of law, there needs to be an independent int'l inquiry into these issues. Justifications for certain attacks have been publicly stated repeatedly, but so far no hard evidence has been provided to substantiate claims. Those found to be responsible for these unlawful acts must then be held accountable and prosecuted.

  16. You're absolutely right Galit that no one, including AI, should make irresponsible claims. Please be aware that AI does not make any statement lightly. The research team, who has been following this whole conflict closely with resources and contacts both in Israel and the Gaza Strip, were one of the first international independent, third party observers allowed into the strip last Saturday.

    AI was one of the first, if not THE first, to confirm the use of white phosphorus in populated areas. Although these weapons are legal, if used inappropriately, they break the rules of law defined by int'l legal bodies including the Geneva Conventions and as an 'indiscriminate' weapon, it's mis-use is a war crime. Please refer to the legal briefing issued by AI on applicable laws in the Gaza Strip.
    http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/007/2009

    The team has identified several other war crimes being committed by Israel and Hamas both as well as crimes against humanity. For instance, intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or individuals not taking part in hostilities is a war crime. The rockets being fired by armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas, would fall under this definition.

    Terms such as 'war crime', 'disproportionate', 'distinction', 'necessity', 'crimes against humanity', etc … all have detailed and specific definitions and aren't entered into lightly. The briefing (above) discusses some of the following which is applicable to both sides:

    - Intentionally launching a disproportionate attack is a war crime.
    - Launching an indiscriminate attack resulting in loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is also a war crime.
    - Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, is a war crime.
    - Intentionally shielding a military objective using civilians is a war crime.
    - Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in humanitarian assistance is a war crime.

    Many of these actions have been substantiated already; some concerning Israel, some concerning Hamas.

    My apologies for going on so long. Please be assured that AI does not speculate or take sides. Any statement made has been investigated and substantiated with evidence.

    Since there are people that don't trust even human rights organizations that base their work wholly on international bodies of law, there needs to be an independent int'l inquiry into these issues. Justifications for certain attacks have been publicly stated repeatedly, but so far no hard evidence has been provided to substantiate claims. Those found to be responsible for these unlawful acts must then be held accountable and prosecuted.

  17. You're absolutely right Galit that no one, including AI, should make irresponsible claims. Please be aware that AI does not make any statement lightly. The research team, who has been following this whole conflict closely with resources and contacts both in Israel and the Gaza Strip, were one of the first international independent, third party observers allowed into the strip last Saturday.

    AI was one of the first, if not THE first, to confirm the use of white phosphorus in populated areas. Although these weapons are legal, if used inappropriately, they break the rules of law defined by int'l legal bodies including the Geneva Conventions and as an 'indiscriminate' weapon, it's mis-use is a war crime. Please refer to the legal briefing issued by AI on applicable laws in the Gaza Strip.
    http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/007/2009

    The team has identified several other war crimes being committed by Israel and Hamas both as well as crimes against humanity. For instance, intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or individuals not taking part in hostilities is a war crime. The rockets being fired by armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas, would fall under this definition.

    Terms such as 'war crime', 'disproportionate', 'distinction', 'necessity', 'crimes against humanity', etc … all have detailed and specific definitions and aren't entered into lightly. The briefing (above) discusses some of the following which is applicable to both sides:

    - Intentionally launching a disproportionate attack is a war crime.
    - Launching an indiscriminate attack resulting in loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is also a war crime.
    - Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, is a war crime.
    - Intentionally shielding a military objective using civilians is a war crime.
    - Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in humanitarian assistance is a war crime.

    Many of these actions have been substantiated already; some concerning Israel, some concerning Hamas.

    My apologies for going on so long. Please be assured that AI does not speculate or take sides. Any statement made has been investigated and substantiated with evidence.

    Since there are people that don't trust even human rights organizations that base their work wholly on international bodies of law, there needs to be an independent int'l inquiry into these issues. Justifications for certain attacks have been publicly stated repeatedly, but so far no hard evidence has been provided to substantiate claims. Those found to be responsible for these unlawful acts must then be held accountable and prosecuted.

  18. You’re absolutely right Galit that no one, including AI, should make irresponsible claims. Please be aware that AI does not make any statement lightly. The research team, who has been following this whole conflict closely with resources and contacts both in Israel and the Gaza Strip, were one of the first international independent, third party observers allowed into the strip last Saturday.

    AI was one of the first, if not THE first, to confirm the use of white phosphorus in populated areas. Although these weapons are legal, if used inappropriately, they break the rules of law defined by int’l legal bodies including the Geneva Conventions and as an ‘indiscriminate’ weapon, it’s mis-use is a war crime. Please refer to the legal briefing issued by AI on applicable laws in the Gaza Strip.

    http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/007/2009/en

    The team has identified several other war crimes being committed by Israel and Hamas both as well as crimes against humanity. For instance, intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or individuals not taking part in hostilities is a war crime. The rockets being fired by armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas, would fall under this definition.

    Terms such as ‘war crime’, ‘disproportionate’, ‘distinction’, ‘necessity’, ‘crimes against humanity’, etc … all have detailed and specific definitions and aren’t entered into lightly. The briefing (above) discusses some of the following which is applicable to both sides:

    - Intentionally launching a disproportionate attack is a war crime.
    - Launching an indiscriminate attack resulting in loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is also a war crime.
    - Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, is a war crime.
    - Intentionally shielding a military objective using civilians is a war crime.
    - Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in humanitarian assistance is a war crime.

    Many of these actions have been substantiated already; some concerning Israel, some concerning Hamas.

    My apologies for going on so long. Please be assured that AI does not speculate or take sides. Any statement made has been investigated and substantiated with evidence.

    Since there are people that don’t trust even human rights organizations that base their work wholly on international bodies of law, there needs to be an independent int’l inquiry into these issues. Justifications for certain attacks have been publicly stated repeatedly, but so far no hard evidence has been provided to substantiate claims. Those found to be responsible for these unlawful acts must then be held accountable and prosecuted.

  19. I appreciate your response. The crux of the issue is that the terrorists ARE the civilians in this conflict. This is not conventional warfare. I am very interested to read how A.I. is able to distinguish, for example, a civilian from a terrorist in its application of int'l rules of law (if they have a practical solution, Israel would like to know!) and will follow-up with the site you have referenced. Thank you.

  20. I appreciate your response. The crux of the issue is that the terrorists ARE the civilians in this conflict. This is not conventional warfare. I am very interested to read how A.I. is able to distinguish, for example, a civilian from a terrorist in its application of int’l rules of law (if they have a practical solution, Israel would like to know!) and will follow-up with the site you have referenced. Thank you.

  21. Galit –

    International law (on which AI work is based) is VERY clear about who is a civilian: a civilian are those not participating directly in hostilities. There are obvious cases as women, children, elderly, paramedics and all medical personnel tending to the wounded, UN and other humanitarian NGO staff providing humanitarian aid, etc …

    Combatants are also protected under int'l law – especially when 'hors de combat' or outside of the combat theater such as when they have laid down arms and are wounded or have surrendered.

    The police officers and facilities are considered 'civilian' because although they are technically armed, they are not participating directly in the hostilities, but are performing municipal functions.

    I hope this helps clarify a bit. Your comment 'The crux of the issue is that the terrorists ARE the civilians in this conflict' is simply not true in so many ways, but more disturbingly, it points to a stereotyping and generalization to such an extent that it smacks of racism.

  22. Galit -

    International law (on which AI work is based) is VERY clear about who is a civilian: a civilian are those not participating directly in hostilities. There are obvious cases as women, children, elderly, paramedics and all medical personnel tending to the wounded, UN and other humanitarian NGO staff providing humanitarian aid, etc …

    Combatants are also protected under int’l law – especially when ‘hors de combat’ or outside of the combat theater such as when they have laid down arms and are wounded or have surrendered.

    The police officers and facilities are considered ‘civilian’ because although they are technically armed, they are not participating directly in the hostilities, but are performing municipal functions.

    I hope this helps clarify a bit. Your comment ‘The crux of the issue is that the terrorists ARE the civilians in this conflict’ is simply not true in so many ways, but more disturbingly, it points to a stereotyping and generalization to such an extent that it smacks of racism.

  23. Hi everybody. Just wanted to respond to the first reply to this article. I do not think that AI is unbalanced on the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. When they appeal to Israel not to violate human rights and to the Palestinian side not to violate human rights, that's about all they can really do, in my personal opinion. Nobody is in a position to stop any war (of course apart from those who are fighting it), and apart from collecting data pointing out that both sides are conducting the hostilities in such a way as to endanger innocent civilians' lives, there is little else that AI can do. And when they speak out, what they say is bound to sound unbalanced to many Palestinians, who would like to see AI backing them, as well as to many Israelis for the opposite reason. The fact is that human rights should be equally enjoyed by all parts, and stubbornly recalling just that point is the way AI has chosen to contribute to humanity.

    This may be regarded as a naive approach, but I know that whenever it is possible all parts involved in any kind of confrontation will try to exploit AI's words, while ignoring them when they sound critical of them. I am talking in general terms and not just referring to Israel and the Palestinians. AI must keep themselves out of this most common my-enemy's-worse-than-me game, by sticking to the basics: human rights are universal. Even if it seems naive, nonetheless it is true.

  24. Hi everybody. Just wanted to respond to the first reply to this article. I do not think that AI is unbalanced on the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. When they appeal to Israel not to violate human rights and to the Palestinian side not to violate human rights, that’s about all they can really do, in my personal opinion. Nobody is in a position to stop any war (of course apart from those who are fighting it), and apart from collecting data pointing out that both sides are conducting the hostilities in such a way as to endanger innocent civilians’ lives, there is little else that AI can do. And when they speak out, what they say is bound to sound unbalanced to many Palestinians, who would like to see AI backing them, as well as to many Israelis for the opposite reason. The fact is that human rights should be equally enjoyed by all parts, and stubbornly recalling just that point is the way AI has chosen to contribute to humanity.

    This may be regarded as a naive approach, but I know that whenever it is possible all parts involved in any kind of confrontation will try to exploit AI’s words, while ignoring them when they sound critical of them. I am talking in general terms and not just referring to Israel and the Palestinians. AI must keep themselves out of this most common my-enemy’s-worse-than-me game, by sticking to the basics: human rights are universal. Even if it seems naive, nonetheless it is true.

  25. Edith,

    Again, in all the responses including yours, no one is addressing an obvious issue in this conflict. There are many documented cases which show how the terrorists have pulled in women and children to help in their fight (see my Jan 18 posting) or how militants shed their combat uniforms when launching an attack from a civilian location against Israel in order to camouflage among civilians. So when Israel is attacked and they respond to the source of the attack and A.I. later investigates, how does A.I. discern the combatant from the other people?

    I understand how international law defines a civilian and so does Hamas and the other terrorist organization who abuse this to their advantage. And I also understand that there are obvious cases of innocent civilians having been killed such as babies and mistakes that were made by Israel. I am not generalizing that civilians are all terrorists – I am trying to drive home the point that the terrorists are disguised as civilians with the statement: “The crux of the issue is that the terrorists ARE the civilians in this conflict”. I don’t see the racism in this.

    In reply to the Feb 3 posting by “Italian passer by”:
    I agree with your comments that A.I. should “appeal to Israel not to violate human rights and to the Palestinian side not to violate human rights, that’s about all they can really do”. However, A.I. does more than that when they conclude that war crimes have been committed. And they discredit themselves when they systematically apply international law essentially aimed at protecting civilians and don’t address the ‘what if the militant looks like a civilian’ scenario?

  26. Edith,

    Again, in all the responses including yours, no one is addressing an obvious issue in this conflict. There are many documented cases which show how the terrorists have pulled in women and children to help in their fight (see my Jan 18 posting) or how militants shed their combat uniforms when launching an attack from a civilian location against Israel in order to camouflage among civilians. So when Israel is attacked and they respond to the source of the attack and A.I. later investigates, how does A.I. discern the combatant from the other people?

    I understand how international law defines a civilian and so does Hamas and the other terrorist organization who abuse this to their advantage. And I also understand that there are obvious cases of innocent civilians having been killed such as babies and mistakes that were made by Israel. I am not generalizing that civilians are all terrorists – I am trying to drive home the point that the terrorists are disguised as civilians with the statement: “The crux of the issue is that the terrorists ARE the civilians in this conflict”. I don’t see the racism in this.

    In reply to the Feb 3 posting by “Italian passer by”:
    I agree with your comments that A.I. should “appeal to Israel not to violate human rights and to the Palestinian side not to violate human rights, that’s about all they can really do”. However, A.I. does more than that when they conclude that war crimes have been committed. And they discredit themselves when they systematically apply international law essentially aimed at protecting civilians and don’t address the ‘what if the militant looks like a civilian’ scenario?

  27. Amnesty cannot give any "guarantees that Israel will not continue to be bombarded". That is what I meant with my words: they cannot force anyone not to go to war (nor can I nor can you). But of course in my opinion they are not helpless: they can keep recalling both sides (all sides in fact) the importance of not violating human rights. That was the idea I was trying to convey.

    And then they not conclude that crimes were committed but rather observe that on the basis of available eyewitness testimonies crimes may have been committed. That's why they routinely call for further independent investigations. I do not think it is a disturbing request.

    I have no rigth to speak in the name of AI nor do I want to, of course, so I am not commenting on the Hamas militants trying to look like civilians. Just let me say that in my opinion documents and press releases from AI have been pretty clear on that point to. It seems to me that AI is striving to tackle separately with Israeli violations and Palestinian violations of human rights, without letting one side's faults become an excuse for the other side's faults.

  28. re: human shielding

    January 7: 'Military tactics used by both sides endanger civilians'
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-release

    Galit mentions 'well documented cases' of Hamas using human shields, but cites none. Video clips on YouTube used to prove human shielding by Hamas are inconclusive and can be interpreted many ways and a column written about a week ago saying that Hamas had used women and children to move their weapons hasn't been substantiated.

    After reading the column about Hamas using women and children, I called the AI researcher in Gaza and asked once again (I had called previously on this subject since here in the U.S. this allegation is so repeated) and asked if they were hearing these stories. Donatella responded that she and a myriad of foreign journalists that were also in Gaza were talking about this column because no one else was hearing these things – and they were listening.

    What they were hearing were things that were already published in the AI document above that had been put out January 7th. In this document, there are documented cases of both parties of the conflict using military tactics that put civilians in danger.

    Human shielding is the intentional forcing of civilians to act as a shield against attack. It was verified that Hamas was fighting within civilian areas, but the only documented incidences of 'human shielding' was when Israeli forces locked residents within their homes and used the roof for sniper fire and logistics. This – is a classic example of 'human shielding' and endangers all the civilians locked inside and unable to flee. This practice by the IDF isn't something new. Documented cases of this tactic being used in the West Bank have been coming out for several years.

    Here in the U.S. I hear and read a lot about Hamas' use of civilians as shields, but I think it's also germane not to jump to conclusions without proper evidence and documentation because of what happened with the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006.

    Israel also accused of Hezbollah of using human shielding in 2006 and I still hear these allegations, but the U.S. Army War College commissioned a report to study Hezbollah tactics in Lebanon; to study why they were so successful. The study found Hezbollah was successful because they used a combination of conventional and guerrilla tactics.

    There was also a section within the report that found that there was no pattern of human shielding.

    A footnote did say that there were a couple of anecdotal incidences, but that Hezbollah did not use human shielding for cover, but successfully used the environment and terrain.
    http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pub

    This is just to say that repeating something repeatedly doesn't necessarily make it the truth.

  29. re: human shielding

    January 7: 'Military tactics used by both sides endanger civilians'
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-release

    Galit mentions 'well documented cases' of Hamas using human shields, but cites none. Video clips on YouTube used to prove human shielding by Hamas are inconclusive and can be interpreted many ways and a column written about a week ago saying that Hamas had used women and children to move their weapons hasn't been substantiated.

    After reading the column about Hamas using women and children, I called the AI researcher in Gaza and asked once again (I had called previously on this subject since here in the U.S. this allegation is so repeated) and asked if they were hearing these stories. Donatella responded that she and a myriad of foreign journalists that were also in Gaza were talking about this column because no one else was hearing these things – and they were listening.

    What they were hearing were things that were already published in the AI document above that had been put out January 7th. In this document, there are documented cases of both parties of the conflict using military tactics that put civilians in danger.

    Human shielding is the intentional forcing of civilians to act as a shield against attack. It was verified that Hamas was fighting within civilian areas, but the only documented incidences of 'human shielding' was when Israeli forces locked residents within their homes and used the roof for sniper fire and logistics. This – is a classic example of 'human shielding' and endangers all the civilians locked inside and unable to flee. This practice by the IDF isn't something new. Documented cases of this tactic being used in the West Bank have been coming out for several years.

    Here in the U.S. I hear and read a lot about Hamas' use of civilians as shields, but I think it's also germane not to jump to conclusions without proper evidence and documentation because of what happened with the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006.

    Israel also accused of Hezbollah of using human shielding in 2006 and I still hear these allegations, but the U.S. Army War College commissioned a report to study Hezbollah tactics in Lebanon; to study why they were so successful. The study found Hezbollah was successful because they used a combination of conventional and guerrilla tactics.

    There was also a section within the report that found that there was no pattern of human shielding.

    A footnote did say that there were a couple of anecdotal incidences, but that Hezbollah did not use human shielding for cover, but successfully used the environment and terrain.
    http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pub

    This is just to say that repeating something repeatedly doesn't necessarily make it the truth.

  30. re: human shielding

    January 7: 'Military tactics used by both sides endanger civilians'
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-release

    Galit mentions 'well documented cases' of Hamas using human shields, but cites none. Video clips on YouTube used to prove human shielding by Hamas are inconclusive and can be interpreted many ways and a column written about a week ago saying that Hamas had used women and children to move their weapons hasn't been substantiated.

    After reading the column about Hamas using women and children, I called the AI researcher in Gaza and asked once again (I had called previously on this subject since here in the U.S. this allegation is so repeated) and asked if they were hearing these stories. Donatella responded that she and a myriad of foreign journalists that were also in Gaza were talking about this column because no one else was hearing these things – and they were listening.

    What they were hearing were things that were already published in the AI document above that had been put out January 7th. In this document, there are documented cases of both parties of the conflict using military tactics that put civilians in danger.

    Human shielding is the intentional forcing of civilians to act as a shield against attack. It was verified that Hamas was fighting within civilian areas, but the only documented incidences of 'human shielding' was when Israeli forces locked residents within their homes and used the roof for sniper fire and logistics. This – is a classic example of 'human shielding' and endangers all the civilians locked inside and unable to flee. This practice by the IDF isn't something new. Documented cases of this tactic being used in the West Bank have been coming out for several years.

    Here in the U.S. I hear and read a lot about Hamas' use of civilians as shields, but I think it's also germane not to jump to conclusions without proper evidence and documentation because of what happened with the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006.

    Israel also accused of Hezbollah of using human shielding in 2006 and I still hear these allegations, but the U.S. Army War College commissioned a report to study Hezbollah tactics in Lebanon; to study why they were so successful. The study found Hezbollah was successful because they used a combination of conventional and guerrilla tactics.

    There was also a section within the report that found that there was no pattern of human shielding.

    A footnote did say that there were a couple of anecdotal incidences, but that Hezbollah did not use human shielding for cover, but successfully used the environment and terrain.
    http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pub

    This is just to say that repeating something repeatedly doesn't necessarily make it the truth.

  31. Amnesty cannot give any “guarantees that Israel will not continue to be bombarded”. That is what I meant with my words: they cannot force anyone not to go to war (nor can I nor can you). But of course in my opinion they are not helpless: they can keep recalling both sides (all sides in fact) the importance of not violating human rights. That was the idea I was trying to convey.

    And then they not conclude that crimes were committed but rather observe that on the basis of available eyewitness testimonies crimes may have been committed. That’s why they routinely call for further independent investigations. I do not think it is a disturbing request.

    I have no rigth to speak in the name of AI nor do I want to, of course, so I am not commenting on the Hamas militants trying to look like civilians. Just let me say that in my opinion documents and press releases from AI have been pretty clear on that point to. It seems to me that AI is striving to tackle separately with Israeli violations and Palestinian violations of human rights, without letting one side’s faults become an excuse for the other side’s faults.

  32. re: human shielding

    January 7: ‘Military tactics used by both sides endanger civilians’

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/gaza-military-tactics-both-sides-endangering-civilians-says-amnesty-inte

    Galit mentions ‘well documented cases’ of Hamas using human shields, but cites none. Video clips on YouTube used to prove human shielding by Hamas are inconclusive and can be interpreted many ways and a column written about a week ago saying that Hamas had used women and children to move their weapons hasn’t been substantiated.

    After reading the column about Hamas using women and children, I called the AI researcher in Gaza and asked once again (I had called previously on this subject since here in the U.S. this allegation is so repeated) and asked if they were hearing these stories. Donatella responded that she and a myriad of foreign journalists that were also in Gaza were talking about this column because no one else was hearing these things – and they were listening.

    What they were hearing were things that were already published in the AI document above that had been put out January 7th. In this document, there are documented cases of both parties of the conflict using military tactics that put civilians in danger.

    Human shielding is the intentional forcing of civilians to act as a shield against attack. It was verified that Hamas was fighting within civilian areas, but the only documented incidences of ‘human shielding’ was when Israeli forces locked residents within their homes and used the roof for sniper fire and logistics. This – is a classic example of ‘human shielding’ and endangers all the civilians locked inside and unable to flee. This practice by the IDF isn’t something new. Documented cases of this tactic being used in the West Bank have been coming out for several years.

    Here in the U.S. I hear and read a lot about Hamas’ use of civilians as shields, but I think it’s also germane not to jump to conclusions without proper evidence and documentation because of what happened with the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006.

    Israel also accused of Hezbollah of using human shielding in 2006 and I still hear these allegations, but the U.S. Army War College commissioned a report to study Hezbollah tactics in Lebanon; to study why they were so successful. The study found Hezbollah was successful because they used a combination of conventional and guerrilla tactics.

    There was also a section within the report that found that there was no pattern of human shielding.

    A footnote did say that there were a couple of anecdotal incidences, but that Hezbollah did not use human shielding for cover, but successfully used the environment and terrain.

    http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=882

    This is just to say that repeating something repeatedly doesn’t necessarily make it the truth.

  33. Edith,

    The fact that Hamas sets up their military operations in the homes of Palestinians (even when Palestinians speak out against it) is an example of human shielding. They knowingly put civilians in the line of fire from the counter-attack this provokes. Why? Because either 1) they will be protected from a counter-attack by surrounding themselves with civilians, or 2) if the Israelis do counter-attack they will receive push back and face negative publicity. Either outcome means more to Hamas than the lives of the Palestinians. This is what I mean by ‘human shielding’ and this is well documented in the news coverage.

    There are documented cases of women who are sent as suicide bombers, including interviews with those who were unsuccessful about how they were prepared for such a horrible act. Arabic TV programs display pictures of an army of young children, dressed in uniform and trained with weapons on combat. In conventional warfare, this is considered human rights violations. But, somehow, in the middle-east, this is largely overlooked as “normal”, “honorable”, “understandable” behavior given the "dire circumstances the birth of the State of Israel has placed on the Palestinians".

    I would give AI’s coverage much more weight if they also reported the point of view of the Israelis in Gaza. For example, the A.I. article you reference begins with a classic example of the type of reporting I find irresponsible:

    “Our sources in Gaza report that Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground floor while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position… This clearly increases the risk of the Palestinian families concerned and means they are effectively being used as human shields.”

    This is not at all an obvious conclusion to me! And begs the question, human shields from what? Hamas attacks? I doubt Israelis use Palestinians as human shields from an enemy who obviously doesn’t place much value on the Palestinians lives in the first place. I don’t know the specific circumstances of the case A.I. reports about. I do know that the Israeli army tried to forewarn Palestinians whenever possible of the location of planned attacks to avoid scenarios where the Palestinians would be in the midst of battle. Is it possible the house the Israelis were fighting from was a Hamas military post and perhaps the Israelis forced the Palestinians to the ground floor to protect them? I read of an incident where a Palestinian family stayed in their apartment as cover from fighting that came to their neighborhood. Unfortunately, two young boys grew restless, went to the rooftop of the building to play, got caught in the battle fire and were killed. Perhaps the Israelis thought forcing the Palestinians to stay in one place was the safest thing for them to avoid a similar situation.

    I am not saying that A.I.’s views are wrong or right. What I am saying is that A.I. is not in a position to draw conclusions. They have not conducted a complete investigation and, therefore, should only report the facts. It is simply irresponsible of A.I. to go beyond that by not only jumping to conclusions, but actively promoting them.

  34. Edith,

    The fact that Hamas sets up their military operations in the homes of Palestinians (even when Palestinians speak out against it) is an example of human shielding. They knowingly put civilians in the line of fire from the counter-attack this provokes. Why? Because either 1) they will be protected from a counter-attack by surrounding themselves with civilians, or 2) if the Israelis do counter-attack they will receive push back and face negative publicity. Either outcome means more to Hamas than the lives of the Palestinians. This is what I mean by ‘human shielding’ and this is well documented in the news coverage.

    There are documented cases of women who are sent as suicide bombers, including interviews with those who were unsuccessful about how they were prepared for such a horrible act. Arabic TV programs display pictures of an army of young children, dressed in uniform and trained with weapons on combat. In conventional warfare, this is considered human rights violations. But, somehow, in the middle-east, this is largely overlooked as “normal”, “honorable”, “understandable” behavior given the “dire circumstances the birth of the State of Israel has placed on the Palestinians”.

    I would give AI’s coverage much more weight if they also reported the point of view of the Israelis in Gaza. For example, the A.I. article you reference begins with a classic example of the type of reporting I find irresponsible:

    “Our sources in Gaza report that Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground floor while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position… This clearly increases the risk of the Palestinian families concerned and means they are effectively being used as human shields.”

    This is not at all an obvious conclusion to me! And begs the question, human shields from what? Hamas attacks? I doubt Israelis use Palestinians as human shields from an enemy who obviously doesn’t place much value on the Palestinians lives in the first place. I don’t know the specific circumstances of the case A.I. reports about. I do know that the Israeli army tried to forewarn Palestinians whenever possible of the location of planned attacks to avoid scenarios where the Palestinians would be in the midst of battle. Is it possible the house the Israelis were fighting from was a Hamas military post and perhaps the Israelis forced the Palestinians to the ground floor to protect them? I read of an incident where a Palestinian family stayed in their apartment as cover from fighting that came to their neighborhood. Unfortunately, two young boys grew restless, went to the rooftop of the building to play, got caught in the battle fire and were killed. Perhaps the Israelis thought forcing the Palestinians to stay in one place was the safest thing for them to avoid a similar situation.

    I am not saying that A.I.’s views are wrong or right. What I am saying is that A.I. is not in a position to draw conclusions. They have not conducted a complete investigation and, therefore, should only report the facts. It is simply irresponsible of A.I. to go beyond that by not only jumping to conclusions, but actively promoting them.

  35. Galit,

    Women as suicide bombers is not considered 'human shielding' so I'm not sure why you bring this up in this discussion and the example of the children being shown in military gear, while true, can also be said of settler children in the occupied West Bank.

    I'm not arguing that the value of life is being de-valued in these instances, you're absolutely right – I'm just saying that this is happening on all sides.

    The AI report on the military tactics used by both sides that endanger civilians takes into consideration testimony from various sources that all confirm the same patterns of behavior. That the IDF locks inhabitants in their homes while using the premises for military actions is definitely a case of human shielding. I'm not quite sure why you argue this point when just a couple of paragraphs above this you use the example of Hamas using premises as an example of human shielding. There are also no reports (as confirmed so far) that Hamas locked the owners of the premises inside while using it as a military base.

    Also, the statement you cite is not based on a 'case', but is a pattern in the IDF and this tactic has been used before and continues to be used in the West Bank as well. Just one example of how this plays out in the West Bank was documented on a segment of '60 Minutes' recently. See an earlier blog on this segment at: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/60-minutes

    Amnesty thoroughly investigates instances of human rights violations and is well known for their responsible reporting despite accusations of bias from supporters of one side or the other in a conflict. Recent stories from IDF members, including company commanders about lax rules of engagement support much of what AI, as well as other NGO's have been reporting from the beginning.

    For these stories, check out: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/israeli-so

    Amnesty is also not saying that their investigation should be the 'end all', but simply provides prima facie evidence that justifies an impartial, international, independent investigation made up of reputable members well versed in weaponry, military tactics and human rights to investigate human rights violations committed by all parties of the conflict – Israel as well as armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas.

    The questions you raise should be investigated thoroughly and those found guilty brought to justice and if the incidences are not found credible, then this should be brought out as well.

    The UN Board of Inquiry set up to investigate the attacks on UN personnel and facilities is simply not sufficient and needs to be expanded to include all allegations of war crimes by all parties.

  36. Galit,

    Women as suicide bombers is not considered 'human shielding' so I'm not sure why you bring this up in this discussion and the example of the children being shown in military gear, while true, can also be said of settler children in the occupied West Bank.

    I'm not arguing that the value of life is being de-valued in these instances, you're absolutely right – I'm just saying that this is happening on all sides.

    The AI report on the military tactics used by both sides that endanger civilians takes into consideration testimony from various sources that all confirm the same patterns of behavior. That the IDF locks inhabitants in their homes while using the premises for military actions is definitely a case of human shielding. I'm not quite sure why you argue this point when just a couple of paragraphs above this you use the example of Hamas using premises as an example of human shielding. There are also no reports (as confirmed so far) that Hamas locked the owners of the premises inside while using it as a military base.

    Also, the statement you cite is not based on a 'case', but is a pattern in the IDF and this tactic has been used before and continues to be used in the West Bank as well. Just one example of how this plays out in the West Bank was documented on a segment of '60 Minutes' recently. See an earlier blog on this segment at: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/60-minutes

    Amnesty thoroughly investigates instances of human rights violations and is well known for their responsible reporting despite accusations of bias from supporters of one side or the other in a conflict. Recent stories from IDF members, including company commanders about lax rules of engagement support much of what AI, as well as other NGO's have been reporting from the beginning.

    For these stories, check out: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/israeli-so

    Amnesty is also not saying that their investigation should be the 'end all', but simply provides prima facie evidence that justifies an impartial, international, independent investigation made up of reputable members well versed in weaponry, military tactics and human rights to investigate human rights violations committed by all parties of the conflict – Israel as well as armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas.

    The questions you raise should be investigated thoroughly and those found guilty brought to justice and if the incidences are not found credible, then this should be brought out as well.

    The UN Board of Inquiry set up to investigate the attacks on UN personnel and facilities is simply not sufficient and needs to be expanded to include all allegations of war crimes by all parties.

  37. Galit,

    Women as suicide bombers is not considered 'human shielding' so I'm not sure why you bring this up in this discussion and the example of the children being shown in military gear, while true, can also be said of settler children in the occupied West Bank.

    I'm not arguing that the value of life is being de-valued in these instances, you're absolutely right – I'm just saying that this is happening on all sides.

    The AI report on the military tactics used by both sides that endanger civilians takes into consideration testimony from various sources that all confirm the same patterns of behavior. That the IDF locks inhabitants in their homes while using the premises for military actions is definitely a case of human shielding. I'm not quite sure why you argue this point when just a couple of paragraphs above this you use the example of Hamas using premises as an example of human shielding. There are also no reports (as confirmed so far) that Hamas locked the owners of the premises inside while using it as a military base.

    Also, the statement you cite is not based on a 'case', but is a pattern in the IDF and this tactic has been used before and continues to be used in the West Bank as well. Just one example of how this plays out in the West Bank was documented on a segment of '60 Minutes' recently. See an earlier blog on this segment at: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/60-minutes

    Amnesty thoroughly investigates instances of human rights violations and is well known for their responsible reporting despite accusations of bias from supporters of one side or the other in a conflict. Recent stories from IDF members, including company commanders about lax rules of engagement support much of what AI, as well as other NGO's have been reporting from the beginning.

    For these stories, check out: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/israeli-so

    Amnesty is also not saying that their investigation should be the 'end all', but simply provides prima facie evidence that justifies an impartial, international, independent investigation made up of reputable members well versed in weaponry, military tactics and human rights to investigate human rights violations committed by all parties of the conflict – Israel as well as armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas.

    The questions you raise should be investigated thoroughly and those found guilty brought to justice and if the incidences are not found credible, then this should be brought out as well.

    The UN Board of Inquiry set up to investigate the attacks on UN personnel and facilities is simply not sufficient and needs to be expanded to include all allegations of war crimes by all parties.

  38. Galit,

    Women as suicide bombers is not considered ‘human shielding’ so I’m not sure why you bring this up in this discussion and the example of the children being shown in military gear, while true, can also be said of settler children in the occupied West Bank.

    I’m not arguing that the value of life is being de-valued in these instances, you’re absolutely right – I’m just saying that this is happening on all sides.

    The AI report on the military tactics used by both sides that endanger civilians takes into consideration testimony from various sources that all confirm the same patterns of behavior. That the IDF locks inhabitants in their homes while using the premises for military actions is definitely a case of human shielding. I’m not quite sure why you argue this point when just a couple of paragraphs above this you use the example of Hamas using premises as an example of human shielding. There are also no reports (as confirmed so far) that Hamas locked the owners of the premises inside while using it as a military base.

    Also, the statement you cite is not based on a ‘case’, but is a pattern in the IDF and this tactic has been used before and continues to be used in the West Bank as well. Just one example of how this plays out in the West Bank was documented on a segment of ’60 Minutes’ recently. See an earlier blog on this segment at: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/60-minutes-are-israelis-and-palestinians-giving-up-on-two-state-solution/

    Amnesty thoroughly investigates instances of human rights violations and is well known for their responsible reporting despite accusations of bias from supporters of one side or the other in a conflict. Recent stories from IDF members, including company commanders about lax rules of engagement support much of what AI, as well as other NGO’s have been reporting from the beginning.

    For these stories, check out: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/israeli-soldiers-speak-out-about-gaza/

    Amnesty is also not saying that their investigation should be the ‘end all’, but simply provides prima facie evidence that justifies an impartial, international, independent investigation made up of reputable members well versed in weaponry, military tactics and human rights to investigate human rights violations committed by all parties of the conflict – Israel as well as armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas.

    The questions you raise should be investigated thoroughly and those found guilty brought to justice and if the incidences are not found credible, then this should be brought out as well.

    The UN Board of Inquiry set up to investigate the attacks on UN personnel and facilities is simply not sufficient and needs to be expanded to include all allegations of war crimes by all parties.