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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

PA Goldstone commission says Qassams do not violate int'l law

I just started going through the Palestinian Authority's second response to Goldstone as required by the UN. It is attached to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's second report to the General Assembly on the followup to the Goldstone recommendations.

It will take a while to go through, but this part shows pretty much where the PA is coming from. Practically the entire report is about alleged Israeli abuses of international law, of course, but it is forced to address Qassam rockets:

65...The PIC [Palestinian Independent Investigation Commission] affirms that, should it be acknowledged that the armed resistance groups in Gaza did intentionally target Israeli civilians, then such a practice would undoubtedly represent a violation of international
humanitarian law. The PNA has on many occasions condemned rocket firing and called on armed resistance groups in Gaza to respect international law and to exercise their right to self-defence in a manner that ensures that the Palestinian people maintain their moral high ground and does not harm their national cause and interests....

68. It is, however, important to understand that one of the salient features characterizing the dynamics between the Palestinian armed resistance groups in Gaza and the Government of Israel is their extremely asymmetric nature. The enormous disparity in military capabilities between the two sides is self - evident and need not be repeated. The Palestinian resistance’s capability to
respond to Israel’s full arsenal of weaponry, including fighter airplanes, helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery, as well as substantial ground forces, is limited to sporadic “crude rocket” firing and mortar shelling. Yet it is also imperative to recall that this is a situation of an occupying Power versus an occupied people, who constitute a defenceless civilian population entitled to protection under international law.

69. If and when civilian targets or populations have been affected by such “crude rocket” firing, it was essentially because of the crude nature of the weapon and the inability to control where the fired projectile lands. While this is in no way intended to justify any harm caused to innocent civilians, it cannot be considered a violation of international humanitarian law, per se. Furthermore, each alleged incident of harm to civilian persons or civilian property would have to be investigated on an individual basis, and the Palestinian Independent Commission is not in a position to do so without the cooperation of both the Government of Israel and the armed resistance groups in Gaza.

The PA's position is that the shooting of rockets at populated areas, aimed at towns in which there is no military objective, is not a violation of international law because you cannot prove that Hamas was deliberately aiming at civilians! This is even though Hamas brags about aiming at civilians!

But it gets better. In its conclusions, the PA commission says:

83. Admittedly, three Israeli civilians were killed during the period from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 by misguided “crude rockets” fired by the armed resistance groups in Gaza, and that cannot be justified even though it was not intended.

The PIC, which initially claimed that the rockets would violate international humanitarian law if they could be proven to have been deliberate and then they go on to say that they cannot possibly determine whether they were deliberately aimed at civilians, now is saying that Hamas is right - and they flatly state that these hundreds of rockets were not intended to hurt civilians!

This is an astonishing display of mendacity, a blatant contradiction within a single document that proves that the PA has no interest in the truth, nor in acknowledging Hamas' violation of international law.

Too bad no one will notice it.