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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Human rights" groups' double standards on white phosphorus (Zvi)

From Zvi, commenting on this story about Gaza terror groups using white phosphorus in rockets towards Israel:


Clearly, it is a "war crime" for Israel to use white phosphorus in such a way that its use is legal - as a smoke screen to protect maneuvering troops - but it's okay for Gazan terrorists to use it in such a way that it cannot possibly be legal; there are no maneuvering Gazan troops in the vicinity who could use these particular weapons as a smoke screen.

Amnesty's last mention of white phosphorus was in August. They have been completely silent on this matter.

HRW is even worse. Only a few days ago, they made a statement at a weapons conferenceabout the use of incendiary weapons in Gaza, showing that they are continuing to focus on the use of such weapons. Despite the conference giving them a perfect opportunity to speak out about the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of terror against Israelis, and despite their clear intent to continue to focus on WP devices, HRW has chosen not to make any statement at all about the blatantly [war] criminal use of white phosphorus munitions by Hamas terrorists and their allies in Gaza.

The failure to make such a statement indicates to the perpetrators and other terrorist groups, from Hezbollah to Hamas, that the international human rights community condones the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of terror against Israeli civilians.

A forceful, direct and unequivocal condemnation of this blatantly criminal behavior might not have any effect, but then again, it might convince Hamas and other terror groups that adopting its wholesale use would be a costly PR disaster for them. These groups are clearly building WP weapons now. The condemnation must come NOW, before these weapons are stockpiled and entrenched in the minds of Hamas planners, and before it becomes too late to save numerous civilian lives.

Once again, there are circumstances in which the use of white phosphorus is legal, even if some groups do not approve of the use of WP smoke devices. The IDF used white phosphorus to screen troop movements, which is a legal use of white phosphorus. The most that can be argued is that in Gaza, the use of these smoke devices fell into a gray area. But it is also true that as the human rights groups attacked the (legal) use of WP during the war, the IDF even made good-faith efforts to stop the use of WP, even though this endangered the lives of its soldiers. The IDF clearly acted in good faith, trying to minimize the danger to civilians.

The manner in which Hamas and its allies are using white phosphorus today is diametrically opposite. The Gazan regime and its allies are using WP as a weapon of terror. This cannot possibly fit into any category that could be remotely described as legal.

It is clear that these attacks are only the beginning. It is clear that this behavior - if not immediately and severely condemned by the global community - will spread within Gaza and become entrenched there, and from there it will spread to other parts of the world.

It is clear, also, that Gazan Arabs as well as Israelis will die from these WP terror weapons, because many of the flying bombs fired by Gazan terrorists fall short and kill their own people. It is clear that any decent human rights advocate should be absolutely appalled by the blatant and deliberate perpetration of war crimes by Hamas and its allies.

I call upon the international human rights community to speak out loudly, clearly and forcefully on this point, now.