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Monday, December 24, 2012

HRW condemns Hamas for rocket attacks but is still clueless

HRW came out with an article condemning Hamas, and other Gaza groups, for rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. The short piece (not a full report) seems perfunctory, as if HRW must add a little "balance" to the many anti-Israel reports it writes.

Some parts are somewhat noteworthy.

While the report says that intentional rocket attacks against civilians are war crimes, and that there is evidence that Hamas and other groups did exactly that, HRW does not explicitly charge Hamas with war crimes.

HRW, taking a page out of the Goldstone playbook, tries to distinguish between Hamas and the "armed groups" that deliberately shot rockets at civilians. It says:
Hamas, the ruling authority in Gaza, is obligated to uphold the laws of war and should appropriately punish those responsible for serious violations, Human Rights Watch said.
Given that Hamas itself is churning out models of the rockets that they aimed directly at Tel Aviv civilians, this idea that Hamas should "punish" the violators is simply a denial of the reality that Hamas is a terror organization.

Some rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups fell short and struck inside Gaza. On November 16, a rocket that appears to have been launched from within Gaza hit a crowded street in the Gazan town of Jabalya, killing a man, 23, and a boy, 4, and wounding five people.
We knew about this. HRW does not seem to have done any serious research into how many other Gazans may have been killed by errant rockets aimed at Israel.

Human Rights Watch interviewed four witnesses to rocket launches from densely populated areas inside Gaza, and heard second-hand reports about many more. Unlike during previous fighting, armed groups seem to have fired many rockets from underground tunnels, opening a hatch to launch the munition.

One rocket was launched on November 20 at around 1:30 p.m. just off Wehda Street in Gaza City, about 100 meters from the Shawa and Housari Building, where various Palestinian and international media have offices. “I saw it [the rocket] go up and heard it, and then smoke was in the office,” a witness said.

One man said he saw a rocket launched from the yard of a house near the Deira Hotel in central Gaza City, though he could not recall the date.

International and Palestinian journalists traveling around Gaza during the fighting told Human Rights Watch that they did not see any Palestinian militants moving in the open, suggesting that Hamas has developed a network of tunnels for personnel and perhaps rockets.
HRW doesn't even entertain the idea that the militants were walking around in civilian clothing, violating another law of war! Given that we saw that during Cast Lead, this omission shows that this report is not a serious attempt to uncover war crimes but window dressing for the next dozen anti-Israel reports. As was the case in Cast Lead.

Of course, HRW cannot resist comparing Israel's actions that were provably aimed only at military targets and those of terror groups whose entire purpose is to target civilians:
The November 14 to 21 hostilities between Israel and Hamas and armed groups in Gaza involved unlawful attacks on civilians by both sides.
HRW repeats that Israel killed 103 civilians, using suspect statistics from PCHR which we have already shown are not accurate.

HRW seems to have parachuted into Gaza, interviewed a couple of people to verify their preconceived viewpoints (on both sides,) and written up their reports according to their Cast Lead templates. Which means we can expect another few anti-Israel reports from HRW now that they got their obligatory "we condemn rockets too" article written.