Monday, September 08, 2014

  • Monday, September 08, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon

(Part 1, part 2)

Continuing my series of lies that were tweeted by Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch over the past two months.

July 29: 1st Gulf War showed devastating cascading effects on public health of attacking electricity, yet #Israel just did it. 

Truth: Israel immediately flatly denied targeting Gaza's power plant, although it allowed that it was possible that it was hit accidentally.
“The State of Israel did not attack Gaza’s power plant,” said Brig. Gen. Yaron Rosen, the commander of IAF Air Support and Helicopter Air Division.

“It has no interest (in that),” he added. “We transfer to them the electricity, we transfer in the gas, we transfer in the food in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster. So we attacked the power plant?”

The general said it was possible the plant had been hit by Israel by mistake.

Munitions, he said, can sometimes “skip,” and strike targets unintentionally, as occurred during 2008-9′s Operation Cast Lead.

“The matter is under investigation,” he added.
Later on, Israel flatly denied that it had done anything in that area that day: altogether
An Israeli military spokeswoman said after checking with ground, air and naval forces in the area of the power plant that there was "no indication that (Israel Defense Forces) were involved in the strike. ... The area surrounding the plant was also not struck in recent days."
The IDF simply doesn't lie about things like that.

Which means that the power plant was hit by a terrorist rocket, or was otherwise sabotaged from within Gaza.

It is much more likely that Hamas attacked its own power plant deliberately. Besides information that Hamas aimed rockets at its own population, it has many times created an artificial crisis around fuel shortages in order to garner world sympathy and prompt more free aid from Qatar.

A reporter who would say something this inaccurate would be forced to correct him or herself. Why should the head of a human rights organization have lower ethical standards?

July 29: More #Gaza women & kids killed (342) than militants (182). 4.5 as many civilians as militants.

Truth: Once again, Roth uses sources poorly. This was apparently a Haaretz infographic.

Yet on the previous day, the Meir Amit ITIC had already released the first of its findings  - with names - that there were far more terrorists being killed in Gaza than was being reported.

At this point it was also well known that Hamas had instructed Gazans to call everyone an "innocent civilian" and it was clear that Hamas was not releasing the full number of its casualties.

Roth was clearly following the war not only closely, but obsessively. It seems unlikely that he was not aware of these facts. Yet even so, he had no problem using the fig leaf of selectively quoting as fact only the media he trusts, and ignoring the ones that contradict his pre-determined position.

July 29: Tunnels used to attack or capture civilians is a rights violation. Tunnels used to attack or capture soldiers isn't. 

Truth: If Hamas acted according to the rules of war and was a regular army, this would be correct in a very narrow sense. But the reality is that it is a lie and Roth knows it.

Hamas has said explicitly many times that it wants to kidnap soldiers to hold them hostage, not to hold them as POWs according to the Geneva Conventions. Hostage taking is a war crime, period. Roth is going out of his way to excuse Hamas' admitted attempts to perform a grave breach of international law.

One has to wonder why the head of a human rights organization is so callous towards the human rights of Israeli soldiers that Hamas wants to take hostage. B'Tselem calls it a war crime, but Ken Roth refuses to.

August 4: (Retweeted by Kenneth Roth)  Nicholas Kristof @NickKristof · One principle of int'l law is proportionality of response. But so far, Israel has lost 3 civilians; Gaza (by UN count) 1,033 civilians.

Truth: This is not what proportionality means under international law. 

There are two definitions: One is that the expected civilian casualties from a specific attack must be proportional to the military value of the target. As we've shown, the bar for passing that test is much lower than Ken Roth claims, and Israel is adhering to the principle of proportionality. This is the jus in bello definition - how to act once a war already starts.

The other definition, which is probably what Kristof is referring to since he calls it "proportionality of response,"  is jus ad bellum, to take proportionality into account when deciding on the right to go to war initially. It is sometimes called macro-proportionality. In brief, it says that "The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms." 

By definition, macro-proportionality can only be defined before a war starts. Given that Israel was responding to rocket attacks and was acting in self defense, the decision to go to war was clearly legal; the question is whether their initial choice of how to go about the war - how many airplanes, how many drones, how many gunships - would be proportionate to what they were trying to accomplish.

It is certain that the test of  jus ad bellum proportionality cannot be taken by doing a simple count of civilian victims after the war starts. That falls under  jus in bello. To violate macro-proportionality, it would have to be proven that Israel was acting in ways that were completely overkill for the original goal of stopping rockets. Given that the rockets didn't stop until the current cease fire, it is obvious that Israel's response was less than that allowed by this proportionality test. It has nothing to do with body counts.

Roth's retweet of Kristof's bad definition is especially egregious given Roth's supposed expertise in international law.


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