Tuesday, September 09, 2014

  • Tuesday, September 09, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon

(Part 1part 2part 3)

Continuing our series of Ken Roth's many lies he tweeted during Operation Protective Edge.

August 4 Do you want to know what "human shields" really are beyond ritualistic sloganeering? Read @HRW's Q&A on the law: http://trib.al/l8wdv4t 

Truth: This is sort of amazing. Here are Roth's previous tweets defining human shields:

 Jul 19 Much confusion about "human shields" which generally require coercion. Different from unnecessarily endangering civilians, tho both illegal.
 Jul 24 #Hamas is putting civilians at risk but "no evidence" it forces them to stay--definition of human shields: @NYTimes. http://trib.al/61iwSoM 
Jul 25 Hamas must as feasible not fight in populated areas http://trib.al/CA94avT  but no human shield unless coerced to stay http://trib.al/YQwIIau 

Yet when you read the official HRW Q&A that Roth tweeted here, you see a completely different definition - one that is actually accurate!

Forces deployed in populated areas must avoid locating military objectives – including fighters, ammunition and weapons -- in or near densely populated areas, and endeavor to remove civilians from the vicinity of military objectives. Belligerents are prohibited from using civilians to shield military objectives or operations from attack. "Shielding" refers to purposefully using the presence of civilians to render military forces or areas immune from attack.
There is nothing here about coercion.

HRW's definition is completely at odds with the definition their own executive director gave three separate times! The HRW definition simply says that using civilians to shield military objectives is what makes one a human shield.

Roth's tweet, by invoking "ritualistic sloganeering," of his critics, gave the impression that HRW's definition was agreeing with his multiple tweets, but amazingly it proves him wrong.

Roth never corrected his earlier tweets, though, nor did he acknowledge that his critics were correct all along.

August 4 Family homes of Hamas officials are not legitimate military targets; familes are not human shields: Michael Walzer. http://trib.al/wfhnrBC

Truth: Roth completely and knowingly misrepresents this article. Here is what Walzer said, in context:

Except when they are being used for some military purpose, houses where people live are not legitimate targets—even if the people who live there include Hamas officials. These attacks are wrong because the officials live with their families, who can't be called human shields.
Walzer adds the caveat "Except when they are being used for some military purpose" which Roth ignores.

Now, Walzer's statement is arguable, because Hamas terrorists are not policemen who work in shifts - they are always acting as militants during a war and are probably always considered legitimate targets. But even if you don't believe that, Walzer's caveat is true in most cases of senior Hamas officials: Hamas family homes are where meetings are held, command centers are built, tunnel entrances are hidden and weapons are stashed, and  where that is the case they are valid military targets. Roth assumes that their family homes are completely free of military activity, which is naive to the extreme if not knowingly deceptive.

But this was not the point of Walzer's article. While Walzer urges Israeli soldiers to take risks to their own lives to ensure that civilian casualties are at a minimum - something that is not at all written in international law - he makes clear that the ultimate responsibility for civilian casualties rests with the terrorists who place them at risk to begin with:

Along with many others, I have argued for another rule: that the attacking forces must make positive efforts, including asking their own soldiers to take risks, in order to minimize the risks they impose on enemy civilians. How much risk has to be accepted? There is no precise answer to that question. But some risk is necessary, and if it is taken, then I think that the major responsibility for civilian deaths falls on the insurgents who are fighting from homes and schools and crowded streets. And if responsibility is understood and assigned in that way by the global public, it will be possible to fight and win an asymmetric war....

It is always necessary to figure out who is there, in the house, in the school, in the yard, before an attack begins—and that will often require the attacking soldiers to take risks. I suspect that some Israeli soldiers are doing that, and some are not. That's the way it is in every war; a lot depends on the intelligence and moral competence of the junior officers who make the most critical decisions on the ground. Judging these issues from a distance is especially difficult. But I would strongly advise anyone contemplating the loss of life in Gaza to think carefully about who is responsible, or primarily responsible, for putting civilians at risk. The high-tech army, for all its claims to precision, is often callous and clumsy. But it is the insurgents who decide that the death of civilians will advance their cause. We should do what we can to ensure that it doesn't.
Roth ignores Walzer's main assignment of responsibility to Hamas for civilian deaths and implies that Israel is the only party responsible.

This is pure mendacity.


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