Scurrilous Accusations against Israel Encourage Terrorist Groups to Put Civilians in Harm’s Way

In a recent report, Human Rights Watch (HRW)—an organization known for its obsession with defaming the Jewish state—accused it of committing war crimes when responding to rocket attacks from Gaza in May. Perhaps to provide some semblance of balance, the report leveled the same accusation at Hamas for indiscriminately firing on civilians. Its authors, however, misconstrue the laws of war by looking solely at the outcomes—rather than the causes, motivations, and circumstances—of military operations, as Geoffrey Corn and Rachel VanLandingham write:

[The] tendency by human-rights groups to invoke war crimes based on the effects of hostilities, and to conclude that “too many” civilians were killed in a particular attack, is all too common. This frequently used approach . . . produces the perverse effect of incentivizing terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Islamic State, illegally to shield their military operations with civilians. These groups exploit the resultant deaths caused by lawful strikes by professional armed forces like the U.S. military and the IDF. Indeed, terrorist groups use civilians as legal weapons, a crucial fact HRW fails to recognize. . . .

When Palestinian militants launched missile, rocket, and mortar attacks into Israel with no plausible indication that the attacks were directed at lawful military objectives, their attacks were not merely “indiscriminate,” [as HRW puts it]. . . . Nothing suggests these attacks were directed at military objectives. Nor is there any plausible basis to support a claim of reasonable mistake, as the IDF, unlike its opponents, simply does not utilize civilian communities or buildings in support of its military operations, nor does it exploit the presence of civilians to shield its military assets. . . .

HRW’s effects-based methodology is counterproductive to the organization’s claimed goal—that of enhancing civilian protection during hostilities. It incentivizes the worst practices of armed groups like Hamas by reinforcing their expectation that increasing civilian exposure to the risks of hostilities—for example, by exploiting the presence of civilians to shield their assets—will produce a net gain in their strategic delegitimization campaign. It also penalizes commanders who engage in good-faith efforts to comply with the law by implying that their obligation is not to make reasonable judgments but, rather, that those judgments must always produce the “right” outcome. Ultimately, this flawed methodology for assessing legality is contrary to both the spirit of the law and the interests of the victims of war whom the law is intended to protect.

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Read more at Lawfare

More about: Hamas, Human Rights Watch, IDF, Laws of war

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank