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Editorial: Equality needed for Israel, Hamas

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JUNE 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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It has been nearly one year since Operation Protective Edge and the Israel-Hamas Conflict of 2014. There is seldom a day in which Israel or another country in the Middle East is absent from the news cycle. Yet nowadays, Israel is in the news not for the scenario that unfolded last summer but for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fervent speeches and comments about Iran nuclear deals — or a lack thereof. 

However, on Sunday, the Associated Press reported that the 2014 conflict was brought to the forefront once more as Israel prepared a pre-emptive strike on the upcoming U.N. report. The report is expected to pit Israel against the United Nations surrounding allegations that the U.S. ally committed war crimes during the 50-day conflict.

Seemingly ever at odds with the organization instrumental in its founding, Israel’s report is set to oppose many of the allegations the United Nations will bring against the country.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes that the death of civilians is the worst possible outcome of armed conflict. However, it is unfair for Israel to accept allegations of war crimes when Hamas deliberately placed civilians in harm’s way. Furthermore, assuming Israel’s assertions are true that it took, according to AP, “unprecedented measure to avoid civilian casualties,” Hamas, too, ought to be charged with war crimes.

According to the AP article, the “unprecedented” measures Israel took to avoid civilian casualties included evacuation handouts, phone calls, radio broadcasts, and unarmed warning strikes before firing live ammunition.

Setting aside for a moment the consideration that Israel did, in fact, take action to prevent civilian deaths, a history of disagreement between the nation and the U.N. Human Rights Council jeopardizes the legitimacy of the upcoming report. Take, for example, the most recent report, which, according to the AP, focuses only on Israel’s activities in Gaza but does not mention the actions of Hamas in Israel.

Israel’s claims of bias in the investigation led to the resignation of its head, Canadian law Professor William Schabas when it was discovered that he had given legal advice to the Palestine Liberation Organization, according to the AP.

Given these recent events, it appears that Israel’s assertion of bias in the Human Rights Council has some grounds. And, perhaps, the 242-page investigation conducted by Israel into the 2014 conflict is more reasonable.

Israel refuses to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, which means that if Israel were found guilty of war crimes, there would be little tangible impact. However, such a defeat could prevent Israeli officials from being able to travel abroad, reports the AP article. Being unable to travel abroad during such a critical time could create a vicious cycle of disadvantages for the diplomatically fragile nation.

There is evidence to suggest that a report accusing Israel of war crimes for the events that unfolded last summer may be unjust. Israel’s pre-emptive report was a smart move by a country fighting an uphill battle against anti-Israeli propaganda and press.

The investigation into the actions of Israel — but not Hamas — is a U.N. blunder. Whether or not Israel’s report is true, the mere possibility of such scenarios should be more than enough to prompt an investigation of Hamas.


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