Sunday, September 20, 2009

UN Report on the Gaza Conflict: Gaza in Numbers

The highly anticipated UN Report on the Gaza Conflict that lasted from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 was just released this past week. As it goes with any study on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this report garnered attention and criticism on all sides. The Israeli government immediately rejected the findings of the report, and in Friday's New York Times, a U.S. State Department spokesman, Ian C. Kelley, was quoted as saying that “its [the UN reports] conclusions regarding Hamas’s deplorable conduct and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law during the conflict are more general and tentative" and that the report is generally unfair due to its emphasis on Israeli actions.

In light of the actual content of the UN report, I find this assertion absolutely astounding. First, the cost of this conflict in human lives is staggering: 1,387 (the low NGO estimate on Palestinian deaths) to 13 (four of which were deaths by Israeli friendly fire; provided by Israeli government). Additionally, the report discussed Israeli injuries and rates of post-traumatic stress disorder which it did not offer for the Palestinians (31-2). In the report's conclusions, both Israeli and Palestinian actions are condemned as war crimes and that both sides violated human rights (see 1733-1738; 1747; 1753). The report also explicitly deals with the crimes of Palestinian armed groups (Hamas, et al): "In relation to the firing of rockets and mortars into Southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups operating in the Gaza Strip, the Mission finds that the Palestinian armed groups fail to distinguish between military targets and the civilian population and civilian objects in Southern Israel... These actions would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity" (541). Personally, I find this a clear indictment against these groups.

The fact of the matter is that reports can condemn armed groups for not complying with international humanitarian law, however these groups are not signatories to the Geneva Convention. Perhaps signatories, like Israel, should be held to a higher standard in times of war. Can there ever be a 'fault for fault' analysis of a conflict? How can one injury on the Israeli side defend the death of one Palestinian? Before President Obama meets with Netanyahu and Abbas this week, I seriously hope that he and his staff rethink their definitions of 'unfair'.


  1. What is really unfair is that Palestine was taken its land away as for its population(displaced or killed), water, freedom, national identity... The past crisis in december just showed us how unfair the situation is for palestinians: almost 1400 killed, the majority of them being civilians, but there r still some silly fools who claim loud and clear that Israel is a victim. Thats just b.s. One is a state and has army, very well supplied (thanks to Uncle Sam) when on the side we got an older country that is not even allowed to get a state status, no army, and has to count on one political party and some external support, if they can get in. Too bad there's no oil to steal because there would be an intervention from the US, finally!
    I just hope that this situation will end some day bcause its just inhuman and too many civilians (kids among them) are killed almost everyday. There r also civilians who pay for that crazy situation on the other side and also good people. Many Israelis fight for peace and freedom for both people.
    But hypocrisy and violence should stop, hope it will soon.


  2. What I will never understand is that how can one call the area "Palestine" when there was never actually one? Before the state of Israel, it was the British Mandate of Palestine (key word being emphasis) and before that it was under the control of the Ottoman Empire.

    Israel had been bombarded with Hamas rockets, by the thousands, prior to Operation Cast Lead. Was that fair? Did the UN do anything about it? For one to say that Israel is targeting civilians is not founding their argument on intelligence but rather on biased accounts. The UN report showed that very bias.

    With the repeated warnings and very low-level responses, Hamas only increased their rocket attacks. From the words of the wise President Shimon Peres "what would you do if rockets were attacking your schools, family, and your own children, every day?" That's the foundation that Israel acted upon, and did so with the right actions. Let's not forget that Hamas terrorist hid behind women and children and launch their rockets from the most populated areas.