(Communicated by the Government Press Office)
Following the United Nations' Human Rights Council decision
to establish an inquiry into alleged human rights violations in Gaza, the following document clarifies Israel's position.Background
On 12 June 2014, the day Hamas terrorists abducted and murdered three Israeli teens
in the West Bank, Hamas resumed launching rockets from Gaza on Israeli cities. For three weeks Israel showed great restraint and repeatedly indicated its desire to avoid further escalation, but Hamas' incessant missile attacks on Israeli communities continued, culminating in a barrage of 70 missiles fired on July 7th alone. Israel was left with no choice but to respond militarily to defend its civilian population.
In recent years, Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization around the world, including by the US, the EU and Canada, has invested heavily in a formidable terrorist infrastructure, including some 12,000 missiles capable of hitting most of Israel's territory. It has also built dozens of attack tunnels to infiltrate Israel for the purpose of killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.
The main objective of Operation Protective Edge is to restore quiet to Israel's citizens. Israel's right to defend itself has been widely recognized by the international community, including most recently by EU foreign ministers on July 22nd
. Israel's actions are intended solely to curtail Hamas' terrorist capabilities in Gaza and do not target the people of Gaza in any way.Israel's efforts to protect civilians
In this context, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been doing its utmost to minimize harm to non-combatant civilians. The IDF strictly abides by the principles of international law, including the law of armed conflict, which calls inter alia to distinguish at all times between civilians and military forces, to take precautions to minimize civilian casualties, and to carefully consider the expected military gain of any action, weighed against potential collateral damage (the principle of proportionality
Among the measures taken by the IDF to minimize the risk to Palestinian civilians are announcements about impending attacks in the form of phone calls, pamphlets and warning shots. In many cases missions have been aborted because civilians were identified dangerously close to the targets.Flyer distributed by the IDF to warn the civilian population of Shuja'iya before an operation
Moreover, Israel’s commitment to international law is guaranteed by its strong democratic institutions, including an active and responsive legislature, efficient law enforcement mechanisms and an independent judiciary.