Copyright: Israel Mission to the UN, Geneva
Thank you, Mr. President.
The request to convene this Special Session, and at this particular juncture, is a return to the knee jerk reaction of this Council whenever Israel defends itself. Some members demanding this Special Session are themselves no paragons of human rights. Yet their Pavlovian instinct demands they react against Israel, in order to divert attention from their own human rights violations. So, we are back at our ritual of naming and shaming Israel.
With 2000 rockets raining on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva from above and murderous terrorists squads tunneling into our villages from below, what can life-seeking Israelis do but go out and defend themselves?
Hamas began firing rockets on our towns and villages immediately after it had abducted and killed three Israeli teenagers. In the weeks that followed, Israel restrained itself. But after 300 rockets a day were indiscriminately fired at Israeli civilians, Israel had no choice but to respond.
Israel’s Government would not be doing its duty to protect its citizens had it not done so. Every country has the duty to defend itself and this principle is enshrined in international law. Any other country in the world would have done the same.
Hamas is committing war crimes when it fires rockets and missiles indiscriminately at Israeli towns and villages. Hamas is protecting its launching sites with the civilian residents of Gaza. Another war crime; Hamas has built tunnels from Gaza into Israel, using them to try to attack villages like Kerem Shalom and Sufa. Another war crime; in ten days, Hamas fired 2000 rockets - that's 2000 war crimes. Hamas has cynically concealed munitions in UNRWA schools, as UNRWA itself admitted again yesterday. A war crime; Hamas used tons of concrete provided as humanitarian aid to build a web of tunnels under hospitals, mosques, schools, homes extending into Israel to be used to abduct and murder Israelis. This, instead of building shelters for the residents of Gaza.
And this Council sits in judgment of Israel? There can be no moral symmetry between a terrorist aggressor and a democracy defending itself. Mr. President, Madam High Commissioner, in the protection of the human rights of Israelis, this Council and you, Madam, have failed dismally.
Israel’s restraint was met by Hamas aggression.
Israel agreed to an Egyptian brokered cease fire to begin July 15. Hamas rejected it outright. Israel agreed to a humanitarian cease fire July 17, but Hamas shot its way through it. It rejected Egyptian efforts on the 17th when Israel sent top negotiators to Cairo with a view yet again to conclude a cease fire. Hamas is determined to maximize murder and mayhem. In these conditions, Israel had no option but to start ground operations, confronting Hamas with a strong, unambiguous response.
Israel will destroy Hamas' military infrastructure. However, the Gaza residents are not our enemies. Israel is fully committed to international law. Israeli commanders and soldiers are guided by international law in their actions. In line with the requirements of international law, IDF actions in Gaza are targeted solely against military targets. The IDF makes great efforts to minimize any incidental harm that may be caused to civilians as a result of an attack on a military target. The IDF took all available precautionary measures and has warned residents to leave prospective combat areas but Hamas urged them to ignore Israeli warnings and remain in their homes, using civilians as human shields.
Hamas bears the responsibility for the injuries sustained by Gaza residents. Israel deeply regrets any civilian losses caused by its operation, and has already started investigating itself. We do not confront the Salvation Army but a brutal terrorist organization. And lest we forget; Hamas is part of the Palestinian unity government. Mr. Abbas should dissolve this government and choose peace.
This Council has lost its bearings.
This Special Session is misguided, ill-conceived and counter-productive to efforts made as we speak to end hostilities.
The Resolution in front of you is totally unbalanced, asymmetric and destructive. It pours gasoline on the fire. It rewards the terrorist aggressors and punishes the side which acts in order to protect its citizens.
This Council should stop looking for the coin under the street lamp. It can regain its moral authority by unequivocally condemning Hamas. It cannot be supportive of an organization that is no different than al-Qa'ida, ISIS, Boko-Haram, Hezbollah, and other extreme radical Islamist organizations that negate the very essence of human rights as we know them and threaten democracy, the rule of law, security and stability of a country, an entire region, and the whole world.
What this Council can do is reject outright and vote no on this absolutely one-sided Resolution.
What this Council cannot do is stop Israel from exercising its right to self-defense.
Thank you, Mr. President.