Israel: "Derlei unausgewogene Berichte dienen nicht den langfristigen Interessen der UNO"
Streit über Gaza-Report der Vereinten Nationen spitzt sich zu - Zwei kontroverse Artikel aus dem "Guardian"
Am 5. Mai 2009 legte eine unabhängige UN-Kommission einen Untersuchungsbericht über Vorkommnisse während des Gaza-Kriegs Anfang Ende Dezember 2008 bis Mitte Januar 2009 vor. Dabei wurden vor allem Angriffe auf UN-Einrichtungen unter die Lupe genommen. Der Bericht wurde dem UN-Sicherheitsrat übergeben. Die israelische Regierung hat schwere Bedenken und Einwände gegen den Bericht erhoben (siehe hierzu: Ban Ki-moon legt Untersuchungsbericht über Gaza-Krieg vor).
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir:
Der umstrittene Bericht selbst ist bisher nicht veröffentlicht worden. Eine Kopie des Reports mit dem Begleitschreiben des UN-Generalsektretärs können wir aber - dem "Guardian" sei Dank! - präsentieren: [pdf-Datei].
UN accuses Israel of Gaza 'negligence or recklessness'
Inquiry finds Israel responsible for deaths, injuries and damage to UN buildings
by Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem and Ed Pilkington New York *
A United Nations inquiry today accused the Israeli military of "negligence or recklessness" in its conduct of the January war in Gaza and said the organisation should press claims for reparations for deaths and damage.
The first investigation into the three-week war by anyone other than human rights researchers and journalists held the Israeli government responsible in seven separate cases in which UN property was damaged and UN staff and other civilians were hurt or killed.
However, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, rejected the report's call for a full and impartial investigation into the war, and refused to publish the complete 184-page report. Only Ban's own summary of the report (pdf) has been released.
Israel rejected the inquiry's findings, even before the summary was released, as "tendentious" and "patently biased".
The board of inquiry, led by Ian Martin, a Briton who is a former head of Amnesty International and a former UN special envoy to East Timor and Nepal, had limited scope, looking only at cases of death, injury or damage involving UN property and staff. But its conclusions amount to a major challenge to Israel.
It found the Israeli military's actions "involved varying degrees of negligence or recklessness", and that the military took "inadequate" precautions towards UN premises. It said the deaths of civilians should be investigated under the rules of international humanitarian law.
The UN should take action "to seek accountability and pursue claims to secure reparation or reimbursement" for UN expenses and payments over deaths or injury to UN staff and damage to UN property where the responsibility lay with Israel, Hamas or any other party, the report added. In total, more than $11m worth of damage was caused to UN premises.
The inquiry looked in detail at nine incidents, in which several Palestinians died. It found the Israeli military responsible in seven cases where it had "breached the inviolability" of the UN. In one other case, Palestinian militants, probably from Hamas, were held responsible; in a final case, responsibility was unclear.
The report summary will now go to the UN security council. In a later press conference , Ban confirmed that he would be seeking no further official inquiry into the Gaza events. But he did say he would be looking for reparations from Israel on a "case-by-case" basis.
The secretary general was asked whether his decision not to publish the full report amounted to a watering down of the inquiry's findings. He categorically denied the suggestion: the inquiry was independent, and he was powerless to edit its conclusions.
Israel's foreign ministry said the Israeli military had already investigated its own conduct during the war and "proved beyond doubt" that it had not fired intentionally at UN buildings. It dismissed the UN inquiry.
"The state of Israel rejects the criticism in the committee's summary report and determines that in both spirit and language the report is tendentious, patently biased and ignores the facts presented to the committee," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said the inquiry had "preferred the claims of Hamas, a murderous terror organisation, and by doing so has misled the world".
The most serious incident investigated took place on 6 January, near a UN boys' preparatory school in Jabaliya that was being used as a shelter for hundreds of Palestinians who had fled their homes to escape the fighting. The Israeli military had fired several 120mm mortar rounds in the "immediate vicinity" of the school, killing between 30 and 40 Palestinians, the inquiry found.
Although Israel at the time said Hamas had fired mortars from within the school, the inquiry found this as not true: there had been no firing from within the compound and there were no explosives in the school.
It held Israel responsible for the attack and said the deaths of civilians should be "assessed in accordance with ... international humanitarian law." It also called for a formal acknowledgement from Israel that its allegations about Palestinian militants being present in the school were untrue.
The other incidents investigated were:
* guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 5 May 2009
29 December The headquarters of the UN political mission in Gaza was damaged when Israeli air strikes hit the presidential compound next door. Staff were on site, but were protected in a bunker and not injured. The inquiry held the Israeli government responsible for the damage.
5 January An Israeli air strike hit the UN Asma elementary school in Gaza City, where hundreds more Palestinians were sheltering. The missile killed three young men who had been walking to the bathroom in the school compound. The inquiry found no weapons or ammunition were being stored in the school, and that the men had been going to the toilet and not taking part in military activity. The attack was "an egregious breach of the inviolability of the United Nations premises", the inquiry said, again holding Israel responsible for the deaths and damage.
6 January An Israeli air strike damaged the UN Bureij health centre, injuring nine people. The inquiry said the air strike had targeted and destroyed an apartment opposite the centre. It held Israel responsible for the damage to the health centre, and noted that the UN had been given no advance warning of the attack.
8 January Israeli soldiers fired at a UN convoy, damaging one of the vehicles in Ezbet Abed Rabou. The marked convoy, flying a UN flag, had been cleared by the Israeli military to travel out to pick up the dead body of a UN staff member.
15 January The UN's main headquarters in Gaza was badly damaged when it was hit by several Israeli artillery shells, including some containing white phosphorus. The shelling continued despite warnings from the UN to the Israeli military, and fires caused serious damage to the UN warehouse. Three people were injured. The inquiry held Israel responsible and said the Israeli military had a "particularly high degree of responsibility" to ensure the safety of the UN headquarters.
17 January Israeli 155mm artillery loaded with white phosphorus exploded early in the morning above the UN Beit Lahiya elementary school, where nearly 2,000 Palestinians were sheltering from the fighting. Two children, aged five and seven, were killed inside a classroom and their mother and cousin were seriously injured by shards of shell casings. Eleven others were also hurt. The inquiry held Israel responsible for the deaths, injuries and damage.
In one other case, damage worth around $29,000 was caused to a World Food Programme warehouse by a Palestinian militant group, probably Hamas. In the last case, a UN guard outside the gate of a UN girls' preparatory school in Khan Younis was killed on 29 December by shrapnel. The inquiry was unable to determine who was responsible.
Parteilichkeit der UNO im Gaza-Konflikt
Der aus Großbritannien stammende Jura-Professor Robbie Sabel hat im Guardian die UNO für ihren jüngsten Untersuchungsbericht zur israelischen Militäroperation im Gaza-Streifen kritisiert. Die Weltorganisation hatte dort einseitig Israel angeprangert, ohne die Gegenseite – die Terrororganisation Hamas – miteinzubeziehen.
„Israel ist ehrlich und offen genug gewesen, durch seine eigenen Nachforschungen anzuerkennen, dass es bedauerliche Fehler und Bereiche gegeben hat, in denen die Vorgehensweise und die Ausbildung verbessert werden müssen, und es hat sich zur Zusammenarbeit mit der UNO verpflichtet, um die Koordinierung zu verbessern. Aber nachdem es voll und in gutem Glauben mit der Untersuchung kooperiert und militärische Informationen in einem beispiellosen Ausmaß zur Verfügung gestellt hat, glaubt es, dass die von ihm gelieferten Informationen komplett ignoriert wurden. Israels Routine-Kooperation mit der UNO hat mehr als 1800 Einrichtungen während der Gaza-Operation geschützt und 500 Fahrzeugen und zahllosen Konvois Bewegungsfreiheit gewährt. Es war nicht nur ein moralischer Imperativ für Israel, keine UN-Einrichtungen zu beschädigen, sondern lag auch in seinem Interesse, um die internationale Legitimität seines Militäreinsatzes nicht zu unterminieren. Aber Israel ist für seine Versuche der Zusammenarbeit mit der UNO damit belohnt worden, dass ihm beinahe die gesamte Schuld zugeschrieben worden ist.
Derlei unausgewogene Berichte dienen nicht den langfristigen Interessen der UNO. Damit die UNO eine effektive Rolle bei den Versuchen zur Lösung des arabisch-israelischen Konflikts spielen kann, ist es dringend notwendig, dass sie versucht, fair und unparteilich zu erscheinen. Der UN-Menschenrechtsrat, der solche Leuchten der Menschenrechte wie Saudi-Arabien, Russland und China zu seinen Mitgliedern zählt, hat seine eigene Untersuchung zur Gaza-Operation in Auftrag gegeben. Israel kann wenig Fairness von einem Rat mit solch einer parteilichen Agenda erwarten. Abermals wird es die Glaubwürdigkeit der UNO und ihre Fähigkeit sein, wichtige Rollen auszufüllen, die letztlich darunter leiden wird. Das ist vielleicht das schädlichste Vermächtnis dieses unbalancierten Berichts.“
Newsletter der Israelischen Botschaft in Berlin, 12. Mai 2009
The UN on Gaza: partial and partisan
For Ban Ki-moon to disown the UN report on Gaza speaks volumes about the credibility of its claims of Israeli misconduct
by Robbie Sabel **
There is an asymmetry peculiar to the laws of armed conflict. Hamas knowingly and deliberately targeted civilians and civilian targets in Israel and based itself in civilian areas, but this does not exempt Israel from having to apply the rules of war to its hostilities with Hamas. Israel accepted this obligation and has never shirked from it. It is also absolutely right that the damage done to UN facilities should be fully investigated, along with all other serious accusations of misconduct in war.
But the report the UN has produced does little to bring understanding or justice to the conflict in Gaza. The UN secretary general appears to have realised this and has tried to distance himself from it.
The report's underlying premise is that UN property enjoys absolute immunity. Of course, that is right, but the report should surely have explored why a military force needed to take action against an enemy in a built-up area at all. The undisputed fact – that Hamas was deliberately operating from such areas to launch attacks on Israeli civilian targets – is simply ignored.
It might also have been instructive for investigators to examine how far the staff of Unwra, which is composed mainly of local Palestinians from Gaza, was working with Hamas, whether out of fear or ideological belief. The report is silent on this issue.
The Israeli army took unprecedented steps to avoid civilian casualties. The report grudgingly admits that, in one case, the Israeli air force dropped over 300,000 leaflets in one day, warning civilians of impeding attack. The report goes on at length about Israel's use of smoke shells, hinting that there is something nefarious about their use. Yet it ignores the fact that every army in the world uses phosphorous smoke shells.
The ICRC has confirmed that there was no evidence that these shells had been used in an illegal way. They are, of course, dangerous to handle when burning but absolutely legal.
The report cannot substantiate the blame it places on Israel because, by its own admission, it does not have all the evidence. Only one party in the conflict cooperated with the UN, and that was Israel – a point stressed clearly by Ban Ki-moon. Hamas is unlikely to cooperate with an investigation that would open it to full scrutiny the accusations made by many independent observers, and reported in the Guardian, that their fighters systematically used UN and other civilian facilities, including schools, hospitals, apartment blocks and mosques, for their bases.
The challenge of those investigating is to look at all the evidence and make the difficult emotional separation between the ugliness of war, with all its inherent mistakes and injustices, and the premeditated breaking of international law. Sadly, in this case, as so often with the UN's dealings with Israel, the report falls woefully short of those standards.
Strangely, despite the fact that this report, by its own admission, cannot, for example, identify whether or not Hamas was firing from near the Jabaliya school on 6 January, as Israel's own inquiries have found, it nevertheless managed to conclude that Israel was responsible for the deaths there, because Israeli troops fired the fatal shells. A just conclusion cannot be reached based on such unsubstantiated means of apportioning moral responsibility.
The daily rocket attacks from Gaza presented Israel with a troubling dilemma over how to protect its people without causing undue harm to innocent Palestinians. But it was a major miscalculation by Hamas to think they could continue to attack Israelis civilians, and that Israel's democratic government, accountable to its public, would not provide a response.
Israel has been honest and open enough to acknowledge through its own inquiries that that there were regrettable mistakes and areas where procedures and training need to be improved, and it has committed to working with the UN to improve coordination. But having cooperated fully with the inquiry in good faith and shared military intelligence to an unprecedented level, it believes the information it provided was completely ignored. Israel's routine cooperation with the UN protected more than 1,800 facilities during the Gaza operation and allowed movement of 500 vehicles and numerous convoys. It was not only a moral imperative for Israel not to harm UN facilities, but in its interests for the international legitimacy of its military campaign not to be undermined. But Israel has been rewarded for its attempts to work with the UN by receiving almost all of the blame.
Such unbalanced reports do not serve UN interests in the long term. For the UN to play an effective role in attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute, it is vital that it strive to be seen as fair and impartial. The UN Human Rights Council, which includes such human rights luminaries as Saudi Arabia, Russia and China among its members, has commissioned its own inquiry into the Gaza campaign. Israel can expect little in the way of fairness from a council with such a partisan political agenda. Once again, it will be the credibility of the UN, and its ability to fulfil its important functions, that will ultimately suffer. That perhaps is the most damaging legacy of this unbalanced report.
** Dr Robbie Sabel is visiting professor of international law at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 7 May 2009
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