Law of Armed Conflict, Gaza and the BBC

As readers know, less than 24 hours after the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th 2014, the BBC began to promote the notion that Israel was committing ‘war crimes’ in the Gaza Strip.Bowen tweet 1

That theme, along with related ones such as ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘deliberate targeting of civilians’, continued to be advanced throughout the 50-day operation and after its conclusion, in large part by means of amplification of claims made by political NGOs such as the PCHR (see examples here and here), Human Rights Watch (see examples here and here) and Amnesty International (see examples here, here and here).

In addition, BBC audiences were fed amateur commentary from journalists with no credentials in the field of the Law of Armed Conflict, with Jeremy Bowen’s frequently proffered  ‘diagnoses’ being particularly notable.Bowen tweet 2

In a new report on last summer’s conflict written by five American Generals and commissioned by JINSA, the topic of amateur commentary on the legality of IDF operations is addressed.

“…Numerous individuals claiming to be experts in the relationship between law and military operations quickly seemed to accept Hamas’s assertions of unlawful IDF operations. On July 23, 2014, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated: “There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes.” The U.N. Human Rights Council subsequently issued a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations” in Gaza. In September, Human Rights Watch issued a report declaring that “three Israeli attacks that damaged Gaza schools housing displaced people caused numerous civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war.” And, in November, Amnesty International concluded that the IDF’s “use of large aerial bombs [to attack civilian homes] suggests that these attacks either were intended to cause the complete destruction of the targeted structure or a determination to ensure the killing of targeted individuals without due regard to the killing and destruction to those in their immediate vicinity,” which would constitute “prima facie evidence of serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

These condemnations were premised on premature, effects-based assessments of military operations, or on the same flawed understandings of the law that Hamas was promoting, while refusing to apply that same law to its own actions. These routine distortions of the actual law applicable to military operations produced a fundamentally false narrative of legal compliance and non-compliance during this conflict, one that misrepresented Israeli attempts to minimize civilian deaths and the legality of their targeting Hamas and other factions engaged in military operations.”

The report – which is well worth reading in full – is available here.

The speed and alacrity with which BBC correspondents adopted the theme of ‘war crimes’ within hours of the commencement of the conflict was clear indication of the existence of an underlying political agenda even before the hostilities began. The fact that the corporation has continued its unqualified amplification of the same theme on behalf of NGOs engaged in lawfare since the conflict ended – whilst failing to provide audiences with the professional background information on the topic of the Law of Armed Conflict which would enable them to put such claims into their correct context – only reinforces the unavoidable impression that the BBC has no interest in dealing with this subject accurately or impartially.


18 comments on “Law of Armed Conflict, Gaza and the BBC

  1. No one respects human rights during military conflicts arabs and hamas and the like least of all. Thosde who respect them do so at 30-50% Israel is the one who respects them at 99% ie it is a world champion i_n this regard. As to bbc it is a world champion in LIES,false propaganda and precisely FGENOCIDE against Jews because this is the reason of their anti Israel propaganda and LIES since it aims at destroying Israel so as to commit a new genocide against Jews. An all that upon orders of their arab slave marsters. bbc is accomplice of genocide intents against Jews.

  2. Belligerents are NOT required to protect civilians during war. You will not find that in a single provision of the Geneva Convention. It states that they are not to target civilians that is all.

    Too many reporters make claims as ‘international law’ and have one never read the law and/or too just make it up as they go along.

  3. BBC offers many high quality programs, but my thought is that their present audiences are committed to the same wrong headed news bytes, mis and disinformation. The way they win and hold listeners is to feed their prejudices by clever sleights of rhetoric.

  4. Is it just me, or does anyone else agree that the BBC by promoting these falsehoods and so robustly, have played a very significant part in legitimising the rise of anti-semitism. So far in all that I have read, I have not witnessed any Jewish or Israeli leader/spokesperson hold the BBC to account for this.

  5. I agree with Mike that the BBC is both blatantly and surreptitiously broadcasting anti-Israel propaganda and thereby promoting anti-Jewish hatred. The recent increase in anti-semitism in Europe is easily traceable to the orchestrated campaign by Hamas against Israeli citizens – and it is beyond the BBC’s intended neutral role to support this campaign. Will somebody able please threaten the BBC with a racism writ here and now.

  6. Golda Meir talked about this Palestinian child abuse 50 years ago.
    We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

  7. The best article detailing Hamas dead baby strategy.
    The BBC will never tell you this because they don’t want to upset their Arab backers.
    Hamas’ dead baby strategy
    Alan Dershowitz
    January 16, 2009

    The Hamas “dead baby” strategy – to cause as many civilian casualties as possible by firing its deadly rockets from schools and densely populated areas – is producing understandable outrage around the world. What is not understandable is why the outrage is directed against Israel, which is a victim of this strategy, rather than against Hamas, which is its perpetrator. Hamas knew exactly what it was doing when it fired more than 6,000 rockets at Israeli kindergartens, elementary schools and playgrounds from behind its own children. It was playing Russian roulette with the lives of Israeli children in order to provoke a defensive response from Israel.

    Hamas knew that Israel, like any democracy, would have to take whatever military action was necessary to stop the rockets. As Barack Obama put it when he visited Sderot, a town that had been victimized by more than 1,000 rockets and several deaths: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” Hamas also knew that Israel could not stop the rockets aimed at its children without accidentally killing some Palestinian children because Hamas was using Palestinian children as human shields for its rockets. Despite its best efforts to avoid killing civilians – Israel gains nothing from such “collateral damage” and loses much-Israeli missiles have killed dozens of innocent children who were deliberately placed in harm’s way by Hamas terrorists.

    Hamas also knew that the media would show the dead Palestinian children around the world and cause outrage to be directed against Israel for causing their deaths. Indeed, it had its camera crews out and ready to film and transmit every gruesome image of every dead Palestinian child. Well not quite every Palestinian child! When a Hamas rocket aimed at Israeli children misfired and killed two Palestinian children, Hamas censored all images of these dead Palestinian children, because they were killed directly by Hamas rockets rather than indirectly by Hamas using them as human shields. That is the way Hamas manipulates the media coverage of its gruesome “dead baby” strategy.

    The media, of course, serves as Hamas’ facilitator. I am not suggesting that the media not show these horrible images, but rather that they should present them with a critical perspective, indicating the actual cause and the real culprit – namely Hamas and its cynical double war crime strategy of targeting Israeli children and hiding behind Palestinian children. A cartoon that is making its way around the internet does a better job of explaining the Hamas strategy than any photograph or video. It shows an Israeli soldier and a Hamas terrorist shooting at each other. The Israeli soldier is standing in front of a baby carriage, protecting the baby. The Hamas terrorist is firing from behind a baby carriage, using the baby as a shield. That is the reality.

    The international community – most especially the United Nations, which has done nothing about genocides committed by Muslims – is accusing Israel of “war crimes” for defending its civilians against Hamas war crimes. This too is part of the Hamas strategy which the United Nations facilitates.

    If the media and the international community continue to play into the dirty hands of Hamas terrorists, its terrorism will continue and spread. Why not? It’s a win-win strategy for terrorists and a lose-lose strategy for democracies. Hamas knows that by attacking Israeli civilians, they can secure one of two results: Israel will do nothing and Hamas will succeed in killing Israeli children; or Israel will respond and inevitably kill some Palestinian children, thereby provoking the ire of the media, the international community and ultimately decent people all around the world who are revolted by the cynically manipulated images of dead children.

    The Hamas strategy may now be spreading to Lebanon where twice in several days, rockets have targeted Israeli civilian areas. Hezbollah, which denies responsibility for these rockets, actually originated this strategy in the summer of 2006, when it provoked Israel into trying to defend its citizens and its kidnapped soldiers. Other nations in the world are susceptible to similar strategies, as the United States learned, when it went after the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and discovered that they too use civilians as human shields.

    Unless this “dead baby” strategy is exposed and rejected in the marketplace of morality, it’s coming to a theater (or school or hospital) near you.

    Palestinian Terrorists on the Payroll
    British taxpayers are helping to pay the salaries of jailed bomb makers.
    Oct. 25, 2012

    Why do politicians always resign over the minor things, while getting away with the major ones? Swear at a policeman, for instance, and after a month of harrying from the media and your political opponents, you will finally stand down. Waste millions of pounds on a taxpayer-funded self-aggrandizement scheme, on the other hand, and you will not only get away with it, but be praised. Such is the case with Andrew Mitchell, former minister at the U.K. Department for International Development (DfID) and now—after an angry altercation with a Downing Street policeman—former chief whip.

    Swearing at a policeman is bad. But far worse is what Mr. Mitchell presided over at DfID and what his former colleague Alan Duncan—who still has his job—allows to go on, even now.

    A report by Palestinian Media Watch recently revealed that British taxpayers have been paying salaries to terrorists. It revealed that £3 million every month is paid by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in salaries to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The salaries come from the PA’s general budget. That “general budget” is kindly provided by the U.K., among other EU countries.

    Many British taxpayers, struggling to pay their family’s way through a recession, might rightly wonder why their money is going to pay as much as £2,000 a month to people serving the longest sentences—those who have targeted Israeli buses and other civilian targets with suicide bombers, for instance. That is higher than the average wage in nearly all of Britain. You might be forgiven for wondering, if you were a struggling teaching assistant in the North of England, why failing to tick “suicide bomber” on your careers form should have left you so much worse off than a terrorist in the Middle East.

    Fortunately such people can be consoled by the limitless complacency of the international development minister. For after the facts about the DfID budget were revealed, Alan Duncan rejected them in the following tones: “If these claims were true, this would be a matter of very serious concern for me and the Department.”

    “However,” Mr. Duncan said, “I am pleased to reassure you that we have investigated the matter fully and can confirm that the allegations in Palestinian Media Watch’s report are both inaccurate and misleading.” The payments were not in fact salaries, he claimed, but rather “social assistance programs to provide welfare payments.”

    How nice it must be to be Mr. Duncan. So clever, so satisfied and so wrong. For this week it became clear quite how little Mr. Duncan knows or cares about the uses to which he puts our taxpayers’ money.

    It is possible of course that on this occasion he does not care. When it comes to the Middle East, Mr. Duncan’s views are well-known. As well as being fond of some of the ropier regimes in the region, he has expressed a long-held disdain for the region’s only truly free state.

    Just a year ago Mr. Duncan dragged his department into a row when its website posted a video of him divesting himself of some of his franker opinions. Standing beside Israel’s security fence—built, successfully, to stop a spate of suicide bombing—Mr. Duncan described the fence as a “land grab,” claimed that Israelis deliberately stole water from Palestinians, and said that the land in question did not belong to the Jewish state. The latter point was spat out by Mr. Duncan with such ferocity—the video has since been removed—as to make it perfectly clear this was something Mr. Duncan felt, as well as thought.

    But perhaps one should be more generous and assume that Mr. Duncan simply had not known what he was talking about on the subject of taxpayers’ money or the security fence. DfID spends around £86 million each year in the Palestinian areas. Around £30 million of this goes to the PA’s general budget, from which the terrorists receive their salaries. And PMW’s latest report provides exactly the evidence Mr. Duncan said did not exist. The PA itself refers to the payments to prisoners not as “welfare payments,” as Mr. Duncan would have it, but as a “monthly salary.”

    In addition, there is no possibility that the salary reflects the prisoner’s family’s welfare needs because the payments bear no relation to either the prisoner’s marital status or social welfare situation. What they do relate to is the length of the sentence, with those convicted and sentenced for the worst crimes receiving the highest payments.

    So there the situation lies. If there is one thing we can be fairly sure of, it is that Mr. Duncan will suffer little or no political inconvenience either for the liberality with which he distorts the facts or that with which he distributes taxpayers’ money. A slip of the tongue might lead to disgrace. A slip of the pen does not, even if it occurs over the nation’s checkbook.

    The thinking behind the increase in Britain’s overseas aid budget during a time of recession seemed to be something like this: that the developing world would learn to love Britain if we gave them more money. Unlike that awful old-fashioned hard power (itself going through debilitating cuts) this soft power seemed likely to actually enhance Britain’s standing in the world.

    There are plenty of reasons to doubt that. But what a curious situation we then find ourselves in. For at the exact same time as Britain is drawing down its defense spending, and as the government is eviscerating the armed forces it still relies on, it is increasing the spending on salaries for terrorists and others who attack our allies.

    I suppose we shall have to wait for Mr. Duncan to have a petulant run-in with a policeman before his own career suffers in any way.

  9. a new report on last summer’s conflict written by five American Generals and commissioned by JINSA.

    commissioned by The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
    Five American Generals? That’ll be impartial then.

    So happy that the BBC will continue to present state of the art reporting from around the world … despite the constant sniping from the neurotic BBCWatch. 🙂

    • Is the British General, Richard Kemp, also impartial, do you believe? Why is it that, when ANY military analysis is made of Israel’s conduct in the 2014 Gaza conflict, by western military strategists who, due to their life’ s work and training, are intimately aware of the Laws of Armed Conflict, and are more privileged in their access to IDF records than the general public worldwide, due to their capacity as military allies, the conclusion is that Israel did so much to try to avoid civilian casualties, the hampered their own effectiveness by going beyond the actual requirements of the LOAC: but then, ignorant little scrotes such as yourself, who know sweet FA about LOAC, or much else pertinent to the matter, apparently clutch at the flimsiest of straws to try to convince themselves, and others, that their own views, based purely on emotion and hatred of Israel, must still be the correct ones, however stupid that conclusion clearly is?

Comments are closed.