Friday’s emergency UN Human Rights Council debate on the Goldstone Report predictably saw a line-up of the world’s worst abusers condemn democratic Israel for human rights violations. In a heated lynch mob atmosphere, Kuwait slammed Israel for “intentional killing, intentional destruction of civilian objects, intentional scorched-earth policy,” saying Israel “embodied the Agatha Christie novel, ‘Escaped with Murder’.” Pakistan said the “horrors of Israeli occupation continue to haunt the international community’s conscience.” The Arab League said, “We must condemn Israel and force Israel to accept international legitimacy.” Ahmadinejad’s Iran said “the atrocities committed against Palestinians during the aggressions on Gaza should be taken seriously” and followed up by the international community “to put an end to absolute impunity and defiance of the law.”
What the world’s assembled representatives did not expect, however, was the speech that followed (see video and text below), organized by UN Watch. We invited as our speaker a man who repeatedly put his life on the line to defend the democratic world from the murderous Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and the Taleban. The moment he began his first sentence, the room simply fell silent. Judge Goldstone, author of the biased report that prompted Friday’s one-sided condemnation, had refused to hear Col. Kemp’s testimony during his “fact-finding” hearings. But UN Watch made sure that this hero’s voice would be heard — at the U.N., and around the world.
Click to watch video of the dramatic speech that in only a few days has been viewed more than 60,000 times around the globe; carried in full by newspapers around the world, including Canada’s National Post and the Jerusalem Post; by dozens of blogs; and translated into multiple languages.
UN Human Rights Council, 12th Special Session
Debate on Goldstone Report
Geneva, 16 October 2009
IDF Did More to Safeguard Civilians Than Any Army in History of Warfare
Delivered by Col. Richard Kemp
Thank you, Mr. President.
I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.
Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.
Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.
Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.
The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.
The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.
Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.
More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.
Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.
And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.
Thank you, Mr. President.