Major-General Michael D. Jones, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command, addressed the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of UN Watch, in the debate on the Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza conflict. Geneva, June 29, 2015.
My name is Mike Jones, a retired U.S. Army general officer who, with four other retired U.S. generals, conducted a JINSA-sponsored, but independent, study of the 2014 Gaza conflict. We conducted research, and interviewed Israeli, UN, and Palestinian Authority officials. Our focus was what the U.S. should learn from the conflict, but our report is relevant to the Council.
I am pleased your report acknowledged that all combatants are required to abide by the law, and that Hamas’ and other groups’ indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel was unlawful.
However, it is disappointing that the report fails to condemn these groups for unlawfully failing to distinguish themselves as combatants, as well as purposefully co-locating amongst civilians, knowingly placing them at risk, with absolutely no military necessity to do so.
I am also disappointed that the report, while acknowledging that lawful targeting is a balance between the military necessity and the known risk to civilians, came to conclusions without sufficient information to make a judgment. Specifically, they condemn the IDF for engagements without any information on the IDF’s objectives, military necessity, or known information on risk.
Our team did have access to much of that information. We concluded that the IDF consistently applied lawful criteria in their targeting. Conversely, we concluded that based on verifiable information on the launch sites, weapons and ammunition storage, command locations, and the trajectories of fired weapons, that Hamas habitually violated the law by attacking civilian targets with no military value, and deliberately placing Gazans at risk without military necessity.
It is also disappointing that none of the Commissioners had military experience, nor did they use the studies that we and other military professionals who do have experience in conducting lawful combat operations have published.
Thank you Mr. President.
The following submissions by United Nations Watch have been published by the UN as official documents of the 48th session of the Human Rights Council: