As Israeli civilians ran to take cover from hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza, raining down in a barrage of Israel’s southern and central towns and cities, various United Nations bodies and officials were releasing statements in response to the escalating situation.
Unfortunately, much of what was said demonstrates the UN’s one-sided and biased approach towards Israel and a serious disconnect from the reality of an unprecedented number of rockets and the Palestinian incitement to violence that preceded the barrage.
Secretary-General Releases Evenhanded But Amorally Equivalent Statement
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attempted to be evenhanded, saying he was deeply saddened to learn of increasingly large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and of Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza.
However, he called out only one side by name, saying Israel’s security forces “must exercise maximum restraint and calibrate their use of force,” adding “The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli population centers is unacceptable.”
Why did the Secretary-General not call out the parties firing rockets? Why not hold Hamas and other terrorist organizations responsible for their actions? While civilian casualties in Gaza are tragic, the UN has repeatedly failed to acknowledge Hamas’ deliberate strategy of launching rockets from within civilian areas, inviting an Israeli response and putting innocent Palestinians at risk.
For years, UN reports ignored the use of human shields by Hamas, incentivizing these terror tactics in the future. The risk posed to the civilian population of Gaza was exacerbated. To truly mitigate harm done to civilians, we should condemn Hamas actions—and the UN's complicity.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) May 12, 2021
Guterres’ evenhandedness ultimately creates an amoral equivalence between the two sides, one of which, Israel, is defending itself and responding to an unprecedented barrage of rockets fired by Gazan terrorists, while the other side seeks to deliberately maim and murder as many Israelis as possible.
Humanitarian Coordinator Pays Lip Service to Rocket Attacks
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a statement from Humanitarian Coordinator Lynn Hastings, “on the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.”
Escalation must stop to avoid more deaths and injuries. The protection of civilians is of paramount importance. Read my full statement: https://t.co/sek29F5X07 #Palestine #Israel pic.twitter.com/daTTJYj9fZ
— Lynn Hastings (@LynnHastings) May 11, 2021
While the statement made repeated references to the situation in Gaza, only one sentence out of the five paragraphs could possibly be interpreted as calling out Palestinian violations of human rights. But even this is presented in an abstract fashion: “Rockets are indiscriminate by nature and as such violate international law.” Yet again, no attribution of responsibility for the aforementioned rockets.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Accuses Israel of Using Force Against Innocent Protesters
In a press briefing, Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least referred to “Palestinian armed groups” when addressing the rocket fire. Colville, however, stated:
Israeli Security Forces must allow and ensure the exercise of the right to freedoms of expression, association and assembly. No force should be used against those exercising their rights peacefully. When use of force is necessary, it should comply fully with international human rights standards. This includes the prohibition of unnecessary or disproportionate use of force. This has not been the case in the past days.
We condemn ALL violence and ALL incitement to violence.
No force should be used against those exercising their rights peacefully.
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) May 11, 2021
Claiming Israel has been using force against peaceful protesters ignores the reality whereby Israeli police responded to violent Palestinian rioters who had stockpiled slabs, stones and fireworks on the Temple Mount compound in anticipation of provoking a confrontation. Once again, no responsibility for violence is attributed to Palestinian rioters or the incitement from Hamas and other extremists fueling the violence.
Michael Lynk Blames “Israeli Settler Organizations”
The recent scenes of Israeli police and security forces attacking large crowds of Palestinian residents and worshipers is only intensifying a deeply inflammatory atmosphere in the City. A militarized response to civilian protests against discriminatory practices only deepens social divisions.
For Lynk, who has a history of anti-Israel bias, Palestinian rioters are simply “residents” and “worshippers.” This wilful blindness to Palestinian violence and terrorism goes as far as ignoring altogether the rocket attacks from Gaza even though the press release was issued as those rockets were being fired.
Instead, according to Lynk, “The immediate source of the current tensions in East Jerusalem are the actions of Israeli settler organizations, whose stated aim is to turn Palestinian neighborhoods into Jewish neighborhoods.”
Mideast Peace Envoy’s Neutrality Questioned
As for the new UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland, his tweet calling for an end to hostilities brings his neutrality into question when he expresses his concern for the people of Gaza while ignoring Israelis under fire.
Sir, you are no longer Norway’s envoy to the Palestinians, you are the U.N. envoy for Mideast peace. If you speak of “the cost of war in Gaza” while ignoring 900 war crime rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad at Israeli towns in 36 hours, your neutrality comes into question. https://t.co/yFokwK5Bp0
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) May 12, 2021
* * *
Ultimately, the UN system and its officials appear to be disconnected from the reality that millions of Israelis face under rocket bombardment. The rockets rather than the terrorists who launch them are called out, while Israel is blamed as the trigger for the violence and itself accused of violence against seemingly innocent Palestinians.
It’s time for the to UN hold the Palestinians accountable for their own terrorism and violence aimed at Israeli civilians. It’s time for the UN to stop excusing Palestinian terror as an understandable if not justifiable result of Israeli policies.