i. a. Deliberately targeting civilians; Using their own civilian population as human shield & Inciting to genocide
1. The rationale of this submission:
We are honored to submit our contribution to this UN Fact-Finding Mission.
The rationale of this submission is twofold: to look into the war crimes Hamas and Hamas leaders have actually committed during, before and after Israel's recent Gaza military operation, and to demand that Hamas be tried for these war crimes as a fully responsible party.
We'll briefly present 11 major war crimes that Hamas has committed, i.a. deliberately targeting Israeli civilian populations, using their own population as human shield and their ongoing incitement to genocide, particularly among children and minors.
A failure to prosecute the Hamas leadership in International Court would lead to their war crimes growingly become normative behavior, and to more of the same humanitarian catastrophes, to more victims of oppression and killings undefended by the UN.
2. The Submitter:
The Submitter of this Memorandum is Take-A-Pen, a fully volunteer international virtual organization operating since 2001 - http://www.takeapen.org/ - watching media and politics for anti-Israel errors, bias and distortions in up to 18 languages, and countering those with facts and figures, in the spirit of seeking the truth and understanding, as a first step towards co-existence, peace and reconciliation, peace for Israel and for the whole region.
3. Nine major Hamas War Crimes as specified in our Letter and Petition to the UN
On 13 January 2009 Take-A-Pen's Chairman sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-Moon demanding: "Hamas Leaders to be brought to trial for War Crimes" for nine major war crimes they have committed, as specified in that letter:
(a) Shooting rockets and grenades purposely on civilian targets in Israel.
(b) Shooting these rockets from within Palestinian civilian compounds such as schools or in close proximity of hospitals or residential buildings.
(c) Storing weapons and ammunition in schools, mosques, public offices and buildings and the sort.
(d) Regularly using their own civilians as human shield; particularly children, often forced to be in the most dangerous spots.
(e) During fighting with the Israeli forces the Hamas fighters, who wore uniforms at the beginning, changed to civilian clothing or IDF uniforms and continued to fight.
(f) Hamas fighters have routinely hid among civilians in hospitals
(g) To the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, Hamas did not provide the most elementary rights of war prisoners, such as information given to the other side and Red Cross visits, rights Israel grants even to convicted Hamas terrorists.
(h) Children and minors were routinely used by Hamas for military tasks, both battle and auxiliary. The Hamas regime has also educated, indoctrinated and trained children and minors to murderous hatred, to will and techniques to kill.
(i) The Hamas leadership embezzled aid money received for the peaceful needs of Gaza's population and used these extensive funds for war efforts; weaponry, military equipment and constructions, and an enormous military build-up.
See the whole Take-A-Pen letter to the UN Secretary-General in APPENDIX A.
Days later this letter was turned also to a global PETITION which seeks endorsement for the above letter to the UN, and was placed for public signatures on the neutral PetitionOnline website at www.PetitionOnline.com/tap12009/ . Within three weeks the petition received 80,000 signatures; private personal endorsements form the whole world, without a penny spent on professional promotion. With the financial might of some anti-Israel NGO-s one million signatures could still be a realistic goal.
Our letter contains certain supporting data and arguments. But full support would need presenting whole libraries of existing material, and we suppose that its acquisition is not our task. We link here only a few pieces in connection with war crimes of using human shields and child abuse [see (d) above]. See this most telling video "Hamas admits it uses and wants to use human shields" (PMW). There are many relevant photos and videos in this Israeli MFA site ‘Hamas Exploitation of Civilians' - as 13Jan2009.
An appalling video shows Hamas gunmen pushing, grabbing and forcing children to serve as human shield - you can notice the indifference to the brutal scene of adults walking by: obviously they are used to it. A search for "human shield" on TakeA-Pen's own website http://www.takeapen.org/ shows 31 items, some very rich in info - see in APPENDIX B.
4. Further War Crimes Hamas has committed
Reflecting to the Petition above, the public brought up to us further Hamas war crimes, of which we cite here only two.
The Hamas regime committed unprovoked one-sided aggressions and acts of war against Israel for three full years daily, shelling and attacking with rockets Israel's civilian population. After the full evacuation of all Israeli military and civilian presence from Gaza there were not even the slightest pretexts for such aggressions.
Another war crime has been the terror and murders Hamas regularly commits in order to oppress its opponents and "to discipline" citizens in Gaza. PA sources spoke about one hundred Fatah and other civilian Hamas opponents murdered by Hamas gunmen shortly after Israel left Gaza in January, "in revenge", without any legal formalities. Two short videos, one of them from the PA, show Hamas torturing and murdering fellow Palestinians, in APPENDIX D.
5. About the trustworthiness of information the Mission may acquire
A remarkable asymmetry - All are and should be equal in front of the Law - and so it has to be also in this case for the two sides, for the people on the two sides of the conflict.
However we'd like to point out an important asymmetry between the trustworthiness of information, data and testimonies received from the two sides: one a democracy with full freedom of speech and public criticism at its best, the other a violent tyranny where real and suspected opponents are threatened and not once physically eliminated.
On the one hand a democracy where full freedom of speech prevails, and all official statements are scrutinized by one of the world's most self-critical media and independent legal system, and on the other hand a violent tyranny where political enemies and suspected collaborators are tortured and frequently killed by street-lynch, hung on lamp-posts or thrown from rooftops alive - all these unbelievable atrocities are documented by testimonies and videos.
Deliberate hiding or falsification of evidence can be done without criticism in the latter side only. An example: after Hamas announced that it lost 188 of its fighters on the first two days of the Israeli attack, they changed tactics and spread the word that revealing names or photos of fallen Hamas gunmen would be a crime punishable by death. This ban on true info was necessary to spread their deceitful figures later about high civilian casualties. On the other hand Israel, hesitant, scrupulous and self-critical as only true democracies can be, was rather late to publish its findings about 1166 killed in Gaza, of whom 709 were known Hamas or Islamic Jihad military operatives, about 200 were unidentified young males and about 250 civilians. Tragic as it is, this is a very low civilian casualty rate relative to a side which regularly uses human shields and seeks to provoke civilian casualties. (See also at end of this Chapter 5, and in APPENDIX E)
To equally credit data and testimonies born so differently in the two sides would be a big mistake and would serve the unscrupulous side. Even more obvious is that most witnesses against Hamas are simply missing - they would never speak out in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Intimidation - An important legal precedent -
An important legal precedent of such distinction is in the Paris Court of Appeals' decision on 21 May 2008, in the case of France-2 state television vs. Philippe Karsenty, whether France 2's 2000 Muhammed Al-Durra video can be called a "fraudulous media fabrication" and a "totally staged fake". The Court decided against France 2, and among its many arguments was the limited trustworthiness of the Palestinian cameraman and other witnesses living in Hamas-ruled Gaza, based on the intimidating environment prevailing there. You can contact the presiding Judge Mme Laurence Trébucq for further information, surely easier than we could do.
Also worth mentioning in the context of trustworthiness is ‘Pallywood".
International media have reported that Judge Goldstone had expressed admiration for the Palestinians' active attitude toward the probe and that their most willing cooperation would be noted in the Mission's report. May we respectfully note that those who follow Palestinian propaganda for years have never complained about Palestinian unwillingness to tell their case, but did complain sometimes the other way around, because the Palestinian side presented only too willingly plenty of dubious stories and fake evidence - as if facts.
Manufacturing fake evidence like staged videos of alleged war scenes and presenting them as news have reached industrial sizes in Gaza: Pallywood news have been played by Palestinian armed and unarmed actors instructed by a director and filmed by a crew. Read the article "Pallywood arrived at Gaza too" in APPENDIX C. It contains a false Gaza photo ‘evidence' and also the address of one of the well-documented videos about how ‘Pallywood' operates made by Boston historian Richard Landes.
UN / UNRWA sources -
Sadly, it is clear that UN and in particular UNRWA sources in Gaza should not be automatically accepted as if reliable neutral sources.
Foreign UNRWA employees are not necessarily more reliable; we all can recall the sensational UN announcements in January on all major TV-s on earth that Israeli bombardment killed 44 civilians in the Jabaliya UN school building, where they took shelter - to learn much later only that not a single (!) civilian died in that school building. Tragically enough, 12 civilians died in the street adjacent to the school, from where Hamas fired rockets - obviously in order to draw fire at the school building - and to where the IDF returned fire. Unfortunately these facts learned later are known only to those few who really want to know. During a recent interview with Judge Goldstone on Al-Jazeera the libelous and untrue UNRWA text about ‘44 civilians killed by Israel in the UN school' was screened along the whole in-depth interview - and Judge Goldstone's mere presence on the screen lent it some undeserved credit. The UNRWA has never issued a proper apology and correction of its grave mistake. Their credibility is limited.
IDF - the Israeli Defense Forces -
As we know Israel has chosen to remain absent from this UN investigation. We'd consider however making a further attempt to involve at least the Israeli Defense Forces, as a close source of information. Past experience shows them as a reliable source.
We remind in this context the alleged "Jenin massacre" in April 2002, when Palestinian Minister of Truth then, Mr Saeb Erekat spoke of an "Israeli massacre of 3000 Palestinian civilians", to decrease his figure three days later to 500 civilians "only". The world media led by the BBC News unscrupulously quoted Erekat and ridiculed the IDF when it announced that there were 52 Palestinian victims in Jenin, most of them young males in arms. An UN special committee published its findings four months later, in August, only to justify the IDF figures to the letter.
So, the IDF could be a very useful source of information for your work. We, Take-A-Pen, would be ready to make a dedicated attempt to mediate to this effect.
Trustworthiness of Palestinian civilian casualty figures in Operation ‘Cast Lead' -
One of the most loaded discrepancies between Israeli and Hamas figures was the one about Palestinian civilian casualties. Without detailed discussion I am attaching an article of January 26 on YNet: "IDF: Only 250 of Gaza fatalities were civilians" (APPENDIX ‘E') presenting the IDF information available at that time - although there were more complete data released by the IDF later in April. The subtitle is "Senior military sources say recent findings indicate at least 700 of those killed in Gaza offensive were gunmen. Palestinians claim only 300 armed men killed". Watch the insert about Human Right groups demanding an investigation. This vivid public criticism helps to maintain trustworthiness.(You may want to see also: http://www.nowpublic.com/world/palestinian-ngo-lies-about-civilian-casualties-gaza )
6. Take-A-Pen's decision to submit - in spite of doubts
TakeAPen decided to submit this memorandum, in spite of the doubts we used to have about the impartiality of the UN Human Rights Council and its present fact-finding mission. Beyond the known consistent anti-Israel bias of the Council in the past and the totally one-sided and prejudicial original wording of the terms of reference for this Fact-finding Mission, the selection of the honorable members of the Mission for this specific task also raised questions.
Would the Mission be able, in its present composition, study Israel's deeds without prejudice, and investigate independently crimes what the Palestinian and Islamic sides of the conflict committed? How could a professor be selected to this Mission after publishing extremely one-sided judgments regarding the very case in question; without proper time and effort spent for bilateral fact-finding before? Isn't such a nomination somewhat incompatible, at least without a clear full public retraction of earlier partisan declarations? - this would be still in place.
We put these doubts aside and in this last minute we decided to submit. We hope, wish and trust that your Mission and all its members will grow far above past setbacks and up to your greatly important and very difficult task. We'll watch this process supportively and closely.
We sincerely hope that you will find our memorandum useful for your work. We expect that you'll thoroughly investigate the information contained here and that it will be reflected in your final report. We wish you success in this mission.