EU Debate Israel's Defense Right

Israel’s bombing of UN facilities in Gaza has sparked a debate among European Union foreign ministers on whether to condemn the Jewish State.

Avraham Zuroff ,

Minister Livni with Schwarzenberg
Minister Livni with Schwarzenberg
Israel News photo / Flash 90

Israel’s bombing of United Nations buildings during Operation ‘Cast Lead’ has sparked a debate among European Union foreign ministers on whether to condemn the Jewish State.

Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, and Sweden are demanding an international inquiry into alleged violations of international law by both Israel and the Hamas terror group. Yet Germany, Italy, Holland, and Romania are reluctant to challenge Israel for fear of sabotaging the EU’s push for Israel to open the Gaza crossings, according to diplomatic sources.

EU foreign ministers met with Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni last Wednesday in Brussels and are meeting Sunday with the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, the PA, Jordan, and Turkey, in order to evaluate the state of affairs a week after Israel’s ceasefire.
There is a huge difference between a murderer and somebody who kills by mistake.

In response to a question from an Al Arabiya reporter regarding supposed "crimes against humanity" commited by the IDF, Livni rejected the allegations, stating that the IDF operates within the framework of international law.

The Foreign Minister explained that “in any legal system representing the values of each and every state, there is a huge difference between a murderer and somebody who kills by mistake. And this is the moral distinction between Hamas, who keeps these civilians hostage, and our soldiers,” she added.

Human shields
The IDF bombed the UNRWA compound in Gaza on January 15. UN Chief Ban Ki-moon expressed his "fury" with the bombing, demanding a full investigation and explanation of the incident. Three workers were injured in the attack. Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said the bombing was a mistake.

The January 6 bombing of a UN school in Gaza killed children whom Hamas used as human shields. The IDF explained that the army hit the school because Hamas terrorists were firing mortar shells from the immediate vicinity of the building.

Czech Foreign Minister and chair of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers, Karel Schwarzenberg, said that he did not feel that bringing cases of international law violations to the International Criminal Court was necessary, as Israeli prosecution could take steps in their own courts to decide. In addition, he stated that no formal contacts with Hamas should be held until the organization formally renounces terrorism.

Some EU Foreign Ministers, including Finland’s Alexander Stubbs, support a dialog with Hamas.

Livni, however, called upon the EU to “continue to delegitimize Hamas.”

“This is an ongoing war against terror, not against the Palestinians. The only thing needed is an international understanding and coalition against terror, not something that ends with an agreement with them,” she added.

Hamas took over UNRWA
The degree to which UNRWA is worthy of credit as a neutral body has been called into question lately. In a recent article, Middle East expert Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Halevi wrote:

"In recent years a vast amount of information has accumulated regarding the gradual takeover of UNRWA by Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. In elections for the UNRWA employees Association on June 14, 2006, Hamas representatives won a resounding victory...

"One of the striking examples illustrating that UNRWA has become a hospitable organisation for Palestinian terror organisations was unveiled during the attack by the Israeli Air Force that targeted a weapons manufacture workshop in Rafah. Among those killed in the attack was Awad al-Kik (Abu Mohammed), a teacher, educator and UNRWA school principal in Rafah who simultaneously served as the head of Islamic Jihad's engineering and weapons manufacture unit in the southern Gaza strip.

"Al-Kik's activity in the realm of terror was exposed in September 2007, when he escaped an Israeli assassination attempt. Nevertheless, he continued to serve as a teacher, educator and school principal for UNRWA and involved in educating children and youths in summer camps. It is not clear why after his terror activity had been exposed UNRWA refrained from sacking him from any educational and teaching post at its institutions."