(CNSNews.com) – A retired British Army officer accused the U.N. Human Rights Council Monday of allowing itself “to become a tool of Hamas’ murderous strategy,” a strategy which he said sought to maximize the number of Palestinian casualties during last year’s Gaza conflict in order to stoke international condemnation against Israel.
“By unjustly condemning Israel, by refusing to condemn Hamas’ repeated and unprovoked aggression, this council has consistently validated and encouraged Hamas’ tactics,” Col. Richard Kemp told the Geneva-based HRC.
Representatives of member-states, including some of Israel’s most vociferous foes, sat and listened as Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, slammed an HRC-mandated report examining last summer’s 50-day conflict – and the HRC itself.
The report accuses Israel and “Palestinian armed groups” of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, some of which it said could amount to war crimes.
Kemp, who was present as an observer during the conflict, told the council that Hamas “did more to deliberately and systematically inflict death, suffering and destruction on its own civilian population, including its children, than any other terrorist group in history.”
“Hamas deliberately positioned its fighters and weapons in civilian areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack these targets, which were a clear and present threat to the lives of Israel’s own civilian population,” he said.
“While the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] made efforts, unprecedented in any other army and exceeding the requirements of the laws of war, to save Palestinian civilian lives – including warning them to leave target zones – Hamas forced them to remain in those areas.”
Kemp, whose 30-year military career included senior intelligence and counter-terrorism roles, said that ensuring a high number of Palestinian fatalities was the cornerstone of Hamas’ strategy.
“Unable to defeat Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among their own people in order to bring international condemnation against Israel, especially from the United Nations.”
“By denying this truth, and by refusing to admit the manifest reality that the conflict in Gaza was caused by Hamas’ war of aggression against Israel, this report faithfully reiterates Hamas’ own false narrative,” Kemp said. “This council has for too long allowed itself to become a tool of Hamas’ murderous strategy.”
Exceeding his two-minute time limit, Kemp was interrupted and cut off as he concluded.
According to his prepared remarks, he had intended to finish by urging the HRC to reject the report, saying that failure to do so would amount to support for Hamas terrorism, and would “result in further rounds of violence in Gaza and Israel.”
Israel’s critics pile on
Israel launched its offensive in response to heavy rocket fire from Hamas and other groups in Gaza. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed during the fighting, with IDF experts saying that militants from Hamas or other terror factions accounted for at least 44 percent of the final Palestinian death toll.
Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians inside Israel were killed.
During Monday’s HRC session examining the Gaza report, representatives of dozens of countries condemned Israel, with many alluding to the International Criminal Court, which launched a preliminary examination last January, and last week received documentation from the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) alleging Israeli war crimes.
Among those slamming Israel was a representative of Syria’s Assad regime, who additionally accused the U.S. and allies of providing Israel with “impunity,” thereby allowing it to intensify its abuses.
Qatar, Hamas’ longstanding ally, said it was wrong to equate the “aggressor,” Israel, with those who exercised their “right to self-defense” against it.
Iran’s delegate was unhappy that the report had not gone further in accusing Israel of crimes against humanity, or been more prescriptive in calling for the involvement of an international court.
Venezuela’s envoy likened the IDF to a terrorist organization and accused it of carrying out a “genocidal” offensive.
Israel’s ambassador, Eviatar Manor, did not attend the session. Reports from Jerusalem said the government was considering withdrawing altogether from the HRC, whose skewed focus on Israel has long drawn criticism in Washington.