June 15, 2006

Strange silence from Human Rights Watch

There's a letter from a Lyn Julius in today's Guardian, complaining about Human Rights Watch's take on the Gaza beach bombing:
Mark Garlasco of Human Rights Watch casts doubt on Israel's contention that it was not responsible for the seven tragic Palestinian beach deaths. His expertise has never been verified independently. HRW is a highly politicised body in the forefront of a one-sided campaign to demonise Israel, while remaining strangely silent on Palestinian attacks. Garlasco is the author of HRW's publication, Razing Rafah, which included many unverifiable claims.

Garlasco does not explain the discrepancies between his claims and the IDF data, or the impact of the Palestinian efforts to alter the evidence at the scene of this incident. Why should HRW's version be more credible than the IDF's?
Lyn Julius
I'll leave it to HRW to defend its own integrity as far as Mark Garlasco goes. But look at the report on the Gaza beach bombing. Headed Israel: Investigate Gaza Beach Killings and sub-titled Artillery Strike Probably Killed Palestinian Family, the article contains this passage which belies Lyn Julius's claim about HRW "remaining strangely silent on Palestinian attacks."
The attack at the beach comes amidst an intensified Israeli response to Qassam rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups operating in the area. Human Rights Watch, which is also investigating the use of Qassams against Israeli civilians, has previously called on Palestinian armed groups to cease such unlawful attacks. The Qassam attacks violate international law because they fail to discriminate between military targets and civilians. Qassam rockets are highly imprecise, homemade weapons that are incapable of being targeted at specific objects. 
Follow the link in the passage and you'll find the article headed Hamas Must End Attacks Against Civilians and sub-titled Cease Use of Qassam Rockets. It contains the following passage:
Hamas mortar shells and Qassam rockets killed three civilian workers (two Palestinian and one Chinese) and injured an Israeli woman and her two children in an attack that struck a packing plant in the Israeli settlement of Ganei Tal in Gaza and the Israeli town of Sderot yesterday. Both Israeli and Palestinian analysts suspect that Hamas’s continued use of mortar and Qassam attacks against civilians is an expression of the group’s displeasure at the cancellation of local election results in localities that favored Hamas and the recent postponement of the Palestinian Legislative Council elections.

“Hamas has repeatedly failed to respect a fundamental rule of international humanitarian law by attacking civilians and civilian objects,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. “It is unacceptable for Hamas to express its unhappiness with the political situation by firing on civilians.”
Now that truly is "strangely silent."

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