JERUSALEM—A former commander of the German army and 10 other former generals and officials from four continents who investigated the human rights aspect of last summer’s war in Gaza have concluded that Israel scrupulously adhered to the laws of war.
Their statement was released over the weekend, in anticipation of the release by the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) of a report, which is expected to accuse Israel of war crimes in the conflict.
The foreign group was led by Gen. Klaus Naumann, former chief of staff of the Bundeswehr and former chairman of NATO’s Military Committee. The panel conducted a week-long fact-finding visit to Israel last month at the initiative of a pro-Israel group.
“Each of our own armies is committed to protecting civilian life during combat,” the report, which was submitted to the UNHRC, said. “None of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the IDF last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population in such circumstances. Israel not only met international standards in observing the laws of armed conflict but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.”
Acknowledging that some Palestinian deaths were caused by Israeli errors of judgment, the panel of generals declared that Palestinian militants “as the aggressors and the users of human shields” were responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths in Gaza.
Israel regards the UNHRC, which has frequently targeted Israel, as “obsessively” hostile and has refused to cooperate with its current investigation.
In a preemptive move, the Israeli government published its own report on the war Sunday, which noted that 4,000 of the 4,500 rockets and mortar shells fired by Hamas and other militant groups from Gaza during the 50 days of fighting were aimed at civilian targets. Hundreds of these rounds, it said, were fired from civilian compounds containing schools, mosques, and UN facilities.
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