“It pains me greatly to see words and actions from the United Nations that can only provoke further violence and loss of life. The United Nations Human Rights Council report on last summer’s conflict in Gaza … will do just that,” wrote Col. Richard Kemp in an op-ed for the New York Times.
He said that an immediate and unconditional lifting of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which the report called for, would “undoubtedly lead to further bloodshed in both Israel and Gaza.”
Kemp ridiculed the commission’s “lack of understanding of warfare,” noting that its head, former New York supreme court justice Mary McGowan Davis, had told him that the U.N. panel had no military expertise.
The former British commander wondered why the commission refused to incorporate a 242-page report commissioned by Israel after it declined to cooperate with the U.N. commission, which included findings by 11 senior military officials from seven nations, including Kemp and Chairman of the Unites States Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. That report said Israel’s actions were “lawful” and “legitimate” and rejected claims the IDF intentionally targeted civilians.
Kemp also noted several internal contradictions in the U.N. report, such as acknowledging that Israel Defense Forces tactics saved lives while indicting “‘decision makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel’ of a policy of deliberately killing civilians.”
He accused the U.N. commission of endorsing “Hamas’s anti-Israel narrative.”
Kemp has said he was in Israel for much of the 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last summer.
“During these periods I met, was briefed by and questioned Israeli political leaders, senior officials and Israel Defence Force (IDF) soldiers from general officer down to private soldier,” he wrote in the testimony submitted to the UNHRC. “I spent a considerable amount of this time close to the Gaza border where I also met, was briefed by, questioned and observed many IDF officers and soldiers immediately before and after they had been in combat.”
“In my opinion the actions taken by the IDF were necessary to defend the people of Israel from the ongoing, intensive and lethal attacks by Hamas and other groups in Gaza,” he wrote.
Critics of the report are concerned that the testimonials it presents could be used against Israel or Israeli political and military officials at the International Criminal Court, which the Palestinians joined just a few months ago.