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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 06:56 AM
Original message
HRW retracts statement about "human shields"
Human Rights Watch Statement on our November 22 Press Release

December 16, 2006 -- We regret that our press release below (OPT: Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks) gave many readers the impression that we were criticizing civilians for engaging in nonviolent resistance. This was not our intention. It is not the policy of the organization to criticize non-violent resistance or any other form of peaceful protest, including civilians defending their homes. Rather, our focus is on the behavior of public officials and military commanders because they have responsibilities under international law to protect civilians.

It has also become clear to us that we erred in assessing the main incident described in the press release. We said that the planned IDF attack on the house of a military commander in the Popular Resistance Committee, Muhammadwail Barud, fell within the purview of the law regulating the conduct of hostilities during armed conflict. We criticized Barud for reportedly urging civilians to assemble near the house in order to prevent the attack, in apparent violation of that law. Our focus was not on the civilians who assembled, their state of mind, or their behavior (such as whether they willingly assembled or not), but on Barud for risking the lives of civilians.

We have since concluded that we were wrong, on the basis of the available evidence, to characterize the IDFs planned destruction of the house as an act of war. If the planned attack against the house a three-story building housing three families - was, in fact, an administrative action by the Israeli government aimed at punishing a militant for his alleged activities, the law regulating the conduct of hostilities during armed conflict would not apply and could not be violated.

An important consideration in this regard is whether the IDF had reason to believe that the house was being used for military purposes at the time of the planned attack. To date, Human Rights Watch has not obtained conclusive evidence as to whether the house was being so used, but eyewitnesses we have been able to speak with, including two journalists on the scene, claim they saw no such evidence. The IDF, moreover, has not responded to our requests to explain what military objective it could have had in targeting not a militant but his home after having ordered it vacated.

We recognize that it is important to view the planned destruction of Baruds house in light of Israels longstanding policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, sharply increased in Gaza since June, of demolishing houses not as legitimate military targets but as a punitive measure. HRW has repeatedly criticized Israel for unlawful demolition of houses.
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msmcghee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:54 AM
Response to Original message
1. Seems like HRW has been getting a lot of things wrong . .
. . lately. And then they justify it by saying that they "talked" to a couple of journalists "on the scene". The journalists are not identified I notice. I am coming to the conclusion that HRW is just a bunch of scam artists.
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newyorican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-09-07 03:32 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. It must be contagious...
The articles states plainly:

To date, Human Rights Watch has not obtained conclusive evidence as to whether the house was being so used, but eyewitnesses we have been able to speak with, including two journalists on the scene, claim they saw no such evidence.

Which is substantially at odds with your incorrect characterization:

And then they justify it by saying that they "talked" to a couple of journalists "on the scene".

1. The article does not use the word "talk", so the use of quotes around it is erroneous.
2. The article states they spoke with eyewitnesses (plural), including two journalists on the scene.
3. Your conclusion, if based on your erroneous characterization, is as flawed as your mis-characterization of the article.

Whether mistaken or purposeful, a gross mis-characterization of the article is not required to disagree with it; however it does undercut your point to engage in such misquoting and misstatements.
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eyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-15-07 05:31 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. And do you think it's common
for Palestinian "militants" using houses for military purposes to do so in such a way that it would be obvious to any eyewitness walking bye? Hint - if that were the case, none of them would last long...
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Tom Joad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:05 PM
Response to Original message
2. It was disgusting that HRW made a statement opposing nonviolent action
and i am glad they cleared this up.
Israel was committing the human rights violation here, not people protecting their neighborhood.
People have a right to resist.
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Shaktimaan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-14-07 08:52 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. Yes, they do, but this action is not a good idea.
I am all for non-violent resistance and I think that the more that the Palestenians utilize it the more successful they will be. But in this particular case I think they are taking advantage of the IDF's practices to limit civilian casualties which is not something we want to do. The only reason that this kind of protest works hinges on the IDF practice of calling the targeted house just before demolition so that anyone inside can leave. The protesters are counting on the goodwill of the IDF here, hoping that they won't stop making those warning calls.

This kind of protest works great when you also aren't running a parallel 'hot' resistance as well. But the practice of purposely putting civilians in front of military establishments is dangerous to their cause and their lives. At the very least, it has the effect of punishing the IDF for taking precautions to avoid civilian deaths. And if a single pilot doesn't notice the protesters until a second too late it will be a humanitarian nightmare. And Israel will take the blame, which I believe is part of the strategy here.

It should also be noted here that if the IDF was as brutal as many of you accuse it of then a strategy like this would:

1) be suicide.
2) not even be possible because most enemies bent on killing you don't call ahead of time to give you a warning.
3) not work anyway because the pilots would not even go there. The IDF would use less expensive, yet more destructive means of razing the house. Like artillery.

I've seen many people here equate the IDF actions in the territories with Palestinian terrorism, implying that there is no moral difference between the two, that both are equally ethically bankrupt. Consider what would happen if Israeli citizens tried this kind of resistance in the face of Palestinian militants. Imagine those militants CALLING to inform Israel where an attack was about to occur as to limit casualties. (That would make the front page of every paper.) Try and imagine America doing that in Iraq or Afghanistan. Do you think NATO forces call the Taliban to tell them when they are going to hit one of their hideouts in Pakistan? Not only does Israel conduct themselves differently than other militaries but their enemies are so sure of it they have actually based a military strategy around exploiting it!

Incidentally, the HRW comment that they weren't able to find evidence of militants using the house from conducting a few spot interviews is pretty insane. The Shin Bet expends huge resources to get intelligence in the territories and judging by how often they are able to target head militants in their cars or on their self-destructing phones (!) they have a pretty good network of reliable sources. No, it isn't perfect. But it is very, very good. And just because HRW wasn't able to uncover any evidence in a few minutes of interviewing whomever happened to be hanging around doesn't really mean much to me regarding the validity of the SB's claim. I mean, come on! Maybe the Shin Bet was right, maybe they were wrong, but I don't think the crack espionage team from HRW is in any position to determine anything one way or the other here.
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breakaleg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
3. Good for them. Although I doubt this will get as much play as the original accusation.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-09-07 03:48 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. That's one of the things I like about HRW...
They display their impartiality and desire to get to the facts of matters when they admit they got something wrong....
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pelsar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-15-07 12:03 AM
Response to Original message
7. In contrast...
Edited on Mon Jan-15-07 12:55 AM by pelsar
sometimes the double standard is simple "screaming so loud" its almost impossible to miss:

haartez Jan 12, Week's End section page B3: title: The Battle Within by Avi Issacharoff

the article is about the the shooting/killing/kidnapping within Gaza, its about fatah members being hospitalized in Ashkelon, its about houses being blown up with families inside (50RPGs being launched at one house), keeping ambulances from reaching the scenes, its about pouring acid on 16yr old kids...

Five Palestinians, all Fatah members, are hospitalized at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center. Four have leg injuries. The fifth is in intensive care, in a coma. The Hamas men who attacked Gharib's house were responsible. The fifth was inside the house at the time. The victims' descriptions resemble those of Third World executions

G., a member of Gharib's family, joined one of the processions of unarmed civilians that was organized in an attempt to create a human barrier between the Hamas gunmen and the house. When the gunmen opened fire at the marchers, wounding dozens, he managed to escape into the surrounded building. "I went in and went upstairs, where everyone was. There were about 50 people there, in two rooms. The firing continued, and after each explosion another part of the wall or the ceiling fell," G. related.

guess HRW and every other journalist and UN official in Gaza kinda missed those events......wonder why? (so much for impartiality)

and its about contrasting cultures and the inability of human rights organizations/journalists/psedo "progressives" to write about it
Who behaves like that? Even the Israelis who arrest a suicide bomber treat him with respect compared to what Hamas did to Gharib."
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