New York Times reporters Michael Crowley and Edward Wong pressured the United States government to declare Israel guilty of war crimes in Wednesday’s lead story, “Israelis Invoking Toll of U.S. Wars as Moral Shield.”
Falluja. Mosul. Copenhagen. Hiroshima.
Facing global criticism over a bloody military campaign in Gaza that has killed thousands of civilians, Israeli officials have turned to history in their defense. And the names of several infamous sites of death and destruction have been on their lips.
….officials have cited past Western military actions in urban areas dating from World War II to the post-9/11 wars against terrorism. Their goal is to help justify a campaign against Hamas that is claiming thousands of Palestinian lives.
The paper ran through the civilian fatalities at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Falluja and Mosul in Iraq.
Israel insists that it is trying to limit civilian casualties in a war against a terrorist enemy, which began when Hamas killed 1,400 people on Oct. 7 in southern Israel, most of them civilians.
Human rights advocates and many governments in Europe and the Middle East scoff at that. They accuse Israel of committing war crimes in the weeks of airstrikes that have leveled entire city blocks in Gaza, destroying schools, mosques and other seemingly nonmilitary targets.
Israeli officials say they have no choice: Hamas fighters, numbering perhaps 30,000 by Israeli estimates, embed within Gaza’s population of 2.2 million and store weapons in or under civilian sites, daring Israel to launch strikes that fuel outrage. The officials also say Hamas is clearly guilty of intentionally murdering Israeli civilians.
"Scoffing" at the idea that Israel is trying to limit civilian casualties -- unlike their enemies -- shows the tilt of the "human rights" leftists. The reporters tried hard to nudge Israel into ceasefire.
“Israel dropping several large bombs in the middle of a densely populated refugee camp was completely and predictably going to lead to a significant and disproportionate loss of civilian life and therefore a war crime,” Kenneth Roth, the former executive director of Human Rights Watch and a visiting professor at Princeton University, wrote online.
Israeli officials say they have been falsely accused of violations before. In 2009, a United Nations panel investigated an Israeli invasion of Gaza that year and issued a report concluding that Israel and Hamas had both committed war crimes -- and that Israel had waged “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”
The leader of that panel, the South African jurist Richard Goldstone, later publicly disowned some of its central conclusions about Israel….
Yet the Times found Goldstone credible when his report came out in 2009, and accused Israel of cynical machinations even after Goldstone recanted in 2011. In an op-ed for the Washington Post (rejected by the Times), Goldstone admitted the data vindicated Israel’s concerns.
The vast scale of Israeli strikes -- along with statements from Israeli military officials saying their operational intent is for damage and not precision -- has left many doubters worldwide. And Israeli leaders say the goal for the campaign in Gaza is to eradicate Hamas, an open-ended aim that some Biden administration officials privately criticize.
While Mr. Blinken has said Israel should do all it can to minimize civilian casualties, the department has so far refrained from looking into any possible war crimes by Israel.