Thursday, August 10, 2017

AUDIO: H.R. McMaster Won’t Call Israel’s Conduct ‘Ethical’ in War Against Hamas Terrorists - Breitbart News Network

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AUDIO: H.R. McMaster Won’t Call Israel’s Conduct ‘Ethical’ in War Against Hamas Terrorists

by AARON KLEIN10 Aug 2017
TEL AVIV — In a speech following Israel’s defensive 2014 war against the Hamas terrorist group, embattled White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster sidestepped a question about whether the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted itself in an ethical manner, instead providing what McMaster admitted was a “non-answer.”

The IDF is known to go to extreme lengths to operate ethically and protect civilians when fighting Palestinian jihadists who use civilians as human shields, launch rocket attacks from civilian zones and house their terrorist infrastructures in densely populated civilian areas.
Audio of the speech can be heard here. (McMaster’s Israel comments start at the 56 minute mark).
At a December 4, 2014 speech to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, an audience member asked McMaster a direct question about the ethics of the IDF’s conduct in that year’s war against Hamas and in other wars.
McMaster was asked: “Firstly, would you consider the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] conduct of the recent war and prior wars as a template for the ethical conduct of war?”
Here is a transcript of McMaster’s reply, which he admitted was a “non-answer”:
Okay. So quickly on that, in terms of the IDF actions and how to evaluate them, I think you could evaluate them based on jus ad bellum sort of criteria of proportionality and distinction and so forth. I’m not the best judge of it. I’ve been following it in the media. I can’t really tell. I do know that they’re responding to attacks.
What you’re asking is, was the response proportional? Now, there’s different kinds of proportionality. There’s proportionality in war, and then there’s a broader sort of humanitarian standard that I think, at times, doesn’t apply as a complete transfer over to wartime situations. So that’s kind of a non-answer, sorry, to your first question.
A defender of Israel or even an objective observer would have noted that Israel goes beyond what almost any other country does to protect civilians and that the IDF is one of the most ethical militaries in the world. The IDF operates under the guidelines of international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict, and imposes its own, even stricter codes.
The IDF regularly warns those in civilian areas of incoming attacks with phone calls and text messages even though the terrorist targets will likely also learn about the warning. It employs “roof knocking” – or firing warning shots before any aerial bombing where civilians may be present. If civilians still don’t evacuate, the Israeli army many times makes announcements on loudspeakers. In the 2014 war, the IDF called off numerous military raids because civilians were in the way.
Despite its enormous firepower, the IDF severely restrains itself in order to minimize civilian casualties. To protect Palestinian civilians, the IDF has many times risked the lives of its own soldiers on house-to-house missions and other urban combat instead of using aerial power.

The IDF relates of the 2014 war:
The IDF took various steps to mitigate the risk of harm to civilian objects and the civilian population, including measures not required by the Law of Armed Conflict. Precautionary measures included a multi-layered system of effective advance warnings, sophisticated verification procedures, and the careful choice of means and methods of warfare (including munitions, timing and angle of attack). …
In addition, Israel requires that any means of warfare used during its military operations accord with Israel’s obligations under international law. Thus, for example, high-explosive artillery was required by IDF directives to be used in accordance with the rules of the Law of Armed Conflict. Beyond these requirements, the IDF puts great efforts and resources into minimizing the possibility of harm to civilians that results from the use of such weaponry – for instance, by imposing stringent limitations on the use of certain weapons (including high-explosive artillery) in populated areas.
The 2014 war started after Hamas broke a ceasefire and launched multiple rockets into Israel aimed at civilian neighborhoods. Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005 in hopes that the territory would be used to create a moderate coastal enclave. Instead, Hamas took over and has since utilized Gaza to build an enormous terrorist infrastructure – much of which utilizes civilian zones, including terror tunnels that snake under cities. Palestinian jihadist groups, including Hamas, have used Gaza to stage attacks against Israeli cities.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
This article was written with additional research by Joshua Klein.