October 31, 2023
New York, NY, October 31, 2023 – American Jewish Committee (AJC), the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, today categorically rejected a UN panel’s recent statement asserting a false equivalence between the horrific acts of terrorism targeting civilians committed by Hamas on and since October 7 and Israel’s defensive response to those acts in Gaza, as well as its determination that Israel’s use of military force to respond to Hamas’s attack was illegitimate.
The UN Commission of Inquiry (COI), established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2021, asserted in a press release issued on October 27 that “[a]ll parties to the conflict in Israel and Gaza have shown reckless disregard for civilian life.” The COI also said that Israel’s use of military force in Gaza following Hamas’s October 7 attacks was not justified because Israel is an occupying power that exercises control in Gaza, and, therefore, the right to self-defense enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter is inapplicable there.
“While the COI’s latest statement is certainly ‘reckless,’ this word does not describe the behavior of either Israel or Hamas in Gaza. Hamas committed acts of terrorism on October 7, which the COI once again failed to recognize. Its actions were not ‘reckless’ – they were deliberately calculated to inflict immense and terrible pain, suffering, and fear on civilians in Israel as part of the group’s effort to destroy the Jewish state. Since October 7, Hamas has continued to purposely – not ‘recklessly’ – carry out its campaign against Israel from locations that have been selected to place Palestinian civilians directly in the line of fire, while using resources that Palestinian civilians badly need. Neither has Israel’s behavior in Gaza been ‘reckless.’ It has repeatedly expressed its intention to minimize harm to civilians while taking actions necessary to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas to its citizens, in accordance with international law,” said AJC Director of Diplomatic Affairs Aaron Jacob.
The COI made its statement in response to the adoption by the UN General Assembly on Friday of a resolution on the war in Gaza that similarly failed to refer to Hamas’s brutal attacks as amounting to terrorism or to affirm Israel’s inherent right of self-defense. Its conclusion that Israel occupies Gaza cites a 2004 decision of the International Court of Justice to this effect. Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005 and has had no military or civilian presence there since.
“The COI’s willingness to perpetuate obvious fictions – that the intentions of Israel and Hamas toward civilians are indistinguishable when one is a law-abiding democracy responding to unprovoked attacks against its citizens and the other is a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of a UN member state; and that Israel ‘exercises control’ over a place where no Jew has resided for well over a decade – is simply outrageous,” said Jacob. “AJC reiterates its longstanding opposition to this deeply flawed UN mechanism, the conclusions of which are not merely biased, but utterly divorced from reality.”
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit www.ajc.org.