Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report accusing Israel of war crimes at the Gaza border “absurd and dishonest.”
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry submitted a report to the UNHRC on March 18 concluding that Israel had violated international law for using “lethal force” against civilian protester during the Gaza border riots.
In a conference call later in the day with reporters organized by the Jewish Institute for National Security in America (JINSA), Cruz said that the report failed to acknowledge the fact “that both Hamas and Hezbollah use human shields as a tactic.
“They intend to exploit those human shields for when they are injured or killed when Israel defends itself,” Cruz said, arguing that Hamas knows that the media and the “useful idiots” at the United Nations will use the civilian deaths to attack Israel.
Cruz highlighted a May 17 New York Times headline that read, “‘Israel kills dozens at Gaza border as US embassy opens in Jerusalem” as an example of Hamas exploiting civilian deaths to create anti-Israel propaganda.
“The actual fact is that there were riots and violent attacks at Israel’s borders,” Cruz said, pointing out that the rioters, many of whom were Hamas terrorists, threw grenades, burning tires, and fiery kites in attempt to terrorize Israeli border towns. Hamas even acknowledged that they were behind these violent acts, Cruz said.
“And yet in the New York Times coverage, it was not acknowledged,” Cruz said.
Cruz also noted an instance in 2014 where Hamas used the basement of a Gaza hospital as their headquarters for operations, putting the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “in an impossible situation” of choosing between letting Hamas operate there and continue terrorizing Israelis or risk civilian deaths by attacking the hospital that are then used by the media and the United Nations “to demonize and attack Israel.”
The report, Cruz contended, is yet another example of how “the United Nations has long been a reservoir of deep anti-Israel animus.” He said that the United States “has real skin in this game because the enemies of Israel are also the enemies of America” and that media coverage and the U.N. failing to acknowledge Hamas’ use of human shields increases the likelihood that the same strategy could be used against American troops. Cruz added that the U.S. receives “immense benefits” from Israel’s military and intelligence in fighting against those enemies.
“Truth is powerful,” Cruz said. “There is a reason why New York Times and other media outlets disseminate propaganda and lie.”
“I believe truth is stronger than lies and light is stronger than darkness,” Cruz said.
Following Cruz on the call was South Texas College of Law Professor Geoffrey Corn, who argued that the UNHRC report was based on two premises: That Hamas terrorists participating in the riots still counted as “civilians” and that the riots only constituted as an “imminent threat” if rioters breached the border. Corn said that it would be “very difficult” for the IDF “to let that border be breached and then try and close the breach.”
“The IDF didn’t take the position that every breach of the fence qualified as an imminent threat, but there must have been moments” where it concluded otherwise,” Corn said.
He added that use of force against an enemy like Hamas must be “robust” as opposed to a civilian.
Following Corn was retired U.S. Commander John Bird, who praised the IDF for thoroughly practicing the rules of engagement to minimize civilian deaths and that they were “policing themselves” on the matter, even going to outside legal avenues if they were concerned that mistakes were made. He also argued that the IDF “saved more lives” by preventing Hamas terrorists from breaching the border and attacking Israeli border towns.
“I think the U.N. played into the Hamas strategy of this hybrid warfare… that Israelis are on the wrong side of international law,” Bird said.