Israeli foreign ministry spokesmen have blasted a UN report blaming the IDF for excessive damage to Palestinian and UN installations during the January Operation Cast Lead military conflict in Gaza. The report specifically mentioned damage and casualties sustained to a UN food and supply depot, where tons of rice, sugar and other foodstuffs were being stored, as well as medical supplies. Palestinian schools and other institutions shelled and bombed by the IDF were also mentioned as being targets during the 21 day operation.
Government and IDF spokesmen refuted these claims, saying that eyewitness accounts, as well as ground and aerial photos indicated that Palestinian fighters were either using these facilities to fire at IDF units or were shooting Qassam and other missiles at Israeli cities and settlements from them, as well as store arms and munitions. Due to the intense crowded conditions of these areas, if Palestinians were launching attacks from buildings located next to UN installations, or schools, hospitals and other facilities, it was very difficult to avoid hitting other buildings; as often was the case.
The apparent bias of the report, which appear to disregard Israeli claims that the IDF did not intentionally fire on UN and other high profile locations, indicates that Israel is getting the “short end of the stick” in regards to the UN’s apportionment of blame.
A letter sent by the Israeli government to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted specifically that the IDF did its utmost to coordinate all operations with UN personnel, and worked in close cooperation with UN inspection teams following the end of the fighting. It was noted in the letter that the UN inspection team is not a legal authority, and hence has no right to function in that capacity.
Hamas leaders were specifically pointed out as using violence and intimidation against the Palestinian population to prevent them from telling the truth as to what really happened during this time. This includes that fact that Hamas placed its men and military equipment in close proximity to these installations, in order to make it more difficult for the IDF when attacking Palestinian insurgents; something not mentioned in the U.N. report.
On matter that wasn’t brought up was the fact that foreign reporters were prevented from entering Gaza during the operation, and were forced to set up their news centers on a hill outside the border with Gaza; the hill subsequently being named “the hill of shame.” Undoubtedly, a number of these journalists, and their auxiliary crews, are alive and well today due to this fact. But of course, that’s another issue.