By John Podhoretz, April 25, 2002
Interesting, isn’t it, that Amnesty International says Israel is guilty of war crimes
before it actually has done any real investigating? Why, it’s enough to make
you think Amnesty International is guilty of a preconceived bias when it comes
to Israel. But that can’t be true, can it? After all, Amnesty International is for
nice and good things, like human rights, so everything it says has to be trusted.
Except if you actually read the bilge it’s pumping.
Amnesty’s latest preliminary findings include some mindbogglingly dishonest
and disingenuous claims, like this one: “The delegation received credible
evidence of such serious violations including …. allegations of extrajudicial
Wow! Credible evidence of allegations! That’s enough to convict an entire
country for the commission of heinous war crimes, isn’t it? Whatever happened
to the key doctrine of all fair investigative inquiries – the notion that an
accusation is not true until it is proven true?
Amnesty International apparently thinks it acceptable to suspend elementary
fairness when it comes to Israel. It accuses the Israel Defense Forces of causing
“extensive damage to property with no apparent military necessity.”
Given that Amnesty seems to think the Israelis had no right to fight in
the first place, invocation of “military necessity” is blatantly hypocritical. In
fact, before-and-after aerial photographs of the camp show that the damage to
property was highly concentrated – and centered in an area that Palestinians
acknowledge was where activists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad were holed up.
Amnesty also has the unmitigated gall to state baldly that the lack of evidence
of war crimes in Jenin should actually be considered proof that war crimes took
place. Consider this unbelievable statement from its report:
“Commenting on his preliminary findings following the autopsies he
carried out in Jenin Hospital, Professor Derrick Pounder said: ‘What was striking
is what was absent. There were very few bodies in the hospital. There were
also none who were seriously injured, only the walking wounded. Thus we have
to ask: Where are the bodies and where are the seriously injured?'”
Gee, you don’t suppose that there are no wounded in the hospital because the
Israelis spent 10 days fighting house to house in order to avoid civilian
casualties of any kind?
And you don’t suppose there are few dead bodies because the Israelis
killed very few people?
Yes, there were 50 or so bodies left rotting in the streets. But evidence
suggests the Palestinians themselves knew those bodies might have been
We now have independent confirmation of the booby-trap method from a
source distinctly unfriendly to Israel – the Egyptian paper al-Ahram, whose
Jonathan Cook interviewed a leading Islamic Jihad bomb-maker in Jenin on
Thursday. Cook’s interlocutor is Omar, a man in his mid-30s. “Omar and other
‘engineers’ made hundreds of explosive devices and carefully chose their
locations,” Cook writes.
Cook then quotes Omar: “We had more than 50 houses booby-trapped around
the camp. We chose old and empty buildings and the houses of men who were
wanted by Israel because we knew the soldiers would search for them.”
Cook continues: “According to Omar, everyone in the camp, including
the children, knew where the explosives were located so that there was no
danger of civilians being injured. It was the one weakness in the plan. ‘We were
betrayed by the spies among us,’ he says. ‘The wires to more than a third of
the bombs were cut by soldiers accompanied by collaborators. If it hadn’t been
for the spies, the soldiers would never have been able to enter the camp. Once
they penetrated the camp, it was much harder to defend.'”
The booby-trapped town and the clever tactics of Omar and Co. cost 29 Israeli
soldiers their lives in the Jenin siege. What happened in Jenin was a serious
battle in a serious war conducted by Palestinian combatants from inside existing
buildings. As I wrote yesterday, international law plainly puts the moral onus on
the Palestinian fighters for any civilian casualties and military destruction in
Maybe Amnesty International ought to read what terrorists themselves say
before flinging charges of atrocity.