I see one of Joel’s ten winners and losers from the Gaza War is the United Nations, dumped into the “loser” column because Hamas rockets have been found in schools built by the U.N. Relief Works Agency. The first time one of these classroom ammo dumps was discovered, the U.N. feigned comical “Captain Renault” surprise that terrorists had been caught making use of its facilities.
Well, now we’re up to the third discovery of Palestinian weapons stashed in a UNRWA facility, prompting Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage Magazine to declare that it’s time for the U.N. to withdraw from the Gaza Strip:
At this point it’s obvious that the UNRWA is incapable of maintaining the non-military status of its facilities. Whether the organization itself is compromised or Hamas simply won’t allow it to maintain pure civilian function, it amounts to the same thing.
UNRWA facilities are used to harbor weapons and stage attacks. The UNRWA’s facilities cannot be considered civilian or humanitarian facilities. Instead they are fronts for military operations. And that is a war crime.
The UNRWA’s continued presence in Gaza facilitates a Hamas war crime.
The only lawful thing for the UNRWA to do is to announce that it will withdraw from Gaza during the conflict to avoid being involved in war crimes. Instead the UNRWA is doubling down by accusing Israel, rather than Hamas, of war crimes. And even appears to have turned over rockets to terrorists.
That’s a wonderful little detail, for those who haven’t been following the School of Rockets saga closely. The first batch of uncovered illegal munitions was handed over to the “local authorities” in Gaza… i.e., the terror state that put them into the school in the first place.
The Israeli Defense Force has been finding interesting things in all sorts of supposedly off-limits places, as they explore the vast Gaza terror tunnel network, which gobbled up gigantic amounts of Palestinian money that should have been on public services, including schools of the non-rocket variety. (Those tunnels aren’t Vietcong rat holes – they look more like the Mines of Moria.) Here’s a delightful new surprise:
Yesterday in Gaza we found a tunnel whose central access shaft was under a mosque. Here is some of what we found: pic.twitter.com/kHMfCW0MMG
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 30, 2014
This all highlights the problem with extending barbarians the respect and courtesy due only to civilized nations. As I’ve been musing lately, civilization is hard work. It involves living up to standards and honoring agreements that prove very inconvenient during military and political conflicts. Cheating on these standards by such activities as targeting civilian populations, using human shields, and hijacking U.N. relief works to hide your weapons is a deliberate abandonment of the obligations of civilization, so it should also forfeit the rewards.
Treaties such as the Geneva Convention are acts of mutual consent. So are the standards ostensibly upheld by the United Nations. One of my biggest gripes against the U.N. is that it has effectively mutated into a system for conveying the respect due only to pluralistic, humane democracies onto nations that don’t even remotely fit that description. Greenfield is right: if U.N. facilities are used as secret military installations by Hamas, and the U.N. won’t or can’t stop it, then their facilities become military targets, and they’re honor bound to withdraw from the conflict… while very loudly explaining why. Likewise for mosques used as the entry points to terror tunnel networks. Respect for such sites is an aspect of civilization, to which barbarians have no claim.
Update: Speaking of those terror tunnels, the IDF just discovered one filled with booby traps that opened out into… a small United Nations health clinic.