BRIGHTON, United Kingdom – A highly respected and decorated Army chief, Col. Richard Kemp, has accused Hamas of multiple war crimes including the targeting of Israeli civilians and the use of Palestinian children as human shields and suicide bombers.
Speaking at the National Rally for Israel and Peace in Brighton yesterday, Col. Kemp gave a comprehensive account of the conflict in Gaza, drawing from first-hand experience to accuse Hamas of war crimes whilst praising Israeli restraint and desire for peace.
He said: “I’ve been there [in Israel and Gaza] for four weeks. I’ve watched closely what’s happening [in this conflict]. Hamas have used the two weapons at their disposal, and they have only two weapons. Those weapons are not rockets and are not attack tunnels … they could not hope to defeat the might of the state of Israel with her allies around the world using rockets and attack tunnels. They did not intend to defeat the State of Israel, they know they couldn’t. So what were their weapons? Human shields – their own old men, women, babies and children to be sacrificed for their own purposes. And lies and propaganda. Those two weapons combined are what they used to try to exert international pressure on Israel to get concessions for them as part of their ongoing campaign to ultimately exterminate the state of Israel and to annihilate every Jew around the world as called for by their charter. … Their agenda is an agenda of genocide. That’s all it is.
“So what has been happening in Gaza? War crimes, ladies and gentleman. War crimes have been committed. And those war crimes have been committed by Hamas. They deliberately fire rockets at the Israeli civilian population – that is a war crime. They use their own civilian population to protect those rockets – that is a war crime. And it’s not just protection of rockets. Their intention is not just to protect those rockets with human shields. Their intention is to lure and force Israel to kill those people; that is what they want. That is unfortunately what to a large extent they have achieved.
“They are indeed the murders. They have used protected sites such as mosques, hospitals, schools, and ambulances to store weapons; to command their forces; to fire at and attack Israel from. All of those are war crimes. They’ve used child soldiers, very young children to attack IDF troops, including in suicide attacks. That too is a war crime. There is no depth to which Hamas will not stoop. … Israel is determined not to kill any innocent men, women or children. Hamas are intent on killing as many innocent men, women and children as they can. [That] tells you pretty much everything you need to know about who is right and who is wrong.”
Going on to explain how Israel goes to great lengths to minimise civilian casualties in the conflict, he recounted a discussion he had had with an Israeli pilot:
“I spoke recently to an Israeli air force pilot who had been flying attack missions into Gaza the morning I was speaking to him. He told me he’d flown 17 sorties into Gaza against a single target, and had aborted his mission every single time because there were civilians in the target area, and finally he had to cancel the mission. I said… to that pilot ‘did you not find that frustrating’? And his answer to me was humbling. He said ‘No it wasn’t at all frustrating. The best thing about the Israeli Air Force is that they will not allow a pilot to attack a target when there are civilians there. How could I have lived with myself if I had killed innocent civilians?'”
Col Kemp has seen front line service in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. He was Commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003. Between 2001 – 2006 he was attached to the Cabinet Office working for the Joint Intelligence Committee, where he devised counter-terrorism policies, making numerous trips to the Middle East. Since then he has visited Israel and Gaza numerous times, and gave evidence to the United Nations, attesting that Israel was innocent of the war crimes alleged to have been committed during Operation Cast Lead.
He has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 Honours list, and has also received the Queens Commendation for Bravery for action in Northern Ireland.
In July of this year the United Nations Human Rights Council voted for an inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes committed in Gaza during the latest round of fighting. 29 countries voted in favour of the motion, with only the United States voting against. 17 countries, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany abstained. Hamas was not mentioned in the text of the resolution.