All too often, Israel is singled out for criticism, and yet when terrorists strike against us, the international community responds with a resounding silence.

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman’s Bureau)

In a letter sent on Tuesday (3 March 2009) by Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Institutions in Geneva, to Pillay Navanethem, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and to Nigerian Ambassador Martin Uhomibhi,  he appealed to them to speak out and denounce the ongoing Hamas rocket attacks being launched at the civilian population in southern Israel.

In the two-and-a-half years since the Human Rights Council was established, its activities have been characterized by acute politicization and a continuously negative attitude towards Israel. While the Council completely abstained from making its voice heard with regard to such countries as Iran and passed a relatively soft resolution regarding the tragedy in Darfur, it adopted 11 strong condemnations of Israel, and five special sessions were dedicated to Israel – one half of the total special sessions convened by the Council.

At a special session on Israel’s operation against Hamas in Gaza on 12 January 2009, the Council adopted a resolution – without the support of the Western and democratic nations – calling for the formation of a committee to examine and report on Israel’s actions. The resolution does not include any condemnation of the firing of missiles at Israeli civilians, does not even mention Hamas, and does not call for an examination of the violation of the human rights of Israeli citizens.

In light of the continued disregard by the UN Human Rights Council of the constant firing of rockets at civilian centers in southern Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead, Ambassador Leshno-Yaar wrote to the High Commissioner and to the President of the Council for Human Rights, calling on them to denounce the attacks on Israeli citizens and to uphold Israel’s right to live in peace and security: "All too often, Israel is singled out for criticism, and yet when terrorists strike against us, the international community responds with a resounding silence. Without such public condemnation the international community gives its approval to Hamas and other terror organizations to harm innocent Israeli civilians and further contributes to the inability to achieve a sustainable and durable ceasefire."

Ambassador Leshno-Yaar recalled the objective universal values which the United Nations General Assembly laid down for the work of the Council, as well as the need to abstain from politicization and the application of double standards. Contrary these basic rules, the Council justified the actions of Hamas and other terror organizations, while focusing its criticism only on Israel.

"It is time", Leshno-Yaar concluded, "that the High Commissioner and the Council President speak out clearly on this issue."

* * *

Text of letter:

3 March 2009, Geneva

Dear Madame High Commissioner,

I would like to bring your attention to the recent and indiscriminate barrage of rocket and mortar attacks against the southern communities of Israel. 

Hamas and other terrorist groups are launching strikes from Gaza using more advanced models of weaponry. These models of weaponry now have an increased range of target and result in greater destruction.  Since Israel decided to unilaterally hold its fire on 18 January 2009, there have been eighty rocket and mortar attacks deliberately targeting innocent civilians on Israeli territory.  This past weekend alone there were eleven rockets fired upon our southern communities, one of which hit a school in Ashkelon and pierced its fortification against projectiles.  We can only thank God none of our children were killed.

Hamas rocket and mortar attacks continue to assault the lives of over 1 million Israelis.  Israeli citizens have lived for years in a constant state of fear and terror, running to fortified rooms with only 15 seconds to spare, and unable to live the life human rights afford.  These terrorist attacks do not distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects.  In fact, these attacks deliberately target Israeli civilians in the effort to kill, maim and demoralize our population, preying on our children by striking their schools and homes – a common practice for these terrorist groups.

I implore your Office, and the international community, to collectively speak in one voice against these attacks and to defend Israel’s right to live in peace and security.  All too often Israel is singled out for criticism, and yet when terrorists strike against us the international community responds with a resounding silence. Without such public condemnation the international community gives its approval to Hamas and other terrorist organizations to harm innocent Israeli civilians and further contributes to the inability to achieve a sustainable and durable ceasefire.

As Israel has, in good faith, engaged in constructive dialogue with your office, I sincerely hope you, in your capacity as High Commissioner of Human Rights, speak up for the civilians of Israel and publicly condemn these indiscriminate attacks, and refuse to follow in the footsteps of the automatic majority.

Please accept, Excellency, the continued assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours truly,

Aharon Leshno Yaar
Ambassador
Permanent Representative