Aliza Lavie says Council of Europe’s assessment of the Palestinian enclave was designed to harm and ‘demonize’ the Jewish state
Times of Israel
An Israeli lawmaker on Wednesday excoriated a European group for an inter-parliamentary report that accused Israel of conducting “systematic unlawful killings” on the Gaza Strip, saying the document was far from the truth and served to perpetuate the demonization of Israel among European officials.
Aliza Lavie, of the opposition Yesh Atid party, spoke a day after the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, also known as PACE, voted in favor of a resolution based on its report on the humanitarian situation in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave.
“To charge us with the entire humanitarian situation in Gaza, that was wide of the mark,” she told Army Radio.
The resolution charged that Israel used “excessive and intentional force without justification against Palestinian civilians in the buffer zone, including against farmers, journalists, medical crews and peaceful protesters, [which] runs blatantly counter to human rights principles and the international law-enforcement standards.”
The non-binding and non-enforceable resolution was passed 46-12 with two abstentions in the assembly during a session in Strasbourg, France.
The goal of the document, Lavie said, was to “create a very negative image of Israel and to influence members of the European Parliament, who will then cause their own parliaments to implement laws based on the report.”
It “continues to raise a very demonic image of Israel which is very far from reality,” she said.
Lavie is one of Israel’s representatives to the Council of Europe as a non-member state and was in Strasbourg for the vote where, along with Kulanu MK Eli Alalouf, she tried to convince members to reject the report and the subsequent resolution.
The resolution also calls for an end to the blockade imposed by Israel and by Egypt on the Gaza Strip; warns of a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave if regular access to humanitarian goods, water and electricity is not granted; and urges Israel and the Palestinian Authority to support any official investigation by the International Criminal Court into the 2014 Gaza war and its aftermath.
“Cases of the deliberate fatal shooting of individuals who posed no imminent danger to life amounts to an appalling pattern of apparently systematic unlawful killings,” read the report, which was composed by Eva-Lena Jansson, a Swedish politician from the Swedish Social Democratic Party, and presented on January 4 to the assembly, made up of 324 parliamentarians from 47 countries.
PACE, which is independent from the European Union, is composed of representatives from European political parties who do not represent their home countries’ governments. It focuses on human rights, democracy, and rule of law issues.
Lavie said that she had worked behind the scenes to convince members that the report should not be supported.
“We asked, and explained and went into detail,” she said. “We also spoke about the author of the report who is a member of the social democratic party in Sweden; we know her position, she comes from an erroneous point of view, based mostly on the media and newspapers. She has never even been to Gaza.”
As an example of misplaced assessments in the report, Lavie recalled that it described cross-border tunnels — including those along the border with Egypt — that Hamas has used to launch deadly attacks inside Israeli territory as “the main supply and commercial trade route for goods into Gaza since 2007.”
“We didn’t expect her report to be any different; it is an ideological report,” she said.
Lavie said that after the report was presented, she approached Jansson and challenged her about it.
“You spoke in the report about mothers,” she recalled saying to the Swedish politician. “I am also a mother. Tell me, if you are really bothered by the children that you spoke about, your false report won’t really help.”
Israel withdrew its civilians and military personnel from the Gaza Strip in 2005 in a unilateral move. Two years later, Hamas overthrew Fatah in a violent coup, resulting in an Israeli and Egyptian blockade which both countries say is designed to prevent Hamas from smuggling in weapons and materiel. Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought three wars that have severely harmed Gaza’s infrastructure, and reconstruction efforts have been slow.
The last round of violence, in 2014, claimed more than 2,000 Palestinian lives, according to UN figures, and 73 Israeli lives including 66 soldiers. Israel has said that up to half of those killed on the Palestinian side were combatants, and has blamed the civilian death toll on Hamas for deliberating placing rocket launchers, tunnels and other military installations among civilians. The war, also known as Operation Protective Edge, erupted in July that year, after a month of escalating tensions triggered by the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens by Hamas in the West Bank, and an Israeli arrest sweep of Hamas supporters that led to renewed Gaza rocket fire on Israel.
In the wake of the war, the ICC launched a preliminary probe, at the request of the Palestinians, into war crime allegations on both sides. Israel is alleged to have used disproportionate force against the blockaded territory, while Hamas is accused of firing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilian population centers and using Palestinians as human shields.
Israel, which is not a party to the treaty that governs the court, vehemently opposes any ICC investigation but has cooperated with the body.