AJC Praises EU Parliament’s Condemnation of Hamas’s War Crimes, Regrets Call for “Unconditional” End to Israel Naval Blockade

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AJC Praises EU Parliament’s Condemnation of Hamas’s War Crimes, Regrets Call for “Unconditional” End to Israel Naval Blockade

Brussels – 19 April 2018 – The AJC Transatlantic Institute today praised the European Parliament for condemning Hamas for the war crimes it committed during the recent violent protests, but criticized the EU legislature for urging in its resolution on the situation in the Gaza Strip an “unconditional” end to Israel’s naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory.

“We all want to see Gaza become the next Singapore. But calling for the 'unconditional' end to Israel’s targeted blockade is at this time – unfortunately – neither realistic nor an even remotely reasonable proposal,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of AJC’s EU office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute. “As the UN Secretary General's own panel of inquiry noted in 2011: 'Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.' Unfortunately, the circumstances have not changed for the better." 

"Gaza is still ruled by the same Islamist terror group, Hamas, which seeks the destruction of the Jewish state. Instead of constructing schools and hospitals to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians, Hamas uses scarce resources to build and fire rockets at Israeli civilians and to advance its network of terror tunnels infiltrating into Israeli communities,“ Schwammenthal said.  

In that same resolution, jointly submitted by all major political groups and adopted earlier this afternoon with 524 (out of 751) yes-votes, the European Parliament strongly condemned the EU-designated terrorist organization Hamas for committing war crimes, intentionally fueling the violent protests and infiltrating into Israeli territory. The resolution also calls for “the disarmament of all militant groups in the Gaza Strip,” echoing a 2014 EU foreign ministers’ statement issued in the heat of the Hamas-instigated war. 

“The European Parliament deserves praise for its clear-eyed assessment of Hamas’s responsibility for escalating the violent protests. By also spelling out and condemning Hamas’s war crimes – such as using its own people as human shields and firing rockets on Israeli cities – Parliament has taken a principled stand,” said Schwammenthal.

The resolution further echoed calls for an “independent and transparent” investigation into the recent violent protests and Israel’s defensive actions:

“Publicly urging a sister democracy and close friend to investigate in a “transparent” manner seems – at the very least – somewhat out-of-place,” said Schwammenthal. “Of course, no country and no military is beyond reproach. It is possible, just as in any other Western army, that individual soldiers may have acted incorrectly. This is why on 8 April, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot announced that the IDF will launch an inquiry into the conduct of troops. The fact that the European Parliament points to this ongoing investigation is only appropriate.”

“It’s strange that Parliament speaks about these events within the context of an "occupation." Israel vacated Gaza 13 years ago, even disinterring its dead. What's more, suggesting that Israel "intentionally" used lethal force against protestors who supposedly didn't pose a threat is a grave and irresponsible accusation. This accusation is even more astounding in the face of evidence provided by Israel that the majority of Palestinians killed were not civilians, but members of various terror organizations, including Hamas,” Schwammenthal added.