This week, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in Geneva held a debate to discuss Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza. For six hours, country representatives took the podium and attacked Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. Few mentioned the continuing rocket attacks launched at Israel or the capture of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been held by Hamas since 2006. According to Roni Leshno Yaar, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva: “This council has not built hope, confidence or done anything to bring the sides closer together. If anything, it has done the opposite, nurturing bitterness and anger, mistrust and suspicion.” He went on to say, “You have done nothing about it [the rockets], and you expect that Israel does nothing either.”
Since Thursday, eleven rockets have been launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip, one killing a foreign agricultural worker, Manee Singueanphon, 30, from Thailand. According to the IDF, approximately 35 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel since the beginning of the year, and over 330 rockets were fired into Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead.
Interestingly, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official military wing, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and an al-Qaeda inspired group, Ansar al-Sunna, have both claimed responsibility for the attack that killed Singueanphon. Indeed, according to reports out yesterday, groups tied to the PA are responsible for the recent rocket attacks from Gaza. The U.S. and Israel typically regard the PA as a peace partner; the Obama administration seeks to hold indirect negotiations between the PA and Israel aimed at creating a Palestinian state led by the PA.
According to sources, the PA is seeking to agitate an Israeli raid on Gaza with the hopes of minimizing Hamas’ control of the Strip. This begs the question: Who should be held responsible for the recent rocket attacks against Israel? Hamas – as the group controls the Gaza Strip; or the Palestinian Authority – as it is allegedly tied to the groups launching the rockets? According to IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Hamas is not directly behind the attacks, but it should be held accountable nontheless. “Hamas is not interested in losing control of the situation – but it could do more to stop the rocket fire,” he said, adding that “the IDF retaliates against Hamas targets because we regard them as the sovereign group [in the Strip].” While Ashkenazi is right-on – it is Hamas’ obligation to control the groups firing rockets at Israel – the U.S. and Israel should not ignore the fact that Israel’s supposed ‘peace partner’ may be responsible for the recent rockets.