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How the Russia-Ukraine War and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Differ

 
Filed under: Israel, Russia
Publication: Jerusalem Issue Briefs

How the Russia-Ukraine War and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Differ
Israel established a field hospital in Mostyska, Ukraine, that can treat 150 patients at a time across multiple wards. Israeli organizations also provided ambulances, generators, and treatment in Israel for pediatric cancer patients (Courtesy of Sheba Medical Center)

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

Vol. 22, No. 8

  • Attempts to compare or equate the Russian mode of operation and massive violations of international law in Ukraine with Israel’s actions to defend its population from Palestinian terror attacks are patently lacking bona fides and the most basic sense of fairness and proportion.
  • The motivation behind such attempts is insincere, superficial, false, and deceitful. Those who attempt to manipulate international awareness by equating Russian aggression and war crimes with Israel’s actions to defend its population are driven by an overriding and irresponsible penchant to vilify, defame, and delegitimize Israel.
  • Russia is conducting an open, high-level war of aggression, with an indiscriminate and massive bombardment of civilian population centers, schools, hospitals, and railway stations, as well as religious and cultural centers and monuments, in violation of the basic and widely accepted norms and principles of international humanitarian law.
  • The Palestinian mode of operation includes using civilian facilities – schools, hospitals, clinics, mosques, and private homes – as weapons storage facilities and rocket emplacements. The Palestinian terror organizations have constructed a vast web of tactical tunnels underneath Palestinian towns, civilian roads, and significant facilities.
  • Israel does not conduct any high-level war of aggression against its Palestinian and other neighbors, nor does it employ prohibited and inhumane weaponry. Furthermore, Israel does not willfully and deliberately target civilians or civilian concentrations or attack religious, cultural, educational, and medical sites.
  • Self-respecting national parliamentary institutions and leaders and responsible media organizations are urged to reject out of hand such fake attempts to delegitimize Israel.

The tragic Russia-Ukraine conflict, with the broad panoply of humanitarian, political, and legal issues that have arisen and continue to arise, has given vent to several not-unexpected phenomena in manipulative propaganda principally aimed at vilifying Israel.

Many political groups, organizations, politicians, and columnists seeking to further their own political agenda or to adapt the facts of the situation to such an agenda appear to be bending over backward to seek, invent, or generate similarities between the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, on the one hand, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, on the other.

There appear to be several factors driving this phenomenon.

First and foremost is the fear that the Russia-Ukraine war, with the daily footage of vast, mass violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes, might be overshadowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and removing it from the forefront of international attention, relegating it to a lesser status.

Secondly, there is the concomitant fear that the international community, witnessing in real-time the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine, might indeed come to realize the utter transparency and hollowness of its long and tedious preoccupation with Israel. Such obsession has been stoked artificially and ceaselessly by a well-polished propaganda campaign and by manipulating international organizations led by the UN and its specialized agencies. Moreover, they have left a legacy of hundreds of politically generated resolutions aimed at singling out and delegitimizing Israel. Recently, prominent human rights groups, like Amnesty International, have published scathing reports alleging that Israel has an apartheid regime.

Thirdly, it is likely that the high-intensity Russia-Ukraine armed conflict will sooner or later come to some form of termination or hiatus, while the Israeli-Palestinian low-intensity battle will almost certainly continue to simmer with renewed and periodic outbreaks of violence and terror.

To prepare the international arena for such an eventuality, those same propagandists are seeking to utilize the shock, indignation, and sensitivity of the international community in the face of the massive Russian violations of international law to establish a convenient platform from which to generate and direct comparisons with Israel’s treatment of Palestinian terror and violence.

While one might hope that the international community would not be so easily duped by false attempts to equate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the war in Ukraine, such an assumption cannot be made when it comes to Israel.

Therefore, those regular purveyors of anti-Israel propaganda will exploit the present wave of international indignation in the context of the Ukraine war to rejuvenate and revitalize their campaign to delegitimize Israel whatever the means.

Clearly, attempts to equate Israel’s actions in the territories in response to Palestinian terror and violence with Russia’s massive international-law violations in Ukraine would be unrealistic, presumptuous, and manipulative.

However, such attempts have already begun and must be rejected outright.

The differentiation between the Russia-Ukraine situation and the Israeli-Palestinian issue is clear and unmistakable. It must be impressed upon the international community and media in such a manner as to prevent false manipulations directed against Israel.

  • Russia is conducting an open, high-level war of aggression, with an indiscriminate and massive bombardment of civilian population centers, schools, hospitals, and railway stations, as well as religious and cultural centers and monuments, in violation of the basic and widely accepted norms and principles of international humanitarian law.

    Devastation in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol
    Devastation in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. (azov.org.ua)
  • Russia is employing cluster bombs and other forms of weaponry in violation of international conventions and protocols prohibiting such weaponry.
  • Russia has caused masses of refugees, consisting of a significant percentage of Ukraine’s civilian population, to leave their homes, towns, and villages.

    Kramatorsk train station attack
    Russian missiles struck the Kramatorsk train station on April 8, 2022, killing 57 civilians and wounding more than 100. Most of the victims were boarding trains to flee the fighting. (Donetsk Regional Military Civil Administration/Telegram)
  • Russia’s violations of international law are the subject of litigation against it by Ukraine in the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Similarly, violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian leadership and military commanders are documented in numerous complaints submitted to the International Criminal Court by state members of the international community.

Absolutely No Comparison between Russia and Israel’s Conduct

Ongoing and future attempts to compare or equate the Russian mode of operation and massive violations of international law in Ukraine with Israel’s actions to defend its population from Palestinian terror attacks are patently lacking bona fides and the most basic sense of fairness and proportion.

The motivation behind such attempts is insincere, superficial, false, and deceitful. Those who attempt to manipulate international awareness by equating Russian aggression and war crimes with Israel’s actions to defend its population are driven by an overriding and irresponsible penchant to vilify, defame, and delegitimize Israel.

They come to the international community with unclean hands.

  • Israel does not conduct any high-level war of aggression against its Palestinian and other neighbors, nor does it employ prohibited and inhumane weaponry. Furthermore, Israel does not willfully and deliberately target civilians or civilian concentrations or attack religious, cultural, educational, and medical sites.
  • Israel faces ongoing terror that includes periodic, massive rocket attacks against its civilian population and continuous excavation of offensive tunnels under its sovereign territory to conduct attacks within its towns and villages.
  • Israel is faced with attacks by incited Palestinian individuals in its towns and villages inspired by terror organizations whose purpose of existence is to terrorize Israel’s population.

    Hamas parade of rockets
    Hamas parade of rockets in Gaza, May 2021. (screenshot, Safa News)
  • Israel legitimately responds in self-defense by selectively and proportionately targeting only those specific military targets, tactical terror headquarters and facilities, rocket emplacements, and ammunition-storage facilities that serve the military aim of the terror organizations.
  • As part of their tactical operating procedure, Palestinian terror organizations, commanders, and operatives conceal themselves within and under civilian homes, medical facilities, schools, commercial buildings, office blocks, and mosques. They use and abuse the civilian population as human shields in violation of all humanitarian norms and principles.

    Llarge-scale storage of rockets under Gaza cities
    Extensive tunnels and armories were built under Gaza cities by Hamas. (Al Jazeera screenshot)
  • The Palestinian mode of operation includes using civilian facilities – schools, hospitals, clinics, mosques, and private homes – as weapons storage facilities and rocket emplacements. In addition, they use high-rise commercial buildings as tactical, operational, and communications headquarters, all to shield their facilities from Israeli targeting procedures. Such cynical abuse of humanitarian norms is perhaps seen most starkly in the vast web of tactical tunnels that the Palestinian terror organizations have constructed underneath Palestinian towns, civilian roads, and significant facilities.
  • Israel is obliged by its military doctrine to avoid civilian casualties despite such Palestinian tactics. Before any military action and often while prejudicing its own tactical advantage, Israel provides early warning to civilians so that they may distance themselves.
  • The Palestinian terror groups regularly and openly engage in environmental and agricultural terror in violation of international humanitarian and ecological conventions and norms by using illegal weaponry, launching exploding kites and incendiary balloons, and releasing toxic smoke and fumes at Israel’s civilian population and agricultural areas. Despite such Palestinian abuse, Israel goes to considerable lengths to strictly observe all relevant international norms, principles, and conventions in coping with such Palestinian violations.
  • Unlike the situation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Israel does not target Palestinian public utility facilities, power plants, or locations and monuments of religious, cultural, or historical significance.
  • Israel enables a constant flow into Palestinian areas of thousands of trucks carrying supplies, food, provisions, medicines, and materials through the various border passage points.
  • Palestinian political tactics include manipulating and abusing the International Criminal Court by openly attempting to turn it into an international political organization devoted to delegitimizing Israel in violation of its Statute. They do this by referring hundreds of trumped-up complaints to the Court despite the questionable legal status of such complaints as well as legal doubts over the Palestinians’ own status before the Court.

It is clear from the above that attempts to draw a comparison between the massive and brutal actions of the Russian military in Ukraine and the international reactions thereto and Israel’s response in defending its civilian population from ongoing Palestinian terror are artificial and contrived, to the extent of being inherently willful and malicious.

All self-respecting national parliamentary institutions and leaders and responsible media organizations are urged to reject out of hand such fake attempts to delegitimize Israel.