Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.
Information Officer for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Rolando Gomez holds the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict next to Commission chairperson Mary McGowan Davis, center, and Commission member Doudou Diene during a press conference on their report on June 22, 2015 at the United Nations Office in Geneva. (AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI)
The UN report on Operation Protective Edge is far from surprising, offering no far-reaching conclusions. As expected, the report blamed Israel and the “Palestinian organizations” for possible war crimes. The UN didn’t reveal any findings that weren’t already known, or expose any startling discoveries.
Hundreds of Palestinian children were indeed killed in last summer’s war, and the Palestinian organizations, led by Hamas, fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities.
The bottom line, and most salient fact, is absent from this report: Israel did not initiate the war and was primarily focused on stopping Hamas’s rocket fire. From nearly day one, Israel agreed to stop the fighting, but Hamas insisted on continuing the rocket fire from within residential areas, knowing that it would carry a heavy price. This price — the sizable death toll — was not only anticipated by the terror group, but welcomed. The Gazan rulers knew that the international condemnation of Israel would come, and this report proves that.
What is surprising is the hysterical statements by members of Israel’s parliament about the UN report, that don’t necessarily have anything to do with its contents. Rather than be satisfied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction, politicians from across the political spectrum got caught up in the game of “who will respond more quickly and more forcefully.” The comments by those Israeli personalities won’t change the international public opinion against Israel. The UN will continue to antagonize Israel.
A Palestinian young man carries bricks amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, March 4 2015. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
The report, which purports to be objective, sounds at times like a bad joke.
To indicate that the use of tunnels by Hamas is legitimate and to assert that the group issues warnings before striking Tel Aviv are not serious claims, but rather a case of Hamas propaganda being served by researchers who don’t have the faintest idea about what is happening here, nor what is happening among Israel’s enemies.
The report notes that the probe “cannot conclusively determine the intent of Palestinian armed groups with regard to the construction and use of these tunnels. However, the commission observes that during the period under examination, the tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets.”
With regard to warnings, the UN report risibly interpreted threats by Hamas that it would target Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport as concrete warnings to Israeli civilians.
Hamas, of course, praised the decision by the UN inquiry to condemn Israel. Why wouldn’t it?
The inquiry also accused “officials in Gaza” who haven’t expressed willingness to investigate the war crimes, as if the violent attacks were actions by some foreign organization that visited Gaza, and not the Hamas leadership itself.
Moreover, the rocket fire is ascribed to “armed Palestinian groups” or the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, barely mentioning that these have any connection to Hamas.
At the end of the day, this report will likely change nothing. Despite the secret talks between Hamas and Israel, the next escalation is coming, and the only question is when. Hamas will fire rockets on Israel again. Israel will bomb the sites where the rockets were launched, even if they are residential areas, and the UN will condemn Israel.