I’m having a tough time shaking the image of Ban Ki Moon standing in front of the still smoldering headquarters of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). This is an agency that is responsible for feeding, schooling, and providing health care for several hundred thousand Palestinian refugees. Luckily, no one died when Israeli mortars hit the UNRWA warehouse, but a number of UN vehicles and relief items were destroyed. This is opposed to the shelling of a UN school that served as an emergency shelter which was struck by an Israeli bomb, killing 40 people. Even more troubling are reports that the rockets which struck the school included White Phosphorous mortars, which is a substance banned under international law from being used in populated areas.
Israel has stated that it purposefully targeted these UN buildings because Hamas militants were nearby. As I’ve said before, risking the lives of human shields just to get at the Hamas terrorists who are holding them hostage does not quite cut it. (Specifically, it seems to fall far short of satisfying the just war principal of double-effect.) True, Israel has “expressed regret” for the pain it has inflicted in Gazan civilians — and this, to be sure, separates them from the terrorists they are seeking to defeat). Still, the the United Nations is not a legitimate military target. Period.
I just hope that Israel, with its functioning and capable judiciary, heeds the Secretary General’s advice to “make those responsible people accountable.”