Failure to act simply because terrorists are using civilians as cover would
broadcast an invitation to every terrorist group in the world to set up shop
inside a hospital or a kindergarten.
Statement by Israel Ambassador Shalev to the UN Security Council
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jan 14, 2009
Israel's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Gabriela Shalev
addressed the UN Security Council debate on the protection of civilians in
armed conflict: "Terrorism poses enormous harm to civilians in armed
conflict. Terrorism turns civilians into targets, shields and weapons."
Statement by Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, Permanent Representative of Israel
to the United Nations
United Nations Security Council
Debate on "Protection of civilians in armed conflict"
New York, 14 January 2009
This month has proven to be a complicated one. Allow me to thank you for
convening this debate. I further wish to thank Under-Secretary-General John
Holmes for his informative briefing, and thank him and his team for their
important and ongoing humanitarian work, in particular in our region at the
present difficult time.
This debate is surely considering a wide range of issues related to the
protection of civilians in armed conflict. All of them are important. Yet
there exists one major threat, one distinct danger to civilians, that this
council must not and cannot ignore.
Terrorism, Mr. President, poses enormous harm to civilians in armed
conflict. Terrorism turns civilians into targets, shields and weapons.
"Acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and
manifestations are activities aimed at the destruction of human rights." So
stated the United Nations in clear and unambiguous terms.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Hamas' terrorist war against Israeli
civilians and the Palestinian people.
It is on Israeli civilians that Hamas rockets rained down for 8 long years.
For more than one million Israelis, daily life included rocket and mortar
attacks against houses, schools, kindergartens, markets, and all forms of
These are not indiscriminate attacks as some like to classify them; Hamas'
attacks are very discriminate - directed deliberately at civilians - men,
women and children. These attacks kill and maim Israelis, creating a living
nightmare; a nightmare that forced Israel to act in self-defense.
As Hamas launches these attacks, they cower behind Palestinian civilians
knowing full well the danger they invite. Civilian casualties in Gaza, as a
result, are the heartbreaking consequence and sole responsibility of Hamas'
Hamas hides weapons and explosives in mosques and uses minarets to launch
What kind of person, we must ask, uses a house of prayer as a weapons depot?
The answer, Mr. President is: Hamas terrorists.
Evidence against Hamas abounds. Hamas terrorists launched rockets from
school yards and rigged Palestinian schools with explosives as booby-traps.
What kind of person, we must ask, uses schools - a place where children
gather - as a battlefield? The answer, Mr. President, is: Hamas terrorists.
Hamas commanders and leaders set up shop in the basement of Gaza's largest
hospital, Shifa. Hamas fighters and members have entered hospitals and
donned doctors' coats in an effort to blend into the civilians of Gaza.
What kind of person, we must ask, uses hospitals to cower behind injured
civilians? The answer, Mr. President, is the same: Hamas terrorists.
As Israel has facilitated the movement of humanitarian aid into the Gaza
Strip - more than 800 trucks totaling over 25,000 tons of aid - there are
repeated and horrifying reports that Hamas terrorists have seized aid,
distributing it to its own members and supporters, and selling what is left
to the impoverished civilians.
What kind of person, we must ask, confiscates humanitarian supplies from
civilians in a conflict zone? The answer, Mr. President, is the same again:
It is Hamas and terrorists like it that view civilians not as a population
to be avoided in an armed conflict but as a population to be exploited in an
We must use today's debate to ensure that we denounce the harm that
terrorism inflicts on civilians. In recent years, more civilians were
killed, maimed and injured by terrorists than by legitimate armed forces.
And so we must act against terrorists and their inhumane methods. Failure to
act simply because terrorists are using civilians as cover would broadcast
an invitation to every terrorist group in the world to set up shop inside a
hospital or a kindergarten.
Hamas' despicable and cynical use of targeting civilians is an appalling
example of the toll terrorism takes on all civilians. When civilized people
look at children, they see the future. When terrorists look at children,
they see targets and human shields. This council must offer no refuge to
those who drag civilians into armed conflicts.
Thank you, Mr. President.