Commentary Magazine


Pre-Cooked UN Report on Border Clashes Yields Predictable Result

Soon after the assault on Israel’s borders that took place on the anniversary of the birth of the Jewish state, Michael Williams, the United Nations’ special coordinator for Lebanon, was quoted as saying he was “shocked by the number of the deaths and the use of disproportionate, deadly force” by Israeli soldiers against “apparently unarmed demonstrators.” So it is hardly surprising the UN report on the incident authored by the same Michael Williams placed the blame on Israel for the fatalities among the border crashers.

The UN report that Williams wrote was released today and damned Israel for using the wrong tactics in dealing with the May 15 attempt on the part of those protesting the country’s existence to break in. While conceding the demonstrators had been verbally warned and that warning shots were fired, the report stated the deaths were still primarily Israel’s fault because of faulty crowd-control measures. The UN does blame the protesters for violating the cease-fire that exists along the border and for throwing rocks and petrol bombs and for trying to tear down the fence there. But it failed to note the Lebanese Army was also firing live ammunition there and might have been responsible for the deaths. Even more to the point, the report fails to understand a violent mob crashing a border fence in a war zone is not the same thing as a peaceful demonstration in a city square.

The problem with the “Nakba Day” demonstration at the Lebanese border was not just that those who took part want to see Israel destroyed. It is that their effort was itself an illegal invasion. No nation state is obligated to let terrorists or their sympathizers tear down a barrier at a border. While the Israel Defense Force might have handled things better, the fault for the casualties lies with those who recruited (and possibly paid, as was the case with similar attacks on the Syrian frontier) people to act in an illegal and violent manner. Troops subjected to gas bomb attacks have the right to defend themselves. Any country and any army protecting its border against hostile forces would have reacted in the same way. But the double standard by which Israel is judged at the UN treats any form of self-defense as inherently illegitimate.

UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force on that border which compiled the report under Williams’ supervision, has itself been credibly accused of bias against Israel during the years. Hezbollah terrorists have operated with impunity under their noses as they planned and carried out attacks across the same border. Is there any wonder then the report was slanted and that, under the circumstances, few in Israel will pay much attention to it?