A little-noticed “United Nations’ Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”, issued in January, which absolved allied coalition forces of culpability for civilian casualties in the almost decade long war against Taliban terror groups in Afghanistan.
According to the report issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, at least “5,978 civilians were killed and injured in 2009, the highest number of civilian casualties recorded since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.”
The United Nations report asserted that the rising death toll there was due to the Taliban terror group’s suicide attacks and explosive roadside devices placed by the Taliban.
he UN report explained that the Taliban frequently attacked coalition forces in densely populated areas and did not blame the United States army or its allies for deaths of civilians who were non combatants who live near the areas from where Taliban launched its attacks, using the civilian areas as a collective human shield.
The UN Afghanistan report stands in stark contrast to a recent report issued by a United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s investigative team, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, which conducted an inquiry into Israel’s January 2009 three week military incursion into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
The Goldstone Report discussed “eleven incidents in which Israeli forces launched direct attacks against civilians with lethal outcome… in which the facts indicate no justifiable military objective pursued by the attack.” These UN allegations of war crimes by the Israeli Defense Forces have been vociferously protested by Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone so far as to call the Goldstone report a “strategic threat,” saying that it hampers the ability of democracies to fight terrorism and to engage in asymmetrical warfare.
A senior Israeli government official said that Israel is held to a different standard than other countries in international forums.
In direct contrast to the Goldstone Report from the same United Nations, the UN holds the Taliban terrorists directly responsible for collateral deaths in Afghanistan, at the same time that the UN alleges that Israel engages in “intentional attacks against the civilian population and civilian objects,” even though Hamas terrorists openly use homes, schools, hospitals and mosques as their protective place of operation.
Unlike Afghanistan, the UN blames Israel – not Hamas – for collateral deaths, injuries and damage to non combatants. The United Nations even suggests that Israel must award reparations to the population of the Gaza Strip, a territory ruled by an internationally recognized terrorist organization.
The United Nations Afghanistan report, on the other hand, noted that coalition forces have been attempting to minimize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, saying that “International military forces did take strategic and specific steps to minimize civilian casualties in 2009,”
In summarizing its findings, the Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict found the “declared strategy of prioritizing the safety and security of civilians is a welcome development.”
By the same token, the report laid the blame on the Taliban for causing Afghan civilian deaths,
Drawing the conclusion that “the inability or unwillingness of the armed opposition to take measures that pre-empt and reduce the harm that their tactics entail for civilians translates into a growing death toll and an ever larger proportion of the total number of civilian dead.”
Significantly, more non-combatants have been injured or killed in Afghanistan by allied troops than by IDF forces in Gaza.
A former British commander in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, told the BBC that he did “not think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more effort to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the [Israel Defense Forces] is doing… in Gaza.”
However, a career diplomat with years of experience at the United Nations, noted that it is no surprise that the United Nations uses a different standard to judge Israel. The diplomat mentioned that the UN defined the Sri Lankan-Tamil conflict as an “internal matter”, and that the UN turned a blind eye to the brutal tactics used by the Sri Lankan army, when it finally crushed the 25 year Tamil terrorist rebellion only last year, causing the deaths of thousands of terrorists and non combatants who were slaughtered by Sri Lankan Government forces in the final stages of the conflict.