In July 2018, an official from the United Nations caused an uproar when he claimed that Israel did not have the right to defend itself against Hamas terrorists. The official, United Nations Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, said that Israel’s responses to Hamas rocket fire and other militant attacks constituted a violation of international law and human rights, and that the Israeli government was using “excessive and disproportionate force.”
His comments sparked widespread criticism from Israel and many of its allies. The United States and Australia both rejected the comments and the US State Department accused Mr. Lynk of making an “erroneous and biased statement which stands in contrast to the United States’ unquestioned commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorists and other threats.” The Israeli delegate to the United Nations also criticized Mr. Lynk, saying that his remarks underplayed the “campaign of terror” that Israel was subjected to from Palestinian militants, and minimized “the Palestinians’ responsibility.”
In the face of the criticism, Mr. Lynk defended his comments and said that to achieve a “lasting peace” in the region, all sides must abide by international law and human rights. However, he was also quick to add that Hamas was also guilty of carrying out “indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians” and must be held accountable for any violations of international law.
Overall, Mr. Lynk’s comments sparked a heated debate about whether it is ever permissible for a state to use force in self-defense. While many disagreed with his views, he emphasized the importance of following international law and respecting human rights in order to achieve peace in the region.