Healing Battle Wounds With Band-Aids

When the Israeli army fired a shell at the United Nations school in Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip on Jan. 6, it claimed that Hamas had fired at their forces from the school's grounds. But United Nations Relief and Works Agency representative Christopher Gunness announced that he is "99.9 percent positive" that nobody fired from the school.

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Israel's claim is more credible. As a standard battle tool, Hamas militants use their own women and children as human shields. Regarding Gunness' statement, how could he be "99.9 percent positive" only two hours after the incident that nobody had fired at the Israelis from the school? Did he question the nearby crowd of Palestinians? I am sure that if he had questioned the Germans in 1941 about the presence of concentration camps in Dachau or Buchenwald, they would have also denied their existence.

Imagine this scenario: Terrorists seize Beslan School No. 1 and just as Russia's special forces begin storming the building, human rights activists cry out, "Stop! There are children inside that building!" Meanwhile, the terrorists give a teary-eyed interview to CNN reporters about how medical supplies for the children have run out, which is causing a humanitarian catastrophe in the school.

What is the difference between Beslan and Hamas? In Beslan, the terrorists took other people's children hostage, whereas Hamas is holding its own children hostage.

Hamas is a unique organization in the sense that terrorism is its only national product. Even the most inept states perform certain basic functions for their citizens and attempt to protect their lives. But Hamas operates by a different principle: The worse off its citizens are, the better it is for the ruling elite.

In Gaza, Palestinians do not hold normal jobs. The only work available is to fire Kassam missiles at Jews or serve Hamas by delivering weapons and narcotics through illegal tunnels.

Hamas fires missiles at Israeli civilians, whom the regime labels as "aggressors" and "occupiers." If the Israeli government does not retaliate, the regime steps up its attacks. If the Jewish state does fight back, this is even better for Hamas. They label every casualty in the ensuing battle an innocent bystander or a glorious martyr to the cause. Such regimes get real satisfaction out of seeing their own people killed.

Human rights groups self-righteously demand a cease-fire in Gaza, but in reality they have little interest in achieving a resolution to the armed conflict. On the contrary, they have a vested interest in continued fighting to justify their bloated bureaucracies and their supposed peacekeeping mission. While the Hamas militants continue to hold their own people hostage, the countless Christopher Gunnesses pocket money from the international community to deliver superficial, Band-Aid-style remedies to the suffering population.

Justice is when a thief sits in prison and terrorists lie dead. Upholding human rights has come to mean protecting anyone who cries "Help!" -- even if that person is a thief, a murderer or a terrorist.

The concept of human rights was developed to help battle totalitarian regimes. It would appear, however, that after the end of totalitarian regimes the ideas of human rights lost meaning. Those who claim to be the leading proponents of human rights choose to defend Hamas or the riffraff sitting in Guantanamo -- people who themselves couldn't care less about individual rights or justice.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.