'Goldstone retraction reduces chance of similar probe'

During future Gaza operation, Israel will have to do better documenting its actions in real time, senior IDF officer says.

April 4, 2011 01:24
2 minute read.
operation cast lead

cast lead 311. (photo credit: kobi gideon)


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Judge Richard Goldstone’s retraction and new-found faith in the Israeli legal system will likely contribute to Israeli efforts to prevent the establishment of a new probe following military action in a future conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a senior IDF officer predicted on Sunday.

On Friday, Goldstone published an op-ed in The Washington Post in which he said he that he no longer believed that Israel had intentionally targeted civilians during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2009.

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According to the officer, who serves in a legal position within the IDF, Goldstone’s retraction will not suffice on its own to prevent a future commission – the IDF will also need to document all its actions in the Gaza Strip to help facilitate a speedy and thorough investigation of future allegations.

During Operation Cast Lead, Israel found it difficult to explain its actions in real time due to difficulty it encountered in obtaining reliable information about events as they unfolded.

After the operation ended, it still took the IDF three months to publish the findings from its initial probes into the operation. The Military Police are still investigating three different cases that were opened following the publication of the Goldstone Report.

In The Washington Post oped, Goldstone based himself on the results of the McGowan Davis Report, which both lamented the length of some of the IDF investigations – but ultimately expressed confidence in the Israeli legal system.

“While the investigations published by the Israeli military, and recognized in the UN committee’s report, have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy,” Goldstone wrote.

According to the officer, Goldstone’s faith in the Israeli legal system could also be instrumental in preventing charges from being brought against Israeli politicians and IDF officers who travel to Europe in the future.

IDF officers have been under strict travel restrictions since Operation Cast Lead due to fear that they could be arrested in countries like Spain and England, which abide by universal jurisdiction in their legal systems.

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni had to cancel a trip to London in 2009 over concerns that she would be arrested for the role she played in Operation Cast Lead.

“The concern has decreased since now it will be very difficult for prosecutors and judges to claim that the Israeli legal system cannot be trusted,” the senior officer said, adding that this would also apply to efforts by Palestinians to bring charges against Israel before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

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