Israeli NGO’s Gaza report sent out

Foreign Ministry spokesman warns that "battle is one of politics, not fact."

March 16, 2010 02:16
2 minute read.
White phosphorous shells show being detonated in c

white phosphorous 311. (photo credit: AP)


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The Foreign Ministry has sent its ambassadors a copy of the independent Israeli report showing that Hamas used mosques and hospitals for military purposes during Operation Cast Lead.

The 500-page report by the non-governmental Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Malam – first unveiled by The Jerusalem Post on Monday – was based on information from the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). It was authored by a small research group led by Col. (res.) Reuven Erlich, a former military intelligence officer.

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Erlich’s initiative was meant to help combat the United Nations’ Goldstone Report, which has accused Israel of possible war crimes during the IDF incursion into Gaza in January 2009.

But rather than focus on the specific charges against Israel mentioned in the UN report, which was authored by former South African jurist Richard Goldstone, the Malam report focused on Hamas’s tactics and its use of civilians during the war, as well as an explanation of the events that led up to the offensive.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan on Monday denied allegations that his movement had used children as human shields and fired rockets at Israel from populated areas during Operation Cast Lead.

Radwan claimed that the IDF was spreading “lies and fabrications to avoid international condemnation of Israel for perpetrating war crimes against civilians in the Gaza Strip.”

Radwan claimed that international organizations had accused Israel of using civilians and children as human shields during the war.

“Israel is seeking to play with the findings of the Goldstone Report and conceal the truth,” he said.

Israel, however, said it believed the report highlighted the inaccuracies in the Goldstone document.

“Whoever needed more proof of bias and unprofessionalism by the Goldstone fact-finding mission will find it in this report,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

The Prime Minister’s Office said, “We appreciate their work. This is further proof of the distorted way that the Goldstone Report was prepared.”

But a Foreign Ministry spokesman warned that the battle against the Goldstone Report, which has been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly, was one of politics and not fact.

Iran and Cuba won’t be affected by Erlich’s report, said the spokesman, adding that the average person in the US, Europe or Asia didn’t care about Goldstone, let alone some kind of response. Even when the report was first issued last year, it was a very small story for the international media, the spokesman said.

Where it could make a difference is with some of the European countries, he suggested.

“Maybe they will read it and think about it,” he said.

Only last week, the European Parliament, by a slim majority, voted to endorse the report. But opinions on the report are divided in the European Union, which has yet to take a position on the document.

One diplomatic source said the issue was no longer the validity of the facts in the Goldstone Report, but the key recommendations in the document, which called on Israel and the Palestinians to conduct an independent inquiry into its actions in Gaza at a level that would meet international standards.

Israel refused to cooperate with Goldstone’s fact-finding mission, but has presented material to the UN regarding IDF investigations, which it says meet international standards. It is unclear whether the UN has accepted this material as sufficient. It is looking to receive further material from Israel this summer.

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