Jewish Star in Gaza field causes stir

Satellite photograph shows 60-meter Jewish symbol carved into Palestinian land.

star of david gaza field 311 (photo credit: UN Institute for Training and Research)
star of david gaza field 311
(photo credit: UN Institute for Training and Research)
A satellite photograph showing a 60-meter Star of David carved into a Palestinian field during the offensive against Hamas in Gaza last winter, slid under the army’s radar screen when it examined the Goldstone Report’s allegations of misconduct against the IDF.
When quizzed by The Jerusalem Post, the IDF said it was unfamiliar with the incident and said the Foreign Ministry should be contacted for an official comment.
The star can be seen in a satellite photograph provided to South African jurist Richard Goldstone by the United Nations last July.
According to a report by the UN Institute for Training and Research that accompanied the photograph, the satellite image was shot some time between January 3 and 10, 2009.
The UNITAR report states that the photograph of the Palestinian field showed “ground signatures” that “include tank tracks across cultivated fields and paved roads,” as well as a “Star of David measuring 60m. in diameter carved into the soil likely by IDF vehicles.”
It is posted on the UN Web site. UN satellite imagery is also referenced in the 575-page report published in September by the UN fact-finding mission into Israeli activity in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, which was chaired by Goldstone.
But no reference to the Star of David in the Palestinian field is made in the Goldstone Report, which accuses Israel of possible war crimes in Gaza.
It has also not surfaced in any of the hundreds of stories written about the Goldstone document.
The photograph of the Star of David was first circulated last week on the Mondo Weiss blog, which belongs to US investigative journalist Philip Weiss, who describes himself as an anti-Zionist. In spring 2009 Weiss traveled to the Gaza Strip and joined a Code Pink: Women for Peace contingent.
IDF sources said it was possible the Star of David was carved into the ground to mark the location – for the air force – of soldiers who were operating nearby. The diameter of the star’s lines was relatively small, the sources said, leading to the conclusion that the star was carved not by a tank but perhaps by a jeep.
Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem-The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, which itself has studied Israeli activity in Gaza, said she had not heard of the photograph.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said he did not believe that the alleged IDF tracks damaged the field.
“If no one complained about it and no one even noticed it, then I would say this is a non-event,” said Palmor.
The IDF is preparing an in-depth rebuttal of the Goldstone Report,which called on both the Israel and Hamas to hold their owninvestigations into their military actions last winter.
Already on Friday the IDF released a 48-page paper to document thesteps it has taken to investigate its actions during Operation CastLead.
At the end of this week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expectedto inform the General Assembly of investigatory steps Israel and Hamashave taken.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.