The ‘Goldstoning’ of Israel

Report was born in bias and matured into a full-fledged miscarriage of justice.

cast lead 190 (photo credit: AP)
cast lead 190
(photo credit: AP)
On Friday, Jerusalem presented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with its initial rebuttal of Judge Richard Goldstone’s bill of particulars on the way Israel fought in Gaza between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009.
A more comprehensive, point-by-point refutation is in the works.
“Gaza Operation Investigations: An Update” acknowledges that Israeli shells unintentionally hit the UNRWA compound in Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood while gunning for Hamas forces positioned alongside the facility.
The update revealed that the IDF had disciplined a brigadier-general and a colonel for exceeding their authority, because they employed white phosphorus shells in a comparatively confined area where civilians could be jeopardized. In fact, three innocent people were wounded.
Compiled by the Foreign Ministry, the update also debunks a number of scurrilous war crimes charges leveled by Goldstone, saying:
• Israel did not purposefully bomb wells in Jabalya to deprive the people there of fresh drinking water. In fact, the wells were situated within a Hamas compound.
• Israel did not deliberately attack the wastewater treatment plant in Gaza City. But there is a good chance the plant was damaged by Hamas to hamper the movement of IDF soldiers.
• Israel did not blow up the Bader flour factory to create a bread shortage in Gaza. But the site was a strategic high point in a Hamas-fortified zone. It was not the IDF that set the plant ablaze.
• The destroyed Abu Askar family house was used to store Grad rockets. The family was telephoned and urged to leave before the house was shelled.
These are just some of the findings in the Foreign Ministry report, which says that the army has investigated or is currently investigating more than 150 separate incidents – not easy considering that the forensic scene is in enemy hands.
So far, 36 files have been referred to the Military Advocate-General Corps for criminal investigation.
We do not assert that our army made no tragic mistakes; what we do emphatically reiterate – based on Israel’s initial submission to the UN – is that no army engaged on multiple fronts against irregular forces, embedded among a supportive enemy population, is more ethical or takes greater care to avoid harming innocents than the IDF.
THE Goldstone Report was born in bias and matured into a full-fledged miscarriage of justice. So the inclination of mainstream Israelis is to dismiss its author as man who, perhaps not unwittingly, allowed his Jewish ancestry to serve as a cloak for a UN body predisposed to besmirch Israel. Israelis further resent the report’s dammed-if-you-do-dammed-if-you-don’t stipulation for an Israeli commission to examine IDF behavior during the Gaza war: If Israel refuses, Goldstone threatens further “lawfare” at the International Court of Justice in The Hague; if Israel does establish an inquiry commission it might imply Goldstone’s complaints have validity.
One option being weighed is to impanel a judicial review board that would examine how well the army has done in policing itself. Alternatively, the government could establish a formal investigative body. Or, lastly, a commission of inquiry could be established headed perhaps by former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak.
We worry that the latter two approaches could undermine army morale and inhibit split-second tactical decision-making necessary to protect Israel’s home front and citizen army. Our preference is that the Foreign Ministry’s forthcoming comprehensive rebuttal serve as Israel’s official – “case closed” – response to the Goldstone Report.
If Goldstone’s parameters for fighting terrorism are affirmed by the civilized world, other democracies would also be severely constrained in defending themselves against terrorist organizations specializing in anti-civilian warfare. Quarantining enemy territory; imprisoning captured terrorists; using sophisticated weapons against a less well-armed terror infrastructure; and bringing non-lethal pressure to bear on non-military targets to hasten the end of a conflict would all be considered “war crimes.”
As is Goldstone provides Hamas and Hizbullah with a legal alibi to fight from behind civilian populations.
WHILE Israel has been forced to justify what should be its inalienableright to stop Hamas from hurling thousands of flying bombs into itsterritory and traumatizing its civilian population, no UN-body hascalled to investigate the Palestinian leadership for culpability in themurders of 1,184 Israelis and the wounding of 8,000 others sinceSeptember 2000.
Strange that.