Goldstone’s Backtrack: Some points to remember

by Tom Pessah on April 2, 2011 | Mondoweiss

Justice Goldstone, author of the famous report on the 2009 attack on Gaza, published an op-ed today in which he seemed to be retracting some of his claims. He wrote that “while the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. 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”

This claim was immediately picked up by Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who sees it as making it “clear that IDF is a moral army.”

It is important to respond to these claims for several reasons: because they are false and misleading, and because they serve to buttress many Israelis’ self-image of being morally superior to Palestinians, since all Israeli violence towards civilians is supposedly accidental. Portraying such attacks as accidental is also linked to seeing them as inevitable, and therefore justified – which means they can happen again.

Mondoweiss’ Adam Horowitz has already responded to this, but here are some more points to keep in mind in regard to the 2009 Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

1. They were very well documented by a variety of sources. Human Rights Watch wrote that “First, the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus in populated areas until the last days of the operation reveals a pattern or policy of conduct rather than incidental or accidental usage. Second, the IDF was well aware of the effects of white phosphorus and the dangers it poses to civilians. Third, the IDF failed to use safer available alternatives for smokescreens.”

Breaking the Silence testimonies show that “Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad. The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. You see a house, a window, shoot at the window. You don’t see a terrorist there? Fire at the window. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and others, collected many testimonies of attacks on civilians. For example:

The al-Helu family had been told to evacuate their house in Zaytoun, eastern Gaza, but while they were attempting to flee, Israeli soldiers opened fire on them. Farah was shot in the stomach and bled to death two hours later

2. As Adam wrote:

The U.N. committee of independent experts (led by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis) which was charged with following the Israeli and Palestinian investigations following the Goldstone report […] point to Israel’s unwillingness, and in fact inability, to investigate the policies of the Israeli military as the greatest fault of the Israeli investigation to this point… The experts’ report also addresses the structural reason the Israeli investigation has failed to look into military policy. Evidently the Israeli office responsible for investigating the question of crimes committed in Gaza is the same office that would be responsible for providing legal counsel to the Israeli military’s Chief of Staff and other military authorities. So basically, office that would accusing the military of committing crimes is the same one that would be defending them from the same charges.

As a result, few officers have been charged in relation to crimes committed. An internal IDF investigation found two officers responsible for dropping phosphorus bombs on civilians, and all they got was a little reprimand in their personal files.

On the other hand, an anti-war activist was given three months in jail for riding his bicycle too slowly at a protest.

3. The claim that there was no policy behind this stems from a poor understanding of civilian-military relations in Israel. The details of policy are often not set by the government, but they give army officers leeway to set these policies, and then don’t take any significant steps to punish them for causing human rights violations. For example, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was supposed to end, according to the government’s decision, 40 kilometers north of the border. The army initiated a full invasion, and no one was ever reprimanded for this discrepancy. In 2000, some government ministers wanted to limit the use of force against Palestinian protestors at the beginning of the second Intifada, while the army shot an estimated million bullets (as can be seen in the excellent Israeli documentary “a Million Bullets in October,” available on Youtube). In 2006 the Chief of Staff asked the government for permission to attack Lebanese infrastructure and was refused (see Shelah’s and Limor’s book on that war)- but infrastructure was attacked nonetheless. And so it was in Gaza: as I mentioned an internal IDF investigation found two officers responsible for dropping phosphorus bombs on civilians, and all they got was a little reprimand in their personal files.

The background for such actions was ongoing incitement to attack civilians – Deputy Defense secretary Vilnai’s threat to bring a “Shoah” on Gaza or the hate leaflets distributed to soldiers entering the Strip – and many more examples.

4. It is true that the army is taking criticism of its actions more seriously than after the attack on Lebanon in 2006. This can only be explained as a direct result of international pressure, which hopefully could prevent some loss of civilian life in the future. In other words, instead of praising the army’s liberality, Goldstone should be praising the international community of activists for successfully putting pressure on the army to investigate its own actions..

5. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe the hype.

Tom Pessah is a graduate sociology student at UC Berkeley.

Source

 

Related

Israel aimed to ‘cleanse’ Gaza neighbourhoods in 2008 invasion – Telegraph

Israel’s controversial invasion of Gaza deliberately aimed to “cleanse” Palestinian neighbourhoods, former soldiers have alleged, in claims that will reignite the debate over the legality of the three week military campaign.

Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 2008

Palestinian firefighters try to assist after an Israeli missile strike in Rafah on the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2008 Photo: AP

Israel invaded Gaza at the end of 2008 in a bid to halt rocket attacks from the territory it ceded in 2005. It says it focused on military targets controlled by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, and bitterly countered a 2009 United Nations report that stated civilians had been deliberately targeted.

But in startling interviews with Israeli filmmaker Nurit Kedar, former soldiers have for the first time allowed themselves to be named while blaming their commanders for encouraging a “disproportionate” response to Hamas’s rockets. They said their commanders used to “psych up” soldiers before an operation so they were ready to shoot indiscriminately.

One soldier says he was told to shell every house in a neighbourhood. Richard Goldstone’s report for the UN alleged that war crimes had been committed by both sides, but highlighted the moral and legal severity of the Israel’s attacks.

Israel has said its operational orders during the war emphasised “proportionality” and “humanity”. The importance of minimising harm to civilians was made clear to soldiers, it said at the time. By the end of the 22-day operation some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed and large areas of Gaza razed. Ten Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians also died.

In a report to be shown on Channel 4 News on Monday, Ohad, a 24-year-old tank commander, remembers being told the night before the operation that the entry into Gaza was to be “disproportionate”. Once into Gaza, he said his orders were unambiguous: “The order was very clear that if a car came within 200 metres of me I could simply shoot at it. Shoot a shell at it.”

He added: “We needed to cleanse the neighbourhoods, the buildings, the area. It sounds really terrible to say ‘cleanse’, but those were the orders….I don’t want to make a mistake with the words.”

Shay, a 30-year-old who was in the Elite Combat Unit, says he was disgusted by the behaviour of some conscripts in the Israeli army. He described taking over from the them the house of a wealthy Palestinian family. Conscripts, he said, had already defecated all over the bathroom. Family photos had been scrawled over. Graffiti on the walls read: “Long live Israel.”

Last year, the UN criticised Israel and Hamas for failing adequately to investigate the findings of its report. The Israeli embassy said yesterday: “Over 12,000 rockets and shells rained down on Israeli civilians from Gaza forcing the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] to carry out a military operation. Unlike much of the region, the open society within Israel allows for all allegations such as these to be aired and investigated. Israel has already authorised over 100 separate investigations into the operation, five broader investigations, and close to 50 criminal investigations are also taking place. Our judicial process is renowned across the world for its independence.”

For the full report, watch Channel 4 News at 7pm on Monday.

Israel aimed to ‘cleanse’ Gaza neighbourhoods in 2008 invasion – Telegraph.

Police Station on Graduation Day Attacked Dec 27 2008

Day 1 | يوم السبت 27/12/2008م الساعة 11:15 صباحاً

Gaza Police forces Graduation Day
(50 of them were killed in the first air israeli bombing)
سأبدأ بإذن الله بصور من مواقع صهيونية لأهم المقرات التي تم قصفها في اليوم الأول للحرب

صورة جوية لمجمع الجوازات ” مدينة عرفات للشرطة ”
والتي شاهد العالم صور مجاهدي الشرطة الفلسطينية فيه وهم شهداء
وقد ارتقى فيه أكثر من خمسين شهيد من أبناء وقيادات الشرطة الفلسطينية
من بينهم اللواء توفيق جبر ” قائد الشرطة الفلسطينية”
وفي الصورة تظهر مجموعات الشرطة الذين تم قصفهم وهم في طابور الاستعداد لتخريج دورتهم الشرطية

 

منتدى الرئاسة الفلسطينية غرب مدينة غزة
ويضم مقر قيادة جهاز الأمن والحماية وبعض مقرات الشرطة الفلسطينية
واستشهد فيه ما يزيد على مائة شرطي مجاهد
من بينهم قائد جهاز الأمن والحماية العقيد أبوحمزة الجعبري
ونائبه الشهيد محمد الأشقر

 

دورة تدريبية لمجاهدي كتائب القسام في أحد مواقعهم
وقد تم قصفهم واستشهد عدد منهم

 

موقع الإدارة المدنية شرق مخيم جباليا
وتم قصفه بعدد كبير من الصواريخ والقنابل الضخمة
نظراً لضخامة حجمه وقد ارتقى فيه عدد من خيرة مجاهدي الشرطة

 

موقع الإدارة المدنية شرق مخيم جباليا
وتم قصفه بعدد كبير من الصواريخ والقنابل الضخمة
نظراً لضخامة حجمه وقد ارتقى فيه عدد من خيرة مجاهدي الشرطة

 

برج الأسرى في حي تل الإسلام
وقد استشهد فيه عدد من خيرة مجاهدي كتائب القسام
نحسبهم كذلك ولا نزكيهم على الله

 

مقر جهاز الأمن الوقائي ” سابقاً “‬

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

Palestinian Hamas policemen search for survivors amongst the bodies of comrades outside the Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. Israel launched a massive wave of air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza today, killing at least 140 Palestinians after warning of a fiery riposte to ongoing rocket fire, officials said. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)‬

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

Bodies lie outside the Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. At least 120 people were killed across the Gaza Strip as a result of massive Israeli air strikes today, 70 inside Gaza City and the rest elsewhere across the enclave, Hamas radio reported. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)‬

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

Palestinian men removes the bodies of Hamas policemen outside their headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. At least 155 Palestinians were killed across the Gaza Strip today in massive Israeli air strikes on the Hamas-run enclave, Hamas radio reported. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)‬

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

A Palestinian man weeps as he holds the body of a Hamas policeman as others look for survivors outside the Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. Israel launched a massive wave of air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza today, killing at least 140 Palestinians after warning of a fiery riposte to ongoing rocket fire, officials said. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)‬

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

Bodies lie outside the Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. At least 120 people were killed across the Gaza Strip as a result of massive Israeli air strikes today, 70 inside Gaza City and the rest elsewhere across the enclave, Hamas radio reported. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)‬

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

Bodies lie on the ground as Palestinian men look for survivors outside the Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. At least 155 Palestinians were killed across the Gaza Strip today in massive Israeli air strikes on the Hamas-run enclave, Hamas radio reported. Israeli military spokesman Avi Benayahu told army radio the massive bombardment of Gaza was only just beginning. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)‬

 

صور مقر الجوازات بعد قصفه واستشهاد عدد كبير من أفراد الشرطة

 

طائرات حربية اسرائيلية من طراز F16
أثناء إغارتها على مواقع فلسطينية

 

طائرات حربية اسرائيلية من طراز F16
أثناء إغارتها على مواقع فلسطينية

 

طائرات حربية اسرائيلية من طراز F16
أثناء إغارتها على مواقع فلسطينية

An Israeli F16 fighter jet lands at air base near the border after a bombing raid in Gaza December 27, 2008. Israel’s air force fired about 30 missiles at targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, destroying several Hamas police compounds and killing more than 140 people, medical officials and witnesses said. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (ISRAEL)‬

 

طائرات حربية اسرائيلية من طراز F16
أثناء إغارتها على مواقع فلسطينية

 

طائرات حربية اسرائيلية من طراز F16
أثناء إغارتها على مواقع فلسطينية

 

 

 

 

 

Palestine Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance War » Abu Yazan – The 27th of December, a day I will never forget

By Guest Post • Dec 27th, 2010 at 17:57 • Category: Palestine, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, War

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSI feel like sharing my story with my friends to show how much terror Israel has brought to us….

That day I was walking in the street with a friend of mine in the middle of Gaza City…we were laughing at some jokes he was saying…and all of the sudden we heard the roaring of the Israeli F16s…It is normal in Gaza to hear such things, so we did not pay much attention to that, we kept moving with our jokes….Then with a glance, an explosion happened in a police station that was around 150 meters away from us.. We went running to the place when another explosion took place followed by a third, then a fourth, a fifth, we didn’t know what was happening but we didn’t hesitate to keep on going to the first place bombed…We had our hands over our ears because the explosions never ended, it was very loud to the limit you think that you are the one being hit with those rockets.

When we arrived at the police station, this is exactly what we saw.. On the door there were two officers lying on the ground injured, when I told the man, “I am going to save you just hang on,” he said, “leave me and get inside”.. I didn’t know what was happening inside, so I went with my friend and with 15 other people following us…We found over 40 bodies lying on the ground dead and about 250 others were injured, most of them had bad injuries…

We left the dead and started to take the survivors out of the place fearing that the Israeli F16s would bomb the place for another time… Most of the survivors were in bad shape, while I was carrying the people, I reached to a person who was badly injured but he looked like he was dead to me, his body was all burned.. he was saying, “ashhad an la elah ela allah, ashhad an mohammed rasool allah”…and that’s what made me notice that he was alive…I just moved towards him and in a hurry tried to take him out of the place, I grabbed him by the hand but the problem was that his hand was not part of his body anymore…I tried from his leg and the same thing happened, his leg just slipped out of his body, so I was there looking at him and knowing that he has no hope. “What shall I do?!” I was saying in a loud voice, I didn’t know how to carry him because each part of his body was a piece and I had to take him out of that place…I had three other people coming towards me and shouting very loud, “lets get him out of here quick,” and that’s what we did…

After like fifteen minutes we took all the survivors and the bodies out of the place, we all left, and after 5 minutes…the Israeli airplanes just hit the place again…we all were praying that we don’t get hit while we were inside… I moved to the hospital with the last ambulance to see what was happening and believe me what I saw was really disgusting and awful… Bodies all lying on the ground… the white suit of all the doctors turned out to red as if they are working in a grocery… This is the day where I decided to work and tell the world about Palestine and about the crimes Israel commits against Palestinians…

And every Palestinian has his own story, because no one stayed at home that day…everyone wanted to take a role in rescuing the injured.

 

 

Palestine Think Tank » Palestine Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance War » Abu Yazan – The 27th of December, a day I will never forget.

Palestine Think Tank » Palestine Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance War » Abu Yazan – The 27th of December, a day I will never forget.

Israel launches missile attacks on Gaza

YouTube – Israel launches missile attacks on Gaza – 27 Dec 08.

27th December attack on Gaza Strip – bombing in Rafah

“A massive Israeli military operation began throughout the Gaza Strip today. Multiple Isreali air strikes hit many different areas this morning and continued sporadically throughout the day. Attacks targeted police stations and security bases, but spilled over into civilian areas. The destruction was widespread. At the time of writing over 200 people have been killed with the death toll still rising. Hundreds of people have been injured, many severely.

These images were filmed shortly after one of the bombings in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. They show the devastation at the site of a police station in the Hi Alijnina neighbourhood which was hit at approximately 11:30am local time. There were also missile strikes in the Tel Al Sultan, Moraj and Mashrua districts of Rafah. This assault occured during the busy weekly market in Rafah and as school sessions were ending, so the streets were crowded and full of children.

Some of the walking wounded were interviewed at the Al Najar Hospital in Rafah. This basic local facility was massively overstretched, the atmosphere chaotic. Serious cases were transferred to the European Hospital in Khan Younis. Hospital mortuaries could not cope with the level of fatalities, many of which were described as arriving in pieces.”

 

 

YouTube – 27th December attack on Gaza Strip – bombing in Rafah.

Gaza medics in the line of fire

Palestinian medical sources say 21 of their staff have been killed during Israels military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Victims of one strike in Gaza City were forced to wait four hours for assistance after medics were forced to abandon their vehicles and walk 2km to reach them.

Imran Khan reports.

via YouTube – Gaza medics in the line of fire.

PRESS TV | Update from inside Gaza day 14th of Israeli offensive

Israeli forces move near 110 Palestinians into a house and shell it repeatedly 24 hours later, killing about 30 people, a UN reports says.

‘According to several testimonies, on 4 January Israeli foot soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians into a single-residence house in Zeitun (half of whom were children) warning them to stay indoors,’ AFP quoted the United Nations’ report as say More..ing on Friday.

‘Twenty-four hours later, Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killing approximately 30,’ the report added.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called the bombardment as ‘one of the gravest incidents after the beginning of Israeli onslaught on Gaza since December 27.

‘Those who survived and were able walked two kilometers to Salah
Ed Din road before being transported to hospital in civilian vehicles. Three children, the youngest of whom was five months old, died upon arrival at the hospital,’ OCHA said.

However, Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said: ‘From initial checking, we don’t have knowledge of this incident. We started an inquiry but we still don’t know about it.’

Israel has been pounding the coastal enclave on the fourteenth day of war on Gaza despite the UN Security Council’s binding resolution which has called for an immediate and durable ceasefire and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the coastal enclave.

Since Israel launched “Operation Cast Lead”, 783 people have been killed and nearly 3,200 others have been wounded, Palestinian emergency services report. ”

 

YouTube – Update from inside Gaza day 14th of Israeli offensive.

Israel intensifies and expands their “operation”

YouTube – BRAKING NEWS! Israel intensifies and expands their “operation” (Live images).

Toll on the children of Gaza | CNN interviews UNICEF”s Arsenault

YouTube – Toll on the children of Gaza. CNN interviews UNICEF”s Arsenault.