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.





The First Demo Victim of 2011 | Murdered by Israel ‘s Inhumane Occupation Forces | Jawahar Abu Rahmah [This page will be continuously updated about the events]

Photo from Friday’s protest in Bil’in. (Photo: Hamde Abu Rahme)

Jawahir Abu Rahmah, 36 year old woman from Bil’in

Published 01/01/2011 11:41

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – A Palestinian woman died Saturday morning after suffering intense tear-gas inhalation during an anti-wall rally in Bil’in on Friday, medics said.

Palestinian medical sources in Ramallah said 36-year-old Jawahir Abu Rahmah, from Bil’in, died at Ramallah medical compound. Abu Rahmah inhaled large amounts of tear gas fired by Israeli forces who forcibly dispersed a non-violent rally protesting the separation wall.

The local popular committee said doctors fought through the night to save Abu Rahmah’s life. She was diagnosed as suffering from poisoning caused by the active ingredient in the tear-gas, and did not respond to treatment, the committee said in a statement.

“We are shocked and furious for Israel’s brutality, which once again cost the life of a peaceful demonstrator. Israel’s lethal and inhumane response to our struggle will not pass. In the dawn of a new decade, it is time for the world to ask Israel for accountability and to bring about an end to the occupation,” said committee member Mohammed Khatib.

Abu Rahmah’s brother Bassem was killed in April 2009 by a tear gas canister fired at his chest by an Israeli soldier during a village demonstration.

Friday’s rally was attended by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Organizers said more than 1,000 demonstrators attended the final protest of the year calling for an end to Israel’s land confiscations.

Israeli forces met the protest with tear-gas canisters, hitting one teenager in the face and sending him to hospital. Military officials said they were unaware of injuries, and that around 250 participated in the protest.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the area was declared a closed military zone in advance of the protest “in an effort to prevent an escalation of the violent and illegal riot” that the village hosts weekly.

Bil’in protester dies after inhaling tear gas.

بلعين توحد الفصائل الفلسطينية في ذكرى انطلاقة الثورة الفلسطينية السادسة والاربعين

في المسيرة المركزية لهدم الجدار بالرغم من الطوق الامني على القرية

وإصابة أربعة مواطنين بجروح واعتقال صحفية اسرائيلية والعشرات بالاختناق الشديد

بلعين- رام الله: اصيب اليوم اربعة مواطنين بجروح والعشرات بحالات الاختناق الشديد نتيجة استنشاقهم للغاز المسيل للدموع جراء المواجهات التي جرت في قرية بلعين إلى جانب نشطاء سلام ومتضامنين أجانب، واعتقال صحفية اسرائيلية ، في ذكرى انطلاق الثورة الفلسطينية السادسة والاربعين.

وشارك في المسيرة دولة رئيس الوزراء د. سلام فياض، والاخ جمال زقوت مستشار رئيس الوزراء، ولويزا مورجنتيني نائب رئيس البرلمان الاوروبي سابقا ، والاخ سلطان ابو العينين عضو اللجنة المركزية لحركة فتح ، وأعضاء المجلس التشريعي، الرفيق قيس ابو ليلى، والرفيقة خالدة جرار، ود. واصل ابو يوسف الامين العام لجبهة التحرير الفلسطينية، والرفيق رمزي رباح عضو المكتب السياسي للجبهة الديمقراطية لتحرير فلسطين، والرفيق هشام أبوريا عضو المكتب السياسي لجبهة التحرير الفلسطينية، واعضاء اللجنة المركزية للجبهة اليمقراطية، الرفيق ابراهيم ذويب، والرفيق احمد علي، والاخ احمد عساف الناطق الرسمي لحركة فتح، والاستاذ الدكتور حسن السلوادي عميد البحث العلمي في جامعة القدس المفتوحة، وعبدالمنعم وهدان مساعد مفوض التعبئة والتنظيم ، وحسن فرج مسؤول ملف الشبية في التعبئة والتنظيم ، وكوادر وعناصر حركة فتح، والجبهة الشعبية، وجبهة النضال الشعبي الفلسطيني، والجبهة الديمقراطية، وفدا، وجبهة التحرير الفلسطينية، وأهالي قرية بلعين ، إلى جانب العشرات من نشطاء سلام إسرائيليين ومتضامنين أجانب.

واقيم مهرجان خطابي تحدث فيه دولة رئيس الوزراء د. سلام فياض، والاخ سلطان ابو العينين عضو اللجنة المركزية لحركة فتح، ود. واصل ابو يوسف عضو اللجنة التنفيذية، والرفيق قيس ابو ليلى، والرفيقة خالدة جرار، ولويزة مورجنتيني وجميعهم اشادوا بالمقاومة الشعبية وتجربة بلعين في المقاومة الشعبية، واختيار بلعين لانطلاق فعاليات انطلاقة الثورة الفلسطينية كان لها مدلولاتها على اهمية المقاومة الشعبية السلمية ضد الاستيطان والجدار.

ورفع المشاركون في المسيرة ، الأعلام الفلسطينية، وأعلام الفصائل الفلسطينية، والشعارات المنددة بسياسة الاحتلال الاستيطانية، ويافطات تشيد بانطلاقة الثورة الفلسطينية.

وجاب المتظاهرون شوارع القرية وهم يرددون الهتافات الوطنية، الداعية إلى الوحدة ونبذ الخلافات، والمؤكدة على ضرورة التمسك بالثوابت الفلسطينية، ومقاومة الاحتلال وإطلاق سراح جميع الأسرى، والحرية لفلسطين وردّدوا هتافات تندّد بالعدوان على القدس ، وسياسة الابعاد والترحيل.

وتوجهت المسيرة نحو الجدار، حيث كانت قوة عسكرية ضخمة جدا من جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي بانتظار المسيرة، وقد عملت حاجز ووضعت اسلاك شائكة في الطريق، ووضعت اعداد كبيرة جدا من الجنود على طول مسار الجدار، وبالقرب من الحاجز عملت حاجز كبير من جنود الاحتلال مدججين بالذخيرة، وقبل وصول المتظاهرين من الحاجز، قام الجيش بإطلاق قنابل الصوت والرصاص المعدني المغلف بالمطاط والقنابل الغازية نحوهم من جميع الاتجاهات، ورش الماء الكريهة الممزوجة برائحة الظربان، مما أدى إلى إصابة حماد عاصي (46 عام) بقنبلة غاز بالوجه نقل الى مجمع فلسطين الطبي في رام الله وحالته حرجة، وجواهر ابورحمة (37 عام) باختناق شديد نتيجة الغاز واغمي عليها ونقلت الى المشفى، وعلي صالح الخطيب (19 عام) بقنبلة غاز بالكتف، وسليمان خطاب(19عام) بقنبلة غاز بالصدر، والعشرات بحالات الاختناق الشديد، واعتقال سيلان دلال (23عام) صحفية اسرائيلية.

لمزيد من المعلومات مراجعة:

د. راتب أبو رحمة – المنسق الاعلامي للحملة الشعبية لمقاومة الجدار والاستيطان \ بلعين 0597117673



Video of the demo where she was killed:

Video of the demo where her brother Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed

Jawaher Abu Rahmah was the sister of Bil’in activist, Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was shot dead with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during a demonstration in the village on April 17th, 2009

The Funeral of Jawaher Abu Rahmah

Jawahar Abu Rahmah being laid to rest in bilin right now

Adeed abu rahmah leading calls in bil’in right now

Photos of Jawahar Abu Rahmah on posters throughout bilin

The funeral of Jawahar Abu Rahmah happening now in bilin

Funeral now in bilin

She is laid to rest next to her brother in bil’in

The grave of Jawahar Abu Rahmah in bilin


Video of the Funeral of Shaheeda Jawahar Abu Rahma

Created 2011-01-01 11:08 Jan 01, 2011

Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital yesterday after inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas during the weekly protest in Bil’in, and died of poisoning this morning. Abu Rahmah was the sister of Bassem Abu Rahmah who was also killed during a peaceful protest in Bil’in on April 17th, 2010.

Doctors at the Ramallah hospital fought for Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s life all night at the Ramallah Hospital, but were unable to save her life. Abu Rahmah suffered from severe asphyxiation caused by tear-gas inhalation yesterday in Bil’in, and was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital unconscious. She was diagnosed as suffering from poisoning caused by the active ingredient in the tear-gas, and did not respond to treatment.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah was the sister of Bil’in activist, Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was shot dead with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during a demonstration in the village on April 17th, 2009.

Announcement of Demo in Tel Aviv

Demo to protest death of Bil’in’s Jawahar Abu Rahmah, 7.30 pm tonight in front of the Ministry of Defense (Kirya) in TLV.

Arrest in tel aviv in solidarity with bilin [About 8:35 PM Palestinian Time]

Police violence is starting tel aviv demo about the murder in bilin [About 8:24 PM Palestinian Time]

Photo of roadblock in tel aviv. It growing now [8:48 PM Palestinian Time]


Photo in tel aviv now [8:50 PM Palestinian Time]

Sitting in the road chanting ‘police state!’ In tel aviv

Still on the road in tel aviv. ‘This is what democracy looks like!’ [ About 9:22 PM Palestinian Time]

Israeli flag with blood on it in tel aviv protest. We block the road. [ About 9:33 PM Palestinian Time]

This is what we have left of israeli democracy. Right here

Photo of the bil’in victim with tel aviv in the background.




Live tweets from Ibnezra

For live tweets at the Demo in Tel Aviv follow @Ibnezra at Twitter or click here for an overview

Related news:

Palestinian woman dies after protest | Reuters

Palestinians condemn death of women in West Bank protest | Al Bawaba

Army investigating death of Bil’in protester

Palestine Solidarity Project: Israeli Forces Kill Female Demonstrator

A Grave Downhill |

PA blasts Israel over latest ‘war crime’ | Press TV

Palestinian Dies After Israelis Use Tear Gas | New York Times

السلطة الفلسطينية تعتبر استشهاد فلسطينية بالغاز المسيل للدموع “جريمة حرب اسرائيلية”

Report from Bil’in and meeting Jawaher Abu Rahmah | Mondoweiss

Bil’in protester dies after exposure to tear gas shot by IDF By Amira Hass and Anshel Pfeffer | Ha’ Aaretz

Palestinian tear gas death is ‘war crime’

Palestinians vow revenge following protestor’s death | Y-Net News Israel,7340,L-4007379,00.html

Protester Killed By Israeli Tear Gas in Bil’in | Joseph Dana

Israeli Forces Kill Female Protester in Bil’in | Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

YNet: Sister of Bilin victim dies in anti-fence protest,7340,L-4007326,00.html

Palestinian Protester Dies after Inhaling Tear Gas | Qatar News

Demos and deaths continue in Occupied Palestine | Desertpeace

Bil’in protester Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, dies of asphyxiation caused by tear gas inhalation |Mondoweiss

Palestinian anti-barrier protester dies of injuries

Palestinian anti-barrier protester dies of injuries | Monster # Critics

Palestinian demonstrator dies after choking on tear gas | Palestinian Information Center

Palestinian dies of Israeli tear gas |Press TV

Palestinian woman gassed at protest dies: hospital | Gulf News

The death of Jawaher Abu-Rahma | Ramallah Online

Palestinians say woman killed by tear gas in Bilin protest | Big News Network

Palestinians say woman killed by tear gas in Bilin protest

انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون

May Allah Subhana wa Ta’ ala grant the Shaheeda Jawahar Abu Rahmah Jannatul Firdaus, and ease it for her family, loved ones and anyone around her. Allahumma Ameen ya Rabbil Alameen. ‘ Inna Lillahi wa ‘ Inna ‘ Ilayhi Raj’ in, Allahu Akbar

Israel launches missile attacks on Gaza

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

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.

Gaza under attack, live pictures and report

YouTube – Gaza under attack, live pictures and report….

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 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.

PRESS TV | News Summary of 14th day Gaza crises

YouTube – News Summary of 14th day Gaza crises.

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.

Mosaic News | War on Gaza: Day 14 – 1/9/09

Palestine Video: Mosaic News – War on Gaza: Day 14 – 1/9/09.