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.

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Israel demands retraction of UN Gaza war criticism

Three siblings from the Al-Samouni family. Goldstone's report said Israeli forces "killed 23 members of the extended Al-Samouni family" in one day of its devastating Cast Lead offensive on the coastal enclave

April 3, 2011

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel on Sunday demanded the retraction of a United Nations report deeply critical of its deadly 2008-2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip after the main author expressed regret over the conclusions.

South African judge Richard Goldstone had faced down enormous criticism in Israel at the time, much of it targeting his own Jewish ancestry, over the report which accused both Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza of potential war crimes during the 22-day conflict.

But in a surprise about turn on Saturday, he said his conclusions would have been different if he had been aware of additional information now brought to his attention.

“If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” he wrote in a commentary piece in the Washington Post.

The report’s findings had set the tone for widespread international condemnation of the Israeli assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza in which more than 1,400 people lost their lives, the vast majority of them Palestinians.

Israeli officials said the United Nations now needed to set the record straight.

“This is an extremely important development and right now we are multiplying our efforts to get this report rescinded,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told army radio on Sunday.

“I am going to give the issue my personal commitment,” Barak said, adding that he deeply regretted the “harm already done” by the Goldstone report.

He was echoing remarks made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late on Saturday.

“Goldstone himself has just confirmed what we all knew all along… I think our soldiers and army behaved according to the highest international standards,” the premier said during a brief televised address.

“We expect this farce to be rectified immediately.”

Netanyahu once again rejected the findings of the Goldstone Report, which came up with evidence of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by both Israel and Hamas for targeting civilians.

The Israeli military did not deliberately target civilians during Operation Cast Lead, Netanyahu said, while Hamas fired at innocent civilians and did not conduct investigations.

The prime minister said the fact that long-time Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi — now facing an uprising in his country — was on the UN Human Rights Council that commissioned the report, made the findings especially dubious.

“There is no greater absurdity,” he said.

In his opinion piece in the Post, Goldstone said he now concurred with Netanyahu that the council had a “history of bias against Israel”.

“We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission,” Goldstone wrote.

A UN committee of independent experts that followed up on the Goldstone Report’s recommendations found that Israel “has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza.”

In contrast, Hamas leaders “have not conducted any investigations” into the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel that were its grounds for going to war.

Allegations of intentionality by Israel in turn were based on the death and wounding of civilians in situations where the UN fact-finding mission could not reach “any other reasonable conclusion,” Goldstone said.

He acknowledged that while some incidents were validated in cases involving individual soldiers, Israeli investigations found that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

Goldstone recalled one of the most serious incidents his team investigated — without Israel’s cooperation due to its allegations that the investigators were biased — when Israeli shelling of a Gaza home killed 29 members of the Al-Samouni family.

He noted that Israel’s investigation into the incident found the attack was apparently due to an Israeli commander’s misinterpretation of a drone image and that an officer was under investigation for having ordered the shelling.

“I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes,” Goldstone wrote.

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Spread for the sake of the Martyrs of this genocide!

PHOTO ESSAY | REMEMBERING THE GAZA BLITZKRIEG

Commentary by Chippy Dee, Photos © by Bud Korotzer



Close to a thousand people gathered under sunny skies on Broadway and 34th Street on Sunday to mark the 2nd anniversary of the Israeli massacre in Gaza where homes, hospitals, farms and schools were destroyed and over 1,400 people, including almost 500 children were murdered 2 years ago.  Under sunny skies speaker after speaker spoke of the tragedy, and the fact that Gaza is not being allowed to rebuild, that murders are continuing daily, that people are starving, that their organizations would continue to support the Palestinian people, and that support for the Palestinian people was growing rapidly throughout the world.  Many noted the complicity of the US government in the war crimes that took place in Gaza. One speaker told the crowd that an American boat, the Audacity of Hope, would be sailing in the next flotilla going in the spring and Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb announced that she would be on that boat attempting to break the siege of Gaza.

After the rally the activists marched to the Israeli Consulate carrying their signs and flags, both American and Palestinian, chanting, “When  people are occupied, resistance is justified”,  “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, and “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry.  Palestine will never die.”

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PHOTO ESSAY ~~ REMEMBERING THE GAZA BLITZKRIEG at PS.HADNEWS.COM.

Israeli leaders, soldiers fear arrest over Gaza War Crimes

  • PDF

Gaza, (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli newspaper, Jerusalem Post, published a report warning Israeli soldiers from travelling abroad. The warning is built upon great concerns that they might be arrested of war crimes they have committed in the last war perpetrated against Gaza civilians.

 

According to the paper a letter sent by one of Israeli occupation army leaders published recently included names, addresses and personal details of 200 (IDF) officers who participated in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip two years ago, under the claim that they were war criminals.

When traveling overseas, the letter warned, retired officers should pay attention to the airlines they use and the airports at which they land, and ensure that the hotels they choose have been approved by Israeli security officials. The letter also recommended staying on a middle floor at hotels, and in a corner room.

Many Israeli leaders are being chased in Europe for possible war crimes that have committed in Gaza and Lebanon. Even Israeli politicians like Ehud Barak and Tsipi Levine were about to be arrested in the UK due to their direct involvement in Gaza war crimes. Yet, they have managed to flee London hours before arrest attempts.

Its remarkable that Israel launched a full scale military operation in Gaza 2008-2009 targeting obviously the innocent civilians. Victims scale was huge and mostly children and women. Whilst less than 300 were defenders.

By Sameh Habeeb
Palestine Telegraph Newspaper

Israeli leaders, soldiers fear arrest over Gaza War Crimes.

The New Abu Ghraib

IOA “Fashion”

2 shots 1 kill, displaying a pregnant woman in visor of a rifle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israeli Soldiers Continue Their Facebook Displays Soldier spraying “Be Right Back” on a wall.
Monday October 25, 2010 00:51 by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies
The Israeli Walla News website published on Sunday several pictures published by Israeli soldiers on Facebook showing “memories” while humiliating Palestinians during the war on Gaza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man on crutches being molested by troops

Another “Trophy” Picture, Cuffed Palestinian

 

 

 

היא הדוגמה שלך על תיקון עולם??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man of G-d teaching his daughter to shoot. The main principle of the Torah is “love your fellow like yourself”

(Bereishit Raba, parsha 24,: piska 7).

This principle includes considering the consequences of our actions, not only in our own lives but also in the lives of our fellow human beings throughout future generations. The greater extent of fulfilling the Mitzvah to “love your fellow like yourself”

(Vayikra 19:18)

 

“At the time when Hashem created the first human being, He showed him each of the trees in the Garden of Eden and told him: “See my works how good and excellent they are! Now all that I created is for your sake. Think upon this. Do not corrupt or destroy My world. For if you destroy it, there will be no one to restore it after you.”
(Kohelet Raba 7:19)

 

 

A keychain hangs on a wall in a Palestinian house in Zeitoun, outside Gaza City, daubed with English and Hebrew graffiti left by the Israeli army when they withdraw from Gaza earlier this month, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009. Inside and outside the home, graffiti had been daubed in Hebrew and English, with slogans including

“1 is down, 999.999 to go” and  ‘Arabs need 2 die’.

(AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Graffitti displaying:

Gaza here we Are

Graffiti daubed in House in Zeitoun, outside Gaza, written Hebrew and English inside occupied home, Written in Hebrew:
‘Gaza here we are’
‘You can run but you can’t hide’, and
“‘Arabs: 1948 to 2009″

 

 

A Palestinian boy stands next to a bullet riddled wall and a graffiti showing a mosque with an Israeli flag in a partly destroyed apartment  in Jebaliya, northern Gaza strip, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009. The Israeli Army used that apartment as a base and left sprayed several graffiti pictures on the walls. U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes, on the first day of a five-day trip to the region, called the steep Palestinian casualty toll “extremely shocking” and suggested the United Nations might ask Israel to compensate it for wartime damage to U.N. compounds in Gaza, but that he was looking at immediate humanitarian needs and thinking about longer-term reconstruction in Gaza. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

 

‘Hello first class’ ( top right corner)
‘We shall return to every settlement in Gush Katif’ (bottom right referring to US/Israel evacuated Gaza strip settlements in 2005)

Written in Hebrew graffiti at School destroyed by US Israel.
Location: Beit Lahiya, Palestine (Jan 2009)

 

 

BBC: Former Israeli soldier admits Israeli war crimes

YouTube – BBC: Former Israeli soldier admits Israeli war crimes.

THE ONGOING GAZA MASSACRE

But the tragedy does not end with those who were killed. Along with thousands permanently injured, there is the incalculable psychological cost of children growing up without parents, of parents burying their children, and the mental trauma that Israel’s offensive and the ongoing siege has done to almost everyone in Gaza. There are the as yet unknown consequences of subjecting Gaza’s 700,000 children to a toxic water supply for years on end.

The Gaza massacre and the struggle for justice
Ali Abunimah

27 December 2008: Israel began its deadly three-week assault on Gaza. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

The Gaza massacre, which Israel launched two years ago today, did not end on 18 January 2009, but continues. It was not only a massacre of human bodies, but of the truth and of justice. Only our actions can help bring it to an end.The UN-commissioned Goldstone Report documented evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in an attack aimed at the very “foundations of civilian life in Gaza” — schools, industrial infrastructure, water, sanitation, flour mills, mosques, universities, police stations, government ministries, agriculture and thousands of homes. Yet like so many other inquiries documenting Israeli crimes, the Goldstone Report sits gathering dust as the United States, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority and certain Arab governments colluded to ensure it would not translate into action. 

 

Israel launched the attack, after breaking the ceasefire it had negotiated with Hamas the previous June, under the bogus pretext of stopping rocket firing from Gaza

 

During those horrifying weeks from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, Israel’s merciless bombardment killed 1,417 people according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza. 

They were infants like Farah Ammar al-Helu, one-year-old, killed in al-Zaytoun. They were schoolgirls or schoolboys, like Islam Khalil Abu Amsha, 12, of Shajaiyeh and Mahmoud Khaled al-Mashharawi, 13, of al-Daraj. They were elders like Kamla Ali al-Attar, 82 of Beit Lahiya and Madallah Ahmed Abu Rukba, 81, of Jabaliya; They were fathers and husbands like Dr. Ehab Jasir al-Shaer. They were police officers like Younis Muhammad al-Ghandour, aged 24. They were ambulance drivers and civil defense workers. They were homemakers, school teachers, farmers, sanitation workers and builders. And yes, some of them were fighters, battling as any other people would to defend their communities with light and primitive weapons against Israel’s onslaught using the most advanced weaponry the United States and European Union could provide.

 

The names of the dead fill 100 pages, but nothing can fill the void they left in their families and communities (“The Dead in the course of the Israeli recent military offensive on the Gaza strip between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009,” [PDF] Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 18 March 2009). 

 

These were not the first to die in Israeli massacres and they have not been the last. Dozens of people have been killed since the end of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead,” the latest Salameh Abu Hashish last week, a 20-year old shepherd shot by Israeli occupation forces as he tended his animals in northern Gaza. 

But the tragedy does not end with those who were killed. Along with thousands permanently injured, there is the incalculable psychological cost of children growing up without parents, of parents burying their children, and the mental trauma that Israel’s offensive and the ongoing siege has done to almost everyone in Gaza. There are the as yet unknown consequences of subjecting Gaza’s 700,000 children to a toxic water supply for years on end.

 

The siege robs 1.5 million people not just of basic goods, reconstruction supplies (virtually nothing has been rebuilt in Gaza), and access to medical care but of their basic rights and freedoms to travel, to study, to be part of the world. It robs promising young people of their ambitions and futures. It deprives the planet of all that they would have been able to create and offer. By cutting Gaza off from the outside world, Israel hopes to make us forget that the those inside are human. 

 

Two years after the crime, Gaza remains a giant prison for a population whose unforgivable sin in the eyes of Israel and its allies is to be refugees from lands that Israel took by ethnic cleansing

 

Israel’s violence against Gaza, like its violence against Palestinians everywhere, is the logical outcome of the racism that forms the inseparable core of Zionist ideology and practice: Palestinians are merely a nuisance, like brush or rocks to be cleared away in Zionism’s relentless conquest of the land. This is what all Palestinians are struggling against, as an open letter today from dozens of civil society organizations in Gaza reminds us: 

“We Palestinians of Gaza want to live at liberty to meet Palestinian friends or family from Tulkarem, Jerusalem or Nazareth; we want to have the right to travel and move freely. We want to live without fear of another bombing campaign that leaves hundreds of our children dead and many more injured or with cancers from the contamination of Israel’s white phosphorous and chemical warfare. We want to live without the humiliations at Israeli checkpoints or the indignity of not providing for our families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege. We are calling for an end to the racism that underpins all this oppression.”

Those of us who live outside Gaza can look to the people there for inspiration and strength; even after all this deliberate cruelty, they have not surrendered. But we cannot expect them to bear this burden alone or ignore the appalling cost Israel’s unrelenting persecution has on the minds and bodies of people in Gaza or on society itself. We must also heed their calls to action.

 

One year ago, I joined more than a thousand people from dozens of countries on the Gaza Freedom March in an attempt to reach Gaza to commemorate the first anniversary of the massacre. We found our way blocked by the Egyptian government which remains complicit, with US backing, in the Israeli siege. And although we did not reach Gaza, other convoys before, and after, such as Viva Palestina did, only after severe obstruction and limitations by Egypt

 

Yesterday, the Mavi Marmara returned to Istanbul where it was met dockside by thousands of people. In May the ship was part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which set out to break the siege by sea, only to be attacked and hijacked in international waters by Israeli commandos who killed nine people and injured dozens. Even that massacre has not deterred more people from seeking to break the siege; the Asian Convoy to Gaza is on its way, and several other efforts are being planned. 

 

We may look at all these initiatives and say that despite their enormous cost — including in human lives — the siege remains unbroken, as world governments — the so-called “international community” — continue to ensure Israeli impunity. Two years later, Gaza remains in rubble, and Israel keeps the population always on the edge of a deliberately-induced humanitarian catastrophe while allowing just enough supplies to appease international opinion. It would be easy to be discouraged. 

However, we must remember that the Palestinian people in Gaza are not objects of an isolated humanitarian cause, but partners in the struggle for justice and freedom throughout Palestine. Breaking the siege of Gaza would be a milestone on that march.

Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament and a passenger on the Mavi Marmara explained last October in an interview with The Electronic Intifada that Israeli society and government do not view their conflict with the Palestinians as one that must be resolved by providing justice and equality to victims, but merely as a “security” problem. Zoabi observed that the vast majority of Israelis believe Israel has largely “solved” the security problem: in the West Bank with the apartheid wall and “security coordination” between Israeli occupation forces and the collaborationist Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and in Gaza with the siege.

 

Israeli society, Zoabi concluded, “doesn’t feel the need for peace. They don’t perceive occupation as a problem. They don’t perceive the siege as a problem. They don’t perceive oppressing the Palestinians as a problem, and they don’t pay the price of occupation or the price of [the] siege [of Gaza].” 

Thus the convoys and flotillas are an essential part of a larger effort to make Israel understand that it does have a problem and it can never be treated as a normal state until it ends its oppression and occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and fully respects the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian refugees. And even if governments continue to stand by and do nothing, global civil society is showing the way with these efforts to break the siege, and with the broader Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

Amid all the suffering, Palestinians have not celebrated many victories in the two years since the Gaza massacre. But there are signs that things are moving in the right direction. Israel begs for US-endorsed “peace negotiations” precisely because it knows that while the “peace process” provides cover for its ongoing crimes, it will never be required to give up anything or grant any rights to Palestinians in such a “process.”

 

Yet Israel is mobilizing all its resources to fight the global movement for justice, especially BDS, that has gained so much momentum since the Gaza massacre. There can be no greater confirmation that this movement brings justice within our grasp. Our memorial to all the victims must not be just an annual commemoration, but the work we do every day to make the ranks of this movement grow. 

 


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Gazan 5 month baby ran over by satanic Israeli driving a 70 ton tank

YouTube – Gazan 5 month baby ran over by satanic Israeli driving a 70 ton tank!!!.

Israel criticised over alleged use of white phosphorus

Human rights groups are calling on Israel to stop using white phosphorus in its war on Gaza.

The use of the deadly chemical in wars is only legal in areas that are not densely populated by civilians, Human Rights Watch says.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports from the burns unit at Shifa hospital in Gaza.

This package contains images that may disturb or offend some viewers.

YouTube – Israel criticised over alleged use of white phosphorus – 11 Jan 09.

Riz Khan & Richard Falk | The UN and Gaza (2 Parts)

Riz speaks with Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories.

 

 

via YouTube – Riz Khan – The UN and Gaza – 12 Jan 09 – Part 1.