This report is just another example of how the world is obsessed with an anti-Israel sentiment. You don’t have to agree with everything Israel does, but to suggest that Israel alone is the wrong-doer is not only absurd and contrary to logic, it is a malicious misrepresentation of the truth.
Israel has responded with outrage (see their official response below). Israeli President Shimon Peres responded to the report as follows: “The Goldstone Mission report is a mockery of history. It fails to distinguish between the aggressor and a state exercising its right for self defense. War itself is a crime. The aggressor is the criminal. The side exercising self-defense has no other alternative.”
Like the members states of the EU, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan, Israel had refused to co-operate with the Goldman Commission because of its perceived bias. The terms of the Commission’s mandate (issued by the Arab-controlled UN Human Rights Commission) had already convicted Israel of contraventions of war crimes even before the investigation started. One of the members of the Commission (Professor Chinkin) had publicly expressed her view that Israel was the guilty party.
Unlike the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, Israel is a democracy governed by the rule of law. As such, wrong-doings will be punished without the assistance of the UN. In his letter to Justice Goldman, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Aharon Leshno Yaar stated clearly that any wrong-doing by Israeli forces during the Gaza Cast Lead campaign would be investigated and if necessary prosecuted under Israeli law:
“Israel’s decision not to cooperate with the Mission is, I should emphasize, without prejudice to its conviction that any allegations of wrongdoing by Israeli forces in the course of the conflict must be investigated, and where appropriate, prosecuted. It is for this reason that the IDF initiated a series of far-reaching command investigations into a wide range of incidents and operational aspects of the conflict. In the past such investigations have led to criminal prosecutions. The findings are currently being examined by the Military Advocate General, and will also be examined by the Attorney General. Both the decisions of the Military Advocate General and of the Attorney General can be appealed – by Israelis or Palestinians alike – to the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice.”
Step by step, we see the nations gathering against Jerusalem.
As Christians, we have to stand up at all costs for the truth.
Jerusalem, September 15th, 2009
Israel’s Official Analysis and Comments on the
GAZA FACT FINDING COMMISION REPORT
• Israel is appalled and disappointed by the Report published on 15 September 2009 by the Gaza Fact Finding Mission. The Report effectively ignores Israel’s right of self defense, makes unsubstantiated claims about its intent and challenges Israel’s democratic values and rule of law.
• At the same time the Report all but ignores the deliberate strategy of Hamas of operating within and behind the civilian population and turning densely populated areas into an arena of battle. By turning a blind eye to such tactics it effectively rewards them.
• The Report barely disguises its goal of instigating a political campaign against Israel, and in its recommendations seeks to involve the Security Council, the General Assembly the International Criminal Court, the Human Rights Council, and the entire international community in such a campaign.
The Mandate of the Mission:
• The one-sided mandate of the Gaza Fact Finding Mission, and the resolution established it, gave serious reasons for concern both to Israel and to the many states on the Council which refused to support it – including the member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan.
• It also troubled many distinguished individuals, including former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who refused invitations to head the Mission and admitted that it was “guided not by human rights but by politics”.
The Conduct of the Mission:
• These concerns were exacerbated by the conduct of the Mission itself, including reports in the Palestinian media that, throughout its visits to Gaza, it was continuously accompanied by Hamas officials and its refusal to recuse members of the mission with clear political views on the issues under investigation. One mission member signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying that Israel’s actions against Hamas attacks were acts of “aggression not self-defense”, prejudging the investigation before it had even begun.
• The unprecedented holding of telecast hearings also gave cause for concern. The fact that all the witnesses were prescreened and selected, and none were asked questions relating to any Palestinian terrorist activity or the location of weaponry and terrorists in civilian areas only supports concerns that they were part of an orchestrated political campaign.
A “non-judicial” document
• Justice Goldstone as Head of the Mission repeatedly insisted that the Mission was not a judicial inquiry and so “could not reach judicial conclusions”. On this basis that he justified the inclusion of partisan mission members, admitting that their involvement “would not be appropriate for a judicial inquiry’. The Report however is highly judicial in nature, reaching conclusive judicial determinations of guilt, and including ‘detailed legal findings’ even in the absence of the sensitive intelligence information which Israel did not feel able to provide. These determinations are made notwithstanding the Report’s admission that it does “pretend to reach the standard of proof applicable in criminal trials”.
Elements Ignored by the Report:
• The Report all but ignores the deliberate terrorist strategy of operating in the heart of densely populated civilian areas which dictated the arena of battle. Even when the Hamas terrorists mixed among civilians, the Report rejects the notion that there was an intention to put the civilian population at risk.
• Astonishingly, despite the many widely reported instances in the international press of the abuse of civilian facilities by terrorist groups, and the statements of Hamas own leaders praising women and children who acted as human shields, the Report repeatedly stated that it could find no evidence of such activities. This, even despite its admission that those interviewed were “reluctant to speak about the presence or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups”.
• The Report also ignores Israel’s extensive efforts, even in the midst of fighting, to maintain humanitarian standards. While it does, reluctantly, acknowledge Israel’s “significant efforts” to issue warnings before attacks, it does not find any of these efforts to be effective
• While the Report passes judgment against Israel in respect of almost any allegation, it seeks to absolve the Hamas of almost any wrongdoing. The word “terrorist” is almost entirely absent. Soldier Gilad Shalit, now held incommunicado in captivity for over three years, was “captured during an enemy incursion” and the Hamas members that the Mission met with in Gaza are thanked as the “Gaza authorities” for extending their full cooperation and support to the Mission.
• Even the thousands of rocket attacks against Israelis which necessitated the Gaza Operation are given the most cursory treatment, and indeed the Report indirectly blames Israel even for these by terming them “‘reprisals”.
Rejection of democratic values:
• In a Report which relies so heavily on Israeli human rights organizations and which also petitions on sensitive security issues to Israel’s Supreme Court the Report devotes considerable attention to “repression of dissent in Israel”. It bases this assertion in large part on the widespread support for the military operation in the Israeli public, assuming that Israel has “created a political climate in which dissent is not tolerated. The notion that the majority of Israelis genuinely supported action to bring years of continuous rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilians to an end does not appear to have occurred to the members of the Mission.
• The Report is also critical of Israel internal investigations even though these compare favorably to investigations of allegations in military matters in most western countries, and have regularly resulted in criminal investigations and convictions.
• The Report’s recommendations are as one-sided as its findings. It seeks to harness the Human Rights Council, the Security Council the General Assembly, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court and the international community as parts of its hostile political campaign.
• Despite token recommendations in respect of the Palestinian side, all the international pressure is directed solely against Israel.
• The true test of such a Report can only be whether in future conflicts it will have the effect of increasing or decreasing respect for the rule of law. Regrettably a one-sided report of this nature, claiming to represent international law, can only weaken the standing of law in future conflicts. At the same time, it will broadcast a deeply troubling message to terrorist groups wherever they are that the cynical tactics of seeking to exploit civilian suffering for political ends actually pays dividends.
For an excellent, detailed analysis of the factual and legal aspects of the Gaza conflict, I recommend you read the report published by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
United Nations Human Rights Commission – the misuse and abuse of International law
In the three years since the UN Human Rights Council was established in June 2006, the 47-nation body—dominated by a controlling majority that includes China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia—has convened more emergency “special sessions” on Israel than on the rest of the world combined. These sessions, each initiated by the Arab and Islamic blocs, consistently condemned Israel for responding to cross-border attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah, yet said nothing about the attacks by both Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups, thereby legitimizing their actions and granting them effective immunity and impunity. Several of the sessions, including those of July, August, and November 2006, created “fact-finding missions” that declared Israel guilty from the start. The European Union, Canada and other democracies refused to support these measures on account of their being one-sided.
Members of the so-called Goldstone Fact-Finding Mission (Photo: UN Human Rights Council)
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