Fri, April 1, 2011 | by Crethi Plethi
Goldstone: Reconsidering the Report on Israel and War Crimes
“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 appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
This is what Judge Goldstone — chairman of the inquiry commission on war crimes in Gaza after the war between Hamas and Israel in the winter of 2008-2009 — said about the findings of the commission in an Op-Ed column in the Washington Post on Friday.
In the commission report Israel was accused of “actions amounting to war crimes” during its war against Hamas after the ongoing firing of rockets against southern Israeli towns by Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
Israel called for the U.N. Human Rights Council to cancel the findings of the Report on Saturday. Israel has always been critical of the conclusions presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council on its war against Hamas’ operatives in Gaza in 2008-09.
“Everything we said has proven to be true,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Israel did not intentionally harm civilians, its institutions and investigative bodies are worthy, while the Hamas intentionally fired upon innocent civilians and did not examine anything. The fact that Goldstone backtracked must lead to the shelving of this report once and for all.”
In a November  interview by the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, Fathi Hamad, the Hamas administration’s interior minister, admitted that as many as 700 Hamas military operatives were killed during Operation Cast Lead. This number, consistent with Israel’s examination, was significantly higher than the biased numbers given in the past by Hamas and used by the Goldstone Report to defame Israel.
Goldstone now writes:
“That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets,” adding 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 [Israeli] soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy.”
Israel always has blamed Hamas for placing civilians at risk during the Israel-Hamas war and provided the United Nations with its own findings justifying its actions.
During the three weeks of campaigning, some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, leading to fierce international condemnation and led to accusations of war crimes in the report of Goldstone.
In his column, Goldstone also cites a subsequent report by a U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis, — which found that Israel investigated more than 400 allegations of operational misconduct while Hamas has “not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”
Goldstone also acknowledges that Israel’s military commanders had to “make difficult battlefield decisions” during the conflict.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told CNN on Sunday that Hamas continues to support implementation of the Goldstone report as it was originally published and approved.
“Hamas (is) surprised by the position by Judge Goldstone that he expressed his retreat on parts of the international report and accepting the Israeli narrative even though the Israeli occupation refused the welcoming and corporation and we welcomed and facilitated the work of the team,” he said.
Goldstone ends his column with:
“Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war.”
Read Judge Goldstone’s Op-Ed in the Washington Post here.
Also, you can download two responses to the Goldstone Report here: Case against Goldstone by Alan M. Dershowitz (Lawyer and Author) and Response to the Goldstone Report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Center.