Browsing Posts in Operation Cast Lead

On Friday’s edition of The Washington Post, a remarkable, yet long overdue admission came from South Awifrican jurist Richard Goldstone, author of the wildly inaccurate and inflammatory “Goldstone Report.” In the Op-Ed, Goldstone says that in hindsight, his report to the UN should not have reached the conclusions it did as far as Israel is concerned. Goldstone wrote, “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”

Since the report was released in September of 2009, Israel’s enemies have gone to the Goldstone Report, almost as a reflex, as “proof” that Israel targets civilians. Israel has always known that claim to be false, but the Goldstone Report did not wait for Israel’s investigations into its actions during Operation Cast Lead before releasing a bias, and factually outrageous narrative of Israel’s efforts to stop the launching of terror attacks by Hamas. In his Op-Ed, Goldstone stated that, had they had this evidence then, “it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes” on the part of Israel.

Another lie that has been debunked since the Goldstone Report was published were the actual number of civilian casualties. The Goldstone Report, relying on bias Palestinian sources and again, not waiting for Israel as a democratic state to take the time necessary to produce its objective findings, exaggerated the amount of civilian deaths. In reality, as admitted by Richard Goldstone himself, “Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas,” i.e. the majority of casualties were indeed combatants.

While Goldstone himself admits that “our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding,” the inaccuracy of the Goldstone Report has hampered Israel’s ability to defend its citizens and caused its reputation among the democratic world to be unfairly tarnished.

Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted saying, “Everything we said has proven to be true: Israel did not intentionally harm civilians, its institutions and investigative bodies are worthy, while 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.”

Israel’s ambassador to the US Michael Oren stressed this evening that Judge Goldstone’s Washington Post article reconfirms Israel’s right of self defense against Hamas terror out from Gaza.

In this article, Judge Goldstone contrasts the deliberate targeting of civilians by Hamas and its refusal to investigate its own war crimes with Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties and to fully investigate charges of IDF misconduct. Unfortunately, Judge Goldstone reached these conclusions only now, after his report seriously impaired the ability of Israel–and of all democratic states– to defend themselves, and furnished a major victory for terror.

The recent spate of terror attacks, including the massacre of the Fogel family in Itamar, must, even as Judge Goldstone now insists, be condemned in the strongest of terms by all international organizations. These include the UN Human Right Council which, as
Judge Goldstone only belatedly admits, is deeply biased against Israel. As Israel and the democratic world continue to face terrorist threats from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, the Goldstone Report must be utterly discredited.

It was The Times that first reported the use of white phosphorus shells during Operation Cast Lead and now it is The Times that is telling the world that Israel has the ability and the morality to investigate itself and take necessary action, if required as “Israel is a nation both keen and able to hold itself to account.”

In an editorial dated February 2nd, The Times writes, “…unlike many of its neighbours, Israel has a strong domestic desire to hold itself to account. The second is that, in this most fraught and nuanced of regions, condemnatory megaphone diplomacy does not work.”

To read more, click here.

Maariv - Goldstone, Doctor II

“Dear Judge Goldstone,

My name is Dr. David Zangen.  I am a consultant in Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem.  Over 50% of my patient population is Palestinian from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.  I speak Arabic and initiated the first training program for Palestinian physicians in the field of Pediatric Endocrinology.  The trained physicians were fully respected and were included as first authors on our studies that we published in the world’s leading professional journals.

But, at the same time, I happened to be the Chief Medical Officer of my brigade during Operation Defensive Shield, in Jenin, 2002.  I was responsible for the medical treatment of our soldiers, but also for enabling the hospital in Jenin to provide full medical services to the civilian population, and I was personally involved in numerous medical treatments that Palestinians (including fighters) received from Israeli physicians. continue reading…

Goldstone

What’s really on trial in the Goldstone Report?

By Consul Joel Lion, Spokesperson for the Consulate General of Israel in New York

(JTA) The No. 1 priority of any government is to protect its citizens, whether it be from times of economic instability, crime or foreign threats.

Stimulus packages and rebates are given to constituents to spur the economy. Additional police forces are deployed to counter crime. But what is a country to do when being attacked by a foreign army?

The answer to this question seems simple: defend its citizens by all means possible. But for Israel, doing so means condemnation by the world in the form of the Goldstone report. continue reading…

On October 16, 2009 Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, spoke before the UN Human Rights Council regarding Israel’s actions during Operation Cast Lead.

A full transcript of his speech:

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Governments Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Israel’s Reaction to the Decision of the UN Human Rights Council

Despite the significant improvement in today’s vote (25 in favor, 6 against and 11 abstentions) when compared with the original vote (12 Jan 09) establishing the Goldstone Mission (33 in favor, 1 against and 13 abstentions), Israel rejects the one-sided resolution adopted today in Geneva by the UN Human Rights Council, and calls upon all responsible states to reject it as well.

Israel expresses its gratitude to those states which supported its position, and to those which, through their vote, expressed their opposition to this un-just Resolution which ignores the murderous attacks perpetrated by the Hamas and other terrorist organizations against Israeli civilians. The Resolution also ignores the unprecedented precautions taken by Israeli forces in order to avoid harming civilians, as well as the cynical  exploitation of civilians as human shields by the terrorist groups.

The adoption of this resolution by the UNHRC impairs both the effort to protect human rights in accordance with international law, and the effort to promote peace in the Middle East. This resolution provides encouragement for terrorist organizations worldwide and undermines global peace.

Israel will continue to exercise its right to self-defense, and take action to protect the lives of its citizens.

Statement by H.E. Aharon Leshno Yaar

Permanent Mission of Israel

To the United Nations, Geneva

12th Special Session

Human Rights Council

15 October 2009

Every person here knows that today’s meeting is not about human rights but an abuse of the integrity and procedures of this organization to make a point to a domestic Palestinian audience.

Here we are today, for another opportunity for the favorite and most infamous subject of some within this Council, Israel bashing. There is a call to pass this on to other fora, to any place where politics, buried under the flag of human rights, can be waged against one state, against Israel.

Packaging this panic and hysteria here in Geneva, with a reintroduction of the Goldstone Report for domestic political purposes, offers a hollow victory for those that want to sow conflict in our region. The moderate forces are weakened, not aided, by these resolutions and conflicts.

Earlier this week in Jenin, Mahmud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority made just this point, saying that Hamas is using the Goldstone Report and its ramifications to fight any chance for progress in the peace process and even to cause division within the Palestinian community. Mr. Abbas said that “Hamas used the report to sabotage the reconciliation.”

In that same speech, in Jenin, President Abbas, stated that during the events of Gaza last winter,  ”the Hamas movement hid in basements. The leaders of Hamas ran away in ambulances to Sinai and left our people to bleed.”

The Goldstone Fact-finding mission devoted an entire chapter to the allegations of misuse of ambulances and, unsurprisingly, rejected concerns regarding Hamas misuse. Paragraph 485 of the report definitively determines [quote]: “(o)n the basis of the investigations it has conducted, the Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations… that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes”.

This biased and flawed report accuses Israel of war crimes for having taken action to fight against Hamas – war criminals who openly call for our destruction, fired thousands of rockets against us and endangered their own population by hiding and fighting from within densely populated areas.

Israel has given a substantive and clear explanation to anyone who was interested in listening to its criticisms with the fact-finding mission. We explained carefully why we believed the Report was wrong both in spirit and in law. Israel openly shared its dilemmas as a democracy fighting against terror along its border, in the most complex of situations, against terrorists who intentionally put their own people at risk. We offered detailed explanations about our security, legal and political policies and concerns. Mistakes that were made are being investigated by Israel’s relevant authorities, as has always been the case within Israel’s democratic system. Israel’s courts remain open to all, including Palestinians and NGO’s who seek redress. Regrettably, the report saw no problems with the actions of Hamas terrorists, using mosques, homes and hospitals for military purposes, even offering explanations why such action could somehow be excusable.

We still do not understand how a report that completely ignored the concept of Israel’s inherent right of self defense, Hamas’ smuggling of weapons and Israel’s genuine humanitarian efforts during the conflict could be seen as anything but biased and irrelevant. It was fascinating, and telling, to hear Justice Goldstone himself tell a journalist about the distinct limits of his report, saying [quote] “if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”

The supporters of the resolution have no interest in Israel’s actions to limit negative effects to civilians, its domestic investigations, the workings of its legal system or the fact that there is no likelihood that this body, or any other, will truly look into allegations of Palestinian crimes. The sponsors of the resolution are not even asking for the smallest amount of introspection from the Palestinian side who are calling on the Council to “endorse” a report that stated that their own people committed war crimes.

There are members that want this Council, as well as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to be so preoccupied that there will be no time to investigate human rights in their countries. They are among the “auspicious” group that supported the call that dragged us back here. None of those states could ever imagine any dialogue on human rights or democracy or complementarity in their countries. So they shift the discussion to Israel.

The resolution, as proposed, will be a reward for terror and will send a clear message to terrorists everywhere. They will clearly hear that this new form of warfare, as used by Hamas in Gaza, will offer immunity as countries will be prevented from waging effective responses. This strategy will be repeated in other places, against other countries fighting terror. Action taken here today will set back hopes for peace. Any chance for a real dialogue and better and more secure future for our region demands confidence. It would not be special sessions or abusing the agendas of esteemed international organizations, but dialogue, that would offer clear benefits and a mutual building of trust that would strengthen the position of the leaders of the Palestinian Authority. Dialogue, not threats, would also build the confidence of the Israeli public for supporting the peace process. The only beneficiaries of today’s proposal would be Hamas and their allies who only seek division and conflict and an end to any hope for peace.

Sderot Child

As the Goldstone Report was released on September 15th, it must be reminded that even before the investigation, the mission ignored the thousands of Hamas missile attacks on civilians in southern Israel which made the Gaza Operation necessary.

Both the mandate of the Mission and the resolution establishing it prejudged the outcome of any investigation, gave legitimacy to the Hamas terrorist organization and disregarded the deliberate Hamas strategy of using Palestinian civilians as cover for launching terrorist attacks.

The unbalanced nature of the resolution establishing the Mission was the reason that so many States on the Council, including all member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan, did not support it, and why many distinguished individuals, including former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, refused invitations to head the Mission.

Notwithstanding its reservations, Israel will read the Report carefully – as it does with all reports prepared by international and national organizations. Israel is committed to acting fully in accordance with international law and to examining any allegations of wrongdoing by its own forces.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched a special website which provides factual information addressing the legal and political context of the conflict in Gaza, the issue of Gaza war crimes, the issue of human rights and the investigations into the Israeli military conduct during combat.

The website discusses various issues relating to the Israeli military operation undertaken by the Israel Defense Force (IDF), better known as “Operation Cast Lead” or “The Gaza Operation” in December 2008-January 2009.

The website can be found at:

http://www.mfa.gov.il/GAZAFACTS

We’ve talked a bit about how Hamas operated in Gaza during Operation “Cast Lead.” The above video, based on intelligence and footage of the operation, sheds light on some of what the IDF had to deal with.

The IDF today made public the summary of its findings from commissions of inquiry studying varying aspects of Operation “Cast Lead.”  The commissions addressed a number of the most serious charges leveled against the IDF’s conduct in Gaza–including the use of white phosphorus and targeting civilians.  Investigators concluded that the Army’s actions had been well within the limits of international law in all operational matters and that there is no grounds for the current accusations of war crimes against Israel.  A further summary of the findings, with some analysis, is available through JPost.