Saturday, October 10

The Goldstone Report - Is it fair?

So much has been written about the Goldstone Report. The Israeli leadership has criticized it for being unfair, while the Palestinian leadership has commended it.

The report findings as a response to what occurred during Operation Cast Lead was not strong in its condemnation of Hamas for their terrorist acts against the citizens of Israel over the last eight years of the firing of Qassam missiles into Israeli towns in the south.

The intentions of Hamas terrorists were clear - to maim and kill as many innocent men, women and children as possible. Eight thousand Qassam rockets were fired over an eight year period to achieve this object. The damage to property was great but injuries and death to Israeli citizens was relatively low. This could be explained for two reasons:

  1. The inaccuracy of the Qassam rocket which is primitive.
  2. The discipline of the citizens vulnerable to the rocket attacks made their way to security rooms when siren warnings were sounded.

It could have ended very differently had the citizens not been well drilled during rocket attacks. This is in contrast to the Palestinians in Gaza who have no protection against Israel Air Force bombardment.

Excesses against the Palestinians did occur resulting in heavy injuries and loss of innocent lives. Israel had made use of white phosphorus in their military activity which had caused untold suffering of innocent Palestinians. The question is whether it was necessary to use white phosphorus against the Palestinians. This needs to be investigated. This does not mean that Hamas is exonerated from perpetrating war crimes. Israel's big mistake was not allowing the HRC to investigate and interview those living in Sderot and surrounding towns so that Hamas terror against Israeli citizens could have been ascertained.

The Goldstone Report relied heavily on Palestinian witnesses whose credibility was questionable. There were hardly any Israeli witnesses to counteract which unfortunately did not give a full and unbiased picture of the Goldstone Report.

Despite all the weaknesses inherent in the report due to inaccurate assessments, Israel must be held accountable for the suffering of innocent civilians during Operation Cast Lead. Having said this, Hamas must be blamed for the initiation of the operation and for its results. They had provoked the attack on Gaza by their terrorist activities against innocent Israelis in Sderot and surrounding towns.

Which country on earth would tolerate the firing of 8000 Qassam missiles on its civilian population during a period of eight years? The US knew how to retaliate in Iraq and Afghanistan after the massive Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 11th September 2001. How many innocent civilians were killed as a result - not to mention the massive collateral damage to infrastructure?

The fact that Israel refused to cooperate with the HRC (Human Rights Committee) resulted in lack of witnesses giving evidence on Israel's side. Perhaps this would have resulted in a more balanced report.

Hamas has demonized Israel over the years. Its Islamic clergy have gone on record for the most vicious anti Semitic incitement against Jews and Israel. This of course adds legitimacy to terrorist acts against the Jewish people in their eyes. Hamas and its allied terrorist groups are to be blamed for the initiation of Operation Cast Lead. This was retaliatory action to protect Israel's citizens from Hamas terror.

The Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands does weaken Israel's credibility. Israel is viewed as the strong victor oppressing the weak Palestinians. They are also viewed as colonialists because of its settlement policies whereby Palestinian lands are taken from Palestinians for the establishment of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. These illegal activities weaken Israel's position and the world views Israel as an occupying power.

The Goldstone Report does make mention of accountability by both Israel and Hamas and that both sides should initiate a commission of enquiry for their accountability as far as war crimes are concerned. In a way this is very unrealistic. Hamas, with its attitude towards Israel, would never do that as they justify the murder of Jews as an honour. Apart from that, they are bunch of murderous gangsters with no mercy towards Israelis or Palestinians who oppose their regime.

Hamas even shot Fatah supporters in the legs in Gaza. To whom are they accountable? What is to the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit? He has been in captivity for over 3 years now without any contact with his family. The Geneva Convention does not apply to them so they have the liberty to do as they wish with captured prisoners-of-war. The Goldstone Report states in mild terms Hamas responsibility for human rights abuses. Is this naivety on the part of Judge Goldstone or perhaps he has been manipulated by the HRC and the UN? Hamas will never allow an investigation of war crimes either internal or external. They justify every act of terror that they have perpetrated as their "legitimate fight against Israel's existence" not just the occupation.

The Goldstone Report has emphasized Israel's responsibility for war crimes against the Palestinians while Hamas seems to be held less responsible for war crimes and was not condemned as soundly as Israel.

The fairness of the report is questionable taking into account the circumstances that provoked Israel into taking military action against the Hamas terrorists who also used their own people as human shields to maximize the Palestinian suffering in order to blame Israel. This ruse seemed to have worked to their advantage.

The Goldstone Report may have come to the correct conclusions as far as human abuses are concerned but the emphasis on Israel as being the main culprit of human rights abuses is unfair. The actual blame for the initiation of Operation Cast Lead must be laid on the doorstep of Hamas.

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