Investigating war crimes in Gaza


by Sunny
26th September, 2009 at 4:14 am    

Niluccio over at the Amnesty International blog writes about war crimes in Gaza:

The finding from the UN investigator Judge Richard Goldstone that both the Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes in Gaza at the beginning of the year has met with two predictable responses.

Response no1: Hamas says it fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel “in self-defence”. It rejects criticism on the basis that “resistance” apparently confers the right to behave this way. Response no2: Israel rejects the 575 pages of the Goldstone report (presumably without reading any of them) because the UN fact-finding mission was a UN Human Rights Council investigation, a body that Israel considers to be biased against it.

As Antony Lerman notes regarding the Human Rights Watch/WW2 military memorabilia affair, Israel has a nasty habit of playing the man not the ball when it comes to fending off critics. It’s presumably why Goldstone’s own daughter has given a “prebuttal” interview where she says her father is “a Zionist” who “loves Israel”. After HRW, is Amnesty International next? Are we set to be outed as a hotbed of Holocaust-deniers? Will key Amnesty researchers be unmasked, shown to be furtive collectors of David Irving DVDs? What about that Neil Durkin? Didn’t he once go to an “Oi” skinhead gig in the early 80s where the audience was wall-to-wall bovver boys all in thrall to The Cockney Rejects? (Yes, but I can explain…)

It’s quite scandalous that by trying to shoot the messenger, both Hamas and Israel are trying to get away from justifying their actions during the Gaza war. And by behaving like Hamas in this regard, Israel only demeans its own status.

I don’t really want to get into the circular I/P discussions here – please keep those thoughts to yourself. This is specifically about what happened in Gaza and how both have behaved since then.

Amnesty have set up a page so you can tell David Miliband to support the Gladstone findings. Go on, you know you want to.


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  1. douglas clark — on 26th September, 2009 at 9:03 am  

    “Amnesty have set up a page so you can tell David Miliband to support the Gladstone findings. Go on, you know you want to.”

    Done.

  2. cjcjc — on 26th September, 2009 at 9:17 am  
  3. falcao — on 26th September, 2009 at 6:01 pm  

    Somehow i doubt very much miliband will do anything in this regard, seeing as britian supplies well over 300million pounds worth of weapons to the israeli state on a yearly basis. No doubt the angelic gordon brown will also offer the Palestinians the chance to seek compensation because of the death and destruction caused by british made weapons in the near future, oh i just saw a pig fly!

  4. qidniz — on 26th September, 2009 at 7:36 pm  

    “UN Human Rights Council”?

    Yawn.

  5. Alex — on 26th September, 2009 at 10:43 pm  

    For anyone interested, we’ve posted an extensive review of Goldstone’s methodological errors at http://samsonblinded.org/blog/goldstone-report-the-rebuttal.htm

  6. fentonchem — on 27th September, 2009 at 1:40 am  

    The GC’s are designed to be able to be understood by by a soldier; that is anyone who will be accepted into an army.
    The basis of the GC’s is this; in an attempt to make wars less bloody, combatants agree to rules to keep civilian deaths to a minimum.
    The key to this is dress, soldiers were uniforms to distinguish them from civilians. This makes a soldiers job more difficult. To make up for this loss of military advantage, armies are offered a carrot. Upon capture troops are not treated as criminals, but as honorable men who are held in reasonable conditions; POW’s.
    HRW, AI and Gladstone do not understand what the GC’s are for, they insist that perfidity by HAMAS, and other terrorist organizations, is not punished.
    An example is how HAMAS dress as civilians, including as civilian police, use Ambulances to transport combatants and weapons, use Hospitals, Mosques and other ‘protected’ building to launch attacks and their holding of a POW in conditions unobserved by the International Red Cross. On top of this HAMAS always targets civilians and states that it considers all Israelis legitimate targets.
    On the other hand, the same organizations demand that the IDF put their own troops at risk by playing by the GC’s, treat illegal combatants as civilians and ignore all the efforts taken by the Israelis to keep civilian deaths to a minimum.
    Quite simply, they view the GC’s a a way to level the battlefield, an exercise in lawfare, whereby they can defend illegal combatants and punish legal ones.
    HWR, AI and the UN Commission on Human rights are immoral organizations.

  7. organic cheeseboard — on 27th September, 2009 at 9:18 am  

    wow, the pro-IDF trolls are really on poor form on this thread. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lamer ‘rebuttal’ than the samsonblinded one. witness:

    The Goldstone report almost lovingly refers to Hamas as “an armed group (page 12)”

    this is so awful I don’t understand why you’d want to advertise having written it. The Z word piece is roughly of the same standard.

    as usual human rights abuses are a-ok when it’s Israel committing them because HEY LOOK SOMEONE COLLECTS WW2 MEMORABILIA

  8. cjcjc — on 27th September, 2009 at 10:07 am  

    Mouldy cheeseboard – unfortunately your asserting that an argument is weak does not make it so…

  9. organic cheeseboard — on 27th September, 2009 at 11:24 am  

    and unfortunately asserting it’s strong doesn’t make it so either.

    funny how the zword blog post is so hot on bias too – i mean the blog itself is funded entirely by a pro-IDF organisation… what price bias there?

  10. chairwoman — on 27th September, 2009 at 11:43 am  

    organic cheeseboard – There’s WWII memorabilia and WWII memorabilia.

    My uncle for example, ex-RAF (WWII) collects British/Allied Forces WWII memorabilia, but in my experience those that collect German WWII memorabilia are, generally speaking, Nazi afficienados.

  11. organic cheeseboard — on 27th September, 2009 at 2:44 pm  

    maybe – but maybe not. even if you find the hobby distasteful, you can’t pathologise everyone who indulges in it to that extent.

    all this only serves to highlight the ‘shoot the messenger’ approach criticised in the commendable original post.

  12. Ben — on 28th September, 2009 at 7:27 am  

    “…Israel only demeans its own status…”

    Goldstone falsely accused Israel of not properly conducting investigations into cases of civilian deaths occurring during its operations. Considering that the IDF always conducts thorough and painstaking investigations when the circumstances call for it, Goldstone is making a grievous calumny against Israel. In the opinion of unbiased British defence experts such as Richard Kemp, the IDF takes greater pains and makes more effort to minimize civilian casualties than any other army in the world. Goldstone’s denial of this reality is irremediably damaging to his credibility.

    Israel has conducted investigations into all incidents in the Gaza campaign that resulted in civilian deaths, which is the normal procedure in a country that operates under the rule of law. These investigations differ from the ones conducted by Goldstone because they complied with the fundamental legal principle of allowing the investigated to defend their actions and to cross-examine any detractors or accusers. These investigations can be summarised as follows: the IDF conducted its actions with the aim of minimizing both IDF combatant and Palestinian non-combatant causalties. Unlike the 2002 Jenin operation, when the IDF took heavy casualties comparable to the PLO terrorist casualties and Palestinian non-combatant causalties combined, these aims were achieved. Furthermore, the number of Hamas combatants killed significantly exceeded the Palestinian non-combatant casualties, in spite of the widespread Hamas tactic of using civilian installations as fighting positions.

    The jurisprudence of the Goldstone Commission was that of a kangaroo court. It established the guilt of the IDF as a fact before any evidence was presented and examined. That Goldstone agreed to preside over such an unjust tribunal is to his discredit. Interestingly the former senior UN human rights official Mary Robinson, who is not known for her sympathy for IDF doctrines or Israeli policies, refused to participate in the tribunal because of its gross bias.

  13. NielsC — on 28th September, 2009 at 10:17 pm  

    Anyway, there is a big difference between how HAMAS poses , and how they act in war.

  14. falcao — on 3rd October, 2009 at 11:57 am  

    post 12. Ben
    “the IDF takes greater pains and makes more effort to minimize civilian casualties than any other army in the world.”

    and regarding investigating the death and destruction the peace loving idf causes

    “Israel has conducted investigations into all incidents in the Gaza campaign that resulted in civilian deaths which is the normal procedure in a country that operates under the rule of law.”

    you forgot to add they always seem to be innocent!

    Nice joke and propaganda bs, so israel using chemical weapons on civilians is normal procedure is it wow what a nice world we live in!

  15. RedSeaPedestrian — on 3rd October, 2009 at 4:12 pm  

    If the intention is to follow up the Goldstone report with other investigations into war crimes (ie Britsh, American, Russian, Chinese, Sri Lankan, etc.) than I would say that this should be supported by the entire human rights community. However, if this is to be a “one off” investigation (and this would appear to be the case) than anyone (except for those who automatically believe every accusation against Israel) will easily recognize the report as nothing more than another UNHRC anti Israel action.

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