I don’t see how this could be an April Fools joke, but it seems too good to be true. Justice Richard Goldstone, author of the Goldstone Report – an investigation into Israel’s 2008/09 Gaza incursion, has written an op-ed in today’s Washington Post that all but exonerates Israel from all of the report’s accusations, whilst condemning Hamas for making no effort to reduce its war crimes.
He admits that Israeli policy was not to target civilians, meaning that the Israeli authorities would not be guilty of any crimes against humanity, and even commends Israel on investigating the individual incidents that his report identified (although he does criticise the process for being too slow and for not being public).
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 soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
He re-iterates that none of his findings were proven judicially and that their recommendation was always that they were to be investigated further.
…To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding. We did not investigate criminal conduct on the part of any individual in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank…Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree; Hamas has done nothing.
And lastly/most importantly, he repeatedly notes that he did accuse Hamas of crimes against humanity and castigates them for not only failing to investigate them, but for continuing to perpetrate them for the last few years.
…Something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations.
At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.
That last point is extremely important. Just because the attacks do not cause heavy casualties does not mean that they are not criminal. They have caused huge psychological damage to the people of southern Israel (for example, 90% of the children in Sderot suffer from PTSD) and caused the population to have to always be within walking distance of a bomb shelter and to never be above the first storey of any building.
Given how many bodies have taken this report to be effectively a conviction against Israel for warcrimes, this article by Goldstone himself is a landmark. It completely undermines the credibility of the EU, the UN General Assembly and a wide array of NGOs, academics and media outlets throughout the world. For example:
The European Parliament has backed the findings of a UN-backed report into last year’s Gaza war, which heavily criticised Israel and accused both Tel Aviv and Hamas of war crimes.
The assembly is the second institution after the United Nations to stand in favour of the report, with just over 50 per cent of politicians passing the resolution.
…”For the first time, a resolution voted in the European Parliament acknowledges Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law,” Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, parliament member, said.
A key finding of the Goldstone report, published last September, was that Israel used disproportionate force in response to rocket attacks by Gaza-based fighters and failed to take adequate measures to protect civilians during its onslaught.
I really wonder what the anti-Israel side are going to be saying about this one. I hope they take it on board and start scrutinising Hamas more closely.
That said, I fully expect to start seeing articles condemning Goldstone as a “Zionist tool” and for supporting Apartheid (having spent the last 2 years praising him for fighting against Apartheid) and then going on about Israeli crimes against the Palestinians whilst pretending that Hamas are just a Muslim version of the Christian Democrat Party*.
*Whilst also having much nicer things to say about Hamas than the Christian Democrats.