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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Goldstone's double standard

One of the most controversial items in the Goldstone Report relates to the al-Maqadmah mosque, allegedly attacked by Israel during evening prayers. These are the paragraphs in the report that refer to that attack:
820. The al-Maqadmah mosque is situated near the north-west outskirts of Jabaliyah camp, close to Beit Lahia. It is located less than 100 metres from the Kamal Idwan hospital, in the al-Alami housing project. At least 15 people were killed and around 40 injured – many seriously – when the Israeli armed forces struck the entrance of the mosque with a missile.

821. The Mission heard five eyewitnesses who had been in the mosque at the time it was struck. Two of them had been facing the door as the explosion occurred. Three of them had been kneeling facing the opposite direction and had been seriously injured. The Mission also heard from a number of relatives of those who died in the attack and has seen a number of sworn statements signed by them testifying to the facts they witnessed. The Mission also heard again from three witnesses it had interviewed earlier at the public hearings in Gaza. Finally, the Mission reviewed information received from TAWTHEQ. [TAWTHEQ is Hamas. CiJ]

822. On the evening of 3 January 2009, between 5 and 6 p.m., a large number of people had gathered in the mosque for evening prayers. Witnesses indicate that between 200 and 300 men had gathered on the first floor. A number of women had also congregated in the basement at that time. Witnesses explained that in time of fear or emergency it was the tradition to combine sunset and evening prayers. In addition, the Mission heard that, while some time normally elapses between the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer and the prayers beginning, at this time
it was the practice to begin prayers almost immediately.

823. The witnesses indicated that prayers had ended and the sermon was just beginning. At that point there was an explosion in the doorway to the mosque. One of the two wooden doors was blown off its hinges and all the way across the prayer area to the opposite wall.

824. As a result of the explosion at least 15 people died. Almost all were inside the mosque at the time. One of the casualties was a boy who had been sitting at the entrance. His leg was blown off by the missile strike and found afterwards on the roof of the mosque. A large number, around 40, suffered injuries. Many were taken to the Kamal Idwan hospital for treatment.

825. On visiting the mosque, the Mission was able to observe the damage done to it. Its immediate entrance is on a raised level from the external pavement and is reached via a ramp.

There are a number of stairs below the doorway, now covered by the raised entrance at the end of the ramp. The stairs underneath the ramp were damaged and the concrete had been pierced. There was a scorch mark on the ground and stairs.

826. The Mission has also viewed a number of photographs taken shortly after the strike and considers them to be reliable. They showed that something had penetrated the concrete (about three inches thick) immediately outside of the mosque doorway and then hit the pavement at the bottom of the stairs below the concrete covering. The ramp and entrance level structure had a wall about one metre high built on its outer side. The part of the wall opposite the mosque door was blown away.

827. The Mission observed that the interior walls of the mosque and part of the exterior wall around the doorway appeared to have suffered significant damage as a result of a spray of small metal cubes. A good number of these were lodged in the wall even at the time of the Mission’s visit to the site in June 2009. Several of these were retrieved and the Mission could see how deeply embedded they were in the concrete walls.

828. Apart from the aforementioned visit to the mosque, the Mission has interviewed its sheikh on three occasions, its imam twice, its muezzin, several members of the sheikh’s family, several of those injured in the blast and a number of the relatives who lost family members and who assisted in the immediate aftermath of the attack. It has seen medical certificates that bear out the nature of those injuries related by the young men it interviewed. The Mission questioned all of the witnesses and sought to clarify any doubts it may have had.

829. The Israeli armed forces’ response to the allegations states:

… relating to a strike against the “Maqadme” mosque in Beit-Lahiya on January 3rd, 2009, it was discovered that as opposed to the claims, the mosque was not attacked at
all. Furthermore, it was found that the supposed uninvolved civilians who were the
casualties of the attack were in fact Hamas operatives killed while fighting against the IDF. [There is a footnote here that points to an IDF document that - contrary to what the footnote claims - does not mention the mosque. CiJ]

830. Apart from the apparent contradictions it contains, the Mission notes that the statement does not indicate in any way the nature of the inquiry, the source of its information or the reliability and credibility of such sources.

831. In July 2009 the Israeli Government repeated the same position.[There is a footnote here that reads "“The operation in Gaza…”". CiJ]
So it appears that this incident may never have taken place - that's apparently the IDF claim according to Goldstone.

Let's assume for a minute though that there was such an incident, but that the mosque in question contained weapons as the IDF claimed with other mosques. Did the IDF deserve condemnation? Did it commit a 'war crime'? Let's look at a similar incident that took place in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia in 1999 that was investigated by one Judge Richard Goldstone - yes the same Judge Goldstone. He came to a very different conclusion (Hat Tip: Chaim S).
71. On 23 April 1999, at 0220, NATO intentionally bombed the central studio of the RTS (state-owned) broadcasting corporation at 1 Aberdareva Street in the centre of Belgrade. The missiles hit the entrance area, which caved in at the place where the Aberdareva Street building was connected to the Takovska Street building. While there is some doubt over exact casualty figures, between 10 and 17 people are estimated to have been killed.

72. The bombing of the TV studio was part of a planned attack aimed at disrupting and degrading the C3 (Command, Control and Communications) network. In co-ordinated attacks, on the same night, radio relay buildings and towers were hit along with electrical power transformer stations. At a press conference on 27 April 1999, NATO officials justified this attack in terms of the dual military and civilian use to which the FRY communication system was routinely put, describing this as a
"very hardened and redundant command and control communications system [which …] uses commercial telephone, […] military cable, […] fibre optic cable, […] high frequency radio communication, […] microwave communication and everything can be interconnected. There are literally dozens, more than 100 radio relay sites around the country, and […] everything is wired in through dual use. Most of the commercial system serves the military and the military system can be put to use for the commercial system […]."
Accordingly, NATO stressed the dual-use to which such communications systems were put, describing civilian television as "heavily dependent on the military command and control system and military traffic is also routed through the civilian system" (press conference of 27 April, ibid).


75. NATO intentionally bombed the Radio and TV station and the persons killed or injured were civilians. The questions are: was the station a legitimate military objective and; if it was, were the civilian casualties disproportionate to the military advantage gained by the attack? For the station to be a military objective within the definition in Article 52 of Protocol I: a) its nature, purpose or use must make an effective contribution to military action and b) its total or partial destruction must offer a definite military advantage in the circumstances ruling at the time.


77. Assuming the station was a legitimate objective, the civilian casualties were unfortunately high but do not appear to be clearly disproportionate.
And assuming the al-Maqdamah mosque was a legitimate objective (because it was used to store weapons, which is an 'effective contribution to military action'), Goldstone determines that the civilian casualties at al-Maqdamah were clearly disproportionate"?

Why the double standard?


At 10:56 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - Jews are going to be treated differently from every one else. I'm as outraged as you are and Richard Goldstone simply delivered in the Operation Cast Lead inquiry, the judgment his UN political masters wanted. There is no operational difference between the attack on the Belgrade station and for the sake of argument, an attack on the al-Maqadamah mosque. The only real difference here is the political evaluation surrounding two similar cases.

In short, Judge Goldstone is both a liar and a hypocrite.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger chanan dov said...

Goldstein is a traitor. And evil. He is smart enough to know what really happened. Wonder what he was paid. All traitors get paid. And he betrayed his daughter with lies too, unless she is getting paid too.


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