Powered by WebAds

Monday, September 21, 2009

Goldstone's shallow questions

Jonathan D. HaLevi dissects the testimony of four of the main witnesses to appear before the Goldstone Commission. Here are his conclusions.
Was the UN commission's approach one-sided against Israel, or unbiased and objective as commission chairman Richard Goldstone contended? Statements of Palestinians recorded by the commission and posted on the UN website provide authentic evidence of the commission's methodology and raise serious questions about its intentions to discover the truth. Commission members did not ask the interviewed Palestinians questions about the activities of Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip which could be classified as war crimes or that were potentially dangerous to innocent Palestinians. They never asked about:
  1. Launching rockets at Israeli towns and villages from within residential dwellings;
  2. Firing mortar shells into Palestinian neighborhoods when IDF forces were operating in or near the area;
  3. Firing anti-tank missiles, rifles, and machine guns at Palestinian buildings in Gaza suspected of having been entered by IDF forces despite the presence of Palestinian civilians in the area;
  4. Seizing private homes from which to ambush IDF forces;
  5. Booby-trapping houses before and during the war and detonating the bombs;
  6. Planting various types of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle IEDs near houses and detonating them;
  7. Sniping and firing heavy machine guns at IDF forces within Palestinian residential areas.
None of the statements taken by the commission (as posted on the UN website) reported even one single instance of the presence of armed Palestinians, or of armed Palestinians firing rockets at Israel or shooting at IDF forces operating in the Gaza Strip. There was no serious consideration of Palestinian "friendly fire" incidents, which occurs with the most disciplined armies, but is not adequately examined as an explanation for Palestinian losses, and we can only guess how many Palestinian civilians were killed or wounded by Palestinian fire. In fact, they reported that throughout the entire three weeks of fighting there was no significant Palestinian resistance.

The commission did not press the witnesses in order to elicit more information and did not confront them with the reports issued by the Palestinian terrorist organizations themselves, which detailed the fighting in a way that often contradicted the Palestinian witnesses. It did not adequately examine Palestinian rules of engagement - or the lack of any such rules. In addition, the witnesses hid vital information from the commission regarding the presence of armed terrorists or exchanges of fire in their vicinity, casting doubt on their reliability.
Read the whole thing.

There is no escaping the conclusion that the Goldstone Commission treated the witnesses with kid gloves, accepted their accounts at face value, did not ask probing questions and treated them with a deference that precluded their ascertaining the facts.


At 8:09 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Commission's mandate precluded it from treating the Palestinians critically. The problem is the Commission had four people with no relevant training in the laws of war, in terrorist ideology, in asymmetrical warfare and in the reality of wartime combat. As a result, they could not do true justice to Israel's combat experience in a heavily populated urban environment. In the end, its conclusions was entirely predictable.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


While I agree with the rest of your comment, I disagree with the first sentence. Goldstone's mandate excluded him from critically examining the 'Palestinians' actions. But it did not preclude him from asking the kind of questions a good trial lawyer would ask on cross-examination from the witnesses against Israel. He should at least have done that.

At 9:27 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - good point. Had Goldstone lived up to his reputation, he could have gone further and made an effort to make the Commission's proceedings truly even-handed instead of the farce they were. As you noted, even given his biased mandate, nothing kept him from asking tough questions of the Palestinian witnessed summoned before his panel. But he and fellow Commissioners had their minds made up in advance and the last thing on earth they were interested in was the truth - if that might have redounded to Israel's advantage.


Post a Comment

<< Home