209. Since 1967, about 750,000 Palestinians have been detained at some point by the Government of Israel, according to Palestinian human rights organizations.
As I demonstrated here, these numbers are completely made up by a Palestinian Arab group called Addameer. The figures are absurd and are based on no real figures. Moreover, Addameer has increased these numbers by 100,000 since 2004 or so, and we have accurate statistics on Israeli arrests in the past couple of years - they are off by orders of magnitude.
In other words, Addameer lies with impunity, testifies before the Goldstone commission, and Goldstone believes them.
227. The first incident relevant to the ceasefire reportedly took place on 23 June 2008, when a 67-year-old Palestinian civilian was injured when the Israeli military stationed at the border
north-west of Beit Lahia opened fire on a group of Palestinians trying to collect fire wood near the border. Also on 23 June, two mortar shells were reportedly fired from central Gaza. One landed near the Nahal Oz crossing and the other in the Negev desert; no injuries were reported.
YNet reports a mortar shot "early Monday morning" while Ma'an reports that the Palestinian Arab man was injured on Monday afternoon.
So which was the first incident? Apparently, the Goldstone Commission can't figure that out.
Interestingly, when Islamic Jihad shot three rockets to Israel on June 24th, they didn't claim it was in reaction to any Israeli actions in Gaza, rather for something the IDF did in Nablus. So it is entirely possible that the report of the 67-year old man is less than accurate.
264. On 22 December 2008, a 24-hour ceasefire was declared at Egypt’s request. Three
rockets and one mortar were launched from Gaza that day. Israel opened the border to allow a
limited amount of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.149
265. By 23 December 2008, rocket and mortar fire was again increasing significantly; 30
rockets and 30 mortars were fired into Israel on 24 December 2008.150 The Israeli armed forces
continued to conduct air strikes on positions inside Gaza and the crossings into Israel remained
closed. On 26 December 2008, a rocket launched from Gaza fell short and hit a house in northern
Gaza killing two girls, aged 5 and 12.151
266. The intensified closure regime on the Gaza crossings which began in November
continued in December, with imports restricted to very basic food items and limited amounts of
fuel, animal feed and medical supplies. According to OCHA, many basic food items were no
longer available and negligible amounts of fuel were allowed to enter Gaza. This resulted in the
health sector in Gaza deteriorating further into a critical condition, with hospitals continuing to
face problems as a result of power cuts, low stocks of fuel to operate back-up generators, lack of
spare parts for medical equipment and shortages of consumables and medical supplies.152 On 18
December 2008, UNRWA once again suspended its food distribution programme for the rest of
the month, owing to shortages.153
267. On 27 December 2008, Israel started its military operations in Gaza.154
The report goes into great detail on everything that happened between the beginning of the truce and Israel's response, but it skips an important fact: that the Hamas al-Qassam Brigades declared "Operation Oil Stain" on December 24th concurrent with their huge increase of rocket attacks. The Brigades continued to boast about this operation until well after Israel's response. In a very real sense, they declared the war.
Also, Goldstone spends much space on the humanitarian situation in Gaza at that time. From reading the report one would get the impression that Gazans were to the point of starvation. Yet as this video shows, they didn't seem to be in such bad shape:
Although my version is satirical, the video is real, and was taken during this exact time period of December 2008. It isn't a place one might choose to live but it is a far cry from many places - including much poorer areas of Egypt right across the border.
in the Hague Regulations (especially articles 42–56), the Fourth Geneva Convention (especially
articles 47–78) and Additional Protocol I, and customary international law. The successive steps
in the development of that legal framework represent attempts by the international community to
protect human beings better from the effects of war while giving due account to military
274. Article 42 of the Hague Regulations, regarded as customary international law,158
prescribes that “territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of
the hostile army”. The occupying authority so established shall take all measures in its power “to
restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety” in the occupied area (art. 43).
These provisions call for an examination of whether there was exercise of authority by Israel in
the Gaza Strip during the period under investigation.
276. Israel has without doubt at all times relevant to the mandate of the Mission exercised
effective control over the Gaza Strip. The Mission is of the view that the circumstances of this
control establish that the Gaza Strip remains occupied by Israel. The provisions of the Fourth
Geneva Convention therefore apply at all relevant times with regard to the obligations of Israel
towards the population of the Gaza Strip.
277. Despite Israel’s declared intention to relinquish its position as an occupying Power by
evacuating troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip during its 2005 “disengagement”,162 the
international community continues to regard it as the occupying Power.163
278. Given the specific geopolitical configuration of the Gaza Strip, the powers that Israel
exercises from the borders enable it to determine the conditions of life within the Gaza Strip.
Israel controls the border crossings (including to a significant degree the Rafah crossing to
Egypt, under the terms of the Agreement on Movement and Access164) and decides what and
who gets in or out of the Gaza Strip....
279. The ultimate authority over the Occupied Palestinian Territory still lies with Israel. Under
the law and practice of occupation, the establishment by the occupying Power of a temporary
administration over an occupied territory is not an essential requirement for occupation, although
it could be one element among others that indicates the existence of such occupation.165 In fact,
as shown in the case of Denmark during the Second World War, the occupier can leave in place
an existing local administration or allow a new one to be installed for as long as it preserves for
itself the ultimate authority.
Goldstone spends a bit of time trying to justify Gaza's status as being legally occupied. The report doesn't address the many arguments that show otherwise, and uses an expansive definition of "occupation" that goes beyond any other. The Denmark precedent is a perfect example: during World War II, the Danish government cooperated with Germany and allowed Nazi troops in its territory, and while most citizens weren't thrilled with it, they accepted it, which made this occupation much easier. When the situation became untenable and the Danes more restless, Germany dissolved the Danish government - a move that proves that Germany did have effective authority of Denmark, far beyond what Israel has with Gaza.
As we have seen in the past, the UN's legal justification for calling Gaza "occupied" is a stretch at best, a lie at worst. Goldstone does not address the main legal issues that many respected law experts have as to whether Gaza is occupied, even though they are readily available. For example:
there is no legal basis for maintaining that Gaza is occupied territory. The Fourth Geneva Convention refers to territory as occupied where the territory is of another "High Contracting Party" (i.e., a state party to the convention) and the occupier "exercises the functions of government" in the occupied territory. The Gaza Strip is not territory of another state party to the convention and Israel does not exercise the functions of government-or, indeed, any significant functions-in the territory. It is clear to all that the elected Hamas government is the de facto sovereign of the Gaza Strip and does not take direction from Israel, or from any other state.The Goldstone Commission is making a flawed legal argument, and in fact extending the definition of "occupied" way beyond the Hague and Geneva definitions, in ways that are a mockery of law. It appears that Goldstone, along with the previous ICJ ruling it also relies on, has a "gut feeling" that Gaza is occupied and will find whatever flimsy legal justifications they can find to support it after the fact.Some have argued that states can be considered occupiers even of areas where they do not declare themselves in control so long as the putative occupiers have effective control. For instance, in 2005, the International Court of Justice opined that Uganda could be considered the occupier of Congolese territory over which it had "substituted [its] own authority for that of the Congolese Government" even in the absence of a formal military administration. Some have argued that this shows that occupation may occur even in the absence of a full-scale military presence and claimed that this renders Israel an occupier under the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, these claims are clearly without merit. First, Israel does not otherwise fulfill the conditions of being an occupier; in particular, Israel does not exercise the functions of government in Gaza, and it has not substituted its authority for the de facto Hamas government. Second, Israel cannot project effective control in Gaza. Indeed, Israelis and Palestinians well know that projecting such control would require an extensive military operation amounting to the armed conquest of Gaza. Military superiority over a neighbor, and the ability to conquer a neighbor in an extensive military operation, does not itself constitute occupation. If it did, the United States would have to be considered the occupier of Mexico, Egypt the occupier of Libya and Gaza, and China the occupier of North Korea.Moreover, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that foes of Israel claiming that Israel has legal duties as the "occupier" of Gaza are insincere in their legal analysis. If Israel were indeed properly considered an occupier, under Article 43 of the regulations attached to the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907, it would be required to take "all the measures in [its] power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety." Thus, those who contend that Israel is in legal occupation of Gaza must also support and even demand Israeli military operations in order to disarm Palestinian terror groups and militias. Additionally, claims of occupation necessarily rely upon a belief that the occupying power is not the true sovereign of the occupied territory. For that reason, those who claim that Israel occupies Gaza must believe that the border between Israel and Gaza is an international border between separate sovereignties. Yet, many of those claiming that Gaza is occupied, like John Dugard, also simultaneously and inconsistently claim that Israel is legally obliged to open the borders between Israel and Gaza. No state is required to leave its international borders open.
groups did not at all times adequately distinguish themselves from the civilian population among
whom the hostilities were being conducted. Their failure to distinguish themselves from the
civilian population by distinctive signs is not a violation of international law in itself, but would
have denied them some of the legal privileges afforded to combatants. What international law
demands, however, is that those engaged in combat take all feasible precautions to protect
civilians in the conduct of their hostilities. The Mission found no evidence that members of
Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat in civilian dress. It can, therefore, not find a
violation of the obligation not to endanger the civilian population in this respect.
This video, showing Palestinian Arab militants disguised as civilians shooting a 120mm mortar from a street in Jabalya, shows otherwise. it is astonishing to think that the Commission couldn't find it.
Beyond that, Islamic Jihad bragged about its hiding among civilians:
There is no visibility of the men of the resistance in the streets of the [Gaza] strip. No one sees their means of transportation, and even light weapons can no longer be seen with people publicly in the Gaza Strip. The resistance completely disappeared. Anti-aircraft artillery fires on the aircraft without them knowing the location. The whereabouts of rockets launched from the heart of the strip cannot be seen or known.
According to medical sources, the number of martyrs and wounded of the elements of the Palestinian resistance are few in comparison to the number of civilian martyrs who were killed since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza, except for the large number of Palestinian policemen who were martyred on the first day of the war in Gaza.
Abu Mohammed - one of the field commanders in the Jerusalem Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine - said: "The goal is to take the "energy of concealment," to mislead the occupation aircraft and its agents [collaborators.]
And here's a link to a video from German TV that clearly shows Palestinian Arabs hiding weapons under civilian clothing in a crowded Gaza street.
How could the Goldstone Commission not have known about these?
for military purposes or to shield military activities, the Mission cannot exclude that this might
have occurred in other cases. As far as hospitals and United Nations facilities are concerned, the
Mission found that it could not exclude that Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat
activities in the vicinity of these protected sites. The Mission wishes to emphasize that the
launching of attacks from or in the vicinity of civilian buildings and protected areas are serious
violations of the obligation on the armed groups to take constant care to protect civilians from
the inherent dangers created by military operations.
496. The Mission asked the Gaza authorities to provide information on the sites from where
the Palestinian armed groups had launched attacks against Israel and against the Israeli armed
forces in Gaza. The Mission similarly asked whether, to their knowledge, civilian buildings and
mosques had been used to store weapons. In their response, the Gaza authorities stated that they
had no information on the activities of the Palestinian armed groups or about the storage of
weapons in mosques and civilian buildings. The Mission does not find this response to be
entirely plausible. The Mission notes, more importantly, that, whether the answer reflects the
reality or not, the Gaza authorities are obliged under international law to control the activities of
armed groups operating on the territory under their control.346 If they failed to take the necessary
measures to prevent the Palestinian armed groups from endangering the civilian population by
conducting hostilities in a manner incompatible with international humanitarian law, they would
bear responsibility for the damage done to the civilians living in Gaza.
The basic assumption that somehow the Gaza "authorities" are not exactly the same as the "armed groups" is bizarre. It is almost like the UN needs to hold onto the fiction that Hamas is somehow a respected civilian authority in order to jam their ideas of human rights into a neat category and ignore the reality.
At any rate, the idea that Goldstone could find no "proof" that mosques were used for weapons is ridiculous. This seems like proof to me:
And so does this, unless Korans have particularly flammable qualities:
groups did not at all times adequately distinguish themselves from the civilian population among
whom the hostilities were being conducted. Their failure to distinguish themselves from the
civilian population by distinctive signs is not a violation of international law in itself, but would
have denied them some of the legal privileges afforded to combatants. What international law
demands, however, is that those engaged in combat take all feasible precautions to protect
civilians in the conduct of their hostilities. The Mission found no evidence that members of
Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat in civilian dress. It can, therefore, not find a
violation of the obligation not to endanger the civilian population in this respect.
I already dealt with some of the claim that they found no evidence of Hamas and PIJ masquerading as civilians, and there is more where that came from. But it is curious that Goldstone says that disguising themselves as civilians is not a violation of international law.
Geneva protocol I article 37 paragraph 1 states:
1. It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy: (a) the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender; (b) the feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness; (c) the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and (d) the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.Unless I'm misreading it, it sounds like the very act of a combatant pretending to be a civilian is prohibited under international law.
One of the major sources that the Goldstone Commission heavily relied on in testimonies was TAWTHEQ. TAWTHEQ is quoted in the context of the Gaza war more often than HRW and seems to be mentioned in the report body about as often as PCHR (although PCHR is mentioned more in footnotes.) In other words, it seems that Goldstone put a lot of emphasis on TAWTHEQ's direct testimony to the Commission.
Who is TAWTHEQ? It is not an NGO - it is Hamas!
The organization is an Arabic acronym for the "Central Commission for Documentation and Pursuit of Israeli War Criminals." The possible objectivity of such an organization seems remote. Its webpage describes it as
It was established by the Gaza Ministry of Justice, which is Hamas.TAWTHEQ " The Central Commission for documentation and pursuit of Israeli war criminals" is an independent governmental organization dedicated to monitoring and documenting the Israeli aggression crimes that targeted individuals, buildings, private and public property by the Israeli occupation forces, and particularly crimes that occurred during the last aggression on the Gaza Strip on 27 / 12/2008 until 19/1/2009 and pursuit war criminals and follow-up submitting lawsuits against them via the national and the international courts without any political affiliation to any party.TWATHEQ [sic] is considered the only official commission to deal with the files of documenting aggressions and criminal acts of the Israeli aggression on Gaza, and follow-up submitting lawsuits against the Israeli officials.
While there are serious problems with relying on biased NGOs like PCHR (who refuses to call the Israeli army the IDF, instead using the term IOF consistently,) TAWTHEQ is single-mindedly created by Hamas not to be objective at all. Its mandate isn't to determine the existence of war crimes - it is to maximize the number of such "crimes."
So, for example, Goldstone quotes TAWTHEQ as saying that "341 of those killed were children. " It also quotes the PCHR and B'Tselem (314 and 320, respectively.) It is probable that TAWTHEQ (as well as DCI) is including children who were combatants in their list of victims.The entire purpose of TAWTHEQ is to accuse Israel of war crimes and provide "evidence" to credulous NGOs. The fact that Goldstone gave it as much weight as it did seems to be a reflection of Goldstone's general bias towards those who testified in person, something that appears to be consistent throughout the report. As in the case of Addameer, Goldstone seems far less likely to question Gazan facts and figures than Israel's, even when the Arab organizations themselves have an explicitly anti-Israel mandate.
410. In order to shed some light on where the truth might lie between these two conflicting descriptions of the police, the Mission finds it necessary to examine the development of the security forces linked to Hamas after its election victory in January 2006. When Mr. Said Seyam, a senior Hamas representative,269 took office as the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Interior in April 2006, he found that he had little or no control over the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, which were put under the control of the President of the Palestinian Authority and of officials loyal to him.270 On 20 April 2006, he announced the formation of a new security forceThis paragraph seems to set the tone that, at least originally, Hamas did not distinguish between civil and military functions for its Executive Force.
reporting directly to him. This was the Security Forces Support Unit, also known as the Executive Force (al-Quwwa al-Tanfiziyya). The new security force appears to have had a double function as both a law-enforcement agency and, at least potentially, a military force. It was officially charged with enforcing public security and protecting property. At the same time, he appointed Mr. Jamal Abu Samhadana, commander of the Popular Resistance Committees, as the head of the Executive Force271 and announced that it would be composed of 3,000 new recruits from various Palestinian armed groups, including al-Qassam Brigades.272 The newly appointed commander reportedly declared: “[The Executive Force] will be the nucleus of the future Palestinian army. The resistance must continue. We have only one enemy. … I will continue to carry the rifle and pull the trigger whenever required to defend my people. We are also a force against corruption. We are against thieves, corrupt officials and law breakers.” 273
411. In August 2007, following the June 2007 Hamas seizure of full control over Gaza, the current Director of the Gaza authorities’ civil police, then head of the Executive Force, Gen. Abu Obeidah, described the planned reorganization of the security services in Gaza. Executive Force members were to be integrated into the civil police. He reportedly stated that Hamas was “working hard to retrain Executive Force members to perform police duties” and that the “Force will be in charge of chasing drug dealers and lawless residents”. At the same time, he stated thatAt this point, when Hamas took over Gaza, it was obvious to all that Hamas would need to take over the police duties. Fatah clearly was not going to be tolerated in that role. The question is, did Hamas intend that the police would be a purely civil police force, or simply that they had to fulfill that role in order to maintain law and order but they would still be considered resistance fighters (and moonlight as such)? At this point, as of 2007, the answer seems to be the latter, according to Goldstone's evidence.
“members of the Force are religious, and are resistance fighters.”274
412. In October 2007, the security services operating in Gaza were reorganized. The previous Palestinian Authority’s police agencies in Gaza were merged with the Executive Force.275 The security forces under the control of the Ministry of Interior emerging from this reorganization comprise the Civil Police, the Civil Defence, the Internal Security (an intelligence agency) and the National Security. Their mandates, according to the Gaza authorities’ Ministry of Interior’s website,276 are differentiated.The website shows that there are six security services under the Interior Ministry: Police, Civil Defense, Security and Protection, Homeland Security, National Security Forces and Military Medical Services. Keep in mind that they all report to the same ministry, meaning that they are much closer related than traditional military and police duties are in most nations.
413. The National Security force is given specific military tasks, such as “the protection of the State from any foreign aggression” and “responsibility for the defence of the Palestinian homeland in the face of external and internal threats”. It is thus plainly a military force whose members are, under international humanitarian law, combatants.277 The functions of the police have been outlined above.
I maintain that there is essentially no distinction between these groups.
To give an example, the "Security and Protection" group lists 12 "martyrs" from the Gaza war on its website. It is not the police division; it seems to be mostly serving a function of bodyguards. However, of the 12 killed, PCHR listed 2 of them as "militants" and 9 of them as "police." (One I could not find.) Of the 9 "police," 6 of them were listed as Al Qassam Brigades members on the Al Qassam website itself, and two were listed as Al Qassam Brigades members in other sources.
414. On 1 January 2009, during the Israeli military operations in Gaza, the policeThis is a critical paragraph, and it highlights Goldstone's credulity. There is a clear statement from the police spokesman saying that the police were instructed to face the enemy, which is not a very ambiguous statement. Months later, when he is reached by commission members to explain this problematic statement, he seizes the opportunity to "clarify" that he only meant that they should be doing normal police duties.
spokesperson, Mr. Islam Shahwan, informed the media that the police commanders had managed to hold three meetings at secret locations since the beginning of the armed operations. He added that “an action plan has been put forward, and we have conducted an assessment of the situation and a general alert has been declared by the police and among the security forces in case of any emergency or a ground invasion. Police officers received clear orders from the leadership to face the enemy, if the Gaza Strip were to be invaded.”278 Confirming to the Mission that he had been correctly quoted, Mr. Shahwan stated that the instructions given at that meeting were to the effect that in the event of a ground invasion, and particularly if the Israeli armed forces were to enter urban settlements in Gaza, the police was to continue its work of ensuring that basic food stuffs reached the population, of directing the population to safe places, and of upholding public order in the face of the invasion. Mr. Shahwan further stated that not a single policeman had been killed in combat during the armed operations, proving that the instructions had been strictly obeyed by the policemen.
And Goldstone believes him.
Not only that, his "proof" is an absurd statement that no policemen were killed in combat (presumably during the ground invasion.) This is a lie. According to PCHR and my research, 16 policemen were killed from January 4th and on, 34 policemen were killed, and my research indicates that at least 16 of them were members of terror organizations.
Here is a most obvious case where Goldstone's members are willing to believe what they are told by Hamas without any followup.
415. The Mission notes that there are no allegations that the police as an organized force tookIf one assumes that the commission is accurate in defining the police as a separate, purely civil institution, this would seem to be the case. If one believes that it is a facade to make human rights organizations happy, then it is a bit less clear.
part in combat during the armed operations. On the basis of the information provided by the
Gaza authorities and of the above-mentioned study of the Orient Research Group Ltd., it would
appear that 75 per cent of its members killed in the course of the military operations died as a
result of the air strikes carried out during the first minutes of the Israeli attack. These men had
not engaged in combat with the Israeli armed forces.279
416. The Mission also notes that while the then commander of the Executive Forces and nowNor does it disprove it. However, other evidence might cause one to tilt that way. For example, if the vast majority of Gaza's police force were also members of terror organizations, wouldn't that indicate that Hamas is quite happy with freely mixing the civil and militant duties of its members?
Director of Police did reportedly say in August 2007 that members of the Executive Force were
“resistance fighters”, he stressed in the same interview the authorities’ intention to develop it into
a law enforcement force. The Mission notes that a situation in which a recently constituted
civilian police force integrates former members of armed groups would not be unique to Gaza.
That prior membership in itself would not be sufficient to establish that the police in Gaza is a
part of al-Qassam Brigades or other armed groups.
417. Except for the statements of the police spokesperson, the Israel Government hasWhile we have established that Goldstone believes, without reservation, the assertions of the Hamas police spokesman, it gives no such credit to the IDF. Where does it gain its skepticism from? Skipping a little...
presented no other basis on which a presumption can be made against the overall civilian nature
of the police in Gaza. It is true that the police and the security forces created by Hamas in Gaza
may have their origins in the Executive Force. However, while the Mission would not rule out
the possibility that there might be individuals in the police force who retain their links to the
armed groups, it believes that the assertion on the part of the Government of Israel that “an
overwhelming majority of the police forces were also members of the Hamas military wing or
activists of Hamas or other terrorist organizations”,280 appears to be an overstatement that has
led to prejudicial presumptions against the nature of the police force that may not be justified.
420. The Mission further notes that the study conducted by the Orient Research Group Ltd.I do not know the methodology of the Halevi report referenced here, but my research (using similar methods) has determined that at least 206 of the 242 policemen killed in Gaza were members of terrorist organizations or "military" groups. That is about 74%.
names policemen killed during the attack, whom it identifies as members of Hamas, al-Qassam
Brigades, other armed Palestinian groups or “terror operatives” whose affiliation is not known.
In 78 out of 178 cases the policemen are alleged to be members of al-Qassam Brigades on the
sole basis that they were allegedly Hamas members.
At least 83 of them were explicitly listed as members on the official Al Qassam Brigades website. Many others were listed as "militants" by Al Mezan, in Al Qassam Brigades forums, and in PFLP and Islamic Jihad websites. And ten of them were recognized as militants by the PCHR.
(About 15 of my count came from ICT and I have not corroborated yet on any militant website. Even so, it still leaves a vast majority of Palestinian Arab police as being actively affiliated with terror groups.
This is the key fact: a police force that (at the very least) tolerates its members as also being terrorists loses its status as being worthy of protection. Perhaps not according to a strict interpretation of international law, but for all practical purposes the fact that the police also did traffic duties does not make them any less militant, any more than an army doing police duties would be immune from attack.
Goldstone however copies an argument against this logic from the Al Mezan Center:
421. Furthermore, it appears from the response to the Mission from the Orient Research Group
Ltd. describing its methodology that its information on police members’ alleged affiliation with
armed groups was based to a large extent on the websites of the armed groups. In this respect,
the Mission is mindful of a recent report by a Palestinian human rights NGO drawing attention to
the “issue of the ‘adoption’ of killed persons by resistance groups; i.e. declaration by a political
or armed group that the person killed was one of their members. Often, when persons, including
children, are killed by actions of the Israeli armed forces , political and/or armed groups ‘adopt’
them as ‘martyrs’ placing their photographs on their websites and commending their contribution
to resisting occupation. This does not mean that those persons killed were involved in resistance
activities in any way. The families accept this ‘adoption’ of deceased family members for
various reasons including the willingness of resistance groups to provide financial support to the
families and pay for funeral costs of the persons killed.” As the NGO concludes, “these cases
require in-depth investigation on a case-by-case basis in order to determine every person’s status
according to his actual affiliation”.283
It is true that some websites use the word "martyrs" when referring to women and children. However, my group's original research was careful to ignore any sources that did this practice. I did not see a single women or child (less than 16 years old) being mentioned as a member of any armed group. Moreover, we were careful not to count people listed only as "shahids" and made sure that those we counted were called "mujahid" or similar terms, if not explicitly members of specific brigades.
In other words, Goldstone accepted the poor argument of Al Mezan without checking it against the specific entries mentioned. It also ignored my email to the Commission that listed my data and methodology. Its logic of throwing out any evidence that proved the police to be a sham front for terrorists, and accepting any evidence that claimed otherwise, is problematic indeed.
723. The Mission considers, however, that the testimonies of the witnesses strongly suggestthat already before daybreak on 4 January 2009 the Israeli armed forces were in full control ofthe al-Samouni neighbourhood. The Israeli soldiers had taken up position on the roofs of thehouses in the area. According to several witnesses, the soldiers on the street spoke to residentswho had ventured out of their houses.410 In some cases (for instance, at the house of Saleh al-Samouni and at the house Iyad al-Samouni was in, see below), they entered the houses nonviolentlyafter knocking on the door. According to Saleh al-Samouni, the prolongedidentification of all the persons present in his house (his father identifying each family memberin Hebrew for the soldiers) took place outside. The soldiers appear to have been confident thatthey were not at immediate risk of being attacked.
724. The Mission also reviewed the submission it received from an Israeli researcher, arguinggenerally that statements from Palestinian residents claiming that no fighting took place in theirneighbourhood are disproved by the accounts Palestinian armed groups give of the armedoperations. The Mission notes that, as far as the al-Samouni neighbourhood is concerned, thisreport would appear to support the statements of the witnesses that there was no combat.411
Note 411: “The hidden dimension of Palestinian war casualties…”. Only 4 of the more than 100 entries in the submission refer to combat action in Zeytoun, the much larger part of Gaza City of which al-Samouni neighbourhood is a part. The incidents in Zeytoun that are mentioned reportedly occurred on 6, 7, 11 and 13 January 2009, and consist of Palestinian combatants opening fire against Israeli troops with rocket-propelled grenades, a mortar (in one case) and detonating an explosive device.
It is difficult for me to say that there was or was not military activity in the Samounis' neighborhood on January 4th. However, Goldstone takes the absence of any mention of incidents in the Al Zaytoun neighborhood (in which the Samounis lived) in an Israeli report as evidence that there was no significant fighting there on January 4th. Goldstone's other evidence is indeed Palestinian Arab witnesses.
I do not know how big Al Zaytoun is either. However, it seems pretty clear that there was still fighting in Al Zaytoun on January 4th. PCHR names:
495 Mustafa Zuhdi Mustafa Erhayem
498 Mohammed Fou’ad Mahmoud al-He
515 Mohammed Bassam Mohammed ‘Anan
530 Hassan ‘Isam Hassan al-Jammasi
580 ‘Ateya Rushdi Khalil Aal-Khuli (16 years old!)
all as militants, actively fighting Israeli forces as they were killed in Al-Zaytoun on January 4th.
In addition, (576) Ayman Mohammed Mohammed ‘Afana (policeman) was an Al Qassam Brigades member killed in that neighborhood on that day.
And the fighting continued in Al-Zaytoun on January 5th:.
639 Mohammed Mohammed Nabih al-Ghazali (PCHR)
641 Rashad Helmi Mahmoud al-Samouni (see below) (PCHR)
681 Ahmed Hassan Abdul Karim Abu Zour listed as "resister" on PMoH site (#226)
Again, this doesn't mean that Goldstone is incorrect concerning the immediate area of the Samouni house, but it does indicate that the commission ignored easily-available data that could indicate that their implication that no fighting was taking place in Al-Zaytoun is wrong.
In para. 713 and footnote 404, they list the names of every member of the al-Samouni extended family that was killed. One of them is Rashad Helmi al Samouni (male, aged 42), whom the PCHR lists as being killed a militant. (Not only that, but another al-Samouni is listed as having been killed on January 5th: Mohammed Ibrahim Helmi al-Samouni, listed in PCHR as a civilian but who was a member of Islamic Jihad.)
So one of the civlians Goldstone lists as being killed was in fact a terrorist.
At the very least, a small amount of fact checking would have uncovered these inconsistencies. Yet Goldstone says without reservation:
I think there is more than enough reason to doubt their testimony.
721. The Mission found the foregoing witnesses to be credible and reliable. It has no reason to doubt their testimony.
already looked at some of Goldstone's inaccuracies concerning the civilian status of Gaza police, the report makes more specific mention of the police killed at the areas they visited in Gaza, mainly the Arafat police compound and the Al-Abbas police station.
435. From the facts available to it, the Mission finds that the deliberate killing of 99 members of the police at the police headquarters and three police stations during the first minutes of the military operations, while they were engaged in civilian tasks inside civilian police facilities, constitutes an attack which failed to strike an acceptable balance between the direct military advantage anticipated (i.e. the killing of those policemen who may have been members of Palestinian armed groups) and the loss of civilian life (i.e. the other policemen killed and members of the public who would inevitably have been present or in the vicinity). The attacks on the Arafat City police headquarters and the Abbas Street police station, al-Tuffah police station and the Deir al-Balah investigative police station constituted disproportionate attacks in violation of customary international humanitarian law.From the analysis here, Goldstone takes the facts that it was aware of, where the commission believed the Palestinian Arab NGOs as to which policemen were members of terror groups and discounting Israeli sources, and says that given that information, the direct military advantage of killing members of armed groups is not great enough to justify attacking the police stations knowing that many people who were not members of such groups would be killed.
436. From the facts available to it, the Mission further believes that there has been a violation of the inherent right to life of those members of the police killed in the attacks of 27 December 2007 who were not members of armed groups by depriving them arbitrarily of their life in violation of article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Goldstone is more explicit in the conclusion:
1720. The Mission also concludes that Israel, by deliberately attacking police stations and killing large numbers of policemen (99 in the incidents investigated by the Mission) during the first minutes of the military operations, failed to respect the principle of proportionality between the military advantage anticipated by killing some policemen who might have been members of Palestinian armed groups and the loss of civilian life (the majority of policemen and members of the public present in the police stations or nearby during the attack). Therefore, these were
disproportionate attacks in violation of customary international law. The Mission finds a violation of the right to life (Article 6 ICCPR) of the policemen killed in these attacks who were not members of Palestinian armed groups.
The implication is that if the majority of the 99 policemen killed in these specific attacks were members of armed groups, then Israel may have been justified in those attacks.
Well, guess what? The majority of the policemen they refer to were members of terror groups.
I'm not 100% sure where the number 99 came from, but according to PCHR there were 91 police killed at Arafat Police City and 9 killed at the al-Abbas police station on December 27th. Based on those 100 people, we have evidence that 65 of them were militants, or 65% - nearly two-thirds. Goldstone's flat-out statement that a majority were not members of armed groups is not true.
Beyond that, Goldstone implies that many non-police civilians would have been in the area at the times of attack and therefore Israel should have not attacked for fear of hitting them. It gives no numbers of civilian casualties in those police stations, however. At Arafat Police City, 90 out of the 91 killed were police, and one was a "driver" who was also a member of the al-Qasaam Brigades. So 100% of those killed at that police station were, according to Goldstone's criteria, legitimate targets, as well over half were members of armed groups.
At the al-Abbas police station, 7 of the 9 killed were policemen, and 7 of the 9 killed were members of terror groups. (One "jobless" civilian was a member, one policeman we found no evidence of being a member.)
It is ridiculous to say that group of terrorists who outnumber civilians by nearly 2-1 would be immune from legitimate attack under international law. While Goldstone's earlier analysis was more concerning the roles that the police were playing at the time of the attack, his conclusion seems to imply that if they were known to be members of terror groups then the attack would be legitimate.
Which is exactly the case.
It is worthwhile to mention that the Goldstone report chooses deliberately to concentrate only of specific events that would demonize Israel. Instead of looking at the total numbers of killed and the circumstances, the Commission cherry-picked specific events and looked in more detail at those events. Therefore, they chose the initial Israeli attacks on police stations on December 27th because those attacks appeared to be the most egregious attacks on civilians (in their minds.) Yet even in this case, they are wrong.
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.The report goes into some detail that the mosque was indeed bombed by Israel, and the IDF responses to the charges seem to be very inadequate:
829. The Israeli armed forces’ response to the allegations states:I have no indication that the mosque was not hit by IDF forces, and I have no reason to doubt Goldstone concerning the matter; they appear to have found forensic evidence that indicates it was an Israeli strike rather than a Hamas bomb.
...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.
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.463
There are a couple of inconsistencies, however. The claim that at least 15 were killed seems to have come from the initial PCHR report of the incident, which lists 12 people killed and claims that three more died in the following days. However, PCHR only lists 11 to have died in the Jabalya refugee camp on January 3rd; and additional 3 died in Beit Lahiya on that date (one of whom was listed in the initial PCHR report), and I found one who died later, so it is possible that 15 were killed if all of the Beit Lahiya victims were in the mosque as well, but the PCHR report indicated that three of them died at a later date and that is not reflected in the final list.
More importantly, Goldstone doesn't bother to point out that 6 of the dead were actually terrorists: (numbers are PCHR list numbers)
458 ‘Umar Abdul Hafez Mousa al-Silawi Al Qassam Brigades
459 Ra’ed Abdul Rahman Mohammed al-Msamha (pictured, unclear of affiliation)
462 Sa’id Salah Sa’id Battah Al Qassam Brigades
478 Muhannad Ibrahim ‘Ata al-Tannani Al Quds Brigades member
484 Ibrahim Mousa Issa al-Silawi Al Qassam Brigades
987 Ahmed Hamed Hassan Abu ‘Eita Al Qassam Brigades
It seems to be very unlikely that 6 of the 15 known dead in a mosque crowded with hundreds of civilians would be terrorists. Either the mosque itself had a hundred terrorists or so, or something else is going on. (Jonathan D. Halevi counts 7 dead terrorists).
Could there have been an attack from the area of the mosque? Could an informant have given the IDF information of the whereabouts of known terrorists? I don't know, and unfortunately the IDF isn't giving out any verifiable information about the incident, but this does not seem to be the "slam-dunk" that Goldstone represents it as.
And where exactly did the blast hit? Apparently, it hit outside the mosque, not inside as Goldstone implies. So it seems more likely that the IDF hit a gathering of terrorists outside the mosque rather than a few hundred worshipers. (h/t Suzanne)
At the very least, these avenues should have been pursued, using any means that Goldstone had at their disposal - the same means I and my team has had to verify the militant status of many civilians. Unfortunately, fairness does not seem to have been a part of the Goldstone mandate, and when the evidence supports the commissions preconceived notions of the truth, they have had little incentive to look beyond the biased testimonies they eagerly accepted.
Testimony from people like the sheikh of the mosque - who happens to share the same last name as two of the Al Qassam Brigades members listed above.
1582. Insofar that movement and access restrictions, the settlements and their infrastructure, demographic policies with regards to Jerusalem and Area C, and the separation of Gaza from the West Bank prevent a viable, contiguous and sovereign Palestinian State from being created, they are in violation of the jus cogens right to self-determination.(Jus cogens means a "higher law" that must be followed by all countries.)
1744. Insofar as movement and access restrictions, the settlements and their infrastructure, demographic policies vis-à-vis Jerusalem and Area C of the West bank, as well as the separation of Gaza from the West Bank, prevent a viable, contiguous and sovereign Palestinian state from arising, they are in violation of the ius cogens [sic] right to self-determination.
I am not a lawyer and have no legal training. Even so, I believe that this is an astonishing statement from a number of legal perspectives.
First of all, the right of self-determination is defined by the UN in this way:
The two important United Nations studies on the right to self-determination set out factors of a people that give rise to possession of right to self-determination: a history of independence or self-rule in an identifiable territory, a distinct culture, and a will and capability to regain self-governance.The first factor simply does not exist for Palestinian Arabs. The second is arguable; I believe that a distinct Palestinian Arab culture is a relatively new phenomenon that coincides with (at the earliest) 1948, and that the cultural differences between Palestinian Arabs and other Arabs is no different in scope than the cultural differences that exist within any country. And the third factor is specious, given the history of Palestinian Arab politics from the 1920s up until today. Even if you argue points 2 and 3, point 1 is demonstrably false and therefore the entire idea is wrong.
Even though the UN seems to have redefined "self-determination" in order to accommodate its pet Palestinian project, this does not make these factors automatically disappear.
Secondly, if you accept that there is a people called "Palestinians," the concept of "self-determination" does not automatically mean "the right to a state." The ICJ seems to define this as the right of a people to govern their own affairs free from outside interference - emphatically not statehood, a right that the world community would never accept for fear of every minority suddenly demanding the right of independence.
Thirdly, and most importantly, the UN Charter forbids nations from interfering with the territorial integrity of other nations. The idea that a Gaza and West Bank Palestine must be contiguous necessarily means that Israel's territory would be divided. (A bridge between the two could hardly be considered creating a "contiguous Palestinian state.")
Goldstone is not trying to give legal sanction to a Palestinian Arab state with free passage between two territories; he is not trying to innovate by saying that virtual contiguity via video and computer networks could be an alternative to physical contiguity. He is advocating that Israel cut itself in two and he is trying to say that the rights of Palestinian Arabs trump those of Israelis.
It may be politically incorrect to question Palestinian Arab peoplehood or to muse whether a state is the necessary means to achieve their self-determination. This does not make that opinion factually incorrect. Goldstone's sacrifice of legal definitions to the altar of political correctness is saddening, but not surprising.
However, the idea that somehow Palestinian Arab nationhood can rightfully impact Israeli national rights, as enshrined in the UN itself, is past sloppy interpretation of the law - it is illegal itself.
UPDATE: An email correspondent with real legal credentials told me that the idea that "self determination" falls under jus cogens is laughable.
46 people according to some reports.
As time went on, it became clear that the school itself was not hit except from shrapnel, and that the numbers claimed to have been killed were vastly exaggerated.
The Goldstone report, however, claims that 24 were killed near the school - in multiple paragraphs:
41. The Mission examined the mortar shelling of al-Fakhura junction in Jabalya next to a UNRWA school which at the time was used as a shelter housing more than 1,300 people (Chapter X). The Israeli forces launched at least four mortar shells. One landed in the courtyard of a family home, killing eleven people assembled there. Three other shells landed on al-Fakhura Street, killing at least a further 24 people and injuring as many as 40.
687. Three other shells landed on al-Fakhura Street, which was busy at the time, killing at least a further 24 people and injuring as many as 40.
In a few other paragraphs it refers to at least 35 people killed both near the Fakhoura school and the al-Deeb family (which indeed appears to have been a tragic accident.)
The question is, how did Goldstone get the idea that 24 were killed on al-Fakhoura Street?
The answer is here:
661. The three other shells that the Mission could identify as having landed at different places on al-Fakhura Street killed at least 24 people. The witnesses estimate that up to another 40 were injured by the blasts. The Mission has not been able to verify those figures, but having inspected the site and viewed the footage, it does not consider these numbers to be exaggerated.In other words, the Goldstone Commission did not even attempt to enumerate the people allegedly killed on al-Fakhoura street, taking Palestinian Arab witnesses at their word!
How could the esteemed Commission have verified these numbers? Well, for one thing, they could have simply looked at the PCHR report of those killed in Gaza and counted the number of people said to have been killed near the al-Fakoura school.
PCHR uses two different characterizations of those killed in the area. The al-Deeb family is invariably described as living "Opposite to al-Fakhoura School/ Jabalia Refugee Camp/ Northern Gaza" and of being killed simply in "Jabalia Refugee Camp/ Northern
Gaza." The others seem to always be described as either having lived or having been killed "Near al-Fakhoura School/ Jabalia Refugee Camp/Northern Gaza."
There are only 12 people who are described that way.
#783 Belal Hamza Ali ‘Ubeid (17 years old) Member of al-Qassam Brigades
#771 ‘Ateya Hassan Mustafa al-Madhoun DFLP National Resistance Brigades
#773 Zeyad ‘Ateya Hassan al-Madhoun DFLP National Resistance Brigades
It is possible that PCHR was not consistent in its definitions, but this maps with the number of victims that the IDF claimed to have been killed outside the school.
The IDF and the JCPA list different victims for the school than PCHR does, and it is possible that there were more victims. However, it seems to be unlikely to be too many more. The Goldstone Commission claims that there were three mortars in the area, and generally mortars do not kill that many people.
JCPA says that other terrorist victims include:
- Khaled Mohammed Fuoad Abu Askar (Abu al-‘Izz), an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative, was born on December 12, 1989, in Jabaliya. At the age of 15 he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and was active in the Hamas student organization, which serves as a recruiting agency for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. In 2006 he was accepted into fighting groups posted in front-line positions. He underwent an advanced military training course and was posted to a special unit of the north Gaza battalion where he participated in dozens of ambushes and fought against IDF forces. He served as a military instructor in the Imad Aqel battalion and supervised the ambush and suicide unit.
- Raafat Abu Askar, a military-terrorist operative in the security services with the rank of warrant officer, killed in the attack near the Al-Fakhura school.
- Osama Jemal Obeid, an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative, killed in the attack near the Al-Fakhura school.17
- Iyad Jaber Aman, an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative, killed in the attack near the Al-Fakhura school.18
- Abd Muhammad Abd Qudas, a Fatah operative active in Palestinian Military Intelligence, killed in the attack near the Al-Fakhura school.19
- Atia Hassan al-Madhoun and his son, Ziyad al-Madhoun, operatives in the Brigades of National Resistance, the military-terrorist wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Atia was regional commander for Jabaliya. The two were the father and brother of Hassan al-Madhoun, one of the senior commanders of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was lynched by Hamas in the summer of 2006. The two were killed in the attack near the Al-Fakhura school.20
Goldstone admits that there were some reports that there was mortar firing from Gaza militants, bringing two news reports from AP and British Channel 4 in footnotes (391), and also mentions that nine witnesses deny any firing from the area (para. 672.) Goldstone does not use this inconsistency to indicate that witnesses may be unreliable; instead the report says "the Mission accepts, for the purposes of this report, that some firing may have occurred that gave rise to the Israeli armed forces’ response."
Godlstone spends a bit of time pointing out inconsistencies between the initial Israeli reaction to the attack and subsequent reports. In fact, Goldstone uses these inconsistencies as proof that the Israeli version of events is not reliable. There indeed were inconsistencies between israel's initial reaction to the flawed reports of up to 50 victims in the school and the final report issued months later. However, there were also inconsistencies between how the UN initially characterized the attacks (saying over 40 were killed and that the school itself was attacked) and how it changed its tune afterwards, yet Goldstone does not question the UN witnesses' veracity in the face of these inconsistencies.
Even worse, one of the witnesses that Goldstone relies on heavily is Muhammed Fouad Abu Askar, whom it admits is a Hamas member in the footnotes (para 652) and whose son was a member of the al-Qassam Brigades (PCHR #782.)
Another relevant fact that Goldstone ignores was mentioned in the IDF report, footnote 263:
The IDF internal investigation provided important context for this incident. It revealed that Hamas often used 120mm mortars to attack Israeli towns and villages near the border of Gaza. Hamas terrorists had acquired significant expertise with these weapons and improved the accuracy of their technique; this tactic was central to Hamas‘ method of fighting the IDF in urban areas. Hamas‘ use of 120mm mortars posed a serious threat to IDF ground forces. Only a day before the incident in question, Hamas mortar fire had injured 30 IDF soldiers.Goldstone describes the legal issues this way:
42. In drawing its legal conclusions on the attack against al-Fakhura junction, the Mission recognizes that for all armies proportionality decisions, weighing the military advantage to be gained against the risk of killing civilians, will present very genuine dilemmas in certain cases. The Mission does not consider this to be such a case. The firing of at least four mortar shells to attempt to kill a small number of specified individuals in a setting where large numbers of civilians were going about their daily business and 1,368 people were sheltering nearby cannot meet the test of what a reasonable commander would have determined to be an acceptable loss of civilian life for the military advantage sought. The Mission considers thus the attack to have been indiscriminate in violation of international law, and to have violated the right to life of the Palestinian civilians killed in these incidents.In either of the two possible scenarios I mention, where either 3 out of 12 or 10 out of 24 killed were terrorists, it is far from clear that Goldstone's analysis holds water.
Given the facts that al-Qassam and DFLP terrorists were in the area, that mortar fire was coming from that area (according to reporters who interviewed witnesses), that the IDF responded without hitting the school itself, and that IDF return fire did indeed kill a number of terrorists far out of proportion to the report's characterization of a busy street with 150 civilians randomly scattered about (para. 698, using the Hamas witness again as their primary source,) it seems that Goldstone's legal analysis as to the military advantage of IDF returning fire is incorrect.
Goldstone Report pretends to investigate whether Hamas used Gazans as human shields. As it does so, it bends over backwards to give the impression that Hamas is innocent even as the evidence it brings shows the opposite.
Goldstone starts off with the issue with allegations that Hamas forced civilians to act as human shields. Paragraph 473 states, not surprisingly, that none of the Gaza witnesses they called to testify claimed that Hamas forced them to stay in areas from where Hamas was attacking. Para. 474 mentions a 2007 incident where Hamas calls on civilians to voluntarily protect an area that israel was planning to bomb, but notes that this didn't occur during the war. Para. 475 mentions a video on YouTube where Hamas brags that Gazan women, children and the elderly act to protect areas from Israeli attack.
The report calls this "morally repugnant" but says it does not show that Hamas forced civilians to act as shields. (Interestingly, even though the video is crystal clear, Goldstone writes that "Mr. Hammad reportedly stated that...", the qualifier an indication of how the Goldstone report consistently valued evidence against Israel more than evidence against Hamas.)
At this point the impression that one gets from Goldstone is that the definition of human shields is where a group of civilians are forced to act to protect a military objective, and the report writes (accurately) that based on what they had seen, there was no evidence that this occurred. Of course, there is at least one video that indicates that Hamas did try to force civilians to act as human shields, but it is not clear that Goldstone was aware of it:
In addition, there are the published reports in Arab media from January that Goldstone should have been aware of, saying that Hamas did force the Abd Rabbo family to stay where they were so that rockets could be fired from their neighborhood:
The Abd Rabbo family kept quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza strip into a fortress. Right now they are waiting for the aid promised by the [Hamas] movement after Israel bombed the farm and turned it into ruins...The hill on which the Abd Rabbo family lives overlooks the Israeli town Sderot, a fact that turned it into an ideal military position for the Palestinian fighters, from which they have launched hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the last few years. Several of the Abd Rabbo family members described how the fighters dug tunnels under their houses, stored arms in the fields and launched rockets from the yard of their farm during the nights.The Abd Rabbo family members emphasize that they are not [Hamas] activists and that they are still loyal to the Fatah movement, but that they were unable to prevent the armed squads from entering their neighborhood at night. One family member, Hadi (age 22) said: "You can't say anything to the resistance [fighters], or they will accuse you of collaborating [with Israel] and shoot you in the legs."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 27, 2009]
The next section of Goldstone talks about militants mingling with the civilian population in order to shield them from attack. Incredibly, Goldstone writes (para. 477) that "only one of the incidents it investigated clearly involved the presence of Palestinian combatants" - because that was the only incident where the Palestinian Arab combatants were wearing fatigues! Goldstone goes on to admit that there are reports that militants did abandon wearing military uniforms, but goes on to quote an NGO that "there is no evidence that they did so with the intent of shielding themselves" (para. 478.)
What other explanation could there be? Goldstone doesn't even hazard a guess.
Goldstone continues in his attempt to find ways to explain clear Hamas actions in ways that exonerate the group:
480. On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission finds that there are indications that Palestinian armed groups launched rockets from urban areas. The Mission has not been able to obtain any direct evidence that this was done with the specific intent of shielding the rocket launchers from counterstrokes by the Israeli armed forces. The Mission also notes, however, that Palestinian armed groups do not appear to have given Gaza residents sufficient warning of their intention to launch rockets from their neighbourhoods to allow them to leave and protect themselves against Israeli strikes at the rocket launching sites. The Mission notes that, in any event, given the densely populated character of the northern half of the Gaza Strip, once Israeli forces gained control of the more open or outlying areas during the first days of the ground invasion, most -- if not all -- locations still accessible to Palestinian armed groups were in urban areas.The bar that Goldstone creates of determining "specific intent" is much higher for Hamas than for the IDF, which it declares multiple times "deliberately" targeted civilians.
And notice how Goldstone excuses Hamas' using civilian neighborhoods, claiming that Hamas had no choice - as if there were no rocket attacks from civilian neighborhoods before the Israeli ground invasion. Again, Goldstone is doing everything possible to exonerate Hamas from war crimes.
The same logic continues on in para. 481:
While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack.Finally, ten paragraphs later, Goldstone talks about the legal definition of human shields:
491. The Mission finds it useful to clarify what is meant, from a legal perspective, by using civilians or a civilian population as a human shield. Parties to a conflict are not permitted to use a civilian population or individual civilians in order to render certain points or areas immune from military operations. It is not in dispute that both Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces were fighting within an area populated by civilians. Fighting within civilian areas is not, by itself, sufficient for a finding that a party is using the civilian population living in the area of the fighting as a human shield. As the words of article 57 (1) show (“shall not be used to render”, “in order to attempt to shield”), an intention to use the civilian population in order to shield an area from military attack is required.Even though Goldstone started off the discussion as to whether Hamas forced civilians to stay in areas of fighting, at this point - 18 paragraphs later - he mentions that the legal requirement has nothing to do with someone being forced to act that way. The video of Hamas' "Mr. Hammad" that says explicitly that Gaza civilians were used to shield militants from attack is very relevant now, but Goldstone dismissed it above in context of whether civilians were forced to act that way - which is irrelevant for the purposes of this law.
In fact, there is video evidence that backs up Hammad's claims:
In other words, Goldstone organized the report structure itself in a way to make Hamas look as innocent as possible. Had he started off with the legal definition of human shield and then referred to the video above, the evidence is overwhelming that Hamas encourages this blatantly illegal action.
Yet in the very next paragraph, Goldstone goes back to his implied initial definition: 492. From the information available to it, the Mission found no evidence to suggest that Palestinian armed groups either directed civilians to areas where attacks were being launched or forced civilians to remain within the vicinity of the attacks.But there is abundant evidence that they located their rockets in civilian areas to shield themselves from retaliation, which is the legal standard!
As to the bigger question of whether Goldstone had material available to it which would have indicated that Hamas purposefully located rockets and mortars from residential neighborhoods, this video from ITN shown on CNN makes that very clear:
Not to mention published reports in Arab media of Hamas using people as human shields.
On this topic, where the truth is as clear as can be based on hard evidence, Goldstone twists the facts to try to make Hamas seem as innocent as he can. The difference between what he considers compelling evidence to accuse Hamas of war crimes and what he accepts vis a vis Israel's alleged war crimes could not be starker.
Goldstone Report includes these pieces of information:
397. While it appears that all the policemen killed in this location were taking part in a training course, there is conflicting information on the details. Most reports by NGOs are to the effect that these were police “cadets” in the midst of a graduation ceremony. The Gaza police spokesperson, however, told the Mission that they were serving policemen, who had been taking a three-week course and who were, at the time of the strike, doing “morning sport exercise”.255
400. A second police training course targeted was reportedly attended by around 50 policemen. Twenty-eight of them were killed in the strike. According to the police spokesperson, the training course was designed to instruct police officers on how to deal with police officers who abused their power as well as on cultural and economic issues relevant to police work.258
414. On 1 January 2009, during the Israeli military operations in Gaza, the police spokesperson, Mr. Islam Shahwan, informed the media that the police commanders had managed to hold three meetings at secret locations since the beginning of the armed operations. He added that “an action plan has been put forward, and we have conducted an assessment of the situation and a general alert has been declared by the police and among the security forces in case of any emergency or a ground invasion. Police officers received clear orders from the leadership to face the enemy, if the Gaza Strip were to be invaded.”278 Confirming to the Mission that he had been correctly quoted, Mr. Shahwan stated that the instructions given at that meeting were to the effect that in the event of a ground invasion, and particularly if the Israeli armed forces were to enter urban settlements in Gaza, the police was to continue its work of ensuring that basic food stuffs reached the population, of directing the population to safe places, and of upholding public order in the face of the invasion. Mr. Shahwan further stated that not a single policeman had been killed in combat during the armed operations, proving that the instructions had been strictly obeyed by the policemen.
All three paragraphs have something in common - they all rely on the testimony of Gaza police spokesman Islam Shahwan. There is no indication of any skepticism in Shahwan's testimony to the Goldstone Commission.
But this past summer, right around the same time that Shahwan was being listened to by the sober representatives of the United Nations Human Rights Council, he was making headlines for another reason: he was accusing Israel of distributing chewing gum that increases one's sex drive:
A Hamas police spokesman in the Gaza Strip Islam Shahwan claimed Monday that Israeli intelligence operatives are attempting to "destroy" the young generation by distributing such materials in the coastal enclave.Now, there's a reliable witness!
Shahwan said that the police got their hands on gum that increases sexual desire that, according to him, reaches merchants in the Strip by way of the border crossings. According to him, a Palestinian drug dealer admitted that he sold products that increase sex drive. The dealer said that he received the materials from Israeli sources by way of the Karni crossing.
A number of suspects have been arrested.
The affair was exposed when a Palestinian filed a complaint that his daughter chewed the aforementioned gum and experienced the dubious side effects.
Shahwan even claimed that Israeli intelligence operatives encourage dealers in Gaza to distribute the gum for free.
"The Israelis seek to destroy the Palestinians' social infrastructure with these products and to hurt the young generation by distributing drugs and sex stimulants," said Shahwan.
In paragraph 805 of the final version of the Goldstone Report, he does not find corroboration for any specific incident he details but he finds something he considers relevant:
In one incident highly relevant to the cases investigated by the Mission because of factual similarities, a soldier recounted an event he witnessed.(448) A family is ordered to leave their house. For reasons that remain unclear, probably a misunderstanding, the mother and two children turn left instead of right after having walked between 100 and 200 metres from their house. They thereby cross a “red line” established by the Israeli unit (of whose existence the mother and children could have no knowledge). An Israeli marksman on the roof of the house they had just left opens fire on the woman and her two children, killing them. As the soldier speaking at the Rabin Academy’s “Fighters’ Talk” a month later observes, “from our perspective, he [the marksman] did his job according to the orders he was given”.Footnote 448 notes " Testimony of 'Ram' in the Rabin Academy Fighters’ Talk, pp. 6-7. The Mission notes that “Ram” clearly states that he was an eyewitness to the incident."
So, although Goldstone did not find any direct corroboration for the terrible stories he tells of heartless IDF soldiers consistently picking out and shooting women and children from close range, he felt that "Ram"'s supposed testimony to the Rabin Academy acts as a reasonable proof of the Palestinian Arab testimony.
The problem is that after Ha'aretz published the Rabin Academy talks, the other Israeli newspapers went to great lengths to find out whether the stories told were true. This specific incident was especially heinous and one of the soldiers that recounted the incident was tracked down by Israel's Channel Two, and he told the reporter that he did not witness the incident and in fact was not even in Gaza!
In addition, the IDF investigated the alleged incidents mentioned. From the Jerusalem Post:
"All of the soldiers who were involved in the conference were questioned - not as a punishment - but in order to understand whether they had witnessed these things. From all of the testimonies we collected, we can safely conclude that the soldiers who made the claims did not witness the events they describe," the source said.From Ma'ariv (translated by CAMERA):
"All of it was based on rumors. In the incident of the alleged shooting of the mother and her children, what really happened was that a marksman fired a warning shot to let them know that they were entering a no-entry zone. The shot was not even fired in their general direction," the source said.
"The marksman's commander ran up the stairs of a Palestinian home, got up on the roof, and asked the marksman why he shot at the civilians. The marksman said he did not fire on the civilians. But the soldiers on the first floor of that house heard the commander's question being shouted. And from that point, the rumor began to spread," the source added.
"We can say with absolute certainty that the marksman did not fire on the woman and her children. Later, the company commander spoke with the marksman and his commander. We know with certainty that this incident never took place," he said.
Two central incidents that came up in the testimony, which Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy presented to Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, focus on one infantry brigade. The brigade’s commander today will present to Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division, the findings of his personal investigation about the matter which he undertook in the last few days, and after approval, he will present his findings to the head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Gallant.The New York Times also followed up and mentioned that the investigation found this incident to be "an urban myth."
Regarding the incident in which it was claimed that a sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, the brigade commander’s investigation cites the sniper: “I saw the woman and her daughters and I shot warning shots. The section commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, 'Why did you shoot at them?’ I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots.”
Officers from the brigade surmise that fighters that stayed in the bottom floor of the Palestinian house thought that he hit them, and from here the rumor that a sniper killed a mother and her two daughters spread.
Even if Goldstone believes the unsourced "testimony" of "Ram" above the IDF investigation, he should have mentioned that there is a dispute about Ram's "eyewitness" testimony. He could hardly have been unaware of the firestorm that erupted in Israel as a result of the Ha'aretz article. His failure to do so, when the followup information was so widely disseminated, is significant and troubling.
In short, Goldstone uses an apparent Israeli urban myth to corroborate separate Palestinian Arab narratives of different incidents - which means he has no corroboration at all.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that Goldstone wanted to believe the Palestinian Arab stories of being shot so badly (he states multiple times that they are "credible and reliable witnesses") that he purposefully cherry picked very dubious Israeli "testimony" to back it up, rather than look at the facts impartially - or even to mention in passing that the IDF claims to have discredited "Ram." Since he accuses the IDF a fortiori of not being able to credibly investigate its own soldiers, he doesn't even mention any questions about "Ram."
It is also interesting that none of the 53 anonymous interviews in "Breaking the Silence" mentioned any first-hand knowledge of wanton killing of civilians. They mentioned that the rules of engagement could end up with soldiers making decisions that would weight Gaza civilian lives less than the lives of the soldiers themselves - something Goldstone highlights - but as far as I can tell, every interaction of the soldiers and civilians mentioned there does not come anywhere close to the horrors narrated by the Palestinian Arabs. This absence of corroboration from Israeli soldiers who were upset at the Gaza operation is noteworthy - if they had seen anything like what Goldstone reports, they would have mentioned it.
The Goldstone Report talks about, and dismisses, Israeli accusations that Hamas used ambulances for military purposes. The entire section is very revealing as to the bias that the Commission had when investigating claims against Hamas. Here it is in its entirety:
|Part Two, Section A of the Goldstone Report is dedicated to "Military Operations." Goldstone decides to begin this section with a description of the blockade:|
311. The military operations of 28 December to 19 January 2009 and their impact cannot be fully evaluated without taking account of the context and the prevailing living conditions at the time they began. In material respects, the military hostilities were a culmination of the long process of economic and political isolation imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel, which is generally described as a blockade.Why exactly does Goldstone choose the blockade as the beginning point of the narrative? It would be at least as valid to choose the beginning of the Qassam rocket fire on Israelis several years beforehand, or perhaps the violent Hamas coup against the PA, or perhaps the rocket fire that came after Israel's disengagement from Gaza, or any of a number of other seminal events each of which helped shape the circumstances of the fighting.
By choosing the blockade as his starting point for the military operations, Goldstone specifically chooses an event that makes Israel appear to have initiated the conflict. (He repeats the same pattern in choosing December 27th as the beginning of actual hostilities, and ignoring Hamas' effective declaration of war on December 24th, accompanied by a huge rocket barrage. )
Is it not strange to ignore the role that thousands of Qassam rocket attacks had in setting this fighting into motion, and that they are not considered a seminal event by Goldstone?
The blockade section of the report blames only Israel. It does not note that the Quartet participated in the blockade (except for an elliptical statement "This was also accompanied by the withholding of financial support for the Gaza Strip by some donor countries and actions of other countries that amounted to open or tacit support of the Israeli blockade.)
Goldstone also does not saythat Egypt has any part to do with the blockade. In fact, in paragraph 278, the report says:
Israel controls the border crossings (including to a significant degree the Rafah crossing to Egypt, under the terms of the Agreement on Movement and Access 163) and decides what and who gets in or out of the Gaza Strip.However, the link he provides to this Agreement shows no such thing.
In reality, Egypt was not a signatory to the Rafah Agreement - it was between Israel, the PA and the EU. Israel could veto specific people from going into Gaza, and it could watch the crossing via closed-circuit TV, but the Rafah Agreement provided for EU observers to be the main gatekeepers and for the Palestinian Authority to be the party responsible on the Gaza side. After the Hamas coup, the Rafah crossing was closed because the EU observers could no longer travel there safely and because the PA was no longer in charge, as per the agreement. Israel's influence over Egyptian behavior at Rafah has nothing to do with this agreement, that was in any case effectively abrogated by Hamas' coup.
Egypt has opened up the Rafah border on a number of occasions, for humanitarian aid and for people to cross (often for pilgrimages to Mecca or medical reasons.) There is nothing in the Rafah Agreement that precludes Egypt from fully opening up Rafah. There are obvious reasons why it doesn't do so, and they have little to do with Israel.
In other words, Goldstone blames Israel exclusively for the blockade, even on the Egyptian side, using a link to a UN document that shows nothing of the sort.
(At times, Hamas also limits movement out of Gaza as well, another salient fact that Goldstone ignores. Hamas stopped Fatah members from attending the Bethlehem conference and it stopped Gazans from leaving when Egypt opened the border in May.)
In the blockade section of the report, Goldstone mentions (para. 320)
The tunnels built under the Gaza-Egypt border have become a lifeline for the Gaza economy and the people. Increasing amounts of fuel (benzine and diesel) come through those tunnels as well as consumables.Yet he doesn't mention other major imports through the tunnels - explosives, rockets and weapons. Egypt has confiscated many tons of weapons before they reached Rafah. Goldstone elsewhere mentions that some of Hamas arsenal are "thought to be smuggled" and "allegedly smuggled" without saying exactly how (para. 1621 and 1622.)
Since Goldstone ignores the smuggling of weapons to Hamas through the tunnels in context of the blockade, it doesn't even address the concerns that Israel has about allowing construction materials or infrastructure materials like metal pipes into Gaza. It ignores the fact that Hamas has confiscated metal pipes meant for sewage treatment in order to manufacture rockets.
More generally, Goldstone doesn't address other pertinent facts about the reasons for the blockade. Hamas takes all of the available materials that Israel allows into Gaza first, and then hands over the leftovers to the rest of the territory. It ensures that it has all the fuel it needs before it allows the rest to go to ordinary Gazans. Hamas has also stolen ambulances donated by other countries and converted them for military use. All these are ignored by Goldstone as he assails Israel alone for the blockade.
Hamas' apparent policy is that any imports to Gaza are primarily used for military purposes and only secondarily to help Gazans themselves. If that policy would change, in a transparent manner, all indications are that Israel would allow far more goods through to Gazans. One only needs to see the differences between how Israel treats Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and those in Gaza to see that the driving factor for Israeli behavior is not to punish the people but to protect Israeli citizens.
Goldstone sees no such nuance. He flatly states that the blockade "amounts to collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip" (para. 1878).
One can argue whether the blockade is effective, and one could argue whether the specific goods Israel disallows into Gaza can be used against Israel. But if Goldstone is being fair he should at least mention Hamas abuses with the goods that are brought into Gaza as a possible reason for Israel's reticence to provide it with such goods.
Similarly, he fails to point any blame at Hamas for Israel's reluctance to provide Gaza with materials that Hamas would immediately use against Israelis.
Why is this paragraph here? The section is meant to discuss possible Hamas war crimes, but before Goldstone even starts looking at any evidence, he puts in this utterly irrelevant paragraph about alleged Israeli war crimes, whose only tangential relevance is the word "ambulances." The entire section this is under is called "VIII. OBLIGATION ON PALESTINIAN ARMED GROUPS IN GAZA TO TAKE FEASIBLE PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT THE CIVILIAN POPULATION."
470. The Government of Israel alleges that “Hamas made particular use of ambulances, which frequently served as an escape route out of a heated battle with IDF forces.”326 471. The Mission investigated cases in which ambulances were denied access to wounded Palestinians. Three cases in particular are described in chapter XI: the attempts of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to evacuate the wounded from the al-Samouni neighbourhood south of Gaza City after the attack on the house of Ateya al-Samouni and after the shelling of the house of Wa’el al-Samouni; the attempt of an ambulance driver to rescue the daughters of Khalid
and Kawthar Abd Rabbo in Izbat Abd Rabbo; and the attempt of an ambulance driver to evacuate Rouhiyah al-Najjar after she had been hit by an Israeli sniper. In all three cases the Mission found, on the facts it gathered, that the Israeli armed forces must have known that there were no combatants among the people to be rescued or in the immediate vicinity.
Before Goldstone even entertains the possibility of Hamas war crimes in context of ambulances, he feels compelled to throw in an unrelated dig at the IDF that he already covered at length elsewhere in the report. Is this supposed to be "unbiased?"
472. The Mission is aware of an interview reportedly given by an ambulance driver to an Australian newspaper, in which he describes how Palestinian combatants unsuccessfully tried to force him to evacuate them from a house in which they were apparently trapped. The same driver reportedly told the journalist that “Hamas made several attempts to hijack the ambulance fleet of al-Quds Hospital”. He also describes how the PRCS ambulance teams managed to avert this misuse of ambulances. According to this report, relied on by the Israeli Government, the attempts of Palestinian combatants to exploit ambulances as shield for military operations were not successful in the face of the courageous resistance of the PRCS staff members.327For some reason, Goldstone doesn't refer to the actual article; the footnote refers to Israel's report. The paragraph vastly waters down the Sydney Morning Herald's article, using words like "reportedly" to dilute what was said:
Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.While Mr. Shriteh's account shows that Hamas was unsuccessful in his case, he makes it clear that this was not an isolated incident and that Hamas tried (and, he implies, succeeded) on numerous occasions to use ambulances to transport its members.
His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."
Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.
"After the first week, at night time, there was a call for a house in Jabaliya. I got to the house and there was lots of shooting and explosions all around," he said.
Because of the urgency of the call, Mr Shriteh said there was no time to arrange his movements with the IDF.
"I knew the Israelis were watching me because I could see the red laser beam in the ambulance and on me, on my body," he said.
Getting out of the ambulance and entering the house, he saw there were three Hamas fighters taking cover inside. One half of the building had already been destroyed.
"They were very scared, and very nervous … They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused, because if the IDF sees me doing this I am finished, I cannot pick up any more wounded people.
"And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me. I still refused, and then they allowed me to leave."
Mr Shriteh says Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.
"You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."
473. This is consistent with the statements of representatives of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza who, in interviews with the Mission, denied that their ambulances were used at any time by Palestinian combatants. Finally, in a submission to the Mission, Magen David Adom stated that “there was no use of PRCS ambulances for the transport of weapons or ammunition … [and] there was no misuse of the emblem by PRCS.”328There is a bit of sleight of hand going on here. Shriteh spoke of Hamas' attempts not only to commandeer PRCS ambulances but also hospital ambulances; MDA and PRCS are only speaking of PRCS ambulances. Other organizations also had ambulances in Gaza, such as Oxfam. It is probable that Hamas' own medical wing has ambulances as well.
474. While it is not possible to say that no attempts were ever made by any armed groups to use ambulances during the military operations, the Mission has substantial material from the investigations it conducted and the enquiries it made to convince it that, if any ambulances were used by Palestinian armed groups, it would have been the exception, not the rule.When Hamas is accused of a war crime, Goldstone brushes it off as "an exception, not the rule." Nowhere in the report does Goldstone give Israel the same benefit of the doubt; on the contrary, the cherry-picked examples that Goldstone concentrates on specifically take the larger context out of the framing of the accusations. Potentially problematic Israeli actions are characterized as the rule and barely ever placed in the context of a complex military operation where thousands of decisions need to be made instantly; Hamas' crimes - when they are considered at all - are considered the "exception."
None of the ambulance drivers that were directly interviewed by the Mission reported any attempt by the armed groups to use the ambulances for any ulterior purpose.Did Goldstone attempt to contact Mohammed Shriteh?
Mr. Goldstone, allow me to introduce you to Anas Fadel Na’im: medic, nephew of Hamas' health minister, and al-Qassam Brigades member:
Moreover, of the ambulance staff members and their volunteer assistants that were killed or injured in the course of their duties, none was a member of any armed groups, so far as the Mission is aware.
And another: Ra'afat Sami Ibrahim (Muharram), medic, whose Al Qassam Brigades obituary describes him as leaving his cell phone and personal belongings at the hospital right before he was killed, telling everyone that he would return as a "martyr."
Not to mention ‘Azmi Hisham ‘Azmi Abu Dalal, medic, Al Qassam member.
Or Ahmed Abdullah Salem Al-Khatib, nurse, and also PRC-Saladin Brigades field commander.
Or Ihab ‘Umar Khalil al-Madhoun, physician and al-Qassam member.
Or Issa Abdul Rahim Saleh, physician, who also shot rockets and planted bombs according to his al-Qassam obituary.
It appears that there were plenty of physicians and medics in Gaza who also happened to be members of armed groups. Yet Goldstone wasn't "aware" of any of them.
There are other facts that would make an objective observer question whether Hamas was using ambulances and military installations for combat purposes.
After the Gaza operation, while Goldstone's mission was underway, the Palestinian Ministry of Health charged Hamas with confiscating ambulances and medical equipment donated by Arab countries and converting them to military vehicles.
There were reports during the operation that Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar had escaped to Egypt in an ambulance.
Hamas had confiscated aid trucks, including medical aid meant for PRCS, both in 2008 and immediately after the operation.
Hamas even converted medicine bottles into Molotov cocktails.
Putting these facts together, all of which were reported in English-language media, should make one skeptical about Hamas' separation of medical and military tasks. Yet Goldstone simply waves away any of these concerns by implying that if the mission is not aware of them, there is no reason to believe them.
The overwhelming impression one gets is that Goldstone tried very hard to find any Israeli "war crimes" he could, but he wouldn't go out of his way to find anything wrong with what Hamas was doing. The mission, supposedly sent to do fact-finding, seems to have only taken the information that fell into its lap and didn't make any effort to do any independent investigation that would go beneath the surface.
Beyond that, this section shows that circumstantial and hearsay evidence was given great weight by Goldstone when it was against Israel and it was summarily dismissed, or ignored altogether, when it was against Hamas.
UPDATE: Mahmoud Abbas also accused Hamas leaders of using ambulances to escape to Egypt.
1933. In addition to the above general findings, the Mission also considers that Israel has violated its specific obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, including the rights to peace and security, free movement, livelihood and health.Goldstone sites the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women no less than eight times in the report.
What is this Convention? It describes itself this way:
For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "discrimination against women" shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.As its very name implies, it is a component of international humanitarian law to stop discrimination against women. This means that in order to violate this convention, Israel would have had to treat Gaza women worse than it treated its men, simply because they are women.
Goldstone looks at Gaza, where the run by the Islamist Hamas movement, where sharia law is considered the major component of its legal system - and it sees Israel discriminating against women!
Obviously, Goldstone finds no discrimination against women by Israel at all in the report, and he doesn't bother to look for any from Hamas. He takes a very tortured view of a sub-paragraph of the Convention and stretches it way beyond its intent:
Article 12Paragraph 2, according to Goldstone, applies to Israel, not (for some reason) the Gaza government. It seems obvious that this convention applies to parties who actually control the territory in which women reside, but Goldstone apparently believes that Israel has this responsibility.
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.
2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.
However one chooses to interpret the convention, Goldstone is wrong.
If this convention applies to enemy parties in wartime, then Hamas should be equally in violation of this law for every rocket sent to Sderot or Ashkelon that forced any pregnant woman or mother affected by rockets in Sderot, whose access to services and food was impaired because she had to run to a shelter, or whose sleep was disturbed by sirens. Needless to say, Goldstone does not say that Hamas violated any such humanitarian laws.
If the convention does not apply to opposing parties, than Hamas is the one responsible to ensure that women under its control continue to get access to medical services, prioritized above military needs. As far as I can tell, Hamas did no such thing. NGOs took over the bulk of humanitarian needs for Gaza during the conflict.
If one reads the convention as being specifically about discrimination against women, Goldstone does not come anywhere close to proving any discriminatory policy done by Israel against women. Nor does he try to, as it would be absurd. On the contrary, if Israel's war policy was to indiscriminately shoot at Gaza civilians, one would expect roughly half of the casualties to be female. Yet out of roughly 1400 deaths in Gaza, only about 15% were female. If anything, Israel discriminated against males aged between 18-35, who were most of the casualties.
The applicability of other legal conventions and covenants that Goldstone quotes are equally bizarre upon examination.
From reading other references in the report, Goldstone appears to be saying that Israel has the responsibility of providing food and medicine for its enemies. For example, earlier in the report he lists a number of conventions that he thinks Israel violated by destroying a flour mill:
941. The Mission finds that, as a result of its actions to destroy food and water supplies and infrastructure, Israel has violated article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and article 12 (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states:
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.Presumably Goldstone holds Israel to these standards because he considers Gaza to be "occupied" by Israel. Ironically, this text proves that Israel does not occupy Gaza, because it would be literally impossible for Israel to perform the part of the convention highlighted above - it simply does not control Gaza to the extent that this convention assumes a "state party" does. How, exactly, would Goldstone expect Israel to teach proper nutrition or modern agricultural techniques to Gazans? When Goldstone says that Israel violates paragraph 1 above when it seemingly destroyed a flour mill, he must also allow that Israel is violating paragraph 2 by not teaching Gaza schoolchildren how to eat properly. Yet paragraph 2's clear inapplicability to Israel proves paragraph 1's inapplicability to Israel's relationship with Gaza as well. Goldstone is quoting international law provisions that cannot apply to Israel in Gaza and that were clearly not intended for warring parties to provide for each other.
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co-operation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed:
(a) To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;
(b) Taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.
Goldstone's other citation, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is even more of a stretch in this context. Article 1 of that covenant is simply a statement on the rights of people for self-determination. Citing that covenant to say that bombing a flour mill is illegal is bizarre, as every bullet in every war can be interpreted to violate that very same covenant.
Thus far in my readings of Goldstone, I have not ascribed any sort of malice to him. I certainly detect obvious bias and some very distressing blindness, but I felt that he was doing this report in good but misguided faith. But it is hard to ignore these findings and continue to give him this benefit of the doubt. Goldstone is a lawyer, a judge, someone who should be expert in international law. His misrepresentations of international law shown here as well as in previous posts I have written are astonishing. Either he does not know the law, or he is purposefully misrepresenting it in ways that are designed to make Israel look as guilty as possible.
His citations listed here indicate the latter. He is twisting international law to apply solely to Israel. No international convention is too far afield for him to hang criticism of Israel on. The connections between these citations and the reality of Gaza are incredibly tenuous, but only someone with a level of legal expertise could even imagine them to begin with.
One cannot help but conclude that Goldstone's misuse of sources for international law is deliberate.
Goldstone report says:
1515. At the public hearing in Geneva on 6 July 2009, Mr. Shawan Jabarin of Al-Haq reported that tens of thousands of Palestinians today are subject to a travel ban imposed by Israel, preventing them from travelling abroad. Mr. Jabarin, whom the Mission heard in Geneva by way of videoconference, had been subject to such a travel ban since he became the director of Al-Haq, the West Bank’s oldest human rights organization. Mr Jabarin challenged his travel ban in the Israeli High Court after he was prevented from travelling to the Netherlands to receive a human rights prize, but the ban was upheld on the basis of ‘secret evidence’.864 Mr. Jabarin believed that the ban was imposed as punishment.Footnote 864 says:
For the Israeli High Court decision of 10 March 2009 (Al-Haq translation), see www.alhaq.org/pdfs/Shawanabarin-v.pdf;So since Goldstone used the testimony of Shawan Jabirin, and since the commission quotes from one of Al Haq's documents that translates an Israeli Supreme Court decision, let's look at what the document actually says:
1. The petitioner, a resident of the West Bank, requests to be permitted to leave for abroad – according to the petition – in order to participate in the award ceremony of a prestigious award for “human rights defenders”.(h/t NGO Monitor)
The state objects to the request due to the objections of security officials. In the public response submitted by the state, it is said that the petitioner is a senior activist in a terrorist organisation, and that his leaving for abroad may serve for the advancement of the terrorist organisation’s activity in the West Bank.
2. This is not the first time that the petitioner has submitted a petition regarding his desire to leave the country. In the framework of the previous petitions, the Supreme Court has reviewed secret material, presented ex parte, of behalf of the security authorities, and we have done the same today. The petitions were all rejected in the past. Thus, in its verdict of 20 June 2007, the Court found that:
“this petitioner is apparently active as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in part of his hours of activity he is the director of a human rights organisation, and in another part he is an activist in a terrorist organisation which does not shy away from acts of murder and attempted murder, which have nothing to do with rights, and, on the contrary, deny the most basic right of all, the most fundamental of fundamental rights, without which there are no other rights – the right to life.”
In its decision of 7 July 2008, the Court found that:
“we are dealing with reliable information according to which the petitioner is among the senior activists of the terrorist organisation, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
Goldstone relied on testimony from someone who, if the commission read their own footnotes, was proven by the Israeli Supreme Court to be a senior member of the terrorist group PFLP!
And notice that the director of Al Haq, the "West Bank’s oldest human rights organization," is a PFLP terrorist - something that, as far as I can tell, Jabarin does not deny. In fact, in 2003, Israel allowed Jabarin to travel to Jordan - and Jordan refused to accept him presumably because of his terror links!
Ma'an quotes to an Al-Arabiya TV interview with Hamas politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouq. In the interview, Marzouq points out exactly why Hamas is so ecstatic over the Goldstone report, even though people think that the report condemns Hamas for shooting rockets into Israel.
Marzouq points out something interesting:
Moussa Abu Marzouq reiterated the party’s stance on the UN-mandated Goldstone report, which says there is evidence of war crimes in the actions of Israel and Gaza factions during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in December and January.
“It was all Palestinian factions who launched projectiles,” Abu Marzouq said, “including Fatah,” indicating that the report does not single out Hamas.
Sure enough, the report does everything possible not to explicitly name Hamas as being in violation of any humanitarian laws.
Going back to the section that is about Qassam rocket attacks against Israel, here is the first time the word "Hamas" is written in that section outside the footnotes, para. 1608:
On 20 April 2009, a member of Hamas called on other armed groups to stop firing rockets “in the interests of the Palestinian people”
Unbelievably, Hamas is only mentioned as a force that wants to stop rocket fire!
Later on, Goldstone does passingly mention the "armed groups" that it is referring to. Hamas, of course, is not one of them, but the Qassam Brigades are described as:
1611. The ‘al Qassam Brigades’ are the armed wing of the Hamas political movement.Goldstone's reluctance to blame Hamas even for rocket attacks on Israel borders on the comical. The report is forced to admit that Hamas had taken specific responsibility for rockets:
1627. The first civilian casualties from rocket fire were recorded on 28 June 2004 in Sderot, when Afik Zahavi (4 years old) and Mordehai Yosefof (49 years old) were killed by a Qassam rocket. Afik’s mother, Ruthie Zahavi (28 years old) was critically injured and nine others were wounded. Hamas claimed responsibility.994
1631. On 6 January 2009, during the Israeli military operations in Gaza, Khaled Mashal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau wrote in an open letter that the demand to stop the Palestinian resistance was ‘absurd … our modest home made-rockets are our cry of protest to the world”The comedy descends into farce in this paragraph:
1635. In response to questions by the Mission, on 29 July 2009, the Gaza authorities stated that they had “nothing to do, directly or indirectly, with al-Qassam or other resistance factions” and stated that they were able to exercise a degree of persuasion over the armed factions in relation to proposed ceasefires. While noting that the weaponry used by the armed factions was not accurate, the Gaza authorities discouraged the targeting of civilians.Not an ounce of skepticism by Goldstone for these manifestly absurd distinctions between Hamas and the al-Qassam Brigades; on the contrary, it appears that Goldstone embraced these distinctions - even when it clearly knows otherwise (para. 1611 above.)
In its Conclusions and Recommendations section, concerning rockets, the most critical paragraph again avoids blaming Hamas:
1950. In relation to the firing of rockets and mortars into southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups operating in the Gaza Strip, the Mission finds that the Palestinian armed groups fail to distinguish between military targets and the civilian population and civilian objects in southern Israel. The launching of rockets and mortars which cannot be aimed with sufficient precisions at military targets breaches the fundamental principle of distinction. Where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into civilian areas, they constitute a deliberate attack against the civilian population. These actions would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.This is the "balance" that Goldstone proudly points to. Israel is mentioned explicitly with regards to tens of alleged human rights violations; Hamas is not mentioned in connection with any war crimes! And Goldstone maintains the fictional separation between "the Gaza authorities" and "armed groups," meaning between Hamas and its own military wing called the al-Qassam Brigades.
Nothing about Hamas in the Gilad Shalit paragraph:
1952. With regard to the continuing detention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Mission finds that, as a soldier who belongs to the Israeli armed forces and who was captured during an enemy incursion into Israel, Gilad Shalit meets the requirements for prisoner-of war status under the Third Geneva Convention and should be protected, treated humanely and be allowed external communication as appropriate according to that Convention.
Even the sections that undoubtedly must refer to Hamas manages to avoid They Who Must Not Be Named:
1954. Although the Gaza authorities deny any control over armed groups and responsibility for their acts, in the Mission’s view, if they failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the Palestinian armed groups from endangering the civilian population, the Gaza authorities would bear responsibility for the damage arising to the civilians living in Gaza.Similarly, the Recommendations section avoids the dreaded H-word as well:
1973. To Palestinian armed groups,The only recommendations in the report to "Gaza authorities" are to release political detainees and to "continue to enable the free and independent operation of Palestinian non-governmental organizations."
(a) The Mission recommends that Palestinian armed groups should undertake forthwith to respect international humanitarian law, in particular by renouncing attacks on Israeli civilians and civilian objects, and take all feasible precautionary measures to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians during hostilities;
(b) The Mission recommends that Palestinian armed groups who hold Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in detention should release him on humanitarian grounds. Pending such release they should recognize his status as prisoner of war, treat him as such, and allow him ICRC visits.
Hamas is not given a single recommendation to stop rocket attacks. Hamas is not told to stop incitement. Hamas is not told to release Gilad Shalit (as if he is being held against Hamas' wishes!).
No wonder Hamas is thrilled about the report. In the entire 450 page report, Hamas is not singled out once for condemnation.
And all the news stories and Goldstone interviews that claim that the report condemns Hamas are wrong.
Goldstone Report has a section about the booby-trapping of Palestinian Arab houses by Hamas.
If Hamas booby-trapped houses in civilian neighborhoods, that would violate the principle of distinction, which is a major claim that Goldstone accuses Israel of routinely violating during the operation. It would mean that Hamas disregarded the lives of its own people to at least the same extent that the report claims the IDF forces did.
Goldstone looks at the evidence, and starts off with an absurd paragraph:
461. In chapter XIV the Mission will report on different incidents in which witnesses have described the circumstances in which they had been used by the Israeli armed forces during house searches and forced at gunpoint to enter houses ahead of the Israeli soldiers. These witnesses testified that they had been used in this way to enter several houses. None of them encountered a booby trap or other improvised explosive devices during the house searches. The Mission is also mindful of other incidents it has investigated that involved entry into civilianGoldstone begins his analysis of whether Hamas booby-trapped houses and civilian areas by saying that none of its eyewitnesses, who were handpicked by the Commission to prove the worst allegations of Israeli abuses, verified that they saw any Hamas booby-traps - while they were detailing highly suspect testimony that Israel used these witnesses as human shields.
houses by Israeli soldiers in different areas in Gaza. None of these incidents showed the use of booby traps.
Besides the fact that these people were not chosen to investigate booby-trap claims, Goldstone is implying that since they didn't see the booby traps, there is no direct evidence that such traps existed. One does not have to be a military expert to realize that if Hamas did booby trap homes, they would not have wired up every house in every neighborhood; rather they would only choose a sample of homes that they would try to lure IDF soldiers into. Saying that supposed witnesses did not see any booby traps is, literally, meaningless as proof one way or the other.
In addition, it also proves that Goldstone did not set out to investigate Hamas war crimes, and only would report on things that the commission found out about while they were investigating alleged Israeli crimes.
Goldstone then allows that there were reports of booby-traps:
462. The Mission, however, recalls the allegations levelled in the reports that it has reviewed. The Government of Israel alleges that Hamas planted booby traps in “homes, roads, schools and even entire neighbourhoods”. It adds, “in essence, the Hamas strategy was to transform the urban areas of the Gaza Strip into a massive death trap for IDF forces, in gross disregard for the safety of the civilian population.”317 The Mission notes that the existence of booby-trapped houses is mentioned in testimonies of Israeli soldiers collected by Breaking the Silence. One soldier recounts witnessing the detonation of a powerful explosion inside a house as a bulldozer approached it. A second soldier stated “many explosive charges were found, they also blew up, no one was hurt. Tank Corps or Corps of Engineers units blew them up. Usually they did not explode because most of the ones we found were wired and had to be detonated, but whoever was supposed to detonate them had run off. It was live, however, ready…”.318 Also the reports published by Palestinian armed groups, on which the submission to the Mission on the tactics of Palestinian combatants by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs is based, suggest that booby-trapped civilian houses were a frequently used tactic.319 According to the Israeli Government, “because roads and buildings were often mined, IDF forces had to target them to protect themselves”.320So after writing an initial paragraph whose only purpose is to cast doubt on any claims of Hamas booby traps, Goldstone briefly lists some damning evidence that such devices did exist. The Breaking the Silence testimonies, which Goldstone accepts uncritically when it slams the IDF, is quoted as having "mentioned" seeing booby traps, and terrorist websites themselves bragged about using such tactics. By any reasonable standard, this would appear to be real proof, not simply "allegations." Yet Goldstone places it after a paragraph that starts off the discussion by casting doubt that such devices existed and clearly downplays all of this evidence by lumping it all together into a single paragraph.
His final paragraph on the topic shows the unbelievable bias that the Commission had:
463. While, in the light of the above reports, the Mission does not discount the use of booby traps by the Palestinian armed groups, it has no basis to conclude that civilian lives were put at risk, as none of the reports record the presence of civilians in or near the houses in which booby traps are alleged to have been set.Again, if Hamas placed live bombs in civilian areas, they are violating international law. Yet this report soft-pedals this war crime by saying that there is no evidence that any civilians were nearby - in civilian neighborhoods! Goldstone seems to be adding a new caveat to the Geneva Conventions - saying that civilian objects can be used by terrorists if there is no evidence that any civilians are there at the time they are planted. Perhaps Goldstone did not envision the civilians ever returning to their houses and opening their own front doors. This is mind-boggling.
While Israel is castigated by Goldstone for not being specific enough in dropping hundreds of thousands of flyers warning civilians to leave areas before they bombed. Hamas booby traps buildings in these same areas, and does not warn residents to leave at all - yet their actions are not condemned at all!
If using civilian areas as a base of attack in order to protect the attackers is illegal under international law, shouldn't the purposeful use of civilian objects themselves as weapons (something that Geneva didn't seem to imagine) be considered even worse?
This pseudo-legal stretching to absolve Hamas of responsibility for booby traps is not even the most egregious problem. These three paragraphs constitute the entirety of Goldstone's investigation into this topic. Yet Goldstone ignored the most obvious evidence of Hamas' use of booby traps.
One is the well-known video of the booby-trapped zoo and school in Gaza that the IDF discovered:
Another is this map, captured by the IDF, that showed the placement of booby traps in the Al-Atatra neighborhood:
The map shows placement of bombs in houses and near gas stations.
In addition, here is a photograph (from a JCPA PowerPoint) of a booby trap in a house:
Both the video and the map were well publicized during Cast Lead, and it is not possible that the Commission would have been unaware of this evidence.
In short, this short section on booby-traps shows Goldstone's bias against Israel, his bias towards Hamas, his playing fast and loose with the law, and his purposeful ignoring of evidence that goes against his apparently pre-formed conclusions.
Martin Kramer noticed a bizarre statistic in the Goldstone Report:
I've been reading through the part of the Goldstone Report treating the economic impact of Operation Cast Lead—a part that hasn't gotten much attention. It's largely a crib of a March 2009 report compiled by the Palestinian Federation of Industries, whose deputy general-secretary, Amr Hamad, was interviewed three separate times by the mission. The mission deemed both the report and Hamad's testimony to be "reliable and credible."In fact, that is not the only misrepresentation that Amr Hamad made of his own organization's report. He told Goldstone that 324 factories were "destroyed" but his report says that 324 were "damaged," and 56% of them were "totally damaged." So the number of destroyed "factories"/workshops was closer to 181, not 324.
The most important sentence in this section of the Goldstone Report is this one: "Mr. Amr Hamad indicated that 324 factories had been destroyed during the Israeli military operations at a cost of 40,000 jobs" (paragraph 1009). I did a double-take when I read that: 40,000 would be astonishing in an economy like Gaza's. This is what Hamad said in his testimony (June 28, Goldstone in the chair):The industrial sector that was destroyed, for example, the 324 factories that were destroyed, that we[re] destroyed used to employ four-hundred thous-, uh, 40,000 workers. And these have lost their uh, jobs, uh, forever.So that's the source of the number. But if you return to the report of the Palestinian Federation of Industries, it puts the job losses at these 324 factories not at 40,000, but at 4,000. That's an order-of-magnitude misrepresentation by Hamad of his own organization's findings. The Goldstone Mission should have wondered at the figure, checked Hamad's testimony against the Palestinian Federation of Industries report, detected the discrepancy, and gotten it right. But it didn't. Perhaps the mission members, hearing the word "factories," thought that 40,000 jobs sounded credible. In fact, more than a quarter (88) of these 324 "factories" employed five people or less, and over half (189) employed from five to twenty people (Federation report, p. 12). The vast majority of these "factories" should really be described as "workshops." Only three employed a hundred or more people.
Again, Goldstone could have easily checked the facts, and decided not to.
Here is a prime example of how credulous the commission was of his testimony, concerning his oldest son Khalid who was killed in the attack:
Khalid is a newlywed groom. He got married 15 days before the war, and such grooms, as you know, are, are, happily spend their days as newlyweds, and they do not really have time to go to war or other, or to be wanted. He's also quite young. He was only 18 years old. Again I say that what was being targeted was a child.The final report mentioned Khalid's newlywed status, in an effort to show that the IDF could not have possibly been targeting him legitimately:
686. It would appear that shortly after the attack the Israeli armed forces received some information that two Abu Askar brothers had been killed. That much is indeed true. However, the use made of that information appears to the Mission to have been knowingly distorted. The brothers were Imad and Khalid, not Imad and Hassan as asserted. One was a 13-year-old boy, the other was a recently married 19-year-old. The certainty and specificity with which the Israeli authorities spoke at the time make it very difficult for them to suggest now that they had simply mixed up the names.Could Khalid and Imad have been shooting mortars at the time from the street? It is difficult to think that Imad was involved, but it is certainly a possibility.
First of all, Mohammed Abu Askar understated the ages of both his sons: Khalid was 19 (born December 12, 1989), and PCHR indicates that Imad was 14, not 13.
Secondly, the al-Qassam Brigades has an unusually detailed obituary for Khalid, indicating that he was quite well known. It says that he was an avid attendee at mosques from a young age, that were festooned with "jihad slogans." He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 2004, meaning he was (almost certainly) 14 at the time. More importantly, he wanted to join the Al Qassam Brigades at the same time, but was rejected because he was too young, causing him to throw a temper tantrun and lock himself in his room. He demanded again to join the Qassam Brigades when he entered high school and this time he was accepted.
Khalid was already involved in terror attacks when he was 16, participating in "dozens of ambushes." He attempted "martyrdom operations" against Israelis at least three times, in March, April and June 2008 (one at Kerem Shalom) but they were not successful.
He fought with the Qassam Brigades even after his marriage in December, fighting with Ayman Ahmed ‘Amer al-Kurd who was killed (#758 on PCHR English list.)
Given that history, is it so far-fetched that young Imad would have the same burning desire for martyrdom at an early age that Khalid had, and that he would tag along with his older brother that he idolized as he sought revenge for the destruction of their family house earlier that day? One could argue otherwise, but any fact-finding mission should at least have considered this.
More to the point: The Goldstone Commission accepted their father's testimony without any skepticism, even after Mohammed claimed that he saw over 6 mortars fired (the final report says they were only aware of four.) It mentioned the utterly irrelevant fact that Khalid was a newlywed but ignored the quite relevant fact that he was a well-known al-Qassam Brigades member. It didn't think anything strange about the discrepancy of ages, even as it noted his correct age after hearing Mohammed's testimony that he was 18 (using his young age as to score a propaganda point.) Finally, it believed the father when he claimed that his son wasn't fighting after his wedding.
Goldstone seized on the inconsistent Israeli position between the immediate aftermath of the incident and the later clarifications that the IDF made as proof that the IDF claims were not credible, but the inconsistencies of an admitted Hamas member who raises his sons to be martyrs is not considered at all.