I ACCEPTED with hesitation my United Nations mandate to investigate alleged violations of the laws of war and international human rights during Israel’s three-week war in Gaza last winter. The issue is deeply charged and politically loaded. I accepted because the mandate of the mission was to look at all parties: Israel; Hamas, which controls Gaza; and other armed Palestinian groups. I accepted because my fellow commissioners are professionals committed to an objective, fact-based investigation. But above all, I accepted because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the laws of war, and the principle that in armed conflict civilians should to the greatest extent possible be protected from harm.
The TUC today backed a targeted boycott of Israeli goods originating from illegal settlements and an end to arms sales to Israel to ramp up the pressure “for an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories”. The decision to step up its position was triggered by widespread dismay by unions at the Israeli offensive in Gaza in January.
[W]hether we like it or not, Hamas is the legitimate representative of at least half of the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. To deny this is to eliminate any chance of peace. You cannot make peace with half a people, and a viable peace must include the extremists.
“I deny that completely,” Judge Richard Goldstone said… “I was completely independent, nobody dictated any outcome, and the outcome was a result of the independent inquiries that our mission made,” he said.
Netanyahu’s message is that the Goldstone Commission report hinders the United States’ war on terror. The Foreign Ministry decided Wednesday to focus their efforts to combat the report’s accusations on the United States, Russia and a few other members of the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council that are involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
IOA Editor: The Israeli propaganda machine is going full blast. To protect democracy from terrorism, the UN report deserves every possible rejection, naturally.
See also Norman Finkelstein’s interview and Gideon Levy’s commentary on the UN report.
There’s a name on every bullet, and there’s someone responsible for every crime. The Teflon cloak Israel has wrapped around itself since Operation Cast Lead has been ripped off, once and for all, and now the difficult questions must be faced. It has become superfluous to ask whether war crimes were committed in Gaza, because authoritative and clear-cut answers have already been given. So the follow-up question has to be addressed: Who’s to blame? If war crimes were committed in Gaza, it follows that there are war criminals at large among us. They must be held accountable and punished. This is the harsh conclusion to be drawn from the detailed United Nations report.
IOA Editor: The time to “avert disgrace” was a year ago, before launching the Gaza attack. The Hague is the proper place for states that behave criminally – deservedly, to use Levy’s own language.
There is only thing worse than denial – the admission that the IDF indeed acted as has been described, but that these actions are both normal and appropriate.
The main limitation of the report is it’s all cast in the language of violations of the laws of war. And the fundamental fact about what happened in Gaza is it wasn’t a war. There was no war in Gaza. That’s the main misunderstanding about what happened there.
The U.S. intelligence community is reporting to the White House that Iran has not restarted its nuclear-weapons development program, two counterproliferation officials tell NEWSWEEK. U.S. agencies had previously said that Tehran halted the program in 2003.
Had Richard Goldstone not served as the head of the UN inquiry into the Gaza war, the accusations against Israel would have been harsher, Goldstone’s daughter, Nicole, said in an interview conducted in Hebrew with Army Radio on Wednesday.
Israel “punished and terrorised” civilians in Gaza in a disproportionate attack in its three-week war on the territory earlier this year, a United Nations report has found. Judge Richard Goldstone, who led the inquiry, said he found evidence Israel targeted civilians and used excessive force in the assault, which was launched on December 27. “The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly in some respects crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defence Force,” Goldstone, a former South African justice, said. More than 1,400 Palestinians – about a third of them women and children – were killed in the war. Thirteen Israelis died.
Jonathan Cook: Israeli peace activists are planning to ratchet up their campaign against groups in the United States that raise money for settlers by highlighting how tax exemptions are helping to fund the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank. Gush Shalom, a small peace group that advocates Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories, is preparing to send details to the US tax authorities questioning the charitable status of several organisations.
[I]t’s important for me to tell you, my worldview-sharing [Israeli] compatriots, that many settlements have already almost swallowed up all the agricultural lands from villages in their vicinity. No construction freeze will return them to their owners, most of whom have become day laborers, working or unemployed without any kind of social benefits. They and their wives and children don’t go to the expensive shopping malls in Ramallah.
Israel’s three-week war in Gaza brought a wave of international criticism. About 1,400 people died and accusations of possible war crimes have been levelled against both the Israeli military and the Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, notably Hamas. The latest and most prominent inquiry, led by Richard Goldstone, a respected South African judge, was conducted for the UN human rights council.
Read UN report and access many information resources via The Guardian’s article.
A protest at the Toronto International Film Festival has taken center stage after a group of artists and writers signed a letter of protest against the festival’s decision to spotlight the city of Tel Aviv. Activists say the TIFF spotlight plays into Israel’s attempt to improve its global image in the wake of the assault on the Gaza Strip and the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land.
Naomi Klein explains, very eloquently, the reasons for the protest against TIFF to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now TV.
Occupation is not on the Israeli agenda. Not a single Jewish MK in today’s Knesset ran on a ticket calling for an end to the occupation. The media, too, is doing everything it can to blur and suppress this issue. While everyone is busy blurring and deceiving, it’s time to use the one tool Israel has never employed: a referendum – Israel’s first – for or against continuing the occupation, whatever either choice entails.
IOA Editor: Be careful what you wish for?
[A]ny plan, proposal or initiative for peace in Israel-Palestine must be filtered through the following set of critical questions: Will this plan really end the occupation, or is it merely a subtle cover for control? Does this plan offer a just and sustainable peace or merely an imposed and false quiet? Does this plan offer a Palestinian state that is territorially, politically and economically viable, or merely a prison-state? Does this plan genuinely and justly address the refugee issue? And does this plan offer regional security and development?
Jonathan Cook: [T]housands of workers from Gaza had their contracts in Israel terminated without notice by employers in spring 2004, shortly after the government of Ariel Sharon announced it would be “disengaging” from the enclave in summer 2005… “Overnight more than 20,000 workers had their work permits withdrawn and lost their livelihoods,” she said. “They had been paying into the social security system, some of them for decades, but have been denied their legal entitlements, such as severance pay, overtime and holiday allowance.”