Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: UN Report Outrages Israel

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Officials in Jerusalem are mobilizing for battle in an attempt to undermine the standing of the UN report on "Israel's crimes in Gaza," with the hope that it will not come before the UN Security Council or the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Despite a certain criticism of Hamas, the report deals mainly with "proof of significant violations of international human rights law that Israel committed in the Gaza war, and possibly crimes against humanity as well." Experts in Israel who examined the work of the commission and followed the recorded testimonies published on the UN web site, say that the commission members chose not to make things difficult for the witnesses.

"I listened closely to the testimonies, but also to the questions of the commission members," explained Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, "the commission members didn't try to confront them with other information that they held. They were asked questions that were irrelevant to clarifying the facts of whether war crimes were committed or not."

For example, Dahoah-Halevi relates, in the case of the attack on the mosque in the town Beit Lahiya, the commission members asked many questions on the prayer arrangements, but did not ask even a single question on the presence of armed men or weapons at the site. The Goldstone report admits that it identified "reluctance" by the witnesses to deliver information on the activity of terrorist elements within armed [sic] areas. The report states that it is unable to determine the reason for this "reluctance," but notes that it could not discount the possibility that "the interviewees' reluctance may have stemmed from a fear of reprisals."

The commission approached the Hamas government and requested details on the activity of the organization's activity in populated sites from which rockets were fired. The response of the Hamas government, however, was: We have no data. However, the report determines that the fire constitutes "a deliberate attack against the civilian population.

These actions would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity." This sparked great anger on the part of Hamas.

"Resistance is a legitimate right that is anchored in international law," said Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Israeli President Shimon Peres also rallied yesterday for the Israeli attack against the report.

"The Goldstone report makes a mockery of history, and fails to distinguish between aggressor and defender," the president said, attaacking the author of the report. "He would not have written this if his children lived in Sderot and experienced the terror of the rockets there." Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, "the report is a drumhead court martial, the outcome of which was known in advance, and it makes it difficult for democratic countries to fight terror."

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who is currently in New York, has already initiated talks with senior members of the US administration and Congress on the report, and is expected to meet with US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, with the aim of recruiting her to the battle against having the report reach the UN Security Council.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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