Arab News (Editorial)
February 1, 2010 - 1:00am§ion=0&article=132187&d=1&m=2&y=2010

The Feb. 5 deadline for the Palestine Authority and Israel to respond to allegations in the Goldstone Report that Israel committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during last year’s Gaza war will most likely come and pass. Israel roundly rejected the Goldstone Report; Gaza’s authorities accepted its findings in full. So it would be better that the PA go all the way and hold an independent probe to avoid being referred to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague, as was recommended by the Goldstone Report, should the two sides fail to carry out credible investigations.

The Palestinians have nothing to fear. The Goldstone Report unearthed damning evidence of Israeli war crimes. The Palestinians were at the end of what the Goldstone Report described as an Israeli aim in Gaza not just to kill Hamas fighters but to collectively “punish, humiliate and terrorize” an unarmed and captive civilian population. They were the victims of man’s inhumanity against man. Not surprisingly then, the Israeli investigations were conducted by their military, which naturally exonerated itself of any systematic wrongdoing. It is a mockery of justice to entrust the task of investigating Israeli war crimes in Gaza to the Israeli government or an Israeli commission of inquiry. You don’t ask the Gestapo to investigate Nazi crimes. Israel is a law unto itself and most Israeli leaders and government operatives are themselves war criminals. Thus, it is totally unacceptable that Israel be allowed to investigate itself. What is needed is a credible third party to establish the truth about what Israel did in Gaza, and what better neutral party than the Goldstone Report which documented allegations of international crimes with meticulously collected evidence and careful analysis? It is a report of the highest standard of professionalism, commensurate with what one would expect from a group of leading legal experts.

Israel claims that the rules and regulations governing Israeli Army operations in the occupied territories are sufficiently transparent and fair. That is not true. They do not obey their own rules and when murderous crimes are perpetrated, the killers are always given the benefit of the doubt.

This explains the fact that thousands of innocent Palestinians have been deliberately killed by the Israeli Army without any serious investigation into these crimes being carried out.

Despite the impeccable credentials of the commission members, and the worldwide reputation of Richard Goldstone as a person of integrity and political balance, as well as of being an eminent jurist, Israel refused cooperation from the outset. However much Israel may attack the commission’s report as one-sided and unfair, the only plausible explanation for refusing to cooperate with the UN fact-finding mission at the time, and rejecting today to order a credible investigation into its army’s performance, is that it has nothing to tell that could hope to overcome the overwhelming evidence of its crimes against humanity. No credible international commission could reach any set of conclusions other than those drawn by the Goldstone Report on the central charges in question.

Goldstone’s is actually one of the most balanced reports on the Arab-Israeli conflict ever to come out of the UN.


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