Israel Releases Goldstone Response

Israel has publicly released the document sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in response to the Goldstone Report.

The 46-page paper primarily defends the integrity of Israel’s due process and civilian oversight of the IDF’s investigations into 150 separate incidents and reports.

The paper also dismisses four of the Goldstone Report’s 36 specific allegations:

  • The destruction of the Namar water wells: The wells were located within a closed Hamas compound in the Jabaliyah refugee camp. The IDF did not know of the presence of wells there.
  • Damage to a sewage treatment plant: There was no record of Israel targeting the site. Investigators couldn’t rule out the possibility that the IDF caused some of the damage, nor could they rule out the possibility that a sewage basin was deliberately damaged by Hamas to hamper IDF movement.
  • Damage to the Bader flour mill: Israeli forces came under intense fire from the flour mill. It was hit by a tank shell, not by an aerial strike as Goldstone claimed. No phone call warning was made to the flour mill as it was not a pre-planned target.
  • Destruction of the Abu Askar family home: The Jabaliya home was used to store weapons and ammunition, including Grad rockets. Rockets aimed at Israeli towns were frequently launched from the vicinity of the house.

See the full report for more details.

The IDF is also preparing a separate, comprehensive point-by-point rebuttal of the Goldstone Report’s allegations.

THE TIMES: CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM

Like any other country, Israel is certainly not perfect and makes mistakes. What is objectionable is when the media and others employ double standards requiring a level of behavior from Israel that is not expected from any other country.

Contrary to some of our critics’ accusations, HonestReporting has no problem with constructive criticism of Israeli policies. After all, some of the most vibrant debate on Israeli policy goes on within Israeli society itself. We do not, however, accept the level of demonization and delegitimization that is currently associated with criticism of Israel.

It is refreshing to see an editorial from The Times of London, the newspaper that first criticized Israel for its use of white phosphorus during Operation Cast Lead, that takes a constructive approach:

“Israel is becoming a Middle Eastern country,” predicted the writer Amos Oz in 1979. “I hope that it will not behave worse than other Middle Eastern countries, but I doubt it will behave any better.” Oz was wrong. Today, Israel does behave considerably better than other Middle Eastern countries, even when it is behaving badly.

Referring to the Goldstone Report, the editorial continues:

Faced with such provocative bias, a country might be expected to slam down the shutters and turn away. Instead, the Middle East’s only functioning democracy quietly continued to conduct its own investigation into the conflict, which it has now submitted to the UN….

For obvious reasons, Israel is a country deeply uncomfortable about criticising its own military. But those who cry “war crime” and seek to paint Israel as a pariah do diplomacy itself a disservice. They make it harder, not easier, for that country to behave as it should. Contrary to the impression some would like to give, Israel is not a rogue state with good PR, content, like Shakespeare’s Claudius, to smile and smile and be a villain. It is an accountable, democratic, transparent nation, and fighting to remain one amid challenges that few other nations ever have to face.

At last some common sense.

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