The Guardian’s Selective Omission

Justice-Richard-Goldstone

The Guardian has decided that Judge Goldstone’s admission that he was wrong is actually… wrong. That’s because the Guardian now claims that the report was not really about the deliberate killing of civilians. As they say:

The report did not in fact claim that Israel set out deliberately to murder civilians

Actually, the report did that specifically.

(b) . Incidents involving the killing of civilians:
Section: 1718. The Mission found numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects (individuals, whole families, houses, mosques) in violation of the fundamental international humanitarian law principle of distinction, resulting in deaths and serious injuries.

In these cases the Mission found that the protected status of civilians was not respected and the attacks were intentional, in clear violation of customary law reflected in article 51(2) and 75 of the First AP, article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and articles 6 and 7 of ICCPR. In some cases the Mission additionally concluded that the attack was also launched with the intention of spreading terror among the civilian population.

The Guardian is clearly upset with Goldstone’s retraction and tries to minimize it, claiming that Goldstone was only referring to one specific case (the Samouni family.) However, Goldstone himself uses that case as representative (“for example”) of where his investigation erred, not as the sole case on which his reversal was based.

The key sentence in Goldstone’s Washington Post letter is that:

civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

One might thing that such an admission by the report’s chief author would cause the Guardian to reevaluate its position. But no, instead of blaming Israel for the intentional killing of civilians as a matter of policy, it now blames Israel for indiscriminate killing of civilians as a matter of policy.

Yet the Guardian offers no new evidence for this accusation, merely pointing back at the original flawed and debunked report. The editorial presents a list of accusations as facts. Yet these accusations are lacking both credibility and context. A full treatment of every one of the accusations based on Israel’s investigation has been published online. In certain cases, the investigations found the individual soldiers had acted against standing orders. But the vast majority of incidents were found to have been performed based on military need and done so in a way to limit civilian casualty and damage as much as possible.

In fact, Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, testifiedĀ  in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council that Israel “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” Both the Goldstone report and now the Guardian ignore this expert testimony that undermines their accusations.

With regards to the casualty figures, Goldstone now maintains that the figures match that of the IDF (which even Hamas concurs with.) According to these figures, the majority of casualties were combatants. Yet the Guardian — ironically in an editorial about Goldstone’s reversal — continues to use the earlier casualties claim that Goldstone now disavows.

The Guardian implies that Goldstone’s admission just effects a small part of the report. However, the Op-Ed speaks for itself. In Judge Goldstone’s own words:

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

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