Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More
Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Bruce Clark: The Goldstone Report On Gaza

The Goldstone Report On Gaza

by Bruce Clark

The UN comissioned report on the recent conflict in Gaza finally came out last week and received scant mention here in NZ. At the time of the Israeli incursions into Gaza in response to a rain of rockets, many of which hit civilian areas , Israels massive and terrifying invasion cost it much in international sympathy. Three Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli soldiers were also killed but the price all Gazans would pay, innocent or otherwise, would be truly staggering. In a short time, over a thousand people lost their lives including many children; with devastating destruction to infrastrucure. The Gazan economy, according to a recent UN estimate, received a 4 billion dollar blow to its starved and struggling economy.

The inquiry which resulted in this report was headed by Richard Goldstone, a highly respected former South African Supreme Court judge of Jewish descent who describes himself as a Zionist and was an opponent of Apartheid His daughter is a commited Zionist who has lived in Israel and publicly proclaims her father’s actions as honest and well-intentioned towards Israel These are not unimportant details, as the predictable Israeli respsonse is to characterise the report as biased and fundamentally flawed. The Israeli government’s immediate accusation of lack of impartiality is ironic, given that it refused to cooperate with the inquiry and has relied on the Israeli military's and government departments own investigations into its own actions, hardly a recipe for impartiality. Mr Goldstone, in turn, criticised these investigations as relying mainly on the testimony of Israeli soldiers , with very little evidence from the purported victims.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

For those who followed events in Gaza - a tiny strip of land, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, strangled by long-term Israeli sanctions, with the greater part of the population dependent on international aid - the findings of the Goldstone Report are hardly surprising. One could only marvel that such death and destruction could be seriously deemed to fall within the definition of self-defense. The Goldstone inquiry did conclude that Hamas too had committed war crimes. This was always self-evident, as the rockets from Gaza were fired indiscriminately, with the knowledge civilian deaths were likely.

However, reflecting the relative suffering on either side, and the imbalance in military power and destructive potential, the report gives greater attention to the actions of Israel. It concludes that Israel "committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity "and asks the UN Security Council to ask Israel to conduct "appropriate investigations," and to be referred to the International Criminal Court , if these do not meet international standards.

Goldstone's report basically confirms the findings of other independent organisations, particularly those of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which were also roundly condemned by Israel. Amnesty found that, in some cases, civilians were deliberately targeted, buildings were unjustifiably destroyed ( , ie serving no military purpose ),white phosphorous was used illegally in close proximity to civilians. There was bombing of civilian neighborhoods, of mosques and schools, the blocking of rescue parties from reaching the wounded, the killing of fleeing civilians carrying white flags and the use of human shields. The , Goldstone Report reinforces such claims and condemns ‘Operation Cast Lead’ as disproportionate and as collective punishment. It also goes further in concluding it was directed against the people of Gaza as a whole.

A much-heard response from Israel is that the world is overly concerned with Israel’s crimes and not enough with those of other countries. This is a specious argument indeed. Ignoring other crimes would, in no way, lessen Israel’s culpability anyway, but Israel,( in spite of the brutal and on-going occupation of the West Bank and Gaza), prides itself on being a model of democracy and , therefore should be subject to the highest standards of behaviour. No true democracy should have anything to fear from the closest scrutiny.

Gaza remains unbuilt, its economy completely at the mercy of its powerful neighbour, with huge unemployment and little hope for the future, as things now stand. That a country whose raison d’etre was the terrible record of discrimination and hate that its people had been subject to over the centuries, could operate with such callous disregard for the suffering of others is indeed one of history’s ironies.

The Israeli government will do its best to discredit the Goldstone Report, as it has all the others, but to any fair-minded outside observer, there must surely be very real concerns that Israel has committed war crimes and is doing its level best to avoid accountability for their actions. Goldstones report is a call for such accountability and those innocent children of Gaza who perished during the Israeli invasion should not be forgotten.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Top Scoops Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.