There is so much fascinating analysis over the UN Gaza report. A choice collection below:
Like the Serbs of yore, we Israelis continue thinking it’s the world that is wrong, and only we who are right.
Israel struck a civilian population that remains under its control, it didn’t fulfill its obligation to distinguish between civilians and militants and used military force disproportionate with the tangible threat to its own civilians. Air Force drones and helicopters fired deadly missiles at civilians, many of them children; the Tank Corps and Navy shelled civilian neighborhoods with weapons not designed for precision strikes; soldiers received orders to fire on rescue crews; others fired on civilians carrying white flags; and others killed people in or near their homes. Troops used Gazans as human shields, soldiers detained civilians in abusive conditions, the army used white phosphorus shells in dense civilian areas and, on the eve of withdrawing, destroyed wide residential, industrial and agricultural areas.
There is only thing worse than denial – the admission that the IDF indeed acted as has been described, but that these actions are both normal and appropriate.
Perhaps next time we set out to wage another vain and miserable war, we will take into account not only the number of fatalities we are likely to sustain, but also the heavy political damage such wars cause.
On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Israel, deservedly, is becoming an outcast and detested country. We must not forget it for a minute.
The report by the commission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza is one of the most serious indictments ever made against the government and the military in Israel. The report states that during the operation Israel committed war crimes and significant violations of international law.
The commission went so far as to accuse Israel of crimes against humanity. According to the report, the operation was intended to punish the civilian Palestinian population with the intentional use of disproportional force. As a result, they wrote, 1,400 people were killed in Gaza and thousands were left without a roof over their heads or a livelihood.
Because Israel – at least its government –simply doesn’t get human rights or just war doctrine. It assumes that it discharges its duty to minimize civilian casualties by dropping leaflets and telling civilians to leave areas. By that reasoning, Hamas could blow up civilians legitimately if they simply warned them (like the IRA) to leave areas where they have planted bombs.
Unfortunately, both Israel and Hamas have dismal records of investigating their own forces. I am unaware of any case where a Hamas fighter was punished for deliberately shooting a rocket into a civilian area in Israel — on the contrary, Hamas leaders repeatedly praise such acts. While Israel has begun investigations into alleged violations by its forces in the Gaza conflict, they are unlikely to be serious and objective.
Absent credible local investigations, the international community has a role to play. If justice for civilian victims cannot be obtained through local authorities, then foreign governments must act. There are various mechanisms through which to pursue international justice. The International Criminal Court and the exercise of universal jurisdiction by other countries against violators of the Geneva Conventions are among them. But they all share one overarching aim: to hold accountable those who violate the laws of war. They are built on the premise that abusive fighters and their commanders can face justice, even if their government or ruling authority is not willing to take that step.
Pursuing justice in this case is essential because no state or armed group should be above the law. Western governments in particular face a challenge because they have pushed for accountability in places like Darfur, but now must do the same with Israel, an ally and a democratic state.
Over the course of the military offensive in Gaza, Israel used excessive firepower and this must not recur. Severe incidents took place during the operation which must be investigated. But the inquiry must be carried out by us, and among ourselves. As long as Judge Richard Goldstone doesn’t probe the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka or Turkey, just as he probed Israel, he is not a moral figure. A law is a law only when it applies to everyone and does not discriminate, as Goldstone did.