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Only icc can bring closure on Gaza attacks

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By Ibrahim Vawda – Media Review Network

(source: Pretoria News Newspaper, Wed, 20/04/2011, Pg13)

I would like to remind Peter Fabricius and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), that Richard Goldstone was not the only author of the report submitted by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict on “Operation Cast Lead.” The report was submitted to the United Nations (UN), and an op-ed in the Washington Post does not carry the same weight as a UN commissioned report. Hence, the euphoria displayed by the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and Israeli advocates is best described as a failed public relations exercise.

Hina Gilani, member of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict commented on the Op-ed and confirmed that, “Nothing will change the substance of the original report………….” She further says that, “… No process or acceptable procedure would invalidate the UN report; if it does, it would be deemed as a ‘suspect move’. ”

The Goldstone Report never claimed that Israel “intentionally murdered civilians,” as claimed by his “retraction.” The report said that the force used during Operation Cast Lead was “deliberately disproportionate” and intended to “punish, humiliate and terrorize” the Palestinians. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch emphasises this point when he says that the “crime of indiscriminate war fare” and not “deliberate killing” was Israeli policy. This part of the report is not retracted.

Human Rights Watch, testimonies by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers, “Breaking the Silence,” B’Tselem and Amnesty International concurred with the Goldstone Report.

The culture of impunity with which the Israeli authorities operate has no limits. This is clearly stated in the Goldstone Report. It notes thatthe Israeli Investigation System does not comply with international principles when dealing with serious wrongdoings by the military.

Rest assured that the reaction of the South African Zionist Federation and Rabbi Warren Goldstein immediately after the publication of the Report did not end there. Remember the attempt to prevent the Judge fromattending his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah and the threat to picket outside the Synagogue? It is safe to assume that Judge Goldstone must have been faced with huge and sustained pressures of intimidation and character assassination. US Senator William Fulbright was one such victim.  Historian Benny Morris succumbed to that pressure.   US President Jimmy Carter was another victim. He was forced to apologise for referring to the situation in the West Bank and Gaza “apartheid”.

Israeli Defence Force (IDF) Military Advocate General, Avichai Mandelblit submitted a report to the UN in July 2010 in which he confirmed the key findings of the Goldstone Report. In the report he refuted a lie told over and over again to the Israeli public that no chemical weapons were used. He confirmed the use of white phosphorous ona UN compound. The IDF Military Advocate General had launched criminal investigations into the IDF which:

“knowingly shelled a UNRWA school filled with children in order to neutralize a single enemy mortar launcher, causing large-scale civilian deaths in the process; knowingly attacked a mosque with “powerful” missiles in order to kill two unknown terrorist “operatives” (p. 17); bombed a police graduation ceremony (p. 19), killing four civilians in the process (according to Goldstone the IDF killed 9 civilians and 99 cops); bulldozed the Sawafeary Chicken Coops (pp. 27-28) in order to obtain “a clear line of sight” for soldiers in the area and implicitly acknowledged that it destroyed private property (p. 33).”

The Report was met with fierce resentment by the IDF. It did not receiveany publicity but its real value was the confirmation of the Goldstone Report. Mandelblit successfully exposed the consistent pattern of destruction of Palestinian civilian infrastructure and disregard for civilian life.

M.J Rosenburg, a senior foreign policy fellow at Media Matters Action Network, says: “The civilians they killed are still dead. They are dead because Israeli government made the decision that taking care not to kill innocents would put more Israeli soldiers in harms way.” Therein lies the problem.

In order to secure closure to Operation Cast Lead, it may be time to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.

Ibrahim Vawda is a Senior Researcher at the Media Review Network in Pretoria

Contact Ibrahim:Tel: 012 374 6987Email: