Israelis who spoke at Goldstone committee: State must wake up
By Daniel Edelson
Contrary to outraged official Israeli response to Goldstone Report, which accused IDF of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, Israelis who testified before UN-appointed committee say investigation was balanced, fair, hope Israel learns from report’s conclusions
The State of Israel officially condemned on Tuesday the Goldstone Report which accuses the IDF of committing war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, but the Israelis that testified before the special UN-appointed inquiry commission actually welcomed the harsh report, and urged the government not to ignore its conclusions.
"Israel should wake up and take it upon itself to investigate the claims," said Attorney Majd Bader, who testified before the committee on behalf of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. "The State should study the Goldstone Report very well, consider it seriously, and understand the evidentiary groundwork that it laid and adopt its conclusions," he added. According to Bader, human rights organizations had asked the government to set up an independent inquiring body shortly after the operation came to its end, but were ignored. "The Attorney General and those entrusted with enforcing the law in the State didn't even think of it. They just rejected the demand immediately. This resulted in other bodies taking care of the issue and now the conclusions are in. "In our opinion, it is better late than never. The State of Israel and the enforcement authorities should wake up and take upon themselves the moral and legal obligation to probe the claims. What are they waiting for?" he wondered. Bader believes Israel's response was inappropriate. "Regarding (Israel's) grievances over the comparison to Hamas – in the same measure, any Palestinian will say 'What about the comparison between the occupier and the people it is occupying?' How can it be that the victim and the aggressor are judged according to the same standards? "The question is why are they calling the report insolent? Surely none of those who have responded have had the chance to read its 547 pages, so what is this based on? They are firing an automatic response that was prepared in advance. The recommendations should be studied. The committee, at least in its treatment of my testimony, examined in depth and heard my words in a very balanced way which was respectful to both parties. "I heard of how at the end of Noam Shalit's testimony, for example, the committee members told him they sympathized with him and understand his pain. To come and rule out in one stroke everything that the committee has done is not serious." 'Treat Israel like a criminal state'Left-wing activist Yonatan Pollak, who also testified before the committee, said the harsh report united the various human rights organizations in Israel. "It's wrong to say that everyone is rejecting the conclusions of the report, the government can say what it wants, but all the human rights organizations are calling on Israel to launch an investigation into the incidents of the attack on Gaza and not refute the report's conclusions. "Such cooperation between human rights organizations has not been seen in a long time." Pollak believes that, as in past cases, this time as well, the government will not bother to reach conclusions from the findings and open an official investigation, and therefore, the international community must respond sternly. "Israel's official response, as in its responses to prior reports, proves that there is no chance that Israel will probe the matter on its own," he said. He said the only solution to Israel's "indifference" is an external inquiring body with the proper jurisdiction for imposing penal sanctions. "The investigation must be carried out via international bodies that have the authority to probe and act against Israel. "It's time that the Israel and international societies start to treat Israel like a criminal state and a serial violator of international laws and Palestinian rights and impose on it a boycott, sanctions and the withdrawal of investments, just as was the case with the apartheid regime in South Africa," he said. Pollak agreed with Bader's impression that the committee's work was thorough and balanced, and that Israel's claims of bias are unfounded. "It was my impression that this was a serious committee. I saw all the Israelis' testimonies and they were treated appropriately. On the other hand, the committee members heard the testimonies after visiting Gaza and seeing the catastrophe with their own eyes. The Israeli suffering cannot, and should not be expected to receive the same treatment as that of the Palestinians, because it simply doesn't come close," he said.
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