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Goldstone Recants On Israeli Allegations

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: 'Goldstone Report Should Be Thrown Into Trash Bin Of History!'

Judge Richard Goldstone:'If I Had Known Then What I Know Now, Goldstone Report Would Have Been Different Document'

'Palestinian Civilians Were Not Intentionally Targeted'

Richard Goldstone

South African Judge Richard Goldstone, who alleged that the IDF operation into Gaza in 2009 may have committed 'crimes against humanity', has now recanted. In an article published in the Washington Post, Goldstone has written that the IDF did not intentionally target Palestinian civilians. Israel refused to cooperate with the Goldstone inquiry because it was orchestrated by the pro- Arab Human Rights Council of the U.N., which even Goldstone admits has always been biased against Israel. In reaction, Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has declared: 'The Goldstone Report should be thrown into the trash bin of history and the UN should now retract it!' Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on Goldstone to present his new conclusions to the international bodies where he presented the report. Analyst David Essing says that while Goldstone's retraction has now set the record straight, Goldstone's initial vilification of Israel is but one example of the trend to smear Israel when it acts  in self - defense such as countering terror attacks from Gaza or in the Mavi Marmara attempt to break the legal blockade of Gaza.

After virtually accusing the IDF of war crimes against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, Judge Richard Goldstone has done an 'about - face'. Now that the judge knows the facts, he testifies that he would have written a different report into the IDF's 'Cast Lead' Operation into Gaza to halt the eight years of Palestinian rocketing of Israeli civilians. No, said Goldstone the Israelis had not intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians. How could Goldstone have got it so wrong the first time around, when the IDF had taken unprecedented measures to prevent civilian casualties, while on the other hand Hamas and the other terror groups were using civilians as human shields? In his defense, Goldstone contends: 'Israel's lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants'. In other words, Goldstone simply reached his verdict on the basis of the Palestinian allegations. It sounds as if the judge was peeved at one side not showing up in his courtroom and therefore he would make it pay the consequences - guilty by virtue of default! Then Goldstone threw the book at Israel. The judge candidly admits this about his his former employer ... 'the U.N. Human Rights Council whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted'. This was the very reason the Israeli government refused to cooperate with Israel in the first place.

IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip (archive)

Trying to justify what was blatantly a perverse course of justice during the investigation, Goldstone hoped that Hamas would curtail its attacks on Israel. However he now affirms: 'Sadly that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel... the U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms. So, too, the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds'.  

What influenced the judge, who first smeared Israel after hearing only the Palestinian allegations, to now exonerate the Jewish state? Goldstone refers to another follow-up inquiry chaired by  former New York Judge Mary McGowan-Davis, with whom Israel is cooperating. This later investigation has reached different conclusions than the original Goldstone Report, noting that 'Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate allegations of IDF misconduct in Gaza'.

IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip

Reactions: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared: 'The Goldstone Report should be thrown into the trash bin of history!' Everything we said about IDF conduct during Cast Lead Operation proved to be true. Israel never intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians and has proper investigatory bodies'. The Israeli leader called on the U.N. to retract the Goldstoine Report in light of the fact that Goldstone himself has now repudiated it. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it was not enough for Goldtsone to write an article in the Washington Post. In Barak's view: 'Goldstone is  obligated to present his new conclusions to those international bodies where he first published his distorted report'. The Defense Minister added that the IDF is a moral army that acted according to international law.

So at long last, Goldstone has seen the light of truth which should have been apparent from the start. But in the interim, after Goldstone did what was expected of him by the UN Human Rights Council, Israel's enemies have launched a smear campaign every time Israel acts in self-defense. This was apparent in the recent affair involving the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara that defied Israel's counter-terror blockade to prevent the smuggling of more rockets into Gaza for launching at Israel. In the wake of nine Turks being killed while attacking Israeli  naval commandos who boarded the vessel that refused to follow legal instructions, Israel was again hauled over the coals in the international arena. Last month, Israel Navy vessels intercepted the Liberian freighter Victoria in the Mediterranean to uncover twenty-two tons of weapons hidden in its cargo hold and destined for terrorists in Gaza. This again proved the need to maintain the blockade that is legal under international law. Nonetheless, another a big 'aid flotilla' is now being planned to run the blockade under the guise of humanitarian aid. This despite the fact that all non-military aid is flowing into Gaza through Israeli land terminals. But the most exasperating aspect of this sorry affair is that the IDF takes precautions to protect civilians that no other army does. In Cast Lead it made thousands of telephone calls to Palestinians warning them to evacuate areas that were about to be attacked. In addition, thousands of leaflets were also dropped from the area. The Israel Air Force even developed a light non-lethal explosive it dropped on the roofs of Palestinian homes to urge them to leave immediately and escape being injured in cross-fire with terrorists. It became known as 'knock on the roof' as opposed to knocking on the door. In fact, British Col.Richard Kemp, a former British Army commander in Afghanistan visited the Gaza theatre of operations after the operation and later declared:'The IDF is the most moral army in the history of warfare!'. On that score, there is no comparison between the IDF's consideration for civilian  casualties and the warfare being conducted by the U.S. and its NATO allies whose aircraft and ground forces  have inflicted inadvertently far greater casualties on innocent civilians. Yet the U.N. singled out the IDF for special treatment with a distorted report that its author has now repudiated. At most, after causing so much damage to Israel and fueling the flames lit by those who seek relentlessly to deligitimize the Jewish state and to slander the Israel Defense Forces, Judge Richard Goldstone can now be credited with at least trying to rectify his travesty of justice. 

David Essing

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