Judge Richard Goldstone, of Goldstone Report infamy, wrote an op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post, reflecting on the report itself, as well as the recent follow up from New York judge Mary McGowan Davis.
Something important that Goldstone clearly wished to impress was that he was happy that Israel has investigated thoroughly into the actions that the report brought up. Why then, didn’t Israel just cooperate from the beginning?
While I welcome Israel’s investigations into allegations, I share the concerns reflected in the McGowan Davis report that few of Israel’s inquiries have been concluded and believe that the proceedings should have been held in a public forum. Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes … As I indicated from the very beginning, I would have welcomed Israel’s cooperation.
The type of investigation that Goldstone is talking about:
For example, the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly. The purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.
Hamas, too, was supposed to investigate its part in the saga. Goldstone was hit pretty heavily when the report was released for thinking that Hamas would actually investigate anything. I mean what would a Hamas report into the deliberate targeting of civilians have read like? “Did we target civilians? Um, yep, we’re a terrorist organisation, so duh.” Hamas’s aim, after all, is to damage civilian infrastructure, to terrorise civilian populations, and to kill Israelis, so that’s really no surprise.
Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms … In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise.