War & Peace
U.N.’s Goldstone Retracts Finding that Israel Intentionally Targeted Civilians During ’08-’09 Gaza War
Richard Goldstone, head of the United Nations panel that investigated Israeli conduct during the 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza, has retracted his highly controversial allegation that Israeli troops deliberately targeted Palestinian civilians during the war, the New York Times reports.
Goldstone, a South African jurist who is also Jewish, spent months dissecting the actions of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the Gaza war. He wrote in the Washington Post that Israeli probes of the conflict “indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.” “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
Why the change of heart? “The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of an injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion,” Goldstone wrote. But since then, he says, Israeli investigators have come forth with exculpatory evidence “that civilians were not intentionally harmed as a matter of policy.”
But harmed they were; Israeli forces killed more than 1,400 civilians— 926 of them innocent civilians, including 429 women and children. The IDF destroyed 4,000 Palestinian homes, a flour mill, sewage plant, chicken coops, water wells, a cement plant and other civilian infrastructure, leading Goldstone’s team to believe that Israel had waged “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever-increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”
The devastation visited upon the Palestinians (who Goldstone also found to have committed atrocities against Israel, chiefly the firing of thousands of rockets at civilian targets) was so severe as to lead Goldstone to believe that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians.
Israel jumped all over Goldstone’s stunning retraction. “Everything we said has proven to be true,” gloated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Israel did not intentionally harm civilians. Its institutions and investigative bodies are worthy, while Hamas intentionally fired upon innocent civilians and did not examine anything. The fact that Goldstone backtracked must lead to the shelving of this report once and for all.”
Not so fast– Goldstone stands by much of the report, including multiple instances of Israeli war crimes against innocent Palestinians. To Israel’s credit, military prosecutors have taken legal action in no less than four cases, including the deliberate shooting of Palestinian civilians and a botched air strike that wiped out 29 members of one family.
Goldstone himself incurred the wrath of many Jews following the publication of his report. According to the New York Times, he was ostracized by the South African Jewish community, some of whom even tried to stop him from attending his own grandson’s bar mitzvah last year.
Tagged Benjamin Netanyahu, gaza war, goldstone ostracized, Goldstone Report, goldstone retracts, goldstone retracts allegation that israel deliberately targeted civilians, goldstone says israel did not deliberately target gaza civilians, goldstone south africa, Hamas, hamas atrocities, hamas rocket attacks against israel, hamas rockets, hamas war crimes, IDF, israel atrocities, Israel Defense Forces, israel war crimes, Operation Cast Lead, Richard Goldstone, richard goldstone jewish, UN, United Nations