While Goldstone Hysteria Sweeps Israel, IDF Admits Some Guilt: Too Little Too Late
Goldstone hysteria is sweeping Israel and the Jewish world.
Israel has until February 5 to report to the U.N. its response to the Goldstone report. If it doesn't do something convincing - like declare the establishment of an independent investigations committee into allegations of war crimes in last year's Gaza War - there is a realistic chance that an investigation will be opened by the International Court. This is the last thing the Israeli government wants. But at the same time, the Israeli army and the defense establishment are refusing to let any civilian body - Israeli or not - investigate its actions in the war.
What to do? ... Attack on all fronts!
On the one hand, Israel and its allies in the Jewish community are raising their level of attacks on Goldstone and anyone who supports his report. Here are just two examples from this weekend's press.
First, legal pitbull, Alan Dershowitz, let loose with a tirade worthy of the man who helped defend O.J. Simpson by helping whip up claims of ethnic injustice. In a widely quoted interview Dershovitz claims:
The Goldstone report is a defamation written by an evil, evil man. I am appalled by the report and can’t fathom how it could have been written by a Jew. It is as if a Jew would have written the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He is using the fact that his last name is ‘Goldstone’ to substantiate the report’s defamation against the Jewish people….
Second, members of the Israeli Knesset - lead by Kadima, the "moderate" opposition party - demanded that the New Israel Fund, and its chair, ex MK Naomi Hazan, be investigated for "aiding the enemy". This because:
92 percent of the material gathered in Israel and which was used by the Goldstone Commission against the IDF and Israel, was provided by associations supported financially by the New Israel Fund.MK Yisrael Hasson of Kadima, former deputy head of the GSS (aka the Shin Bet, the Israeli internal secret security agency) is quoted as saying in regard to the "New Israel Fund Affair" that the government "should explore the issue of organizations that promote active arrest warrants against IDF officers and contribute to activities supporting Hamas." He also revealed that the GSS has been monitoring Israeli organizations that cooperated with the Goldstone commission.
Coordinated with these statements in the Knesset, where rowdy demonstrations outside the home of New Israel Fund chair Naomi Hazan. (See photo above.) The demonstrators claimed that Hazan was aiding Hamas and "hated the army."
At the same time as it attacks Goldstone, the government is also engaged in defensive maneuvers. It is trying to show that:
a) very few bad or illegal things happened during the war,
b) the army can be trusted to do its own investigation, and therefore
c) an independant investigation is not needed.
According to Haaretz an Israeli government report, handed to the U.N. on Friday, admits that:
An Israel Defense Forces brigadier general and another officer with the rank of colonel endangered human life during last year's military campaign in the Gaza Strip by firing white phosphorous munitions in the direction of a compound run by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works AgencyThis comes, somewhat surprisingly, after numerous prior denials by the IDF that it had used phosphorous in populated areas. In fact an official IDF commission of investigation cleared the army of all such charges last April.
(But does anyone believe that the IDF would have re-opened its investigation and issued such a finding, minimal as it is, if it hadn't been for the pressure brought to bear by the Goldstone Report and all those Israelis and Palestinians that gave it information. These are the same people who are being attacked in the Knesset and the street as being enemies of the State and disloyal to the army.)
The IDF, of course, believes that limited admissions like this will ward off pressure for a full, open and independent investigation. Hardly! The IDF is admitting to only a single incident of illegal use of white phosphorus - this two days before the war ended. Yet there are documented allegations of many such incidents spanning the entire three and half weeks of the war. The IDF has now changed its story on the use of phosphorus four times since evidence of its use first surfaced in December 2008.
The IDF also thinks that its reported "reprimanding" of the two officers, will be sufficient to quell the calls for more appropriate justice. Dozens of Palestinian civilians where severely burned by the illegal phosphorus.
In an apparent attempt to further impress the world with the thoroughness and toughness of its internal investigation, the IDF claims that its military police have probed into about 150 alleged incidents of improper conduct on the part of soldiers involving civilians and Palestinian property during the Gaza campaign. Twelve of these incidents were raised for the first time in the Goldstone Commission report. In the course of the IDF investigations, the army claims that about 500 soldiers were questioned and nearly 100 Palestinian civilians were interviewed at the Erez checkpoint on the Israel-Gaza border. As a result of the IDF's investigations, 36 investigation files have been opened so far. However, "criminal legal proceedings have so far been opened in only one case, in which two Givati brigade soldiers were convicted of stealing a Palestinian civilian's credit card."
That it! One year after the war, the only thing the IDF has found wrong with the conduct of the war is two officers who in a single incident, ordered illegal use of phosphorus, and two soldiers who stole a Palestinian's credit card.
Who do they think they are kidding ?
Too little too late is an understatement. The IDF cannot be trusted to investigate itself.