The Israeli Army’s advocate general, Maj. Gen. Avichai Mandelblitt is quoted by the New York Times as saying that the Goldstone report accusing the Army of aiming at civilian targets in Gaza is “a vicious lie.”
Yael Stein, research director of the human rights organization, B’Tselem also told the Times that she does not “accept Goldstone’s conclusion of a systematic attack on civilian infrastructure.”
But the Army cannot check itself, Ms. Stein continued. An independent inquiry is necessary. “The Army needs to explain why so many civilians were killed,” Ms. Stein concluded.
B’Tselem’s research shows that the Israel Army over the years consistently believed in the efficacy of collective punishment and is practicing it today in the Gaza Strip. No resident is allowed out and nothing is allowed in except for a minimum of food and medicine called humanitarian aid. A million and a half residents are being cruelly punished for the actions of the Hamas terrorists.
An independent inquiry into the Army’s actions a year ago is exactly what Goldstone recommended. He said in an interview that his conclusions would not stand up in court because he did not present the views of the Israel Army, which had boycotted his investigation.
World opinion forced the Army to change its mind. It has prepared a detailed brief on the difficulty of fighting armed militants interspersed among the civilian population.
This is a legitimate argument. Take the case of Dr. Abulaish, the Gaza surgeon who serves in Israeli hospitals, lost three of his daughters to a shell that penetrated his parlor. But there were snipers on his roof, he has said in speeches in this country.
But there were no snipers on the roof of the flour mill which supplied the daily bread of thousands of Gazans. There were no soldiers at the destroyed water works, which released thousands of tons of raw sewage. There were no armed militants in the schools, hospitals and other civilian institutions which were systematically wasted, including the only cement plant.
Previous operations of the Israel Army were not part of Goldstone’s investigation. Let me recall what happened in 2006.
On June 25, 2006, Cpl. Gilad Shalit was abducted and held in Gaza for ransom. The release of about a thousand terrorists, jailed in Israel, was demanded for his return. Almost four years later negotiations are ongoing through German and Egyptian mediators.
It took the Israel Army just three days to find a suitable target for its retaliation for the kidnapping. It had to be a significant civilian institution, such as a power plant, for collective punishment. This had nothing to do with negotiations for the soldier’s release.
“Act of vengeance” is the title of B’Tselem’s report. Here is a quote:
And so the one and a half million Moslems, who are crowded into the Gaza Strip and who are ruled by the Hamas terrorists, were deprived of 45 percent of their supply of electricity. The remaining 55 percent comes from the Israel Electric Company.
Gaza went on a cycle of 6 to 8 hours of electricity followed by 6 to 8 hours of blackout, The deleterious effect of the blackouts on the health and well-being of the people of Gaza, and particularly those on dialysis, are delineated in the Btselem report.
The destroyed transformers had been custom built in the United States and it would have taken at least eight months to build and install new ones. A faster option was to install less powerful Egyptian transformers. This was done.
The destruction of the Gaza electric transformers was collective punishment of the entire Gaza population whose rulers had dared to kidnap an Israeli soldier. It was also a war crime. The International Humanitarian Act forbids any attack on a civilian institution. But no one, except B’Tselem, noticed it in 2006. All eyes were on the fate of the kidnapped soldier.
Judge Goldstone could not help but notice the systematic destruction of scores of civilian installations. He voices his suspicion and asks for two independent inquiries: one on the attacks on Arab civilians in Gaza and the second on the rocketing of Jewish civilians in Sderot.
The government of Israel, which had boycotted Goldstone’s inquiry, was forced to take notice. Hence a two page report in the Times a week ago on Sunday. The Goldstone report will not go away. It is anything but a vicious lie.
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