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A BLIND EYE TO HAMAS ATROCITIES Robert Goot The Australian, November 05, 2009 ...[F]rom the moment the UN Human Rights Council decided to establish a "fact finding" mission "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power,... show more A BLIND EYE TO HAMAS ATROCITIES
Robert Goot
The Australian, November 05, 2009
...[F]rom the moment the UN Human Rights Council decided to establish a "fact finding" mission "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression", it was obvious that [the Goldstone Report] was not intended to, nor would it be an impartial inquiry....
On October 16, 2009, when the UNHRC resolved, without the support of a single western democracy from among its 47 members, to refer the matter to the UN Security Council, the text of the resolution was directed exclusively at Israel and made no mention whatsoever of Hamas. It closely reflected the wording of the original mandate that Goldstone himself had rejected....
The actual evidence compiled against Israel in the 574-page Goldstone report is extraordinarily thin. None of the material contained in the statements of "witnesses" has been tested in any way. Much of it is second, third or fourth-hand hearsay. Palestinians who spoke to the commission knew that anything they said would ultimately get back to Hamas. Turning a blind eye, the Goldstone report merely notes that "those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups." Small wonder that Goldstone later conceded, "We had to do the best we could with the material we had."
The Goldstone commission was at best a preliminary "fact finding" investigation, not a court of law. Goldstone himself has complained that his report is being treated as conclusive when it was never intended that way, stating, "If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven".... Yet Goldstone has only himself to blame for the widespread misapprehension that his report is determinative. Notwithstanding his attempts to suggest the contrary, many of the allegations against Israel are expressed as conclusive findings of fact.
The allegations against Hamas, in contrast, are perfunctory. Punches have been pulled and contrary evidence ignored. For example, in condemning Israel for the many civilian deaths in Gaza, the Goldstone report ignores or dismisses without reason photographs and video footage taken by Israeli forces during the Gaza operation showing Hamas gunmen using civilians as human shields and concentrating their forces in civilian areas.
Yet Hamas makes no secret of its policy of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. In 2008, Hamas spokesman Fathi Hamad went on the record to boast about his organisation's use of "human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine". Incredibly, the Goldstone commission considered this public admission of a war crime by a Hamas leader to be "irrelevant"....
[T]he report blamed Israel for an attack on an UNWRA school in Jabalya, a false accusation that went across the world inciting violence against Israel and Jews, before the UN itself admitted that it was entirely false and that the school had not been shelled at all. The Goldstone report repeated the false allegation and omitted the retraction....
Goldstone was probably sincere in intending to conduct an impartial legal investigation into the Gaza operation. But the report that bears his name has been perverted into a crude polemic, a blunt political weapon to be wielded solely against Israel, as the subsequent UNHRC resolution makes plain. As Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, told The Washington Post last month, "the fundamental problem with this particular report is it was hatched with a bias inherent in its mandate. It is as a consequence a product that largely reflects that imbalance".
(Robert M. Goot SC is president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.)
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