International Law – Media Perspectives : Gaza Fact-Finding Mission

Goldstone committee head denies bias
27/07/2010
Benjamin Weinthal  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission

The chairman of the UN committee responsible for following up on the findings of the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead acknowledged on Saturday that he had helped prepare an advisory opinion analyzing legal aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the 1990s, but said he could not recall whether he had done this work on behalf of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
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New Revelations About the UN Goldstone Report
09/02/2010
Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Col. (ret.) Desmond Travers was one of the four members of the UN Fact Finding Mission that produced what is widely called the Goldstone Report. The Mission investigated Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009. Travers joined the Irish Defense Forces in 1961 and retired after forty years. As the only former officer who belonged to Justice Richard Goldstone’s team, he was the senior figure responsible for the military analysis that provided the basis for condemning Israel for war crimes.


Hamas’ Line of Defence to Goldstone Report
04/02/2010
Jonathan Dahoah Halevi  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Israel has recently delivered its official response to the UN’s fact finding mission to Operation Cast Lead. Hamas’ government is also preparing to submit its official response to the UN Secretary-General before the grace period of six months set to the parties by the Goldstone committee is over. In sharp contrast to the genuine fears expressed by Israel, Hamas does not seem to feel any threat in the legal arena. On the contrary, Hamas demonstrates self confidence based on the understanding that the Goldstone committee strived only to incriminate Israel and all other limited references to the other side were just for lip service without any legal significance.
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The Case Against the Goldstone Report
28/01/2010
Alan M. Dershowitz  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
The Goldstone Report is much more scurrilous than most of its detractors believe. According to the report, Israel used the more than 8,000 rocket attacks on its civilians merely as a pretext, an excuse to target innocent Palestinian civilians for death, as decided upon by the highest levels of the Israeli government. The report found these serious charges “to be firmly based in fact” and had “no doubt” of their truth. The hard evidence conclusively proves that the exact opposite is true, namely that Israel did not have a policy of targeting innocent civilians for death. Indeed the IDF went to unprecedented lengths to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas did have a deliberate policy of having its combatants dress in civilian clothing, fire their rockets from densely populated areas, use civilians as human shields, and store weapons in mosques.
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Israel Poised to Challenge a U.N. Report on Gaza
26/01/2010
Ethan Bronner  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
The Israeli military is completing a rebuttal to a UN report accusing it of grave violations of international and humanitarian law in Gaza a year ago. Maj. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, the Israeli military advocate general, said in an interview that the assertions of the Goldstone report went beyond anything of which others had accused Israel. “I have read every report, from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Arab League,” he said. “We ourselves set up investigations into 140 complaints. It is when you read these other reports and complaints that you realize how truly vicious the Goldstone report is. He made it look like we set out to go after the economic infrastructure and civilians, that it was intentional. It’s a vicious lie.”
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To Conform to “International Standards” of Law, Israel Would Have to Lower Its Standards
06/01/2010
David Benjamin  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Judge Goldstone says our investigations should be conducted in conformity with “international standards.” We shouldn’t have a problem with this, since it means, in effect, that we can drop our standards. Israel probably has the highest level of accountability of the military under the law in the world. The IDF is required to investigate every complaint into misconduct by its troops, from the severe to the trivial. The IDF will also launch investigations even when no complaint has been filed, such as when alleged misconduct is brought to light in the media. Furthermore, all decisions by the military and civil authorities in relation to investigations and prosecutions are ultimately reviewable by the highest court in the land, where Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank have standing.
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Dershowitz slams Goldstone for ‘spreading lies’
24/11/2009
Yitzhak Benhorin  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
American lawyer levels sharp criticism at author of report for refusing to debate him, sees it as absurd that Barak is under threat of being arrested while Mashaal roams London free of concern
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What happened at mosque?
17/11/2009
Jonathan Dahoah Halevi  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
The Goldstone report accuses Israel of an air strike on the Maqadmah mosque in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza on January 3, 2009, which caused the deaths of “at least 15 Palestinians.” During a confrontation at Brandeis University on Nov. 5, 2009, with Amb. Dore Gold, Judge Richard Goldstone presented the incident as a salient example of Israel’s policy of deliberately targeting innocent civilians. What really happened at the Ibrahim al-Maqadmah mosque, named for one of the heads of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing?
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Carter, Goldstone and Gaza
13/11/2009
CAMERA  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
On Nov. 6, Jimmy Carter published an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune endorsing Goldstone’s report. CAMERA has requested corrections of five factual errors in his essay. Carter wrote that Gaza is “surrounded by an impenetrable wall.” In fact, most of the barrier along Gaza’s land border is a fence, not a wall. The Gaza-Egypt border is separated by a wall. Carter claimed “almost 40,000 homes” were destroyed during the fighting. Al Mazen Center for Human Rights, an anti-Israel Palestinian NGO, recently issued a report stating 2,632 homes were destroyed beyond repair and 8,522 were damaged and were repairable. Carter speaks of “several hundred thousand homeless people.” AP reported on Nov. 9, 2009: “The UN estimates around 20,000 Gaza residents were made homeless.” Carter writes: “The Goldstone committee examined closely the cause of deaths of 1,387 Palestinians who perished.” In fact, the report does not closely examine the causes of death for Palestinian individuals. Finally, Carter writes of the “destruction of hospitals.” International and Palestinian sources confirm that while there were damaged hospitals in Gaza, none were destroyed.
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The Goldstone Illusion
10/11/2009
Moshe Halbertal  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
To create standards of morality in war that leave a state without the means of legitimate self-protection is politically foolish and morally problematic; but real answers to these real problems cannot be found in the Goldstone report. What methods can Israel legitimately apply in the defense of its citizens when more lethal and accurate missiles strike the center of Tel Aviv, causing hundreds of civilian deaths?
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Why Are the Laws of War Applied Only to Israel?
28/10/2009
Amir Mizroch  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler believes that the current laws of war are sufficient, but what really needs to be changed is their selective application to Israel alone. Instead of trying to change the laws of war, Israel and its friends should work to change the principles and procedures of the UN itself, which displays a constant country-specific indictment of Israel. “You can’t have a situation where you have special sessions targeting Israel and the rest of the world has immunity. You can’t have a situation where Israel alone is excluded from the regional deliberative groups and therefore cannot participate in the drafting of resolutions….The source of the problem [is] the singling out of one member state for differential and discriminatory treatment,” Cotler told the Post last week.
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Letter to Richard Goldstone
27/10/2009
Trevor Norwitz  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Already your Report has had enormous global repercussions, including some that you probably did not intend. Aside from the general anguish that your accusations of “war crimes” have caused in Israel and among the Jewish people, and the anger and hatred that it is has fueled among their enemies, specific identifiable consequences of your Report already include: the lastminute cancellation of NATO joint military exercises among Israel, Turkey, the United States and Italy (and consequent waste of millions of dollars and downgrading of Israeli-Turkish relations); the degradation of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority; the weakening of the Palestinian Authority and strengthening of Hamas; travel restrictions on Israeli leaders; and further polarization of the HRC and frustration of the Obama Administration’s stated policy of constructive engagement to try to develop the HRC into a useful and meaningful human rights organization.
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Brandeis to host Gaza violence forum
22/10/2009
James F. Smith  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Brandeis University said yesterday that it will host a forum next month with South African Judge Richard Goldstone, the author of a fiercely controversial United Nations fact-finding report that accused Israeli forces as well as Palestinian fighters of committing war crimes in Gaza. In what is sure to be a heated debate, Goldstone will discuss his report for the first time with a senior Israeli political figure. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, will respond to Goldstone in the forum and then both will take questions from the audience.
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Goldstone report undermines faith in international law
22/10/2009
Ed Morgan  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
There are many tragedies in Gaza that deserve proper investigation, including death and destruction on both sides. But the biggest tragedy of the Goldstone report is the damage done to international law. Goldstone, a renowned jurist, has wasted his reputation on a deeply flawed and biased report. It will undermine faith in the rule of international law for any who, apparently unlike the members of the UNHRC, actually take the time to read it
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No wonder Hamas isn’t scared
21/10/2009
Jonathan Dahoah Halevi  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Hamas leaders and spokesmen have embraced the Goldstone report. Ismail Haniyeh said on October 14: “We bless the committee, we gave it everything it needed to investigate, as well as documents which helped publish it in its present form.” Reading the Goldstone report shows that Hamas is never accused of responsibility for terrorism and firing rockets. Rather, nebulous “Palestinian armed groups” are responsible. The Goldstone Committee viewed the Hamas de-facto administration, which took over Gaza in a military bloodbath, as legitimate in every respect and made an artificial distinction between it and “Palestinian armed groups operating in Gaza,” as if such groups did not kowtow to Hamas and had spent eight years methodically launching rockets and mortar shells into Israel in opposition to Hamas policy. For that reason the Committee did not find Hamas responsible of the rocket and terrorist attacks against Israel, despite the fact that the Hamas leadership boasts of their responsibility for these attacks in videotapes on their websites. The issue of Hamas’ invisible responsibility for war crimes shows that the report is a masterpiece of deception and manipulation whose only intention is to frame Israel for war crimes and exonerate Hamas.
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Israeli President Peres: “One of the Human Rights Is to Remain Alive”
19/10/2009
Shimon Peres  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
“One of the human rights is to remain alive. We didn’t initiate it (the war in Gaza). We never went to war on our own initiative. We were attacked, in 61 years nine times, with full-fledged wars and endless terrorist attacks. But if a terrorist does not respect the lives of children, the children of ours and their own children, if they don’t respect the lives of civilians, our civilians and their own civilians, and they don’t respect mosques and they don’t respect ambulances, what can the law do?” “We suffered less victims than the Arabs – it’s true – because we defend our people and they exploit their people. That’s the difference. We have shelters and take care of our children. They don’t. They use mosques to hide arms, they use ambulances to carry terrorists. My God! And you know even in that war there were 250,000 telephone calls to all the houses before they were attacked. We asked them to leave. We tried to do whatever we can. We lost many lives because we tried to avoid casualties.” “They talk of occupied Gaza? What occupation? We took out our army. We took out our settlers and some of you watched on television how difficult it was and of course it was. Nobody forced us. We handed it over to the Palestinians and for eight years they fired missiles against our civilian life. Can anybody tell me why? Can anybody tell me what was the purpose of it? And Israel restrained and restrained and restrained until the citizens told the government, can’t you defend our lives?”
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Israel, the U.S. and the Goldstone Report
19/10/2009
John Bolton  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
By attempting to criminalize Israel’s strategy of crippling Hamas, the Goldstone Report in effect declared the entire antiterrorism campaign to be a war crime. The report has important implications for America. In the UN, Israel frequently serves as a surrogate target in lieu of the U.S., particularly concerning the use of military force pre-emptively or in self-defense. Accordingly, UN decisions on ostensibly Israel-specific issues can lay a predicate for subsequent action against, or efforts to constrain, the U.S. Goldstone’s recommendation to convoke the International Criminal Court is like putting a loaded pistol to Israel’s head – or, in the future, to America’s.
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The U.N. sides with terrorists
19/10/2009
Editor  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Suppose a UN investigation team found that the U.S. had committed war crimes in its response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The report finds that while al-Qaeda may have been culpable for the attacks, America was equally to blame – if not more so – for the civilian deaths caused during Operation Enduring Freedom. The UN instructs the U.S. to conduct an internal investigation and punish the perpetrators, or face action from the International Criminal Court. This is the framework established by the Goldstone Commission Report. Much of the report was cut and pasted from unsubstantiated and suspect reports from nongovernmental organizations with openly anti-Israel sentiments. Some of the “witnesses” interviewed by the mission were disguised Hamas officials. Even more troublingly is the report’s ignoring of the differences between Israel, a sovereign state with a professional armed forces governed by strict policies to limit civilian deaths during the conduct of war, and Hamas, a terrorist organization. After the conflict, Israel conducted some 100 investigations into reports of misconduct by its troops. There is no moral equality between Hamas and Israel any more than there is between al-Qaeda and the U.S.
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U.N. panel backs Gaza war-crimes report, but cites only Israel
19/10/2009
Michael Winter  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
The UN Human Rights Council Friday endorsed a report accusing Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during the 22-day Israeli offensive in Gaza, and sent the Goldstone Commission report to the Security Council. Of the council’s 47 members, 25 – mostly Arab and African states – voted for the resolution. Six – the U.S., Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine – voted against it. The remaining 16, including Britain and France, either abstained or did not vote.
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Goldstone Criticizes UN for Failing to Censure Hamas
19/10/2009
Hui Min Neo  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Judge Richard Goldstone criticized the UN Council resolution for targeting only Israel and failing to include Hamas. “This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel. There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report,” said Goldstone in remarks published in the Swiss newspaper Le Temps ahead of the vote.
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Russia Opposes Further Action on Goldstone Report
19/10/2009
Roni Sofer  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Russia has made it clear to Israel that it will oppose a Goldstone Report discussion at the UN Security Council or at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, although it voted in favor of the report at the UN Human Rights Council, Israel Foreign Ministry officials said Sunday. Russian Ambassador to Israel Peter Stegney reportedly told a Foreign Ministry official that the Goldstone Report “includes statements that do not rely on facts, but rather on subjective estimations.”
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Op-Ed: What’s really on trial in the Goldstone Report?
18/10/2009
Joel Lion  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
What is a country to do when being attacked by a foreign army? The answer to this question seems simple: defend its citizens by all means possible. But for Israel, doing so means condemnation by the world in the form of the Goldstone report. Every day, for eight years, rockets and mortars hit the Israeli town of Sderot. Israel tried diplomatic ways, entering into a truce with Hamas to bring peace to the residents of southern Israel. But Hamas chose war. On Dec. 20, 2008, Hamas chose not to extend the truce. On Dec. 24, Hamas fired 87 rockets and mortar rounds at Israel. Israel, a nation with laws and a code of ethics, was forced to defend itself from terrorists who intentionally fired at innocent civilians and decided to hide among their own civilian population in order to defend themselves from counter action.
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UN’s Goldstone report gives comfort to terrorists
18/10/2009
Yoram Elron  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Not only did the mandate designed by the UN Human Rights Council for the Goldstone mission make no mention whatsoever of possible Palestinian violations of human rights, but it first established Israel’s guilt, and then sent Goldstone to gather the evidence. As the queen said to Alice in Alice in Wonderland: “Verdict first, evidence later.” The four members appointed by the Council to take part in the mission went on the record as having condemned Israel prior to having been selected. Terrorists the world over have now been led to believe that law-abiding democracies can be “handcuffed” by the Human Rights Council, and prevented from taking necessary measures to protect their citizens.
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A UN Show Trial
16/10/2009
Editor  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
The misnamed UN Human Rights Council is taking up the infamous Goldstone report, which accuses Israel of war crimes during last winter’s Gaza conflict. The Security Council will also debate it. The course for the White House is clear: Move fast to squash this anti-Israel ploy, before U.S. soldiers become the UN’s next “war crimes” target. The report is a blatantly biased assault on Israel’s right of self-defense against Hamas rocket fire. The sooner Team Obama squashes this dangerous UN move, the better the chances for peace all around.
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Goldstone Backs Away from Report
15/10/2009
Alan M. Dershowitz  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Richard Goldstone himself now seems to be backing away from his report’s conclusions. In an interview with the Jewish Daily Forward, Goldstone denied that his group had conducted “an investigation.” Instead, it was what he called a “fact-finding mission” based largely on the limited “material we had.” Since this “material” was cherry-picked by Hamas guides and spokesmen, Goldstone acknowledged that “if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.” He emphasized that the report was no more than “a road map” for real investigators and that it contained no actual “evidence” of wrongdoing by Israel. Goldstone said that he himself “wouldn’t consider it in any way embarrassing if many of the allegations turn out to be disproved.”
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End wretched charade over human rights
15/10/2009
Editor  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Rarely has the U.S. had as much good reason to exercise its veto in the UN Security Council as it will have when a controversial report condemning Israel for its campaign against Gaza terrorists comes up for consideration. The report, issued by a commission headed by jurist Richard Goldstone, has been denounced by the Israeli government and criticized by U.S. officials as deeply flawed and unbalanced. It accuses Israel of possible war crimes in the defensive action launched last December.
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UN Security Council Debates Goldstone Report
14/10/2009
Edith M. Lederer  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
The Goldstone report on the Gaza fighting became the focus of nearly 50 speeches at the UN Security Council’s monthly Mideast meeting on Wednesday. Israel’s UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said the report “favors and legitimizes terrorism….It denies Israel’s right to defend its citizens….It permits terrorists to victimize civilians, target the innocent, and use as human shields those it claims to defend.” Shalev accused the world of “doing nothing” about Hamas’ smuggling of Iranian arms into Gaza, its launching of attacks from schools, mosques and hospitals, or its firing of 12,000 rockets against innocent Israeli civilians. Diplomats say there is little chance that the Security Council will take any action, primarily because of objections by the U.S., Israel’s closest ally. U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff reiterated that the report and “the allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violations…are not a matter for Security Council action.” He also criticized what he termed “its unbalanced focus on Israel.”
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It looks like law, but it’s just politics
14/10/2009
Warren Goldstein  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
The Report could have salvaged some measure of integrity had it stated that its findings, both legal and factual, were only prima facie. It did not do so.
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Goldstone: ‘If This Was a Court Of Law, There Would Have Been Nothing Proven.’
07/10/2009
Gal Beckerman  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Richard Goldstone says his report on Gaza presents only tentative find- ings. But the document makes bold allegations that haven’t been scrutinized.
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The Goldstone Report: A Study in Duplicity
07/10/2009
CAMERA  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
A study by CAMERA staff lists numerous examples of factual errors and double standards in the Goldstone report. Evidence damning Israel is normally deemed credible, whereas evidence exonerating Israel or damning Palestinians is dismissed. Information by NGOs is given weight when it suggests Israeli culpability, but is ignored or minimized when it suggests Palestinian guilt. The report concludes: “It is not reasonably possible to determine whether [Israeli] photographs show what is alleged.” On the other hand, no doubt is cast on photographs provided by Palestinians.
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UN’s bias binds Gaza
02/10/2009
Jim Molan  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
RICHARD Goldstone, a prominent South African jurist, claims in The New York Times that he hesitatingly accepted his UN mandate to investigate the three-week December-January war between Hamas and Israel because he was taking on something “deeply charged and politically loaded”. Many states considered this mandate one-sided. Prominent individuals offered the view that it was more about politics than human rights. Goldstone was wise to hesitate, but he took the mission that will forever bear his name.
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A betrayal of Israelis and Palestinians alike
30/09/2009
Aharon Leshno Ya’ar  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Regrettably the report, claiming to represent international law but in fact perverting it to serve a political agenda, can only weaken its standing in future conflicts. It broadcasts a troubling – and legally unfounded – message to states everywhere confronting terrorist threats, that international law has no effective response to offer them, and so serves to undermine willingness to comply with its provisions. At the same time, it signals an even more troubling message to terrorist groups that the cynical tactics of seeking to exploit civilian suffering for political ends actually pays dividends.
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UN Investigation of Israel Discredits Itself and Undercuts Human Rights
16/09/2009
Alan M. Dershowitz  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
The lowest blow and the worst canard contained in this lie-laden report is that the Israeli judicial system is incapable of conducting investigations and bringing about compliance with international law. It claims that the Israeli judicial system “has major structural flaws that make the system inconsistent with international standards,” and that “there is little potential for accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law through domestic institutions in Israel.” This is a direct attack on the Israeli Supreme Court by a lawyer who knows full well that there is no country in the world that has a judicial system that demands more accountability than the Israeli system does. There is no judicial system in the world—not in the United States, not in Great Britain, not in South Africa, not in France—that takes more seriously its responsibility to bring its military into compliance with international law. The long term President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Professor Aharon Barak, opened the Supreme Court of Israel to all claims of law violation. Cases that would be rejected by the courts of other nations have been pursued by the Israeli Supreme Court. This part of this infamous report has literally turned black to white and white to black. It has condemned the most responsive judicial system in the world, without even bothering to compare it to other systems. In doing so, they have made a mockery of international human rights and turned into a weapon that targets only Israel.
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Mandelblit: Israel right not to cooperate with Goldstone
16/09/2009
Yaakov Katz  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
“The baseless claim in the report that Cast Lead was planned and launched to intentionally harm the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and to punish it, effectively illustrates the radical distortion and one-sided character of the report and proves, in my opinion, that the decision not to cooperate with the mission was the right one,” IDF Judge-Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit said.
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Israel’s analysis and comments on the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission Report
15/09/2009
Ministry of Foreign Affairs  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Israel is appalled and disappointed by the Report published on 15 September 2009 by the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission. Justice Goldstone as Head of the Mission repeatedly insisted that the Mission was not a judicial inquiry and so “could not reach judicial conclusions”. On this basis he justified the inclusion of partisan mission members, admitting that their involvement “would not be appropriate for a judicial inquiry”. The Report, however, is highly judicial in nature, reaching conclusive judicial determinations of guilt, and including ‘detailed legal findings’ even in the absence of the sensitive intelligence information which Israel did not feel able to provide. These determinations are made notwithstanding the Report’s admission that it does not “pretend to reach the standard of proof applicable in criminal trials”.
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The Goldstone show-trial
11/09/2009
Melanie Phillips  |  Gaza Fact-Finding Mission
Goldstone himself is utterly compromised by accepting the terms of this rigged mandate which is an affront to justice. As Eye on the UN reports, although he claims to have changed this mandate through informal conversations, this is a load of hooey: Goldstone, a lawyer and former judge, knows full well that he has no jurisdiction or authority to change the mandate either alone or in informal conversation with anyone. His claims to the contrary, therefore, are a serious ethical and legal breach both to the critics who have accused him of assuming a position tainted from the outset, and to the Council itself.
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