Did Goldstone hide more sinister crimes in Gaza?
- Did Richard Goldstone hide more sinister crimes in Gaza?
Peter Eyre, Middle East Consultant
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
- Part 1: White Phosphorus and Flechettes
(Pal Telegraph) - There was much praise for the UN investigations into war crimes committed in Gaza, led by Richard Goldstone. However, I feel that this report did not go far enough to investigate some other more serious allegations that were made.
There is a sense of urgency to bring this investigation forward and to put those responsible on trial but one must understand that something much more sinister did not even get a mention and has since been swept under the carpet.
Let's take a closer look at some aspects of this report which certainly showed a distinct weakness in the team's ability to understand what constitutes a breach of the Geneva Convention.
Quote from item 46: the Mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility. It also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation of the right to life.
Quote from item 47: The last incident concerns the launch of a bomb on a house resulting in the killing of 22 family members. Israel's position in this case is that there was an "operational error" and that the intended target was a neighbouring house storing weapons. On the basis of its investigation, the Mission expresses significant doubts about the Israeli authorities' account of the incident. The Mission concludes that, if indeed a mistake was made, there could not be said to be a case of wilful killing. State responsibility of Israel for an internationally wrongful act, however, would remain.
Response to item 46 and 47: Even if an operational mistake was made it still constitutes wilful killing as such bombs were dropped in areas of dense population and thus had the correct target been hit the civilians in the adjacent target area would have died or been severely injured.
Quote from Item 48: Based on its investigation of incidents involving the use of certain weapons such as white phosphorous and flechette missiles, the Mission, while accepting that white phosphorous is not at this stage proscribed under international law, finds that the Israeli armed forces were systematically reckless in determining its use in built-up areas. Moreover, doctors who treated patients with white phosphorous wounds spoke about the severity and sometimes untreatable nature of the burns caused by the substance. The Mission believes that serious consideration should be given to banning the use of white phosphorous in built-up areas. As to flechettes, the Mission notes that they are an area weapon incapable of discriminating between objectives after detonation. They are; therefore, particularly unsuitable for use in urban settings where there is reason to believe civilians may be present.
Response to Item 48: First of all Mr Goldstone needs to understand that White Phosphorus is an Incendiary Weapon and therefore is covered under international law in its use of White Phosphorus on densely populated areas.
It is in violation of the Geneva Convention: Protocol on Prohibitions
or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (Protocol III) namely:
Certain use of incendiary weapons, in particular the use of air delivered incendiary weapons against targets situated amongst concentrations of civilians (Protocol III to the Conventional Weapons Convention).
One should also draw attention to the fact that exactly the same treatment was handed out by the IDF in Southern Lebanon (2006). This picture shows the terrible lethal consequences on a child in Lebanon. Let's now look at a case that was filed in Israel on the back of the Geneva Convention and the ICJ. As one would expect when dealing with the Israel court system the case failed. One could live in hope that such a case in the European Courts would carry a different result
The "Flechette" shells (from the French "flêchette," meaning "small arrow") are known to contain thousands of small metal arrows, each some four centimeters long. When the shell explodes in the air, at a height of approximately 30 m above the ground, the lethal arrows scatter over a cone-shaped area some 300 m in length and 94 m wide. It should be noted that the Flechette was developed by the Americans in Vietnam, when they sought an effective weapon for attacking Viet Cong forces hiding among the trees in the jungles and dispersed over a large area.
It is worth noting that this weapon has been considered controversial since it was first introduced. The arguments raised against the Flechette are based, inter alia, on the principles of international law in the field of the laws of war, according to which weapons causing "unnecessary suffering" are not to be used, and the indiscriminate use of weapons in population centers is prohibited. The Appellants will argue that the Flechette causes "unnecessary suffering" due to the enormous number of arrows, which injure the victim's body (similarly to an explosive device containing nails), and that it is also considered an "indiscriminate" weapon, since it disperses over an enormous area, and is very difficult to use precisely. Accordingly, the Appellants argue, its use is prohibited, particularly in civilian population centers.
These photographs show flechettes as used in Gaza and an X-Ray of a boy's shoulder clearly showing a flechette deeply embedded.
As mentioned above, the IDF has used this weapon for many years, particularly in the context of its operational activities in southern Lebanon, during which "dead areas" were declared along the border of the "Security Zone" - any person entering these areas was considered a "terrorist" to be eliminated. As soon as movement was identified in these areas, the tanks fired Flechette shells. It is worth mentioning that even during this period, arguments were raised against the IDF that the use of these shells caused the death and injury of dozens of Lebanese citizens, despite the fact that the use of Flechette shells was limited to sparsely-populated areas.
Among other publications, a special chapter was devoted to the IDF's use of this weapon in Lebanon in a report of the organization B'Tselem entitled "The Violation of the Human Rights of Lebanese Citizens by Israel (January 2000)."
Illegality in International Humanitarian Law - The Rules of War
It is a principle of international humanitarian law and the rules of war that means that cause indiscriminate injury or that are unable or incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants are prohibited. In addition, means causing unnecessary suffering and superfluous injury are prohibited.
The obligation to protect the health and life of civilians who are not engaged in combat is mentioned in all the conventions constituting international humanitarian law; in some conventions, the obligation is mentioned several times. The prohibition on the arbitrary taking of life outside the parameters of self-defense may be identified on several levels in international law. The most basic level is that of the general rules of war, which establish the basic principle that civilian targets, including civilians, shall not be the targets of attacks.
Inter alia, Article 22 of the Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 (hereinafter "the Hague Regulations"), which was revolutionary for its time, stated that "the right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited".
Among other provisions, a specific regulation was established prohibiting the use of weapons that cause unnecessary suffering. Article 23 states:
"Art. 23. In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden
(e) To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering;
The second level establishes the prohibition against inhuman treatment for those not, at that time, actively engaged in fighting; the center of this facet is the prohibition against the taking of life.
This obligation is established in Article 3, which is common to all four Geneva Conventions from 1949. This applies to all armed conflicts, not only to occupied territories. Among other provisions, sub-clause 1 states:
Persons taking no active part in hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
Violence to life and person
A) The above-mentioned Article 3, which, as noted, is common to all four Geneva Conventions, is today considered international customary law binding all nations of the world; as such, it may be enforced by this Court. In addition, the State of Israel signed and ratified the Geneva Conventions in 1951; accordingly, it is also legally bound to observe the conventions as a contracting party.
The third level of the rules of war comprises the rules for the control of occupied territory, which grant the occupied population special protection in addition to the rights and protections accruing from the general rules of law and to the rights and protections enjoyed by all citizens, whether or not living in an occupied territory.
These protections and rights are established both in the Hague Regulations and in many clauses scattered throughout the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the Protection of Civilian Population, as well as in the two protocols to the conventions, signed in 1977.
Regulation 30 of the Hague Regulations relates to the protection of the residents of an occupied territory, stating as follows:
"Family honour and rights, the lives of persons and private property... must be protected"
No-one would deny that the general and special rules of law, as reflected in the Hague Regulations, now constitute international customary law binding all nations of the world, and enforceable in this Court (see, for example, the comments by then Justice Barak in HCJ 393/82, Jamayat Iskan Almu'alamoun v Commander of IDF Forces, Piskei Din 37(5) 785, in para. 11 of the ruling).
However, the principal protection is afforded to the citizens of an occupied territory in the Fourth Geneva Convention. These citizens are "protected persons" as defined in Article 4 of the Convention. The disagreements between the international community and Israel regarding the applicability of the definition in Article 4 to the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories has already been resolved in a long series of petitions to this Court, in which the state has declared its commitment to observe the humanitarian provisions of the Convention as if they applied to the territory.
In order to complete the picture, we should note that additional protections on civilian lives are established in the two protocols to the Geneva Convention signed in 1977; these expanded the protection afforded to the civilian population to include disputes other than those between states. The State of Israel has not signed these protocols, but some of their provisions constitute a part of international customary law, and as such bind Israel.
Prohibition on the Use of Weapons Causing "Unnecessary Suffering" and "Indiscriminate" Weapons - Customary Law
The Appellants shall argue that the use of Flechette shells by the IDF is incompatible with the principles of international customary law as noted above, which require the military echelon to consider, alongside military needs, the need to minimize unreasonable danger of injury to the local population.
Article 35(2) of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I) (hereinafter "the First Protocol") establishes as follows:
Article 35.--Basic rules
1. In any armed conflict, the right of the Parties to the conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited.
2. It is prohibited to employ weapons, projectiles and material and
methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.
3. It is prohibited to employ methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.
Article 51 establishes:
Article 51.--Protection of the civilian population
1. The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in circumstances.
2. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.
3. Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
4. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:
(a) Those which are not directed at a specific military objective;
(b) Those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or
(c) Those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.
5. Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate:
(b) An attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
Although the State of Israel is not committed to the provisions of the First Protocol, these articles are considered customary and binding in international law. Proof of this may be found in the "Advisory Opinion" of the International Court of Justice dated July 8, 1996 on the subject of the "Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons."
In the course of the above-mentioned opinion, the court was asked, inter alia, to address the subject of an indiscriminate weapon that causes unnecessary suffering. Among other points, the court ruled as follows:
A large number of customary rules have been developed by the practice of States and are an integral part of the international law relevant to the question posed.
The cardinal principles contained in the texts constituting the fabric of humanitarian law are the following. The first is aimed at the protection of the civilian population and civilian objects and establishes the distinction between combatants and non-combatants; States must never make civilians the object of attack and must consequently never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets. According to the second principle, it is prohibited to cause unnecessary suffering to combatants: it is accordingly prohibited to use weapons causing them such harm or uselessly aggravating their suffering.
In application of that second principle, States do not have unlimited freedom of choice of means in the weapons they use.
In conformity with the aforementioned principles, humanitarian law, at a very early stage, prohibited certain types of weapons either because of their indiscriminate effect on combatants and civilians or because of the unnecessary suffering caused to combatants, that is to say, a harm greater than that unavoidable to achieve legitimate military objectives. If an envisaged use of weapons would not meet the requirements of humanitarian law, a threat to engage in such use would also be contrary to that law.
Nor is there any need for the Court elaborate on the question of the applicability of Additional Protocol I of 1977 to nuclear weapons. It need only observe that while, at the Diplomatic Conference of 1974-1977, there was no substantive debate on the nuclear issue and no specific solution concerning this question was put forward, Additional Protocol I in no way replaced the general customary rules applicable to all means and methods of combat including nuclear weapons. In particular, the Court recalls that all States are bound by those rules in Additional Protocol I which, when adopted, were merely the expression of the pre-existing customary law, such as the Martens Clause, reaffirmed in the first article of Additional Protocol I. The fact that certain types of weapons were not specifically dealt with by the 1974-1977 Conference does not permit the drawing of any legal conclusions relating to the substantive issues which the use of such weapons would raise."...
The entire text as per above was taken from www.btselem.org with reference to Legal Documents/HC8990 02 Flachette Appeal
Israel Supreme Court - Sitting as the High Court of Justice - HCJ/02 in the case of Physicians for Human Rights - Israel and The Palestinian Centre for Human Right (The Appellants) V General of the Southern Command - Doron Almog and The State of Israel - Ministry of Defense (The Respondents)
Petition for an Interim Decree
A petition is hereby respectfully submitted to the Court requesting that the Respondents be ordered to come and give grounds why the use of "Flechette" type tank shells in the context of IDF operations in the Gaza Strip area should not be halted and prohibited.
Data listed within this article were taken from the Internet site of the International Court of Justice (www.icj-cij.org).
As we would expect the case failed to achieve it goals and was kicked out of court as follows:
The appellants asked us to prohibit the army from using flechette shells. Since we have realized that the use of this ammunition is not prohibited by the laws of war, the petitioners' request cannot be accepted. This court has ruled that "the choice of weapons, which the respondents use for the goal of preventing murderous terror attacks, is not one of the topics in which this court sees fit to intervene." (HCJ 5872/ 01, Bracha v Prime Minister, PD 56 (3)1). Needless to say, the respondents have eased our minds that the scope of use of this ammunition is arranged by the IDF through rules that are binding on the commanders of forces acting in the field. The decision regarding the question as to whether the conditions in the arena of combat, in every given case, justify use of the flechette, is determined by the authorized commander, who in formulating his decision is commanded to act according to professional guidelines, that in principle were intended to prevent harming residents not involved in activities that endanger IDF soldiers or Israeli citizens.
The petition is rejected.
Justice The Honourable Justice M. Heshin: I agree.
Justice The Honourable Justice A. Hayout: I agree.
Decided, as stated, in Justice E. Matza's decision.
Rendered today, 25 Nissan 5763 (27 April 2003)
It must be noted that Goldstone's report did not follow the same conclusion as per the case above but rather highlighted Flechette's unsuitability in an urban environment when he quoted the following: "As to flechettes, the Mission notes that they are an area weapon incapable of discriminating between objectives after detonation. They are, therefore, particularly unsuitable for use in urban settings where there is reason to believe civilians may be present"
Part 2 of this series will next cover the use of DIME weapons within Gaza. It will also focus on Goldstones disregard of the use of depleted uranium that had been raised in earlier submissions. This surely must head the top of the list of the Israeli War Crimes in that weapons that contain uranium components do not discriminate between military and civilian targets or respect international borders. Consequently these weapons contaminated the entire Gaza Strip and crossed over the border to contaminate most of Central and Southern Israel and beyond. What is ironic was this same situation developed during the Lebanon War in 2006 when the entire Southern part of Lebanon was contaminated and again the contamination crossed over the border to do the same to Northern Israel. In other words the IDF has "Nuked" its own people.
We will cover how these two weapons were clearly left out of the enquiry despite the fact they were originally very much part of the initial submissions. One would also assume that accordingly the people of Israel would have a case against the Israeli Government and the IDF.
Part 2 DIME and Uranium Weapons
Peter Eyre, Middle East Consultant
Friday, 30 October 2009
Gaza, October 30, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - Again we see a classic example of a UN investigation that only plays with the periphery of War Crimes committed by Israel whilst at the same time ignoring the more important horrific crimes carried out by the IDF.
Goldstone brushed aside the use of White Phosphorus and Flechette weapons and only touched briefly on DIME weapons. He totally ignored weapons containing Uranium components such as the four weapons shown in this photograph.
So let's look at DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive) and how it works:
DIME bombs produce an unusually powerful blast within a relatively small area, spraying a superheated "micro-shrapnel" of powdered Heavy Metal Tungsten Alloy (HMTA). Scientific studies have found that HMTA is chemically toxic, damages the immune system, rapidly causes cancer, and attacks DNA. It cuts through victims with ease and for those lucky enough to survive such an attack the outlook is fairly grim. The fragments from such a weapon once embedded in the flesh of its victim will lead to cancer and can result in death as early as three months.
Two Norwegian doctors working in the Hospital in Gaza observed the unusual injuries of its victims like none other they had witnessed before. One of the doctors had worked in such war zones for almost 30 years. This same statement was supported by Egyptian doctors who had also noticed the unusual injuries. Some of those doctors went into more detail with the following report: Norwegian doctor Mad Gilbert, the blast results in multiple amputations and "very severe fractures. The muscles are sort of split from the bones, hanging loose, and you also have quite severe burns." Most of those who survive the initial blast quickly succumb to septicaemia and organ collapse. "Initially, everything seems in order...but it turns out on operation that dozens of miniature particles can be found in all their organs," says Dr. Jam Brommundt, a German doctor working in Kham Younis, a city in southern Gaza. "It seems to be some sort of explosive or shell that disperses tiny particles...that penetrate all organs, these miniature injuries; you are not able to attack them surgically." According to Brommundt, the particles cause multiple organ failures. A footnote to these comments is that such fragments lead to an aggressive form of cancer.
In Goldstone's report it stated the following in Paragraph 49: While the Mission is not in a position to state with certainty that so-called dense inert metal explosive (DIME) munitions were used by the Israeli armed forces, it did receive reports from Palestinian and foreign doctors who operated in Gaza during the military operations of a high percentage of patients with injuries compatible with their impact. DIME weapons and weapons armed with heavy metal are not prohibited under international law as it currently stands, but do raise specific health concerns. One can see the extensive perforations of embedded fragments in this lady's face in Gaza.
One could ask the question why the investigation team didn't collect samples from the hospital or from its victims for testing in the laboratory. I am sure that these types of weapon are also banned under the Geneva Convention in regard to its usage in densely populated areas and the fact such weapons are totally indiscriminate and lethal. Again we see such matters swept under the carpet.
Now the big one - the issue of weapons containing uranium components. It was to be expected that Richard Goldstone would give an extremely brief reference to depleted uranium when his report said the following in Paragraph 49: The Mission received allegations that depleted and no depleted uranium were used by Israeli forces in Gaza. These allegations were not further investigated by the Mission!......I ask the question "Why on earth not"?
Could one ever imagine that one of the most experienced war crime investigators had, in a flick of his pen, written off something so serious? How such extremely serious allegations could be pushed to one side is beyond imagination. I myself provided my own submission to the team whilst in Geneva and highlighted the pictorial evidence of such explosions. I also advised them of the samples that had been recovered from Gaza for Prof Chris Busby and that had tested positive to both DU/EU with a clear indication of fourth generation dirty weapons.
We are already seeing the signs of such contamination in the birth defects of newly born babies in the Gaza Strip - Sound familiar? It is clear that Gaza will succumb to the same genetic damage as in the Balkans, Iraq and now Afghanistan. We can now expect significant changes in the health statistics in Gaza and when this occurs will anyone ask the question "What is causing this"?
Again we see the UN with it large broom either avoiding the issues or removing the evidence. They lied in the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and now Gaza. We see a massive clearing of buildings bombed by the IDF and the rubble being taken away for crushing to re surface the roads and streets in the Gaza Strip. This is an indespicable act that violates the UN's own policy in regard to possible contaminated sites. Instruction to their own staff clearly states the procedures required prior to any attempt to clear such sites. Now they have failed to address any possible DU investigation and totally disregarded their own safety regulations. The resultant aftermath of this blatant act will now cause secondary contamination to occur not only within the Gaza Strip but also in adjacent Israel, Egypt, Jordan and further afield.
We will now leave the weapons and look at other aspects of this deeply flawed report. I note with interest a strong emphasis on the holding of Gilad Shalit and the comments raised in paragraph 77: "The Mission is of the opinion that, as a soldier who belongs to the Israeli armed forces and who was captured during an enemy incursion into Israel, Gilad Shalit meets the requirements for Prisoner-of-war status under the Third Geneva Convention. As such, he should be protected, treated humanely and be allowed external communication as appropriate according to that Convention. The ICRC should be allowed to visit him without delay. Information about his condition should also be provided promptly to his family".
I am sure that many concerned parents and families in Palestine would appreciate the same concern and respect in regard to the many Palestinian male, female and juniors held indefinitely by the Israeli Government. We must all be aware of the weekly ritual carried out by the families of those held in captivity without charge or trial who with great passion continue to hold their own special vigil and ask the same questions. Their loved ones are certainly not given the same treatment as Shalit and therefore this aspect of the report is totally out of context. In paragraph 86 of the report it stated: It is estimated that since the beginning of the occupation, approximately 700,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained by Israel.
According to estimates, as at 1st June A/HRC/12/48 page 28 2009, there were approximately 8,100 Palestinian `political prisoners' in detention in Israel, including 60 women and 390 children. Most of these detainees are charged or convicted by the Israeli Military Court System that operates for Palestinians in the West Bank and under which due process rights for Palestinians are severely limited. Many are held in administrative detention and some under the Israeli "Unlawful Combatants Law".
What is ironic here is the fact that the long running atrocities carried out by the Israelis on the people of Palestine has for many years been very well documented. It did not, in some respects, warrant such a mission to highlight some of those atrocities when the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations had already done a magnificent job in reporting them over a long period of time. We can appreciate that this investigation was primarily for events just prior to Cast Lead and during the conflict. However, one must point out that this continued intimidation, oppression and humiliation as report by that Mission had so much to do with the retaliatory action taken by Palestinians.
Letters to the Secretary-General from The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN are described as follows: "Identical letters sent to the President of the Security Council and the President of the General Assembly. The purpose of these letters is to constitute a basic record of the crimes perpetuated by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem".
These letters are sent almost weekly and are very well documented on their webpage: http://www.un.int/palestine/letters09.shtml. They stem back to September 2000 up to the current time and one can almost feel the frustration of the author at continuously writing these very accurate reports to no avail. As you can see from the extract below they now number 342 and when you add to this the hundreds of UN Resolutions passed against Israel that have been totally ignored it is painfully obvious that the Secretary - General and the United Nations has no power whatsoever.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 342 letters to you regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 3 August 2009 (A/ES-10/459-S/2009/401), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Dr. Riyad Mansour
Ambassador, Permanent Observer
of Palestine to the United Nations
Part 3: Members of Congress Reject Report
Peter Eyre - Middle East Consultant
Gaza, October 31, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - Although we have seen some shortfalls in Goldstone's report we can now see the true face of some members of the US Congress as they again start to use their "Iron Fist" methods to stop this report moving forward.
It is evident that ever since this report was first tabled the powers that be have used almost every excuse to bin it. We were first led to believe that to delay it could help in a Middle East peace deal (wishful thinking). With the help of Obama, Clinton and Abbas, the three musketeers managed to convince Geneva to delay this process until next year.
Within a very short period of time it was obvious that the world was starting to respond to this decision with disgust and further pressure was applied by many of the Arabic nations. Again we saw a reversal of this decision when it was again raised in the United Nations. Despite much criticism that this report did not go far enough at least we all started to see a ray of hope in bringing this to the international court.
I have decided to print this document in its entirety so that we, the general public, can see the disgraceful attitude of those in power in the United States. Time and time again we see this power abused in the UN when the US vetoes any such proposal. The world cannot allow this US protectionism of Israel to continue. We have clearly seen the weakness of the Secretary General and the United Nations in the past and if this report is further delayed the consequences could lead to more acts of terrorism and the destabilisation of the Middle East. When one adds to this the intimidation by the Israelis at the Al-Aqsa Mosque we are starting to see clear unopposed aggression with total US support.
The only way forward is for the entire Arab League to stand firm and demand that in the name of justice this case be accelerated through the court and not delayed. The people of Gaza have been treated in the most terrible manner and this move by Congress only adds to their suffering. This surely must be a true test for the new President and will give him his only chance to show which side of the fence he sits.
Here is the current proposed resolution before the House of Representatives as tabled on the 23rd of October 2009 and those that tabled it as per below:
Calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the... (Introduced in House)
HRES 867 IH
H. RES. 867
Calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' in multilateral fora.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
October 23, 2009
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN (for herself, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. BURTON of Indiana, and Mr. ACKERMAN) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' in multilateral fora.
Whereas, on January 12, 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution A/HRC/S-9/L.1, which authorized a `fact-finding mission' regarding Israel's conduct of Operation Cast Lead against violent militants in the Gaza Strip between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009;
Whereas the resolution pre-judged the outcome of its investigation, by one-sidedly mandating the `fact-finding mission' to `investigate all violations of international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law by . . . Israel, against the Palestinian people . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression';
Whereas the mandate of the `fact-finding mission' makes no mention of the relentless rocket and mortar attacks, which numbered in the thousands and spanned a period of eight years, by Hamas and other violent militant groups in Gaza against civilian targets in Israel, that necessitated Israel's defensive measures;
Whereas the `fact-finding mission' included a member who, before joining the mission, had already declared Israel guilty of committing atrocities in Operation Cast Lead by signing a public letter on January 11, 2009, published in the Sunday Times, that called Israel's actions `war crimes';
Whereas the mission's flawed and biased mandate gave serious concern to many United Nations Human Rights Council Member States which refused to support it, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland;
Whereas the mission's flawed and biased mandate troubled many distinguished individuals who refused invitations to head the mission;
Whereas, on September 15, 2009, the `United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' released its report;
Whereas the report repeatedly made sweeping and unsubstantiated determinations that the Israeli military had deliberately attacked civilians during Operation Cast Lead;
Whereas the authors of the report, in the body of the report itself, admit that `we did not deal with the issues . . . regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers `in the fog of war.';
Whereas in the October 16th edition of the Jewish Daily Forward, Richard Goldstone, the head of the `United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict', is quoted as saying, with respect to the mission's evidence-collection methods, `If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.';
Whereas the report, in effect, denied the State of Israel the right to self-defense, and never noted the fact that Israel had the right to defend its citizens from the repeated violent attacks committed against civilian targets in southern Israel by Hamas and other Foreign Terrorist Organizations operating from Gaza;
Whereas the report largely ignored the culpability of the Government of Iran and the Government of Syria, both of whom sponsor Hamas and other Foreign Terrorist Organizations;
Whereas the report usually considered public statements made by Israeli officials not to be credible, while frequently giving uncritical credence to statements taken from what it called the `Gaza authorities', i.e. the Gaza leadership of Hamas;
Whereas, notwithstanding a great body of evidence that Hamas and other violent Islamist groups committed war crimes by using civilians and civilian institutions, such as mosques, schools, and hospitals, as shields, the report repeatedly downplayed or cast doubt upon that claim;
Whereas in one notable instance, the report stated that it did not consider the admission of a Hamas official that Hamas often `created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the mujahideen, against [the Israeli military]' specifically to `constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack.';
Whereas Hamas was able to significantly shape the findings of the investigation mission's report by selecting and prescreening some of the witnesses and intimidating others, as the report acknowledges when it notes that `those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups . . . from a fear of reprisals';
Whereas even though Israel is a vibrant democracy with a vigorous and free press, the report of the `fact-finding mission' erroneously asserts that `actions of the Israeli government . . . have contributed significantly to a political climate in which dissent with the government and its actions . . . is not tolerated';
Whereas the report recommended that the United Nations Human Rights Council endorse its recommendations, implement them, review their implementation, and refer the report to the United Nations Security Council, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and the United Nations General Assembly for further action;
Whereas the report recommended that the United Nations Security Council--
(1) require the Government of Israel to launch further investigations of its conduct during Operation Cast Lead and report back to the Security Council within six months;
(2) simultaneously appoint an `independent committee of experts' to monitor and report on any domestic legal or other proceedings undertaken by the Government of Israel within that six-month period; and
(3) refer the case to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court after that six-month period;
Whereas the report recommended that the United Nations General Assembly consider further action on the report and establish an escrow fund, to be funded entirely by the State of Israel, to `pay adequate compensation to Palestinians who have suffered loss and damage' during Operation Cast Lead;
Whereas the report ignored the issue of compensation to Israelis who have been killed or wounded, or suffered other loss and damage, as a result of years of past and continuing rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas and other violent militant groups in Gaza against civilian targets in southern Israel;
Whereas the report recommended `that States Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 start criminal investigations [of Operation Cast Lead] in national courts, using universal jurisdiction' and that `following investigation, alleged perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted';
Whereas the concept of `universal jurisdiction' has frequently been used in attempts to detain, charge, and prosecute Israeli and United States officials and former officials in connection with unfounded allegations of war crimes and has often unfairly impeded the travel of those individuals;
Whereas the State of Israel, like many other free democracies, has an independent judicial system with a robust investigatory capacity and has already launched numerous investigations, many of which remain ongoing, of Operation Cast Lead and individual incidents therein;
Whereas Libya and others have indicated that they intend to further pursue consideration of the report and implementation of its recommendations by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and other multilateral fora;
Whereas the President instructed the United States Mission to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva to vote against resolution A-HRC-S-12-1, which endorsed the report and condemned Israel, at the special session of the Human Rights Council held on October 15-16, 2009;
Whereas, on September 30, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the mandate for the report as `one-sided';
Whereas, on September 17, 2009, Ambassador Susan Rice, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, expressed the United States' `very serious concern with the mandate' and noted that the United States views the mandate `as unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable';
Whereas the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' reflects the longstanding, historic bias at the United Nations against the democratic, Jewish State of Israel;
Whereas the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' is being exploited by Israel's enemies to excuse the actions of violent militant groups and their state sponsors, and to justify isolation of and punitive measures against the democratic, Jewish State of Israel;
Whereas, on October 16, 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted 25-6 (with 11 states abstaining and 5 not voting) to adopt resolution A-HRC-S-12-1, which endorsed the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' and condemned Israel, without mentioning Hamas, other such violent militant groups, or their state sponsors; and
Whereas efforts to delegitimize the democratic State of Israel and deny it the right to defend its citizens and its existence can be used to delegitimize other democracies and deny them the same right: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) considers the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' to be irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy;
(2) supports the Administration's efforts to combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, its characterization of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' as `unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable', and its opposition to the resolution on the report;
(3) calls on the President and the Secretary of State to continue to strongly and unequivocally oppose any endorsement of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' in multilateral fora;
(4) calls on the President and the Secretary of State to strongly and unequivocally oppose any further consideration of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' and any other measures stemming from this report in multilateral fora; and
(5) reaffirms its support for the democratic, Jewish State of Israel, for Israel's security and right to self-defense, and, specifically, for Israel's right to defend its citizens from violent militant groups and their state sponsors.
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