By Meredith Lee-Clark
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
JERUSALEM, Israel/West Bank – As the U.N. General Assembly’s deadline for a second report on the 2008-2009 Gaza War approaches on January 29, both the Israeli government and Hamas party leadership are denying they deliberately targeted citizens during the 22 days of fighting.
Israel announced that it would release its own report on January 29, responding to allegations of war crimes, made in the investigation by the U.N. Human Rights Council, and was led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. The Goldstone Report accused both Israel and Hamas with war crimes and crimes against humanity, citing incidents during which each party’s military forces allegedly targeted civilian populations. The Goldstone Report also alleged that Israeli forces deliberately targeted humanitarian property, with the intent of completely destroying the Gaza infrastructure and terrorizing the Gaza population. Finally, the Goldstone Report called upon both the Israeli and Hamas governments to conduct internal investigations into its accusations, and for any war crimes to be tried by the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
In its anticipated response, Israel is expected to give explanations of Israeli Defense Forces actions in Gaza, without specifically addressing any of the allegations in the Goldstone Report. Likewise, Hamas has claimed that it only targeted Israeli military installations, and hit civilian buildings “by mistake.” Human Rights Watch has responded to the Hamas statement, saying it was “belied by the facts,” and that “[c]ivilians were the target…and deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime.”
Outgoing Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on January 28 that Israel must conduct an independent internal investigation into the Goldstone Report’s allegations to preserve its legitimacy.
Mazuz said that although he thought the Goldstone Report was biased, there was a danger of a “Serbianization” of Israel.
“Therefore I believe that Israel has a clear interest in conducting a serious, expert examination that will deal with the report and produce an opposing report,” said Mazuz. “It would be a serious mistake not to establish some sort of committee. We must remove the shame of accusing Israel of being a country that commits war crimes.”
For more information, please see:
Ha’aretz – Deadline Nears For Second UN Report on Gaza War – 29 January 2010
Ha’aretz – Mazuz: Israel Must Probe Gaza War to Counter Goldstone – 29 January 2010
Christian Science Monitor – Why Hamas Is Denying It Targeted Civilians in Israel – 28 January 2010
New York Times – Israel Completing Rebuttal to Goldstone Report – 23 January 2010