Goldstone Commission Gaza Conflict Findings and Reactions - by Stephen Lendman
On April 3, 2009, a UN press release stated:
"The Human Rights Council (HRC) today announced the appointment of Richard J. Goldstone....to lead an independent (four-person) fact-finding mission to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip....The team will be supported by staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights....Today's appointment comes following the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council....to address 'the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip."
Established by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006, the HRC's 47 member states are "responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe."
As a former South African Constitutional Court justice, Goldstone is a respected jurist. He also served as chief prosecutor for the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals and is a Hebrew University board member. As a Jew, he promised to be fair and even-handed, and "hope(s) that the findings....will make a meaningful contribution to the peace process....and will provide justice for the victims."
At the time, Israel refused to cooperate, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, saying: "This committee is instructed not to seek out the truth but to single out Israel for alleged crimes." He then accused the Council of having "practically (no) credibility at all."
On September 15, the HRC released the Commission's 575 page report, titled Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
It covered Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza siege, the impact of Israel's West Bank military occupation, and much more including:
-- events between the "ceasefire" period from June 18, 2008 to Israel's initiated hostilities on December 27, 2008;
-- applicable international law
-- Occupied Gaza under siege;
-- an overview of Operation Cast Lead;
-- the obligations of both sides to protect civilians;
-- indiscriminate Israeli attacks on civilians resulting in many hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries;
-- "the use of certain weapons;"
-- attacking "the foundations of civilian life in Gaza: destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment plants and housing;"