The Goldstone Report was named for Judge Richard Goldstone who led the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) inquiry into Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza War, provoked by thousands of missile fired by Hamas into Israel’s Negev communities.
Goldstone’s report to the HRC concluded there was a deliberate policy by Israel to target civilians. It claimed to have found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by the Jewish State.
In a spectacular reversal, this past Friday Goldstone published a mea culpa in the Washington Post. He no longer believes that Israel deliberately targeted civilians, and now believes Hamas was the war criminal.
“We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.
Sorry Judge, when first published it should have been a different document.
Goldstone’s investigative committee threw any standards of investigation out the window. The report violated international standards for inquires, including UN rules on fact- finding. The Commission systematically favored witnesses and evidence put forward by anti-Israel advocates including Hamas, and dismissed evidence and testimony that would undermine its case. For example it ruled that Hamas did not use its own citizens as human shields despite a wealth of video evidence. The commission relied extensively on mediating agencies, especially UN and NGOs, which have a documented hostility to Israel (such as Human Rights Watch); and reproduced earlier reports and claims from these agencies.
The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”
Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.
That was one of the problems with Goldstone’s report. It went without saying.
The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.