Both Israel and Hamas have essentially refused to comply with conditions laid down in the Goldstone Report, which called for a serious investigation by each party of the charges of crimes against civilians during the Gaza war. Justice Goldstone gave each side three months to reply to this condition and that deadline came Friday. Each party’s reply was feeble, but Israel’s more feeble since it killed considerably more.
Hamas apologized for the three Israeli civilians it killed and said their death was a “mistake.” Were it not for an even more feeble Israeli response, Hamas’ would’ve earned the derision it deserved. But Israel’s was classic and all over the place. In one government leak, it’s claimed Bibi is willing to appoint an investigative panel that would be enfeebled even before it began; with no subpoena power and extremely limited mandate. One panel member’s name suggested: Alan Dershowitz! Now comes word that the IDF itself refuses an external investigation:
…The defense establishment appears to be steadfast in its refusal to have the IDF’s monopoly over examination of its actions challenged.
…Senior Jerusalem officials warned that Israel’s response to the UN will not satisfy the international community and that eventually an examination committee that is outside the IDF will have to be appointed to investigate last year’s military operation in the Gaza Strip.
Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau say that Netanyahu is inclined to accept the justice and foreign ministries’ call for an additional examination, by an extra-military body, into cases in which innocent civilians were harmed during Operation Cast Lead. Netanyahu is convinced that only an independent probe will convince the international community that Israel is serious in its investigation of alleged violations of the law of war.
Actually, this is laughable because the version of an “independent” probe I outlined above will satisfy no one outside the Israeli government, nor should it.
“To date,” the Israeli report [to the UN defending Operation Cast Lead states, “the IDF has launched investigations into 150 separate incidents arising from the Gaza Operation. Of the 150 incidents, so far 36 have been referred for criminal investigation.
So with 1,100 Gaza civilians killed, the IDF investigated a total of 150 incidents and found only 36 even worthy of a fuller investigation. Now, we all know the history of the IDF in investigating itself. If there is any way it can exonerate itself (and there virtually always is unless the heat is on from international sources) it will. So you can be sure that of the 36 perhaps one, if you’re lucky, might result in any punishment at all. In fact, the only known discipline I’ve heard of meted out so far to any IDF soldier for acts committed during Cast Lead was a soldier reprimanded for stealing a Gazan credit card. 1,100 civilians killed and all they could find worth punishing was theft of a crummy credit card! Really, they must be joking.
So I propose that Ban Ki Moon refer the matter to the Security Council, part of the process Goldstone requested prior to asking the International Criminal Court to take up the case in the event the parties do not investigate their own excesses. One thing’s for sure: as soon as mentions Goldstone and ICC in the same sentence, Bibi will announce with a flourish an “independent” Israeli investigation. It will, of course be toothless, fragmented and ineffectual. And here is where the world community will be tested. Will it be satisfied by yet another Israeli charade; or will it call Israel’s bluff and take matters further? Will Security Council members like the U.S. even let anything close to this happen? Likely they will not. But my hope is that Pres. Obama will find some way to exert pressure on Israel whether or not he ends up vetoing such a resolution.
Those of you who follow the State of the Union will note that Pres. Obama ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meaning it’s likely he jettisoned it from his current political agenda (along with health care if you can believe the headlines of the NY Times). This doesn’t bode well for the Goldstone Report’s future. But I still remain hopeful that this document will have staying power and continue to rankle Israel (and to a lesser extent Hamas) until they grapple with it in a serious way.