The Goldstone Report: The UN Blood Libel

The Israeli Government and the Facts from a Democratic Society

The Israeli government delivered a second update on June 19, 2010 to its initial response to the Goldstone report (below). The second update is entitled "Gaza Operation Investigations: Second Update". Below is the Introduction and Summary. Click here for the full report.


1. This Paper describes the progress and current status of investigations carried out by Israel into allegations of misconduct and violations of the Law of Armed Conflict by Israel Defence Forces ("IDF") during the military Operation in Gaza from 27 December 2008 through 18 January 2009 (the "Gaza Operation," also known as "Operation Cast Lead"). It is intended as an update to the information presented in Israel's reports related to the Gaza Operation previously released in July 2009 and January 2010.

2. Israel's first report, from July 2009, entitled The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects (hereinafter "Operation in Gaza Report"), described the events leading up to the Gaza Operation. These included Hamas's incessant mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel's civilians (some 12,000 such attacks in the eight years prior to the Operation) and the steadily increasing range and threat of such attacks; the abduction in 2006 of Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit, who remains in captivity incommunicado to this date; as well as Israel's numerous attempts to address the terrorist threat from Gaza through non-military means, including diplomatic overtures and urgent appeals to the United Nations.

3. The Operation in Gaza Report also described the IDF's efforts to ensure compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict during the Gaza Operation, despite the significant operational challenges posed by the tactics of Hamas - in particular Hamas's intentional use of Palestinian civilians and civilian infrastructure as a cover for launching attacks, shielding combatants, and hiding weapons.

4. The Operation in Gaza Report also set out in detail the legal framework governing the use of force and the rules - including the principles of distinction and proportionality - that apply to an armed conflict under international law . The report also detailed the Israeli system for investigating allegations of violations of the Laws of Armed Conflict, and included preliminary findings (as of July 2009) of a number of the investigations already established following the Gaza Operation.

5. In January 2010 Israel released an update to the Operation in Gaza Report (the "January 2010 Update"). That update provided detailed information on Israel's various mechanisms for reviewing allegations of violations of the Law of Armed Conflict; it also compared the Israeli investigative systems for military activities with the analogous systems of other democracies (the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia) and explained how Israel was addressing specific complaints alleging violations of the Law of Armed Conflict during the Gaza Operation.

6. The January 2010 Update described in detail the multiple layers of review in Israel's investigative system that ensure thoroughness, impartiality, and independence. At the heart of the military justice system is the Military Advocate General ("MAG"), who is legally independent from the military chain of command. When allegations of violations of the Law of Armed Conflict are identified by or brought to the attention of the MAG, in situations that suggest per se criminal behavior, the MAG will refer a case immediately for criminal investigation. In other cases, the MAG may first review the findings of a command investigation or in its absence request that one be conducted. The MAG will examine the information gathered in the command investigation, together with the complaint received and all additional publicly available materials, before determining whether to refer the case to criminal investigation.

7. Israel's Attorney General provides for civilian oversight, as decisions of the MAG on whether or not to investigate or indict may be subject to his review. As noted in the January 2010 Update, judicial review is available through Israel's Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice exercising oversight over any decision of the MAG and the civilian Attorney General. Such Supreme Court review can be initiated by a petition of any interested party, including Palestinians who live in Gaza and non-governmental organizations ("NGOs").

8. The January 2010 Update reviewed progress made in the investigations as of January 2010, including updates on five special command investigations detailed in the Operation in Gaza Report. The January 2010 Update also noted that a sixth special command investigation was initiated in November 2009 to review three specific allegations in the Report of the U.N. Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone (hereinafter "HRCFF Report"). Israel opened numerous other criminal and command investigations to investigate and assess allegations regarding the Gaza Operation.

9. The current Paper provides information regarding the additional steps Israel has taken, and is taking, to conduct investigations into allegations relating to the Gaza Operation. This Paper will not repeat the extensive information previously provided in the two prior reports nor will it attempt to cover all of the investigations that Israel has opened in this regard. Instead, this report provides an overview of the progress of the major investigations over the last six months, including information on investigations relating to specific incidents discussed in the HRCFF Report. In addition, this Paper includes a summary of some of the changes in military operational procedures that Israel has made, or is making, to implement the lessons learned as a result of the Gaza Operation.

10. Israel's numerous investigations have produced significant results, particularly during the last several months. Since the January 2010 Update, Israel's Military Police Criminal Investigative Division ("MPCID") has opened 11 additional criminal investigations, resulting in a total of 47 criminal investigations initiated so far into specific incidents relating to the Gaza Operation. Some of the investigations have resulted in criminal indictments and trials: two IDF soldiers were recently indicted for compelling a Palestinian minor to assist them in a manner that put the minor at risk; the MAG has also filed criminal charges in the case of an IDF soldier who is suspected of killing a Palestinian civilian who was walking with a group of civilians towards an IDF position. These cases are in addition to an earlier indictment and conviction of an IDF soldier for the crime of looting, as reported in the January 2010 Update.

11. Several other investigations have resulted in military disciplinary actions. An IDF Brigadier General and a Colonel have been disciplined for approving the use of explosive shells in violation of the safety distances required in urban areas. An IDF Lieutenant Colonel was disciplined for permitting a Palestinian civilian to enter a structure where terrorist operatives were present. In addition, an IDF officer was severely reprimanded and two other officers were sanctioned for failing to exercise appropriate judgment during an incident that resulted in civilian casualties in the Al-Maqadmah mosque.

12. At the same time, the MAG has concluded his review of a number of other MPCID criminal and command investigations without initiating criminal charges or disciplinary measures, after concluding that the investigations did not establish any violations of the Law of Armed Conflict or IDF procedures. A number of other allegations of military wrongdoing are still under investigation.

13. The IDF has also implemented operational changes in its orders and combat doctrine designed to further minimize civilian casualties and damage to civilian property in the future. In particular, the IDF has adopted important new procedures designed to enhance the protection of civilians in urban warfare, for instance by further emphasizing that the protection of civilians is an integral part of an IDF commander's mission. While the majority of the issues addressed in the new procedures were already embedded in various operational orders and guidelines in existence prior to the Operation, the new procedures demand even more comprehensive protections, such as the integration of a Humanitarian Affairs Officer in each combat unit beginning at the battalion level and above. In addition, the IDF has adopted an order defining new procedures to regulate the destruction of private property in cases of military necessity.

14. Israel has made extensive efforts to conduct thorough and independent investigations of allegations of misconduct by the IDF during the Gaza Operation. In this regard, Israel has developed mechanisms to overcome some of the challenges inherent in conducting investigations into operational activity in the context of an armed conflict, including the challenges of locating witnesses in Gaza and addressing general and often second-hand allegations of wrongdoing.

15.While the State of Israel is confident in the thoroughness, impartiality, and independence of its investigatory system of alleged violations of the Law of Armed Conflict, in light of criticism raised in certain reports regarding these mechanisms, the Government of Israel has recently mandated an independent public commission to examine the conformity of Israel's mechanisms for investigating complaints raised in relation to violations of the Law of Armed Conflict with its obligations under international law. The Commission, headed by retired Justice of the Supreme Court Yaakov Turkel, is composed of three distinguished independent experts and two renowned international observers ("Turkel Commission").

The Israeli government delivered an update on January 29, 2010 to its initial response to the Goldstone report (below). The update is entitled "Gaza Operations Investigations: An Update" . Below is the Executive Summary. Click here for the full report.


1. This Paper describes Israel's process for investigating alleged violations of the Law of Armed Conflict. It focuses in particular on investigations, legal proceedings, and lessons learned in relation to the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Gaza from 27 December 2008 through 18 January 2009 (the "Gaza Operation," also known as "Operation Cast Lead").

2. The Paper supplements and updates a paper Israel released in July 2009, The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects, which addressed a range of factual and legal issues related to the Gaza Operation. The earlier paper included detailed accounts of Hamas's incessant mortar and rocket attacks on Israel's civilians (some 12,000 such attacks in the 8 years prior to the Operation) and the steadily increasing range of such attacks; Hamas's suicide bomb attacks; and Hamas's smuggling of weaponry and ammunition through tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border, as well as Israel's attempts to address these threats through non-military means, including diplomatic overtures and urgent appeals to the United Nations.

3. The Operation in Gaza also set out the legal framework governing the use of force and the principles - including the principles of distinction and proportionality - that apply in such a conflict. It also described the IDF's efforts to ensure compliance with these principles during the Gaza Operation and the modus operandi of Hamas, in particular its abuses of civilian protections that created such acute operational dilemmas.

4. The Operation in Gaza also included preliminary findings of a number of the investigations established following the operation, although such investigations were, and remain, works in progress. For this reason, six months after the publication of the original paper, it is appropriate once again to take stock publicly regarding the progress made and the current findings of the investigative process. While many of these investigations are still underway, this Paper aims to present a clear and up-to-date picture of the current status of Israel's investigations.

5. Israel's system for investigating alleged violations of the Law of Armed Conflict is comparable to the systems adopted by other democratic nations, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Canada. The Paper notes that Israel has demonstrated its ability and its commitment to pursue serious criminal charges to uphold the Law of Armed Conflict, a commitment which has been confirmed by outside observers and foreign legal systems.

6. Israel's investigative system has multiple layers of review to ensure impartiality and independence. These include the Military Advocate General's Corps (MAG), which determines whether to initiate criminal investigations and file charges against IDF soldiers. The Military Advocate General is legally independent from the military chain of command. Israel's Attorney General provides civilian oversight, as any decision of the Military Advocate General on whether or not to investigate or indict may be subject to his review. Further review is available through Israel's Supreme Court either as an appeals court, or exercising judicial review over any decision of the Military Advocate General or the civilian Attorney General. Such review can be - and frequently is - initiated by a petition of any interested party, including non-governmental organisations, Palestinians, and other non-citizens.

7. The Paper describes the structure and process of operation of these various elements of Israel's investigative system in some detail, particularly in order to correct misrepresentations and inaccuracies in recent reports describing these mechanisms. [1]

8. Describing the application of these mechanisms to the Gaza Operation, the Paper notes that the IDF to date has launched investigations of 150 separate incidents arising from the Gaza Operation. A number of these were opened at the IDF's own initiative. Others were opened in response to complaints and reports from Palestinian civilians, local and international non-governmental organisations, and U.N. and media reports.

9. Of the 150 incidents, so far 36 have been referred for criminal investigation. To date, criminal investigators have taken evidence from almost 100 Palestinian complainants and witnesses, along with approximately 500 IDF soldiers and commanders. The Paper describes some of the challenges encountered in the conduct of the investigations, including accessing evidence from battlefield situations and the need to make arrangements, together with non-governmental organisations such as B'Tselem, to locate and interview Palestinian witnesses. To address these challenges, special investigative teams have been appointed and are currently investigating complaints arising from the Gaza Operation.

10. The Paper relates to all investigations initiated following the Gaza Operation and does not limit itself to those incidents in the Human Rights Council's Report of the U.N. FactFinding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone (the "Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report" or "Report"). As Israel has clarified before, Israel disagrees with the findings and recommendations of the Report, which reflect many misunderstandings and fundamental mistakes with regard to the Gaza Operation, its purposes, and Israel's legal system. This Paper, however, is not intended as a comprehensive response to the Report or a catalogue of the Report's serious inaccuracies and misstatements.

11. With respect to the incidents described in the Human Rights Council Fact Finding Report, the Paper notes that, prior to the publication of the Report, Israel was investigating 22 of the 34 incidents it addresses. The remaining 12 incidents, none of which had previously been brought to the attention of the Israeli authorities, were promptly referred for investigation upon the Report's publication. The Paper details the various stages of investigation of these incidents. It also notes that in some cases, after reviewing all the evidence available, the Military Advocate General has concluded that there was no basis for criminal investigations. The Paper gives detailed accounts of a number of these incidents.

12. The Paper also provides updated information regarding the special command investigations initiated by the IDF Chief of General Staff after the conclusion of hostilities in Gaza. As noted in The Operation in Gaza, shortly after the close of the Operation, the Chief of General Staff appointed five senior field commanders to investigate the most serious allegations of wrongdoing. The Chief of General Staff recently adopted a recommendation by the Military Advocate General and initiated a sixth special investigation, to consider additional allegations and to re-examine a complaint that a command investigator could not substantiate.

13. The Paper provides updates regarding the findings of these investigations, which have, in addition to prompting criminal inquiries, further command investigations, and disciplinary proceedings, also yielded operational lessons resulting in changes already made or underway.

14. The Paper concludes by recognizing the importance of conducting the investigative process in a timely manner. At the same time, it notes the need to ensure that legal processes are conducted thoroughly and with full due process, and in a manner comparable with that of other states guided by a respect for the rule of law.

[1] Numerous assertions made by the Human Rights Council's Report of the U.N. Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict - for example, that criminal investigations must await the completion of a military command investigation or that all command investigators are within the direct chain of command - are incorrect.

The Israeli government issued a report on July 30, 2009 providing the facts and associated legal justification for the Gaza operation. It is entitled "The Operation in Gaza - Legal and Factual Aspects". Below is the Executive Summary. Click here for the full report.


1. This detailed Paper discusses a range of factual and international legal issues relating to the military operation undertaken by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 (the Gaza Operation).

2. The Paper has been prepared at this time in order to place the Gaza Operation in its proper factual and legal context. On a number of issues the Paper offers only a provisional analysis as the IDF is still conducting comprehensive field and criminal investigations into allegations regarding the conduct of its forces during the Operation. Such investigations will be reviewed by the Military Advocate General and are subject to further review by the Attorney General. In addition, petitions may be filed for judicial review by the Supreme Court of Israel (sitting as the High Court of Justice).

3. The Paper addresses the context of the Gaza Operation and notes that Israel had both a right and an obligation to take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas' almost incessant rocket and mortar attacks upon thousands of Israeli civilians and its other acts of terrorism. Israel was bombarded by some 12,000 rockets and mortar shells between 2000 and 2008, including nearly 3,000 rockets and mortar shells in 2008 alone. Hamas specifically timed many of its attacks to terrorise schoolchildren in the mornings and the afternoons. These deliberate attacks caused deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage; forced businesses to close; and terrorised tens of thousands of residents into abandoning their homes.

4. The Paper notes that Hamas constantly worked to increase the range of its weapons and that, by late 2008, its rocket fire was capable of reaching some of Israel's largest cities and strategic infrastructure, threatening one million Israeli civilians, including nearly 250,000 schoolchildren. Hamas also orchestrated numerous suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and amassed an extensive armed force of more than 20,000 armed operatives in Gaza.

5. The Paper also describes the numerous non-military approaches Israel pursued to try to stop the attacks before commencing the Gaza Operation, including urgent appeals to the U.N. Secretary General and successive Presidents of the Security Council to take determined action, and diplomatic overtures, directly and through intermediaries, to stop the violence. Hamas nonetheless continued, and in fact escalated, its cross-border attacks. These attacks included a raid into Israeli territory from Gaza in June 2006 and the abduction of an IDF soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, who, more than three years later, remains in captivity, having been held incommunicado without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (?ICRC) or any other international body.

6. In a detailed legal analysis, including a survey of the relevant legal principles and State practice, the Paper notes that Israel's resort to force in the Gaza Operation was both a necessary and a proportionate response to Hamas' attacks. While the IDF continues to investigate specific incidents during the Operation, the Paper demonstrates that Israeli commanders and soldiers were guided by International Humanitarian Law, including the principles of distinction and proportionality. These principles, enshrined in IDF training, Code of Ethics and rules of engagement, required IDF forces to direct their attacks solely against military objectives and to try to ensure that civilians and civilian objects would not be harmed. Where incidental damage to civilians or civilian property could not be avoided, the IDF made extraordinary efforts to ensure that it would not be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage in each instance and as a whole. Both before and during the Gaza Operation, the IDF went to great lengths, as documented in the Paper, to ensure that humanitarian aid reached the Palestinian population, including by facilitating the delivery of 1,511 trucks carrying 37,162 tons.

7. By contrast, both before and during the Gaza Operation, Hamas committed clear grave violations of international law. The Paper documents Hamas' deliberate rocket and mortar attacks against Israel's civilian population, which violated the international law prohibition on deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian objects. It also documents deliberate Hamas tactics that put Gaza's civilian population in grave danger. These included the launching of rocket attacks from within densely populated areas near schools and protected U.N. facilities, the commandeering of hospitals as bases of operations and ambulances for transport, the storage of weapons in mosques, and the booby-trapping of entire civilian neighbourhoods so that an attack on one structure would devastate many others. These actions, which are clearly shown in photographic and video evidence throughout the Paper, violated international law. Many of the civilian deaths and injuries, and a significant amount of the damage to property during the Gaza Operation, was attributable to Hamas' tactic of blending in with the civilian population and its use of, or operations near, protected facilities and civilian property. The Paper also notes the direct injury and damage caused to Palestinians by the explosion of Hamas' weapons factories and the falling of rockets short of their targets on Palestinians in Gaza.

8. The Paper addresses the acute dilemmas faced by Israel in confronting an adversary using its own civilian population as a shield. It details the extensive precautions taken by the IDF to avoid or limit harm to civilians in Gaza, while still having to achieve the necessary objective of stopping Hamas' constant rocket and mortar fire on Israeli civilians and property. The IDF not only checked and cross-checked targets and used the least destructive munitions possible to achieve legitimate military objectives; it also implemented an elaborate system of warnings, including general warnings to civilians (through media broadcasts and leaflets) to avoid or minimise the presence of civilians in areas and facilities used by Hamas, regional warnings to alert civilians to leave specific areas before IDF operations commenced, and specific warnings (through telephone calls and warning shots to rooftops) to warn civilians to evacuate specific buildings targeted for attack. The IDF dropped more than 2.5 million leaflets and made more than 165,000 phone calls warning civilians to distance themselves from military targets.

9. In this Paper, Israel acknowledges that, despite the precautions taken, the Gaza Operation resulted in many civilian deaths and injuries and significant damage to public and private property in Gaza. Israel makes no attempt to minimise the human costs incurred. As former Prime Minister Olmert stated at the close of the conflict: ?On behalf of the Government of Israel, I wish to convey my regret for the harming of uninvolved civilians, for the pain we caused them, for the suffering they and their families suffered as result of the intolerable situation created by Hamas.

10. In analysing the legal aspects of the conflict, the Paper notes that civilian deaths and damage to property, even when considerable, do not necessarily mean that violations of international law as such have occurred. In particular, the principles of distinction and proportionality are only violated when there is an intention to target civilians or to target military objectives with the knowledge that it would cause harm to civilians that is excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage. Hamas' deliberate attacks against Israel's civilian population violated such standards and thus constituted a violation of international law. The IDF's attacks directed against Hamas military targets, despite their unfortunate effects on Gaza's civilian population, did not.

11. The Paper also gives a detailed account of Israel's efforts to coordinate and facilitate humanitarian relief and assistance to the Palestinians in Gaza. It also documents repeated Hamas abuses of these arrangements, including Hamas' launching of attacks during humanitarian pauses and directed at crossing points, and Hamas' hijacking and theft of humanitarian supplies intended for those in need.

12. The Paper also gives previously unpublished details of the multiple IDF investigations into allegations made by various groups that violations of the law were committed. IDF investigative teams are currently examining approximately 100 complaints, including 13 criminal investigations opened so far, and will examine more complaints if and when filed. The Paper sets forth the preliminary findings of some of the IDF field investigations, including investigations relating to allegations concerning 1) incidents where U.N. and international facilities were fired upon or damaged; 2) incidents involving shooting at medical facilities, buildings, vehicles, and crews; 3) certain incidents in which many civilians were harmed; 4) the use of munitions containing white phosphorous; and 5) destruction of private property and infrastructure by ground forces. It provides as much information as can be released with regard to the investigations currently underway without comprising the integrity and independence of these investigations.

13. The field investigations constitute only the preliminary stage of an extensive legal process. They are subject to independent review by the Military Advocate General, who may order the opening of a criminal investigation. The decisions of the Military Advocate General are subject to review by the Attorney General and may also be reviewed by the Israeli Supreme Court (sitting as the High Court of Justice). Israel's system for investigating alleged violations, including its judicial review process, is internationally recognised as thorough and independent; its procedures and institutions are similar to those in other Western countries.

14. Israel deeply regrets the civilian losses that occurred during the Gaza Operation. But Israel has both the responsibility and the right under international law, as does every State, to defend its civilians from intentional rocket attacks. It believes that it discharged that responsibility in a manner consistent with the rules of international law. Israel is committed to a thorough investigation of all allegations to the contrary and to making the results of these investigations and subsequent reviews public when they are completed.

The Israeli government issued Analysis and Comments on the Goldstone Report on September 15, 2009.

Jerusalem, September 15th, 2009

Israel's Analysis and Comments on the Gaza Fact Finding Mission Report (Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson)


Israel is appalled and disappointed by the Report published on 15 September 2009 by the Gaza Fact Finding Mission. The Report effectively ignores Israel's right of self defense, makes unsubstantiated claims about its intent and challenges Israel's democratic values and rule of law.

At the same time the Report all but ignores the deliberate strategy of Hamas of operating within and behind the civilian population and turning densely populated areas into an arena of battle. By turning a blind eye to such tactics it effectively rewards them.

The Report barely disguises its goal of instigating a political campaign against Israel, and in its recommendations seeks to involve the Security Council, the General Assembly the International Criminal Court, the Human Rights Council, and the entire international community in such a campaign.

The Mandate of the Mission:

The one-sided mandate of the Gaza Fact Finding Mission, and the resolution [that] established it, gave serious reasons for concern both to Israel and to the many states on the Council which refused to support it--including the member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan.

It also troubled many distinguished individuals, including former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who refused invitations to head the Mission and admitted that it was "guided not by human rights but by politics".

The Conduct of the Mission:

These concerns were exacerbated by the conduct of the Mission itself, including reports in the Palestinian media that, throughout its visits to Gaza, it was continuously accompanied by Hamas officials and its refusal to recuse members of the mission with clear political views on the issues under investigation. One mission member signed a latter to the Sunday Times saying that Israel's actions against Hamas attacks were acts of "aggression not self-defense", prejudging the investigation before it had even begun

The unprecedented holding of telecast hearings also gave cause for concern. The fact that all the witnesses were prescreened and selected, and none were asked questions relating to any Palestinian terrorist activity or the location of weaponry and terrorists in civilian areas only supports concerns that they were part of an orchestrated political campaign.

A "non-judicial" document

Justice Goldstone as Head of the Mission repeatedly insisted that the Mission was not a judicial inquiry and so "could not reach judicial conclusions". On this basis that [sic] he justified the inclusion of partisan mission members, admitting that their involvement "would not be appropriate for a judicial inquiry". The Report however is highly judicial in nature, reaching conclusive judicial determinations of guilt, and including "detailed legal findings" even in the absence of the sensitive intelligence information which Israel did not feel able to provide. These determinations are made notwithstanding the Report's admission that it does [not] "pretend to reach the standard of proof applicable in criminal trials".

Elements Ignored by the Report:

The Report all but ignores the deliberate terrorist strategy of operating the heart of densely populated civilian areas which dictated the arena of battle. Even when the Hamas terrorists mixed among civilians, the Report rejects the notion that there was an intention to put the civilian population at risk.

Astonishingly, despite the many widely reported instances in the international press of the abuse of civilian facilities by terrorist groups, and the statements of Hamas own leaders praising women and children who acted as human shields, the Report repeatedly stated that it could find no evidence of such activities. This, even despite its admission that those interviewed were "reluctant to speak about the presence or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups."

The Report also ignores Israel's extensive efforts, even in the midst of fighting, to maintain humanitarian standards. While it does, reluctantly, acknowledge Israel's "significant efforts" to issue warnings before attacks, it does not find any of these efforts to be effective.

While the Report passes judgment against Israel in respect of almost any allegation, it seeks to absolve the Hamas of almost any wrongdoing. The word "terrorist" is almost entirely absent. Soldier Gilad Shalit, now held incommunicado in captivity for over three years, was "captured during an enemy incursion" and the Hamas members that the Mission met with in Gaza are thanked as the "Gaza authorities" for extending their full cooperation and support to the Mission.

Even the thousands of rocket attacks against Israelis which necessitated the Gaza Operation are given the most cursory treatment, and indeed the Report indirectly blames Israel even for these by terming them "reprisals".

Rejection of democratic values:

In a Report which relies so heavily on Israeli human rights organizations and which also petitions on sensitive security issues to Israel's Supreme Court the Report devotes considerable attention to "repression of dissent in Israel". It bases this assertion in large part on the widespread support for the military operation in the Israeli public, assuming that Israel has "created a political climate in which dissent is not tolerated". The notion that the majority of Israelis genuinely supported action to bring years of continued rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilians to an end does not appear to have occurred to the members of the Mission.

The Report is also critical of Israel internal investigations even though these compare favorably to investigations of allegations in military matters in most western countries, and have regularly resulted in criminal investigations and convictions.


The Report's recommendations are as one-sided as its findings. It seeks to harness the Human Rights Council, the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court and the international community as parts of its hostile political campaign.

Despite token recommendations in respect of the Palestinian side, all the international pressure is directed solely against Israel.

The true test of such a Report can only be whether in future conflicts it will have the effect of increasing or decreasing respect for the rule of law. Regrettably a one-sided report of this nature, claiming to represent international law, can only weaken the standing of law in future conflicts. At the same time, it will broadcast a deeply troubling message to terrorist groups wherever they are that the cynical tactics of seeking to exploit civilian suffering for political ends actually pays dividends.