The headline reads:

IDF legal official: Israel should probe Goldstone Gaza report

The Ha’aretz article then proceeds to tell us:

…The head of the Military Advocate General’s international law department during Operation Cast Lead…Sharvit-Baruch said she was concerned by the Goldstone report’s negative effect on Israel’s legitimacy in the global arena, and that Israel could potentially turn into “a kind of South Africa or Serbia” or a “criminal” or “racist” state in international opinion.

Asked whether Israel should establish a commission of inquiry to respond to the Goldstone report’s findings, Sharvit-Baruch said such a panel could provide “friendly countries” with the means to counter calls for Israeli officials to be tried in foreign countries or the International Criminal Court over alleged violations of international law.

“There is not necessarily a need for a commission of inquiry because we essentially know more or less what happened in terms of decision making, orders and targets,” she said. “As for the top brass, we have the protocols of government meetings.”

Nonetheless, she added, “We are now in a situation in which we need to give our friends – who don’t want to see lawsuits filed against us in their own courts – the tools to do away such claims, along with other charges against us,” she said.

“If they need a commission of inquiry then that’s what we’ll give them,” she added. “I really don’t think we have anything we need to hide.”

Let’s remind everybody that the day the report came out, some of us called for a commission of inquiry (read the comments) because it was clear that Israel could not wipe away this smear without a serious inquiry. It is possible that the IDF conducted a serious inquiry, and it is possible that they will show that most of Goldstone is false. They will certainly show that none of the killing of civilians was mandated or systematically and intentionally committed with orders from above as the Report asserts.

None of it will matter. Nobody will let it slide, because the countries that control the UN with their voting blocs are smelling victory. All they have to do is point to Israel’s failure to create an independent commission and they win. And they don’t just win, they get to send Israel to the Hague for war crimes.

In fact, just yesterday it was reported that a key part of Israel’s primary response to the UN, a denial of an attack on the flour mill factory from the air with the excuse that Hamas was fighting from within the mill, has been challenged by a group of UN investigators who came to the building after some days and found a portion of a bomb used by planes. Now, it’s not hard for Hamas to plant one of those, but the point is that Israel is going to have a hard time proving its innocence if the army is doing the investigating.

Many Israelis have figured this out already and are calling for a commission. The media even goes as far as to suggest that Netanyahu wants an inquiry. Who is stopping it? Barak and Ashkenazi, the Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff, respectively. They claim that they have to stand behind their officers and soldiers after a war. All well and good, and from an ethical standpoint, they are right. But from an ethical standpoint, Israel was right not to participate in the Goldstone investigation and that came back to bite Israel hard.

Israel has little choice but to appoint some sort of inquiry that will enable the West to point and claim that Israel’s investigation was legitimate. Having the army investigate itself may convince Israelis because they trust their military to do the right thing. However, it won’t convince many outside of Israel and even Israel’s friends don’t know how they can defend Israel without a legitimate independent inquiry by a civilian body that has authority over the army.


By the way, today the army announced that they will NOT be deploying the Iron Dome missile system to protect communities in the Western Negev. This is an unbelievable decision that indicates either extremely poor planning, extreme failure by Israel’s defense manufacturing, or some sort of game played either by those who wanted to pump money into the defense manufacturing industry or those who know that if such a system doesn’t protect Ben Gurion Airport near the West Bank, then the West Bank can’t really be evacuated of most of its Jewish residents like Gaza.

Whatever the reason, this is a deal-breaker for all those communities living on the front lines and all of us who have been waiting for Israel to develop a system that works. This is not only very disappointing, it undermines trust in those who make decision.

Let’s hope that the reason for this is poor planning or scientific failure, because the alternative is that Israel’s leadership really are doofuses, or worse…liars.

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  • they have established a commission. The IDF has released its first report, mostly a thing of statistics, and a fuller, more in-depth report/response to Goldstone, is slated to be released and presented to the Untied Nations at the end of March.

    • Unless there’s new information out there, no commission has been appointed. The IDF has its two reports but the short one has already been contested and the second one will be.

      My point is that the IDF won’t be enough and as we can see, the Israelis know this. It’s just that they aren’t dealing with it today the way they should and know they should. This means that they’ll give in later or watch helplessly as Israel is sent to the Hague. The same officers Barak is protecting from an investigation and from damaged morale may find themselves on trial. It’s a foolish risk and a poor assessment of the situation.

  • Middle’s right about this. A very different approach is defensible and more emotionally satisfying, but Israel must be pragmatic in addressing the great and continuing damage Goldstone’s report has caused. Kudos to the IDF for investigating itself, but this hasn’t passed muster with the international community. The quoted spokesman is right on the money– Israel’s friends need help, especially as the drumbeat of extradition to the Hague gets louder.