Monday, February 01, 2010

A British Commander's Testimony On The Goldstone Report and Gaza

The Goldstone Report is, unfortunately, once again in the news day in and day out. The usual media outlets and organizations who work to demonize and delegitimize Israel are once again treating it as a statement of fact rather than a biased and one sided political propaganda piece. This despite the fact that the Obama administration condemned the report as, in the words of U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, "one-sided and deeply flawed". The critics of Israel never mention, as a Miami Herald editorial did, that Operation Cast Lead followed "eight years of relentless rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups." Daily rocket attacks against civilians in Israel continue to this day without one word of protest from the international community.

I know many in the world see the United States as hopelessly biased in Israel's favor. The British, on the other hand, have not exactly had warm relations with Israel lately and, indeed, the U.K. has been the country with the highest level of anti-Semitism in Europe. Perhaps the testimony of a high ranking British military officer will be a bit more convincing.

Colonel Richard Kemp served as commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. He previously has served as a commander in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia. UN Watch has provided not only video of his October 16, 2009 testimony but also translations into nine languages. Here are some of his most salient points:
During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.


The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy's hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

I urge everyone to read or watch Col. Kemp's full testimony and pass it on to anyone who quotes the Goldstone report as some sort of evidence of Israeli war crimes.

No comments: