To the Editor:
The significance of Richard Goldstone’s Op-Ed article in The Washington Post is being overblown. As the judge who led an investigation into the Gaza conflict, he stands by most of his report.
Mr. Goldstone’s shift focuses on his allegation that Israel had an apparent policy to target civilians. He says that because of information now available, he no longer concludes that civilians were intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
Human Rights Watch’s investigation in Gaza found some cases of apparently deliberate killing of civilians by Israeli soldiers, such as the killing of 11 civilians holding white flags, but no evidence that these resulted from a policy to target civilians.
However, Mr. Goldstone has not repudiated his panel’s findings that Israel committed numerous serious violations of the laws of war. Israeli forces, according to the Goldstone report, indiscriminately used heavy artillery and white phosphorous in densely populated areas and deliberately destroyed civilian buildings and infrastructure without a lawful military reason. That conduct was so widespread and systematic that it must have reflected policy.
As for investigations, Israel looks good only by comparison with Hamas, which has done nothing at all to investigate its war crimes. Israel has indicted four soldiers and convicted three. Only one has served jail time (7 1/2 months), for stealing a credit card.
Israel has yet to investigate the policies behind the indiscriminate attacks that caused so much civilian harm.
Human Rights Watch
New York, April 3, 2011
a) in writing "As the judge...", Roth seeks to imply this was an actual judicial inquiry rather than an investigative one.
b) in writing "apparently deliberate killing" he seeks to offset Goldstone who insists Israel had no intentional policy. Israel never claimed there could have been such cases of local lack of discipline, and actually investigated claims of such. He is comparing apples and pears. He also adds "apparent" to cover his tuches.
c) those 'findings' are disputed by Israel and the proof is not based in all cases on reliable sources.