The Goldstone Report is a grave blow to the State of Israel on three significant international fronts: The diplomatic theater, the media front, and the military-legal arena.
On the diplomatic front, the report will constitute the basis for proposed anti-Israel resolutions to be submitted by the immense Arab-Muslim bloc in the United Nations – either in the UN General Assembly, where Third World countries enjoy an automatic majority, or in the Security Council. The General Assembly’s decisions are non-binding, but a Security Council resolution may mean big trouble for Israel: Ranging from acceptance of the recommendation to indict officials at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague to a demand to impose sanctions on Israel should it fail to lift the Gaza Strip siege.
On the media front the damage is grave, as the report provides an international seal of approval to the war crime claims. The attempt to balance it by mentioning the rocket fire at Israel and the abduction and treatment of Gilad Shalit is only for appearances’ sake. The criticism is worded in an incredibly moderate and cautious style. Committee members are in fact indirectly justifying Hamas’ attacks and hinting that they came in response to the siege imposed even before Operation Cast Lead. While Israel is a sovereign democratic state, Hamas is just a military and political organization, they noted – that is, it should not be required to adhere to the Geneva Convention.
Just as grave is the damage on the legal-military front. The report explicitly rules that the combat methods and armaments utilized by the IDF even prior to Operation Cast Lead, as well as during the campaign, are illegitimate, violate the Geneva Convention, and constitute a war crime. Should the conclusions be adopted by the Security Council and UN secretary general, this will constitute overwhelming de-legitimization to the methods and arms planned by the IDF for future combat should the Israeli home front be attacked with missiles from Lebanon, Syria, or Gaza.
Hence, this marks a first-rate achievement for terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas; it may encourage them to keep using the civilian population as a human shield.
Moreover, Goldstone and his colleagues almost completely ignore the IDF’s numerous and creative efforts to avoid harm to civilians and rule that not enough had been done. Absurdly, the report claims that the IDF used the civilian population as a human shield, while largely disregarding the broad utilization of civilians by Hamas. The implication of this is that the Goldstone Report directly and blatantly serves the strategic effort of the radical elements in the Muslim world in their attempt to tie the IDF’s hands in its war against missile attacks.
Judge Richard Goldstone even said explicitly that the issue of personal criminal responsibility must be looked into in respect to what happened in Gaza, a clear call on the UN to examine the possibility of trying senior Israeli army and government officials on war crime charges. Palestinian elements and their supporters will rush to submit a series of such petitions to European courts that are willing to accept them.
Part 2 of analysis to appear Wednesday night