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Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Goldstone. Fell asleep during testimony?
Photo: Reuters
Southern residents: Our testimonies were ignored by Goldstone
Israeli witnesses say UN committee conducting Gaza war probe arrived with preformed opinions

Residents of southern Israel said Wednesday that a report published by the Goldstone committee, established by the UN to investigate the Gaza war and its consequences, largely ignored their testimonies.

 

"It was to be expected," said Noam Bedin, a resident of Sderot and the manager of the rocket-ridden city's communications office. Bedin was among the 108 witnesses who testified as to the many rockets fired from Gaza at Israel's south.

 

"When I stood up and started to testify before the judges, Justice Goldstone fell asleep in front of me. It was an embarrassing moment but I continued talking, realizing that I should not have high hopes," he added.

 

Bedin said the testimony had felt pointless. "One of the judges on the committee had already expressed the very clear opinion that Israel was committing war crimes against the Palestinians," he said.

 

"In the half an hour I was given I had to describe eight years of unceasing fire. I showed them a few video clips, but it's hard to get the message across in such a short time."

 

Bedin said the committee had erred in equating between terror and Israel's right to self defense, as this served the purpose of legitimizing terror.

 

"While we're teaching our kids to find a fortified space within 15 seconds, Hamas is teaching its children to run on the roofs of houses in order to be human shields," he said.

 

Testimonies left out

Some of the Israeli witnesses who testified before the committee were injured by rocket fire before Operation Cast Lead, but their testimonies were left out of the report.

 

Dr. Mirela Siderer, a resident of Ashkelon, was severely injured by a Grad missile and is about to undergo her eighth operation.

 

"I didn't have high hopes, so I wasn't very disappointed, but I still feel awful after reading the report," she said. "They didn't refer to incidents that occurred before Operation Cast Lead, including my injury."

 

Siderer said that during her testimony she had explained that she was a doctor who had often treated Palestinian patients. "The things in the report are just horrible, it feels like a setup," she said. "I felt like the committee had come in with its mind made up already."

 

The two witnesses are at odds about whether Israel should have cooperated with the Goldstone committee. While Bedin thinks it might have helped, Siderer says it would have been pointless.

 

"I don't think it would have mattered if the state had brought in more witnesses or if officials had testified, but I do think that now we need to launch a global PR campaign," she said.

 

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