A senior legal military source told Ynet Sunday that Richard Goldstone's revisited stance on Operation Cast Lead may spell the end of potential legal trouble for senior IDF officers.
The Goldstone Report accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes during its Gaza campaign, and sparked a slew of overseas prosecutions filed against senior politicians and IDF officers.
Now that the South African judge has retracted his own findings, it seems officers are no longer in danger of facing prosecution abroad.
"The change in Goldstone's stance definitely reduces the chances of IDF officers facing legal proceedings overseas," said the source, "But nevertheless, and despite the fact that there is now a consensus that the Israeli legal system is more than apt, there are still various travel advisories that pertain to IDF officers.
"There are elements that are still motivated to take legal action against IDF officers. Travel is determined on a case-by-case basis."
Based on Goldstone's recent action, and the better understanding of Israel's methods, added the source, chances of any future operation in Gaza prompting a similar report have also decreased.
"The world has come to know how we work, and understand the Israeli legal system," said the source. "That's our best defense and it minimizes the chance of such future claims. That doesn’t mean they won't try. Terror groups that cannot beat the IDF in the battlefield will push in that direction and some human rights groups will yield."
Nevertheless, the source expressed hope that Goldstone will remain unwavering in his position. The original Goldstone report, stressed the source, was laden with lies and misconceptions: "He tried turning us into Serbia. It took a lot of hard work on our part to bring about this change. Expert legal opinions and disproving many of the events mentioned in the report. It undermined it considerably."
The source also refused to accept Goldstone's claim that "If I had known then what I know now, the report would have been a different document," saying that the judge – who he called "negligent" – had all he needed to reach the correct conclusions to begin with.
"I would have understood claims suggesting we went too far, or didn’t pay enough attention – I wouldn’t have accepted them, but such claims are manageable. Saying we intentionally targeted civilians in incomprehensible."
Some 50 criminal cases were open in connection with Operation Cast Lead. In the two years since the Gaza campaign however, the majority of them have been closed. There are currently five active investigations, which IDF sources said are expected to be concluded within the next few months.
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