Sunday, August 15, 2010

GOLDSTONE FACTS: The Real Story behind Israel's Invasion of Gaza

Chapter 13 of the Goldstone Report

Attacks on the Foundations of Civilian Life in Gaza
Destruction of Civilian Infrastructure, Food Production
Factual Findings narrated by Ross Vachon
Legal findings narrated by Noam Chomsky
The Destruction of Sawafeary Chicken Farm and al Bader Flour Mill
(Highlights include Mr Sawafeary's appeal to Ban Ki-moon)

It is instructive to juxtapose the 'findings' of the just released Israeli document Gaza Operation Investigations: Second update with what actually transpired. Observe how this farcical report tries to justify the destruction of the chicken farms.

The Sawafeary chicken coops were located only a few meters away from one of the key IDF positions. The IDF position was, itself, dictated by the lay of the terrain in the area. As the command investigation determined, this IDF position
could not be adequately secured if the chicken coop structures were left intact. The demolition of these structures was needed to allow a clean line of sight for protection of IDF forces.

Following this logic, the IDF would have been quite justified in flattening the whole of Gaza strip in order to allow a 'clean line of sight for protection of IDF forces'.

Relevant Excerpts from the Report

The Sawafeary Chicken Coops
122. According to allegations included in the HRCFF Report,58 in January 2009 IDF forces bulldozed several chicken coops owned by the Sawafeary family in Zeytoun, purportedly as part of a deliberate strategy of destroying civilian

123. The command investigations conducted with regard to this incident reveal that the Sawafeary chicken coops were destroyed for reasons of military necessity.

124. Specifically, the investigations revealed that the area around the Sawafeary chicken coops was occupied by an IDF ground force beginning on 4 January 2009, as part of the ground maneuver, with the intention to take control of rockets and mortar launching sites and reducing the number of terror attacks on Israeli territory. The force took positions in several houses, including one house that was adjacent to the chicken coops. This positioning was necessary to secure the area for military operations against Hamas and to protect the IDF troops in those operations. The IDF’s defense plan for this area needed to meet three serious threats to the safety and security of the IDF troops: the firing of anti-tank and RPG missiles on IDF positions; sniper fire; and infiltration of terrorist operatives into the immediate vicinity of the forces in order to plant and detonate explosive devices, including by suicide bombers.

125. The terrain in the area made this location more dangerous for IDF forces. The area was agricultural in its original use and thus included many orchards, groves, and greenhouses, located between and around the houses occupied by the IDF. This made it harder for the IDF to identify Hamas positions and fighters. The threat was not theoretical—on 5 January 2009, an RPG missile was launched at one of the IDF positions in that area. In addition, several shooting incidents occurred originating from the orchards located to the south of the chicken coops.

126. In order to overcome these threats, the IDF decided to create a security zone around each of the IDF positions with a perimeter of 20–50 meters around each post, which would allow uninterrupted observation and firing capabilities for the
force in each position, as well as joint protection among the different IDF outposts. These security zones allowed IDF forces to anticipate at an earlier stage the approach of terrorist operatives.

127. The Sawafeary chicken coops were located only a few meters away from one of the key IDF positions. The IDF position was, itself, dictated by the lay of the terrain in the area. As the command investigation determined, this IDF position could not be adequately secured if the chicken coop structures were left intact. The demolition of these structures was needed to allow a clean line of sight for protection of IDF forces. The investigation also determined that the decision to destroy the coops was consistent with the demands of the principle of proportionality: there was a compelling military need for the area to be cleared for the safety of the IDF forces and for the success of IDF operations against the Hamas forces operating in the area. The local commanders determined that these advantages outweighed the damage to private property that would result from the demolition. The commanders avoided the destruction of residential buildings or other facilities in the area, when such destruction was not required by military necessity or appeared to be disproportional.

128. The MAG reviewed the findings of the command investigation and concluded that the destruction of the chicken coops was lawful, as it was necessary to protect IDF forces operating in the area. It did not violate the limitation on destruction of private property because it was justified by military necessity. The MAG also found that the destruction of the chicken coops did not violate the ban on destroying any object that is indispensable to the survival of the civilian
population. It was dictated by the location of specific operations against Hamas, and not part of a campaign to interfere with the production of food supplies in Gaza. It was not intended to deny the civilian population in Gaza access to
essential commodities.59 As a result of these findings, the MAG determined that no further proceedings were necessary.

129. Although the MAG found no violation of the Law of Armed Conflict in this incident, he recommended several changes to IDF procedures in cases involving destruction of private property, which are detailed below in Section IV of this
Paper. In particular, the MAG found that the decision to destroy the chicken coops was made by a relatively junior IDF officer, and that such decisions were more appropriately and typically made at more senior levels. While the MAG found that the particular rank of the officer making the decision did not indicate wrongful or criminal conduct (as neither the Law of Armed Conflict nor IDF procedures at the time required that such decisions be taken by an officer of any particular rank), he has recommended that the IDF’s procedures for destruction of civilian property be reviewed in several respects, as detailed in Section IV below.

Chapter 11 of the Goldstone Report
Deliberate Attacks against the Civilian Population

Factual Findings narrated by Ross Vachon
Factual and Legal findings narrated by Noam Chomsky
Live Testimonies of Khalid, Kawthar and Samar Abd Rabbo, relevant to the Goldstone Report's Findings


" could you possibly improve it? It is an excellent piece. Congratulations & thank you. I hope it will find wide distribution." -- Hedy Epstein

"A faithful and compelling dramatization of a historic document" -- Norman G Finkelstein

"I found the documentary to be very moving indeed, choosing as it did material that could engage one's interest within a time frame that seems to suit attention spans of our time. I found your selection of the incident to be exactly right: it is the one that has troubled me most." -- Colonel Desmond Travers

Future chapters will be available shortly with legal findings narrated by other prominent personalities.

The just-released Israeli document Gaza Operation Investigations: Second update (July 2010) exonerated the IDF war criminals who, as our Chapter 11 video shows, deliberately shot four members of the Abd Rabbo family, in the process killing three, and rendering the fourth Samar Abd Rabbo a paraplegic for the rest of her life. The relevant excerpts from the document are quoted here to reinforce the point that only an international investigation into the crimes committed by Israel could bring justice to its victims.

Amal, Souad, Samar, and Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo & Adham Kamiz Nasir

108. This incident involved the alleged shooting of four Palestinian civilians on 7 January 2009 in the neighborhood of Izbat Abd Rabbo, and was reported to Israeli authorities by several human rights organizations.51 The MAG referred the
complaint to a direct criminal investigation which was recently concluded. In the course of this comprehensive investigation, the MPCID collected testimony from eleven Palestinians who witnessed the events. Some of them were unable or unwilling to testify before MPCID investigators, but provided detailed affidavits. In addition, the investigators reviewed medical reports and death certificates, as well as aerial photographs provided by an Israeli NGO, which helped identify the different units involved in the incident. More than fifty commanders and soldiers from these units were also questioned by the MPCID. Some were questioned multiple times in order to clarify the circumstances of the case.

109. The evidence collected in the course of the investigation could not confirm the description of the incident by the complainants, who claimed that a soldier standing on a tank had opened fire at a group of civilians. The substantial
discrepancies between the complaint and the findings of the investigation—in particular, the identity of the force and the sequence of events—led the MAG to conclude that the evidence was insufficient to initiate criminal proceedings.

110. A second part of the complaint alleged that the IDF fired at a horse-driven carriage attempting to evacuate the civilians injured in the first shooting incident and subsequently killed the carriage’s driver.

111. The investigation confirmed that the carriage was fired upon by an IDF unit operating in the Izbat Abd Rabbo neighborhood. The unit had received a concrete warning that Hamas planned to send such a carriage loaded with explosives to detonate near an IDF position. The soldiers fired warning shots at the approaching
carriage, which was loaded with bags that the soldiers thought contained explosives. When the carriage did not respond to the warning shots and continued its approach, the unit fired in its direction.

112. Under these circumstances, the MAG determined that the soldiers who fired at the carriage were not criminally liable. The MAG found that the soldiers’ decision to fire was made in light of their belief, at the time, that the carriage posed an immediate threat to the force. (The investigation revealed that the bags did not contain explosives.) Thus, despite the unfortunate results of the incident, the MAG decided to close the case.