To the President, Ambassador Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi
and Members of The Human Rights Council
Re: The Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
From: Maurice Ostroff September 27, 2009
5, Asher Barash Street, Herzliya, Israel
I submit the following very serious considerations to your esteemed Council, with great respect, in the belief that they will assist in evaluating the Report of the Goldstone Fact-finding Mission and lead towards correcting glaring inaccuracies and deficiencies that if left uncorrected would lead to far-reaching untenable conclusions.
I draw the Council’s attention to the following 5 main points which I address in greater detail below:
1. Rejection and omission of credible relevant evidence
2. The conditions under which the Cast Lead operation took place
3. Lack of freedom to investigate in Gaza
4. Inaccurate information
5. Abuse of hospitals and ambulances for military purposes
AppendiCES A to G are added to substantiate the information presented.
1. Rejection and omission of credible relevant evidence
A great deal of highly credible information that would certainly have a bearing on the HRC evaluation was submitted to the Commission, yet it has been omitted from the Report without explanation In the interests of truthful and impartial evaluation by the HRC, I believe it is essential that this information be made available and seriously considered. For example
1.1. Memorandum from Australian lawyers
The content of a professionally prepared document, submitted by a group of 15 eminent Australian lawyers, has been completely ignored. Certainly, the HRC members should not be denied an opportunity to read it. See http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/australianlawyers.pdf
1.2. Colonel Richard Kemp (see Appendix A)
During July the International Commission for Jewish Legal Affairs submitted a speech by Col. Richard Kemp, former Commander of the British Forces on Afghanistan and adviser to the UK cabinet, who has expert knowledge of warfare in conditions similar to those in Gaza,
That highly significant evidence was totally ignored on the grounds that “there was no reliance on Col. Kemp mainly because the Report did not deal with the issues he raised regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers in the fog of war. The Mission avoided having to do so in the incidents it decided to investigate”. This explanation is completely unacceptable, since it is a sine qua non that investigating war crimes essentially involves the military operations in civilian areas.
It is also plainly illogical that, despite Judge Goldstone’s acknowledgment at a press conference in April that the Mission would be heavily dependent on military advice, it deliberately rejected recommendations that Colonel Richard Kemp, be invited to give evidence or that his views, available on a video clip, be heard. See http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id199.html.
1.3. Reluctant witnesses
Although the Mission was aware that some critical Palestinian witnesses had withdrawn citing fear of retribution, it failed to take advantage of leads to trace some critical witnesses, as well as to view video presentations in which Palestinians who had fled from Hamas described Hamas’ abuse of hospitals and ambulances.
In these circumstances, the Mission was remiss in failing to exert every effort to obtain evidence from these reluctant witnesses by all possible means, including offers of anonymity and protection. The witnesses can still be readily traced via the abundance of textual and visual evidence available on the Internet, and the report must be considered incomplete unless such evidence is included.
1.4. Analyses of Arab media, incitement and dehumanization (see Appendix B)
Since the members of the Mission are not fluent in Arabic they were neither able to assess the influence of public opinion in Gaza, nor the extent of the pervasive incitement and dehumanization that continues in mosques, schools, and on official TV. In the circumstances, it is egregious that recommendations to invite testimony from specialist organizations that document and translate the Arab media were ignored.
During an interview on Al Jazeera TV, Judge Goldstone emphasized that dehumanization of the other is the primary factor in the commission of horrific acts like genocide. Despite this, not a single word is mentioned about the daily incitement against infidels, Jews, and Israel that continues unabated in PA mosques and schools, contrary to the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap. In the At Al Omari mosque, the imam refers to Jews as “the brothers of apes and pigs.” In a video presentation received, but ignored by the Mission, a three year old is taught that Jews are the sons of pigs and apes, and a school class is taught to strive for martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx-CW3UKoIg&feature=related
2. The conditions under which the Cast Lead operation took place. (See Appendix C)
The Report does not take into account the conditions under which the IDF acted. For example it was impossible to distinguish between civilians and fighters because the fighters deliberately did not wear uniforms. In addition many very many premises were booby-trapped and it is possible that some houses were destroyed by the explosives stored there.
This was confirmed by a young Hamas fighter in a January 12th article in the Times of London. At that stage Hamas was eagerly goading Israeli ground forces into Gaza, confidently expecting that its elaborate preparations would rout them. The Hamas fighter confidently told the reporters, “Gaza will be like a volcano erupting beneath the Israelis. It will destroy the legend of their invincible army.” He spoke of a huge network of tunnels designed to enable Hamas fighters to attack and retreat, to ambush and kidnap, to blow up Israeli vehicles passing overhead and move undetected by aerial surveillance. He talked of mines which ere laid but not primed until the Israelis approach. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5497340.ece
He said the fighters constantly changed their locations and tactics, wore civilian clothes, and concealed their weapons.
A senior Israeli military correspondent told the Times he was “amazed” by Hamas’s preparations. Whole blocks, not just individual houses, had been booby-trapped and wired. A mannequin filled with explosives was dressed in a Hamas fighter’s black uniform to attract fire, and had Israeli soldiers fired on it, it would have exploded and brought down the building. In the hallway of another house, a 30-gallon container of diesel fuel had been placed on two sacks of explosives.
It is obvious from the above that the Report misguidedly applied rules of war that were designed for conventional warfare, where armies of both sides are clearly identifiable, to guerilla warfare where the combatants cannot be distinguished from the civilian population. It is also apparent that while Hamas was eager to describe their tactics in the early days when they expected an overwhelming victory, the above evidence was withheld from the Mission during its deliberations. The Report is deficient in having ignored freely available reports of the above nature.
In an earlier memorandum I sent to the mission I included a photograph of children among a group of Palestinian fighters in the act of firing their weapons indicating the impossibility of distinguishing between civilians and fighters.
3. Lack of freedom to investigate in Gaza
Although Judge Goldstone praised the Hamas administration in Gaza for its cooperation, as contrasted with Israel’s refusal to cooperate, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported on June 2, that while the Mission’s mandate called for investigating violations by all parties, including Palestinian fighters and the Hamas-led government, it was unclear if authorities in Gaza would cooperate with that aspect of the inquiry. See http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=38258.
On June 9, Ma’an reported that the Mission was experiencing difficulties in collecting information because Hamas-allied security forces accompanied the 15-member team, potentially inhibiting the ability of witnesses to speak freely, a factor that obviously needs to be taken into account in assessing the credibility of testimony received.
In view of the above circumstances and the widely reported violent retribution inflicted by Hamas on dissidents, (including being thrown from tall buildings), the lack of testimony about storage of weapons in houses, mosques and schools cannot be accepted as evidence that this did not occur on a wide scale.
4. Inaccurate information
The Fact-finding Mission was extremely selective in the facts it chose to emphasize and those it chose to ignore. For example:
4.1. Human shields (See Appendix D)
The Report downplayed and in some cases ignored readily available evidence of the use by Palestinians of their own civilians as human shields, such as the many Reports that have been published over the years documenting the common practice of using human shields by the Palestinians.
In the face of a public statement by Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr. Fathi Hammad, that Hamas created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the mujahideen the Mission acts as his defending counsel. The Report states, “Although the Mission finds this statement morally repugnant, it does not consider it to constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack”
4.2. Allegation that children with white flags were shot (See Appendix E)
The report deals at very great length with the unfortunate shooting of Amal, Su’ad, and Samar, daughters of Abed Rabbo. But other contradictory evidence deserves to be examined seriously, such as reports by Palestinian News Agency Ma’an and MECA – the Middle East Children’s Alliance –that the unfortunate girls were killed in collateral damage from an attack by Israeli planes.
4.3. Assumption of soldiers’ intent
The report repeatedly declares that civilians were intentionally killed by the IDF, implying that the Mission members, with no battle experience, possess intellectual powers that enable them to determine whether, in the heat of battle, a soldier has acted in self defense or with criminal intent. Since the Mission places importance on intent, it is remiss in ignoring the openly declared intent of the rocket launchers to kill as many civilians as possible, the openly declared intent of the Hamas Charter to destroy Israel, and Hamas’ declaration that is not bound by international rules.
4.4. Weapons in mosques (see Appendix F)
The report deals at length with IDF attacks on mosques. In particular, it describes one mosque which it claims was struck by an Israeli shell with the deliberate intention of killing civilians. The report claims, further, that the mosque had no military significance whatsoever, discounting Israel’s claim that mosques were used for military activities and weapons storage.
But an expert on the subject, Colonel Jonathan Halevi  points out that the mosque was controlled by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades who used it to recruit operatives, and that several known terrorists who were operating from the mosque were killed in this attack, including Ibrahim Moussa Issa al-Silawi, an operative in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. (see http://www.janes.com/security/international_security/news/jtsm/jtsm060206_1_n.shtml)
If the HRC is resistant to information from Israeli sources, an incident on August 14, 2009 provides positive proof of Israel’s well-founded allegations that mosques are and were used for military purposes and storage of weapons. i refer to the battle that took place in a mosque during which, in Abu Mazen’s words, 22 people were massacred by Hamas.
5. Abuse of hospitals and ambulances for military purposes (see Appendix G)
A great deal of credible evidence that hospitals and ambulances were used for military purposes as described in more detail in Appendix G that has been ignored by the report calls for serious examination if rational decisions are to be made on the basis of the Report.
Appendix A – Colonel Kemp
In view of Colonel Kemp’s unique experience in warfare under conditions similar to those in Gaza, and the lack of military knowledge on the part of most members of the Mission, common sense dictates that at the very least, the Mission and the HRC would be anxious to learn what he could contribute to an understanding of the events under investigation.
Even if the Mission disagreed with his authoritative and publicly expressed views, its responsibility to provide an educated report imposed a duty on it, to at least advise members of the HRC of the existence of these views, so that you can judge for yourselves. It is interesting, that to a great extent, Colonel Kemp’s evaluation is consistent with the statements made by a Hamas fighter as detailed in Appendix A.
Intellectual honesty requires that, in evaluating evidence about situations that they have not personally experienced, non-military investigators dare not ignore key practical military aspects like those enumerated by experts such as Colonel Kemp. The credibility of the report would certainly have been enhanced had it referred to his remarks that the battlefield – in any kind of war – is a place of confusion, chaos, and fast-moving action. Sadly, the report has ignored the context explained by Colonel Kemp that in the type of conflicts that the IDF fought in Gaza and in Lebanon, and that Britain and America are still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, these age-old confusions and complexities are made a hundred times worse by the fighting policies and techniques of the enemy.
Islamist fighting groups carefully study the international laws of armed conflict and understand it well. They know that a British or an Israeli commander and his men are bound by international law and the rules of engagement that flow from it, and they do their utmost to exploit what they view as one of their enemy’s main weaknesses.
The very modus operandi of these insurgents is built on the correct assumption that Western armies will normally abide by the rules, whilst they employ a deliberate policy of consistently operating outside of international law.
Civilians and civilian property are routinely exploited by these groups, in deliberate and flagrant violation of international laws or reasonable norms of civilized behavior.
Protected buildings, mosques, schools, and hospitals are used as strongholds. Legal and proportional responses by a Western army are deliberately exploited and manipulated in order to produce international outcry and condemnation.
Colonel Kemp refers to Hamas combatants deliberately positioned behind the human shields of the civilian population. Hamas also ordered men, women, and children from their own population to stay put in places they knew were about to be attacked by the IDF. Israel was fighting an enemy that is deliberately sacrificing its own people, deliberately trying to lure us into killing its own innocent civilians.
And Hamas, like Hezbollah, is also highly expert at driving the media agenda. Both groups will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.
Whenever possible, the IDF gave at least four hours’ notice to civilians to leave areas targeted for attack. The IDF dropped over 900,000 leaflets warning the population of impending attacks to allow them to leave designated areas. The IDF phoned over 30,000 Palestinian households in Gaza, urging them – in Arabic – to leave homes where Hamas might have stashed weapons or be preparing to fight.
Many attack helicopter missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were cancelled if there was too great a risk of civilian casualties in the area. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza, even though delivering aid virtually into enemy hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable.
Whether or not the Mission agrees with Colonel Kemp’s views, the report is most certainly incomplete in omitting to apprise the HRC of his summation that, by taking these actions, the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army has done in the history of warfare. See http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id199.html.
Appendix B – Incitement and dehumanization
During an interview on Al Jazeera TV, Judge Goldstone emphasized that dehumanization of the other is the primary factor in the commission of horrific acts like genocide. Having acknowledged this central role of dehumanization, it is astonishing and dare I say unforgivable, that a memorandum I sent, drawing attention to the all pervasive dehumanization of infidels, Israel and the Jews that continues unabated in PA mosques and schools, was completely ignored. The Report is defective in that it does not contain one word about this fundamental prime mover in the Arab Israel conflict blatant violation of the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap.
Because the incitement is in Arabic, I recommended that the HRC avail itself of the valuable services provided by two organizations that translate Arabic programs to English. This too was ignored to the detriment of the Report’s credibility. They are:
· Middle East Media Research institute (MEMRI) http://www.memri.org/
· Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) http://www.pmw.org.il/
The frequently quoted concept of a cycle of violence in which one side attacks, the other retaliates, and so on, is fallacious in that it omits the essential component of the incitement that fuels the fires of hate. The power of words must not be underrated. Hitler’s monstrous crimes against humanity started with the identical abuse of words echoed today in Gaza schools and mosques, and on TV like the imam at the At Al Omari mosque, who refers to Jews as “the brothers of apes and pigs.”
In a video presentation received, but ignored by the Mission, a three year old is taught that Jews are the sons of pigs and apes and a school class is taught to strive for martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible.
The Mission also totally ignored a very recent PA TV broadcast of an event during which the October 2000 murder and savage mutilation of two Israeli reservists by a frenzied mob of Palestinians was celebrated and lauded as an example of national pride and duty. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEqeKdjJto0
While incitement is regarded by some as the inchoate crime of preparing for another crime, others regard the crime as complete even if the person incited fails to commit the act for which he or she has been incited. Either way, Article 3 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, states clearly that direct and public incitement to commit genocide are punishable acts.
Incitement to kill Jews starts in the schools. Even new schoolbooks written in 2001 by the PA Education Ministry, include passages from the Koran, teaching that Jews should long for death from Allah himself.
In these circumstances, it would be surprising if the present generation, brought up on a diet of hate-the-Jew and the infidel were prepared to live peacefully with a Jewish state as their neighbor. Without a doubt, the root cause of the 8,000 rockets fired at Sderot and the subsequent Cast Lead operation lies in this incitement.
The following excerpts from an article by Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, on the History News Network, are evidence of the blatant unambiguous incitement to genocide readily verifiable by the HRC (http://hnn.us/articles/743.html)
“A member of the Palestinian Council of Religious Edicts spelled it out on PA TV: ‘Jews are Jews. [One] must slaughter them and kill them, as per the word of Allah… Do not have mercy in your hearts for Jews anywhere, in any country. Fight them wherever you are. Anywhere you meet them – kill them. Kill the Jews… Do not have mercy on the Jews. Kill them everywhere’.”
“Just last month, a PA religious leader explained the inherently evil nature of the Jew, since the days of Muhammad: ” He [Muhammad] battled them and expelled them from Arabia, saying: ‘There shall not be two religions in Arabia.’ Say to the Jews: … ‘Expect your graveyard. Expect the final battle’.”
“The obligation to kill Jews is presented not only as a religious precept, but has been cited repeatedly as a historical necessity. A senior religious leader explained: ‘The battle with the Jews will continue because the Prophet has decreed it… ‘The Day of Resurrection will not come until the Muslims make war against the Jews and kill them, and until the Jew hides behind a rock and tree, and the rock and tree says: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, a Jew is behind me, come and kill him!’…”
The Report does not ignore dehumanization entirely. While completely ignoring the pervasive dehumanization by Palestinians it ironically accuses Israel of dehumanizing Palestinians. It states, for example, “… graffiti left on the walls in Gaza, the obscenities and often racist slogans all constituted an overall image of humiliation and dehumanization of the Palestinian population.”
Appendix C – Fighters were indistinguishable from Civilians and buildings were booby trapped in Gaza.
Extracts from an article in the Times of London, January 12, 2009
Gaza’s tunnels, traps and martyrs: the Hamas strategy to defeat Israel. The underground army says it is better prepared than many expected
By Azmi Keshawi in Gaza City, Martin Fletcher and Sheera Frenkel
The bearded young Hamas fighter stood beneath a shop’s awning in the centre of Gaza City as he tried to hide from Israeli drones. “Gaza will be like a volcano erupting beneath the Israelis. It will destroy the legend of their invincible army,” he boasted as the street echoed to the sound of distant gunfire and explosions.
He spoke of a huge network of tunnels designed to enable Hamas fighters to attack and retreat, to ambush and kidnap, to blow up Israeli vehicles passing overhead and move undetected by aerial surveillance. He talked of mines which have been laid but are not primed until the Israelis approach. He described how plans had been prepared to defend each part of the city, and how they were immediately changed when a fighter was captured. If a fighter was killed, another was trained to take his place.
He said the Hamas fighters constantly changed their locations and tactics. They never attacked from the same place twice. They had secret means of communication, and spread disinformation to confuse the Israelis when speaking on their radios. They wore civilian clothes, concealed their weapons, and no longer walked around in groups.
Morale was high, Mohammed insisted. Hamas had lost fewer fighters than expected and there was an infinite supply of eager replacements for those “martyred”. It still had plenty of rockets that could be launched remotely from hidden bunkers. “We can continue as long as it takes,” he said. “I tell you, even our ghosts will defeat the Israelis.”
Ron Ben-Yishai, a senior military correspondent with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, who travelled with Israeli troops last week, said he was “amazed” by Hamas’s preparations. Whole blocks, not just individual houses, had been booby-trapped and wired. “We have seen things like this before, but not of this magnitude.”
A detailed, hand-drawn Hamas map of a neighbourhood called Al-Atatra, discovered by Israeli paratroopers last week on the body of a Hamas fighter, showed tunnels, sniper positions next to a mosque and numerous explosive devices planted in roads, homes and a petrol station. The neighbourhood had been divided into three, with a team of fighters allocated to each.
Mr Ben-Yishai told The Times that his unit found a mannequin filled with explosives in a hallway in the Zaytun area of Gaza City. It was dressed in a Hamas fighter’s black uniform. Had Israeli soldiers fired on it, it would have exploded and brought down the building. In the hallway of another house, a 30-gallon container of diesel fuel had been placed on two sacks of explosives, with a detonation wire running through a tunnel to a shack 200 metres away. Instead of entering houses through doorways, Israeli soldiers now blow holes in the walls and send sniffer dogs in first.
Suicide bombers are another hazard. On Saturday a man wearing an explosives belt sprang from a side alley in Jabaliya as an Israeli patrol walked past. They shot him seconds before he could detonate himself. Early in the ground war a suicide bomber ran up to a lone Israeli bomb dismantler and literally hugged him as he blew them both up. There have been several such attacks in the past week, two by women.
Reshef, an Israeli soldier wounded during an engagement in the Jabaliya refugee camp, told The Times: “Hamas was playing cat and mouse, trying to lure us into the tunnels they had prepared. They were firing from the tunnels, trying to get us to engage them and follow them in. Once inside the tunnels there were dozens more waiting to ambush.”
Another Hamas tactic, said Mr Ben-Yishai, was to spring from tunnels concealed beneath floors, or behind sinks in houses where Israeli troops were sheltering, and open fire.
Appendix D – Human shields
While the Report goes into great detail about allegations that Israeli forces coerced Palestinian civilians to take part in house searches the fact-finding mission was evidently very selective in the facts it chose to emphasize and those it chose to ignore. For example, it downplayed and in some cases ignored readily available evidence of the use by Palestinians of their own civilians as human shields, such as the many reports that have been published over the years documenting the common practice of using human shields by the Palestinians. http://www.geocities.com/palestiniansarelies/HumanShields.html and the Christian Science Monitor report http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1120/p01s02-wome.html
In paragraph 475, the Report concedes that the Mission is aware of a public statement in a video clip, by Mr. Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, that had been brought to its notice and “which is adduced as evidence of Hamas’ use of human shields.” (Why adduced?). Although Mr. Hammad’s precise words can be heard and read in translation in the video, the Mission’s document states, “Mr. Hammad reportedly [the emphasis is mine] stated that .. [Hamas] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the mujahideen against the Zionist bombing machine.
In the face of this blatant admission that Hamas uses human shields and without calling for any clarification from Mr. Hammad, the Mission acts as his defending counsel. In the next paragraph the Report states, “Although the Mission finds this statement morally repugnant, it does not consider it to constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack”. No reason is given for this remarkable conclusion that contradicts the witnesses own words other than “The Government of Israel has not identified any such cases”.
Paragraph 481 goes further to conceal Palestinian use of human shields. It states: “. . . While Reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack.”
Appendix E – Allegation that children with white flags were shot
Paragraph 9 of the Report deals at great length with the unfortunate shooting of Amal, Su’ad, and Samar, daughters of Abed Rabbo. At the outset it must be clarified that in this very tragic incident which was widely reported as three children killed, Amal and Su’ad died while Samar is still in hospital in Belgium, possibly crippled for life.
The Report accepts, without any attempt at corroboration, testimony that the girls walked out of their house to find an Israeli tank there, creating the impression that there was no reason for paying attention to this house. It ignores the relevant fact that Abd Rabbo family candidly had told a Palestinian West Bank newspaper that for several years their family was a hostage to Hamas, who used their farm as an ideal site for firing Qassam rockets at Sderot. They said that whoever tried to resist were crippled by a shot in the leg. He disclosed that the fighters had dug tunnels under their houses, stored weapons and shot rockets from the grove. Abed Rabbo emphasizes, they are not activists, they are still loyal to the Fatah movement, but they were unable to prevent armed groups from infiltrating their neighborhood at nightfall.
See ( http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A//www.alhayat-j.com/details.php%3Fopt%3D2%26id%3D81261%26cid%3D1402&hl=en&langpair=auto|en&tbb=1&ie=windows-1256
The Report goes on to describe two soldiers sitting on top of the tank, one eating chips, the other eating chocolate. One cannot but wonder how the witnesses in the tense circumstances were able to distinguish what the soldiers were eating. Without warning, the Report says, a third soldier emerged from inside the tank and started shooting at the three girls. All very incriminating, creating an emotional picture of callous Israeli soldiers eating chips and chocolate while a third mows down innocent children carrying white flags. It is not inconsequential that none of these types of emotional descriptions are used when infractions of Hamas are mentioned.
But the writers of the Report failed in their bounden fact-finding duty to check the accuracy of information they purveyed. With just a little attention to detail they would have read the Report by Palestinian News Agency Ma’an and MECA – the Middle East Children’s Alliance – that the unfortunate girls were killed in collateral damage from an attack by Israeli planes. No tank, no soldiers eating chocolate (or chips), and no white flags are mentioned. We cannot be certain, which version is accurate, but you will surely agree that in the interests of truth, all versions must be investigated. http://www.mecaforpeace.org/article.php?id=400
The Report repeatedly declares that civilians were intentionally killed by the IDF, inferring that the Mission members, with no battle experience, possess intellectual powers that enable them to determine whether, in the heat of battle, a soldier has acted in self defense or with criminal intent. And as the Mission places importance on intent, it is remiss in ignoring the openly declared intent of the rocket launchers to kill as many civilians as possible, the openly declared intent of the Hamas Charter to destroy Israel, and Hamas’ declaration that it is not bound by international rules.
Appendix F – Use of mosques for military purposes and weapons storage
Extract from a paper by Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi, Institute for Contemporary Affairs Vol. 9, No. 10, 18 September 2009, Blocking the Truth of the Gaza War: How the Goldstone Commission Understated the Hamas Threat to Palestinian Civilians
Statements from the al-Silawi Family
Three members of the al-Silawi family were interviewed by the commission: Moussa al-Silawi (91, blind), Sabah al-Silawi (Moussa’s wife), and Mouteeh al-Silawi, a Hamas official. The most detailed statement was that of Mouteeh al-Silawi, deputy director of the Hamas administration’s Muslim Religious Endowments ministry for the northern Gaza Strip, who said he was giving a sermon when the mosque was attacked. He claimed that there was no military activity in the Ibrahim al-Maqadma mosque or around it during the attack. Worshippers came to the mosque seeking a safe haven on the assumption that it was a secure place. The evening and night prayers were said one after another to prevent unnecessary movement of worshippers outside the mosque. Israel committed a war crime in violation of international law by attacking civilians in a mosque.
The commission members asked:
· What is the name of the mosque and where is it located?
· What was the date of the event?
· Was a warning given before the attack?
· When was the mosque built?
· Were the people killed the supporters of families?
· Was there a noise before the explosion and what damage did it do?
· How many people were killed and wounded in the attack?
· How many people were in the mosque when it was attacked?
· How far is the mosque from the nearest hospital?
· Does the hospital have a sufficient quantity of medical equipment and are its services sufficient?
They also asked:
· Under what conditions are the two prayers (evening and night) joined?
· Do more people come when prayers are joined?
· Was this the first time the prayers were joined?
· When does the evening prayer begin and when does it end?
· When prayers are joined, exactly how much time elapses between them?
· When, during the confrontation, did the mosque begin joining the prayers?
· Was January 3 the first day the prayers were joined?
Many of the questions were irrelevant and unconnected to the circumstances of the event. The commission members did not ask about armed men in the mosque, whether it was used for military purposes or incited worshippers to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel. They did not ask if there were weapons in the mosque, if armed men were operating near the mosque, whether Hamas and its Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades controlled the mosque and used it to recruit operatives, or the identity of the casualties and their organizational affiliation (including members of the al-Silawi family).
An examination of freely accessible Palestinian sources shows that the casualties in this incident were terrorist operatives and included members of the al-Silawi family, who were represented to the commission as innocent civilians. The terrorists killed in the attack included:
Ibrahim Moussa Issa al-Silawi, an operative in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. Born December 1, 1946, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. According to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, Ibrahim “received his love of jihad and hatred for the Zionist enemy with his mother’s milk.” In 1984 he joined the Islamic Movement (which later became Hamas) and was a Muslim Brotherhood operative. He had close relations with Nizar Riyyan, a senior Hamas terrorist operative, and joined the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in 2003. He was posted to the northern Gaza Strip brigade and participated in military missions: manning front-line positions in Jabaliya, fighting IDF forces, and digging and preparing tunnels for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades use.
Omar Abd al-Hafez Moussa al-Silawi (Abu Souheib), an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative. Born in Saudi Arabia on September 29, 1981, and joined Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2004 he joined the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and was posted to front-line positions on the eastern border of Jabaliya. He also prepared and planted IEDs, participated in fighting the IDF, and launched mortar shells and Kassam rockets at Israeli towns and villages.
Sayid Salah Sayid Batah, an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative. Born on April 7, 1986, in Jabaliya. A Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood operative, he joined the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and was deployed in the northern Gaza Strip Brigade. He was posted to front-line positions in Jabaliya, prepared and planted IEDs, and dug and prepared tunnels for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades use.
Ahmed Hamad Hassan Abu Ita, an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative. Born in Saudi Arabia on February 15, 1984. A Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood operative, he joined the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in 2006 and was posted to front-line positions. He fought the IDF in the Jabaliya, al-Salatin and al-Atatra regions, prepared and planted IEDs, was deployed in the suicide bombers’ unit, and regularly participated in ambushes against IDF soldiers. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website reported that he was one of the operatives who received instructions, after the initial Israeli air attack on December 27, to deploy in accordance with previous instructions. According to the website report, on January 3 he went to the Ibrahim al-Maqadma mosque to meet “young people” and was killed in the IDF attack there.
[Note: The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades version clearly shows that Hamas uses mosques as meeting places for its operatives to coordinate their fighting against the IDF.] His father said that during the first week of the fighting his son launched rockets into Israeli territory every day.
Muhamad Ibrahim al-Tanani (Abu Islam), an operative in the Al-Quds Battalions, the military-terrorist wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, born April 23, 1988. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad website reported that his parents brought him up to love jihad. When the Second Intifada broke out he was 12, and often went to the Erez crossing with other children to throw rocks at the IDF post and confront the soldiers. In 2002 he joined the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and later its military-terrorist wing. He underwent military training and was posted to front-line positions on the northern border of the Gaza Strip. In addition to his military activities, he participated in Palestinian Islamic Jihad meetings and events, and led the organization’s Internet forums.
Rajah Nahad Rajah Ziyyada, 18, an Al-Quds Battalions operative.
Ahmed Assad Diyab Tabil, 16, a Hamas operative, was a member of the Hamas student organization, which recruited him into the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Appendix G – Abuse of hospitals for military purposes
Paragraph 485 of the report states that on the basis of the investigations it has conducted, the Mission did not find any evidence to support allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes.
This is plainly unacceptable in view of the information supplied to the Mission in memoranda from the public and available on the internet as well as articles in the mainstream media including the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency as detailed on the next page.
For example on July 17, I submitted a video memorandum in which several Palestinians, who had fled to Israel from Hamas violence, described how they were attacked while in hospital and how ambulances were used to convey fighters in preference to needy patients. They are readily identifiable in the video and could be located if evidence is sought from them. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLFAJK5LtwY
A NY Times article described how armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes roamed the halls of the Shifa hospital and executed alleged collaborators in the hospital’s compound.
The most significant is that the Palestinian Authority’s Health Ministry in Ramallah (http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=208410&MARK=hospital) confirmed in February what was known to Israeli intelligence from the start of the operation. It accused Hamas of using hospitals and clinics in Gaza as interrogation and detention centers and expelling medical stuff: “Hospitals … that were taken over include Al-Quds Hospital in Tal Al-Hawa, a Red Crescent initiative, parts of the Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the upper and lower floors of the An-Nasser Hospital, as well as the Psychiatric Hospital”. Of course, hiding in the hospitals and turning them into detention centers is a violation of IHL, and the mere presence of healthy fighters makes it potentially legal military objective.
Text of the Ma’an report
PA Health Ministry: Hamas using hospitals as detention centers
Published Saturday 07/02/2009 13:06
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority’s Health Ministry accused the Hamas-run de facto government’s security services of turning medical centers into virtual prisonso n Saturday.
According to a statement from the Health Ministry, Hamas has used hospitals and clinics in Gaza as interrogation and detention centers, where medical staffers have been expelled.
“After Israel ended its aggression in the Gaza Strip, the Health Ministry was surprised that Hamas militants returned to their old behavior, expelling medical staff and using medical centers as detention centers, and for torture and interrogation,” the statement said.
Hospitals affiliated with the PA that were taken over include Al-Quds
Hospital in Tal Al-Hawa, a Red Crescent initiative, parts of the Ash-Shifa
Hospital in Gaza City, the upper and lower floors of the An-Nasser
Hospital, as well as the Psychiatric Hospital, according to the statement.