Goldstone Report debate shambles

Goldstone's fact finding team: (l to r) Hina Jilani, Richard Goldstone, Professor Chinkin, Colonel Travers

Last night a few of us headed down to the London School of Economics to hear two of Richard Goldstone’s United Nations “fact” finding team into Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

The event was entitled The Goldstone Report and the Peace Process.

Considering the importance of the event it should have started on time but the Chairman and four speakers strolled in 15 minutes late so reducing the event’s length from 90 to just 75 minutes.

Retired Colonel Desmond Travers and Professor Christine Chinkin were both on the Goldstone panel but Chinkin had already signed a letter to the Times condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Chinkin’s mere presence on the investigation team was, therefore, a breach of Article 6 (Right to a fair trial) of the European Convention of Human Rights as she is obviously not “impartial”.

Karma Nabulsi also spoke. She is an ex-PLO negotiator and very personable but a one trick pony. For Karma peace can only come through “justice” and “justice” for her means the return of the Palestinian refugees to Israel.

She asked: “What is wrong with the refugees returning to Israel?”.

Where does one start, Karma! It’s the equivalent of the UK opening its borders to 60 million non-EU nationals.

Then there was Ami Ayalon. He was the “Israel voice”. He is ex-Shin Bet . Shin Bet is Israel’s internal security service, like our MI5. He also used to be a Labour Member of Israel’s Parliament.

He said Israel has a duty to defend its citizens but that he was against Israel invading Gaza because, as the Hamas website says, Hamas will take the fight to its own civilian areas.

Ayalon felt Israel did not have the tools to do this without causing harm to Palestinian civilians. Instead he had proposed a plan with Sari Nusseibah where there should be a new “law of return” for the settlers who wish to move back West into Israel proper and who should be compensated accordingly.

As decent a left-wing Israel voice as Ayalon was it would have been more interesting to hear from someone from Kadima, the party that took Israel to war. Now such a person runs the risk of arrest as soon as they step off the plane at Heathrow, so we will never be allowed to hear from them.

Ami Ayalon - ex-Shin Bet

But back to Colonel Travers who left some of us in utter disbelief by the end.

Travers was Goldstone’s munitions expert. He started off by saying that “the great preponderance of the damage that was done in Gaza was done by conventional weapons”.

Travers then took us through the deadly propensity of White Phosphorous, a non-conventional weapon which was used as a smoke-screen by Israel to shield its soldiers from Hamas fighters. Travers admits that the use of WP is not illegal and that all armies use it but he felt it should be banned worldwide “even for battlefield use”.

As he explained: “WP is a highly toxic chemical that needs no initiator to ignite, all it needs is oxygen. If it is deprived of oxygen it remains dormant and active. WP that was dumped in the Irish Sea after Wolrd War Two broke away from its moorings and came ashore and ignited on an Irish beach 50 years later. The fumes cause sickness as they are highly toxic and people with as low as 10% surface area burns will die becuase it attacks the central nervous system.”

Then he said: “Children in Gaza were attracted to the smoke because of its pleasent almond smell.”

But, apparently, there are two alternatives to WP: Red Phosphorous and Titanium Tetrachloride

Now, I am no chemist but at first glance these two chemicals also seem highly deadly and my hunch is that had Israel used either of them then accusations of war crimes would still be heading its way.

Then Travers moved on to the use of DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive): “To be very honest about it we found no evidence of DIME being used. There is anecdotal evidence. Whether it was or it wasn’t used it puts the victim at risk of cancer and is very difficult to trace and remove.” (Note the caveats.)

He also said he wished to see Tungsten and Flechette shells removed from the armies of the world.

But for the denouement of his presentation he said: “In Gaza munitions were dropped to achieve deep penetration, perhaps tunnel systems or underground caches and this suggests strongly that those munitions were comprised of hardened warheads which might have logically been hardened by radiological devices or depleted uranium or uranium devices and if so there are toxic consequences. It might have happened and if it has happened there is a responsibilty on the international community to make sure Gaza doesn’t deteriorate further and it is in a terrible situation already.” (How many more caveats!)

I had my doubts about the Goldstone Report but I kept an open mind that Israel might well have done things beyond international law. Now, after hearing, Professor Chinkin and, particularly, Colonel Travers I am even less inclined to trust its findings, eventhough I have not read the report in full.

Professor Chinkin has little credibility as an objective judge and Colonel Travers’ accusations that Israel used non-conventional weapons applies, on his own admission, to every other army in the world so then why is only Israel under investigation?

Below you can see Colonel Travers in full flow last night as filmed by Jonathan Sacerdoti. Note how in response to Jonathan Hoffman’s question about the possibility of weapons being stored by Hamas in mosques he admits that he visited only 2 out of the 14 mosques destroyed by Israel in Gaza and found no evidence of munitions having been stored there because, in his view, it just isn’t a secure place to store them.

Get that: He visited just two! What about the other 12, Colonel? Did Hamas not allow you into them by any chance?

The event was a perfect show of the amateurish way that the Goldstone Report, which could have the affect of sending Israeli soldiers and politicians to prison, was put together.

The United Nations, itself, loses even more credibility by endorsing the report.

5 responses to “Goldstone Report debate shambles

  1. Ami Ayalon also said that he did not understand why the Israeli government refused to cooperate with the Goldstone investigation.

    “White Phosphorous, a non-conventional weapon which was used as a smoke-screen by Israel to shield its soldiers from Hamas fighters. Travers admits that the use of WP is not illegal and that all armies use it but he felt it should be banned worldwide “even for battlefield use”.

    The point that he also made (which you do not mention) is that it is estimated that some 3,500 WP shells were fired dispensing some 400,000 phosphorus wedges. There is photographic evidence of where these fell – far from situations where it would be used “as a smoke-screen by Israel to shield its soldiers from Hamas fighters”.

  2. richardmillett

    Ayalon said that Israel did not cooperate because it was presumed in Israel that judgment had already been pre-written.

    But Travers also said that most of the damage in Gaza was done by conventional weapons. He said that other armies use WP and he even said its use should be banned on open battlefield.

    Sadly, when fighting Hamas in civilian areas civilians will be caught in the middle but how else is Israel to fight Hamas? Israel can’t win however it fights a war.

    That said where is the incredible scrutiny of American and British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

    The world should just ban war altogether, including suicide bombings, then everyone would be clear where they stand.

  3. There has been absolutely no suggestion anywhere else that Israel used non conventional weapons.

    Travers has little or no relevant experience, flew in the face of all investigations which proved beyond doubt that munitions were indeed stored under mosques, hopitals, schools and homes, and was dismissive of the evidence of British military experts who are far more experienced and credible than him.

    You only have to look at his incredible earlier remark that “about two rockets landed in Israel” in the month leading up to the Operation Cast lead to know just how much credence should be given to this odious man.

    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/docs/UNFFMGC_Report.pdf

    He is also on record saying he does not believe photographic evidence of the secondary explosions in mosques which was due to the munitions stored there and that he is also on record of Israeli soldiers deliberately killing Palestinian children.

    Truth to tell not one of the four “fact” finders came to the table with a clean sheet and an open mind, including Goldstone himself

    Look at the following

    http://blog.camera.org/archives/2010/02/more_evidence_of_goldstone_com.html

  4. Richard,

    I have just posted on Jonathan’s Blog as I was at the meeting on Wednesday night.

    Just as thePolice were called four times to deal with Jonathan I think that they were called at least once while you were speaking- is this what normally happens on such occasions- even in teh House of Commons.

    Inky_Flag.

  5. richardmillett

    Yup, they try to shut down debate. The Chairperson was actually really nice actually. Galloway and Corbyn get people thrown out immediately. All we were doing was trying to get answers, it isn’t like we were being rude or aggressive. Getting answers is supposed to be what Parliament is all about, or was about anyway.

    This is my write up for wednesday:

    https://richardmillett.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/goldstone-report-debate-shambles-the-sequel/