A research center tied to the Israeli military has issued a thorough review of the United Nations "fact-finding" mission on the 2008-09 Gaza war, finding that it ignored evidence about Hamas' use of human shields and its military build-up in Gaza.
The UN's Goldstone Committee issued its report last year on Operation Cast Lead. The report, rife with inaccuracies, accused Israel of violating international law and committing war crimes while largely absolving Hamas' conduct during the Gaza conflict.
In response to these allegations, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center commissioned a study to review the Goldstone findings. The results, published in a report this week, detail how a failure to collect accurate information and an anti-Israel bias fed into a pre-conceived perception that only Israel should be scolded for Operation Cast Lead.
Despite a significant body of evidence to the contrary, the Goldstone panel said it "did not find any evidence to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes."
The Israeli report, titled Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip: The Main Findings of the Goldstone Report Versus the Factual Findings, presents evidence that Hamas used hospitals as cover when firing at Israeli troops and stored weapons in them. Other conclusions include:
- Goldstone ignored Hamas' terrorist ideology and ignored the organization's history of suicide bombings and rocket attacks undertaken against Israeli civilians;
- Goldstone ignored Hamas's military buildup in the Gaza Strip during 2007-2009, actions carried out in violation of the Oslo Accords.
- Goldstone ignored the financial and logistical support given to Hamas by Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.
Perhaps most interesting, is that despite Goldstone's conclusion that Israel deliberately murdered civilians throughout Operation Cast Lead, Hamas implemented a combat doctrine which made massive use of civilians as human shields. As the report explains:
"The tactics included forcing residents to stay at home in neighborhoods where the IDF operated; assimilating terrorist operatives into civilian neighborhoods; exchanging their uniforms for civilian clothing while fighting the IDF; surrounding operatives with children to facilitate their escape from combat zones; making large-scale military use of civilian houses, which included constructing tunnels for assault and escape; situating its military infrastructure within civilian houses and public institutions; turning residential neighborhoods into combat zones; firing rockets and mortar shells from within civilian population centers, including from next to buildings and from roods; and summoning civilians to come to operatives' houses to serve as human shields for terrorist operatives in danger of being attacked by the IDF."
The Goldstone report was controversial from the outset. Haaretz previously reported that one of the four UN team members to visit Gaza dismissed Israeli claims of self defense, saying in the month leading up to the war "something like two" rockets were fired at Israel. The team member also questioned the validity of photographs showing Hamas hid weapons in mosques.