The IAF targeted sites in the Southern Gaza Strip in response to Qassams fired into southern Israel over the past few days, with no injuries or damage reported. According to Ma’an news, the air strikes targeted the Yasser Arafat International Airport in Dahaniya.
In other news, there is an airport named after Yasser Arafat, the father of airline hijackings.
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
10:46PM: If it wasn’t already evident to you that the Goldstone Report is seriously flawed, it should be after reading about Desmond Travers, the senior figure responsible for the military analysis in the report.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
New Revelations About the UN Goldstone Report that Seriously Undermine its Credibility
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Col. (ret.) Desmond Travers was one of the four members of the UN Fact Finding Mission that produced what is widely called the Goldstone Report. The Mission investigated Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009. Travers joined the Irish Defense Forces in 1961 and retired after forty years. As the only former officer who belonged to Justice Richard Goldstone’s team, he was the senior figure responsible for the military analysis that provided the basis for condemning Israel for war crimes.
After following his repeated public appearances with the other mission members in July 2009, and especially in light of his most recent interviews, serious flaws have now become evident in the methodology he followed, in his collection and processing of data, and in the conclusions he draws. In the past, the flaws in the Goldstone report, and especially its lack of balance, have been criticized by the London Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist, but the fundamental problems of its military analysis have not been fully addressed. In the material presented here, this becomes evident in four specific ways:
1. A Fundamental Bias against the Israel Defense Forces
During the Mission’s collection of testimonies from Palestinian psychologists in the Gaza Strip, Travers asked them straight out to explain how Israeli soldiers could kill Palestinian children in front of their parents. In an interview with Middle East Monitor, on February 2, 2010, he asserted that in the past Israeli soldiers had “taken out and deliberately shot” Irish peacekeeping forces in Southern Lebanon. Both of these statements by Travers are completely false. It should be stressed that one of the most vicious and unsubstantiated conclusions in the Goldstone Report is the suggestion that Israel deliberately killed Palestinian civilians.
While Travers assumes the worst of intentions on the part of the Israel Defense Forces, he praises Hamas for their cooperation with the Mission. When he was asked about Hamas intimidation that affected the Mission’s inquiries, he replied that that there was “none whatsoever.” Yet the Goldstone Report itself noted in Paragraph 440 that those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of Palestinian armed groups because of a “fear of reprisals.” He rejects the notion that Hamas shielded its forces in the civilian population and does not accept the idea that Israel faced asymmetric warfare.
2. False Information Reported About Weapons Systems
Travers comes up with a story that the IDF had unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) that could obtain a “thermal signature” on a Gaza house and detect that there were large numbers of people inside. Incredibly, he then suggests that with this information that certain houses were “packed with people,” the Israeli military would then deliberately order a missile strike on these populated homes. The primary technical problem with his theory is that Israel does not have UAV’s that can see though houses and pick up a thermal
signature. More importantly, Israel used UAV’s to monitor that Palestinian civilians left houses that had received multiple warnings, precisely because Israel sought to minimize civilian casualties, a fact that Travers could not fathom, because of his own clear biases.
3. Completely Inaccurate Data
Travers rejects that Israel began military operations against the Gaza Strip on December 27, 2008 as an act of self-defense in response to Hamas rockets. He bases this idea on a “fact” that he presents that in the month prior to start of the war, there were only “something like two” rockets that fell on Israel. Israeli military sources found that there were in fact 32 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over three days alone–between December 16 and 18, 2008. He adds to his analysis that at this time Hamas sought to extend the tahdiya, or lull arrangement–which he called a cease-fire. Yet the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas announced on December 17 that the lull would come to an end two days later and would not be renewed. The head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, Khaled Mashaal, announced the end of the lull on December 14. To say that Hamas wanted to continue the lull is a
complete distortion of events.
In his Middle East Monitor interview, Travers states that he “only came across two incidents of where there was an actual combat situation” – the exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas. Because he minimizes the possibility that Israel was engaged in real combat in the Gaza Strip, it follows that he naturally conclude that Israel was essentially attacking non-combatants during Operation Cast Lead.
4. Lack of Professionalism in Conducting Thorough Investigations
Travers relies on his own prejudices when he looks into the question of whether Gazan Mosques had been militarized by Hamas and turned into weapons depots. In an interview with Harpers, published on October 29, 2009, Travers makes a sweeping generalization: “We found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions.” He then dismissed those who suggested that was the case by saying: “Those charges reflect Western perceptions in some quarters that Islam is a violent religion.” How many mosques did Travers investigate? He admits that the Mission only checked two mosques.
Of course, Israel produced photographic proof that large amounts of weapons were stored in mosques, like the Zaytun Mosque. In a subsequent interview, Travers rejected the Israeli proof: “I do not believe the photographs.” He described the photographs as “spurious.” Travers appears to be bothered by proof that contradicts the conclusions he reaches on the basis of a very limited investigation. In early 2010, Colonel Tim Collins, a British veteran of the Iraq War, visited Gaza for BBC Newsnight (
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8470100.stm , 20 January 2010) and inspected the ruins of a mosque that Israel had destroyed because it had been a weapons depot. He found that there was evidence of secondary explosions cause by explosives stored in the mosque cellar. Travers clearly did not make the effort that Collins made.
In his questioning of Palestinian witnesses in the Gaza Strip, Travers does not ask the questions that a military advisor should raise. He did not ask those giving testimony if they were member of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam units of Hamas and were combatants. He also failed to ask them straight out if their homes had been used to store munitions, like Grad rockets. Instead, his questions reflected his ideological bias.
Travers most recent interview also had a disturbing additional element. When addressing the role of British officers in defending Israel’s claims, Travers suddenly adds: “Britain’s foreign policy interests in the Middle East seem to be influenced strongly by Jewish lobbyists.” Travers implies that British Jews have interests that differ from Britain’s own national interests and that Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government is influenced by these considerations. This statement, unless corrected, places Travers is a position in which his views are suspect of being motivated by anti-Semitic prejudices. Even without this last statement, he clearly emerges as an individual who is not qualified to take part in any serious fact-finding mission and the U.N. should not seek his services in the future. Given his statements, Justice Richard Goldstone should repudiate Col. Travers and completely reject the conclusions that he reached as a result of his work.
10:20PM: Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has condemned today’s “stabbing incident.”
Which was not as much an “incident” as a terrorist attack committed by a senior officer of his own security forces.
“Such an incident,” the Palestinian prime minister said, “undermines national Palestinian objectives, and the Palestinian Authority’s commitments.”
And is MURDER, Fayyad.
Meanwhile, the family of the murdered Druze Arab IDF soldier, 28-year-old Ihab Khatib, has pledged to continue enlisting in the army and contributing to the state of Israel.
“Our village has sadly ‘contributed’ many soldiers to the security of the State of Israel,” one of the visitors said.
“Even if there are disagreements among us, and despite the instances of discrimination and oppression, we will all continue to enlist and contribute to the country in which we live, and for whose continued existence we pray.”
6:20PM: An Israeli is set to replace Simon Cowell on American Idol.
Which would mean we retain some Zionist control on the panel.
6:15PM: The IDF officer murdered earlier today was an Arab – Ihab Khatib from Kfar Maghar.
The terrorist was PA officer Mahmoud al-Khatib.
A SENIOR officer in the PA security forces, that is.
6:10PM: Shame on Reuters who are even worse than the AP when it comes to media bias.
Case in point: the captions for these photos capturing yesterday’s riots at the Shuafat refugee camp.
An undercover Israeli police officer (R) scuffles with a Palestinian youth suspected of throwing stones while trying to detain him during clashes in the Shuafat refugee camp in the West Bank near Jerusalem February 9, 2010. Clashes erupted between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli police that entered the refugee camp, a Reuters witness said on Tuesday.
REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK – Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Looks like the Israeli police officer initiated the rough stuff with a palestinian “youth,” who does not look too youthful to me. That is, until you read the AP caption from the same incident.
A Palestinian rioter tries to grab a weapon from a plain-clothes Israeli police officer, right, during clashes in Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. Palestinians scuffled with Israeli security forces, after an arrest operation triggered clashes in the camp the day before. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Here it becomes clearer that this was not a case of Israeli aggression against a palestinian, but a matter of life of death for the police officer, who would surely have been killed with his own weapon had the palestinian succeeded in grabbing it. Furthermore, the palestinian is not described as a youth, which seems to be accurate.
5:55PM: The Israeli murdered earlier this afternoon was an IDF soldier.
3:52PM: TERROR ATTACK: Almost two hours ago, an Israeli was killed after being stabbed by a palestinian while sitting in his jeep near the Tapuach Junction.
Judea and Samaria District Police officers apprehended the terrorist. The knife used in the attack was found at the scene. Israeli security officials said the terrorist acted alone.
The incident occurred at around 1:50 pm, when the Israeli vehicle was stuck in a traffic jam. The Palestinian terrorist stabbed the Israeli twice in the chest through the open car window.
The Israeli tried to flee the scene, but his jeep overturned into a ditch.
A security officer from the nearby Jewish settlement Rachelim, who happened to be at the scene, ran the terrorist over with his car. The Palestinian sustained very mild injuries.
“I was in my car when I saw a man approach another vehicle and stab the person inside. I realized I was witnessing a terror attack. The terrorist began running away, but I kept my cool, drove after him and managed to hit him with my car,” the security officer, Yossi Margalit, told Ynet.
“I stepped out of my car, apprehended the terrorist and turned him over to the security forces,” he recounted.
Prediction: we will not hear any condemnation of this attack by the palestinians and their supporters, but we will hear complaints about the palestinian being run over.
Meanwhile, the Ha’aretz report includes this interesting fact.
Yossi Margalit, a security officer from a nearby settlement who arrived the scene ran over the attacker, lightly wounding him. He was then arrested, and given medical attention on the spot.
Wow, we are so bad at genocide and ethnic cleansing that we ensure even their terrorists are alive.
Hariri added that Lebanon was united, and that his government would stand by Hezbollah – the Lebanese terror group which fought Israel in 2006.
“I think they’re (Israel) betting that there might be some division in Lebanon, if there is a war against us,” he said, “Well, there won’t be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people.”
Which means that Israel’s agreement to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which demands, inter alia, that Hizbullah be disarmed and full control of Lebanon by the government of Lebanon, was a really rotten idea.
But we already knew that.
1:05PM: PA sex and corruption scandal? Naaaa, just an Israeli conspiracy of course!
The Palestinian Authority expressed their outrage on Wednesday at Israel’s Channel 10 report of a video found depicting one of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ senior advisors in compromising positions with a woman candidate applying to work in his office. According to a PA official, the report was merely an Israeli smear campaign meant to embarrass Abbas.
The report also aired claims made by former General Intelligence chief Fahmi Shabana that officials close to Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat were entangled in corruption scandals amounting to millions of shekels stolen from public coffers.
Shabana, who was in charge of the PA’s anti-corruption campaign, claimed in interviews with the media that he placed before Abbas evidence of widespread economic corruption around him, but that the president declined doing anything about it. According to him, senior Fatah officials during Arafat’s rule stole millions of shekels from PA coffers, a large amount of which originated from Arab states, Europe, and the US as donations.
The Fatah officials allegedly requested inflated sums for purchasing land, which was valued far lower than the numbers they presented, and the proceeded to pocket the difference. Shabana hinted that even Abbas’ family members were involved in the corruption, but has yet to prove so.
Shabana also revealed an embarrassing video from 2008 depicting the head of Abbas’ office, Rafik al-Husseini, rubbing his body against his secretary and apparently trying to convince a woman seeking employment in the office to have sexual relations with him.
Shabana was suspended from his position. When Abbas sought to reinstate him, he was arrested by Israel for holding membership in a foreign security body in light of the fact that he is a resident of east Jerusalem and holds an Israeli identity card. Shabana claims, however, that he was arrested at the behest of the Palestinian Authority.
A high-ranking PA official said Wednesday to Ynet that the video revealed by Shabana is a personal issue known for quite some time and that his staff are not rattled by the corruption claims. According to the official, the PA maintains transparency with donor countries and operates a strict oversight mechanism on their payments.
The source said that publishing such a report along with the video is nothing but an Israeli conspiracy aimed at tarnishing the credibility and status of Abbas in light of his refusal to return to the negotiation table under the conditions stipulated by Israel.
Here’s the report (see from 1:15 onwards). Those of you who do not understand Hebrew can skip to 4:47 onwards, which features some shots from the aforementioned “embarrassing video.”
The video must have been doctored by crafty Zionists, since PA officials never act corruptly.
6:00AM: Ashkelon Municipality and the city’s Parents’ Association yesterday filed a petition with the High Court of Justice demanding the court order the government to finish fortifying its schools, in accordance with the Homefront Command’s recommendations.
The petition says that after nine kindergartens were fortified in March of last year the Defense Ministry halted all work, and that 13 kindergartens and 10 elementary schools still remain vulnerable to rocket threats.
The children studying in these facilities are currently instructed to hide underneath their desks in case of a Color Red alert.
The petition says the parents of these children are “incredibly worried and anxious”, and asks the court to remedy the situation.
I wonder if Richard Goldstone or others who have come out against Operation Cast Lead ever had a child who had to experience something like this.