ACDN - Action of Citizens for Nuclear Disarmament
logo ACDN banniere ACDNVisiter ACDN
Accueil-Home ACDN Contact ACDN Consulter le plan du site - SiteMap Other Version
vous etes ici Homepage > News > External sources > Justice in Gaza - By Richard Goldstone
ACDN, What is it ?

News
Communiqués
External sources
Letters from ACDN
News Articles

Actions
2nd RID-NBC
3rd RID-NBC
Campaign "The Very Last Atom!"
Gathering for a Livable World

Petitions

Correspondance
International

Medias

Background papers

EUROPE

French Elections
News of the Presidential Campaign

Justice in Gaza - By Richard Goldstone


Published 18 September 2009

New York Times, Sept 17, 2009

Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor for war-crime tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, is the head of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.


I ACCEPTED with hesitation my United Nations mandate to investigate alleged violations of the laws of war and international human rights during Israel’s three-week war in Gaza last winter. The issue is deeply charged and politically loaded. I accepted because the mandate of the mission was to look at all parties: Israel; Hamas, which controls Gaza; and other armed Palestinian groups. I accepted because my fellow commissioners are professionals committed to an objective, fact-based investigation.

But above all, I accepted because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the laws of war, and the principle that in armed conflict civilians should to the greatest extent possible be protected from harm.

In the fighting in Gaza, all sides flouted that fundamental principle. Many civilians unnecessarily died and even more were seriously hurt. In Israel, three civilians were killed and hundreds wounded by rockets from Gaza fired by Hamas and other groups. Two Palestinian girls also lost their lives when these rockets misfired.

In Gaza, hundreds of civilians died. They died from disproportionate attacks on legitimate military targets and from attacks on hospitals and other civilian structures. They died from precision weapons like missiles from aerial drones as well as from heavy artillery. Repeatedly, the Israel Defense Forces failed to adequately distinguish between combatants and civilians, as the laws of war strictly require.

Israel is correct that identifying combatants in a heavily populated area is difficult, and that Hamas fighters at times mixed and mingled with civilians. But that reality did not lift Israel’s obligation to take all feasible measures to minimize harm to civilians.

Our fact-finding team found that in many cases Israel could have done much more to spare civilians without sacrificing its stated and legitimate military aims. It should have refrained from attacking clearly civilian buildings, and from actions that might have resulted in a military advantage but at the cost of too many civilian lives. In these cases, Israel must investigate, and Hamas is obliged to do the same. They must examine what happened and appropriately punish any soldier or commander found to have violated the law.

Unfortunately, both Israel and Hamas have dismal records of investigating their own forces. I am unaware of any case where a Hamas fighter was punished for deliberately shooting a rocket into a civilian area in Israel - on the contrary, Hamas leaders repeatedly praise such acts. While Israel has begun investigations into alleged violations by its forces in the Gaza conflict, they are unlikely to be serious and objective.

Absent credible local investigations, the international community has a role to play. If justice for civilian victims cannot be obtained through local authorities, then foreign governments must act. There are various mechanisms through which to pursue international justice. The International Criminal Court and the exercise of universal jurisdiction by other countries against violators of the Geneva Conventions are among them. But they all share one overarching aim: to hold accountable those who violate the laws of war. They are built on the premise that abusive fighters and their commanders can face justice, even if their government or ruling authority is not willing to take that step.

Pursuing justice in this case is essential because no state or armed group should be above the law. Western governments in particular face a challenge because they have pushed for accountability in places like Darfur, but now must do the same with Israel, an ally and a democratic state.

Failing to pursue justice for serious violations during the fighting will have a deeply corrosive effect on international justice, and reveal an unacceptable hypocrisy. As a service to the hundreds of civilians who needlessly died and for the equal application of international justice, the perpetrators of serious violations must be held to account.

Richard Goldstone, Op-ed Contributor


L'argent est le nerf de la paix ! ACDN vous remercie de lui faire un DON

Other versions
print Printable version
pdfPDF Version


Share through social networks

Also in this section

Michel Rocard’s Speech at the Meeting of Global Zero
Tehran triangle: Russia, U.S. and nuclear power
Luz : “All eyes are on us, we’ve become a symbol”
The death-cult
Ballistic Missile Defense: the new Cold War
The Modern Successor to the Slave Trade
Pope Francis calls for a world without nuclear weapons and supports their abolition
PEACE DECLARATION
Israel attacks Gaza aid fleet
No case for a new “Ayrault-Port” near Nantes, says veteran airline captain.

visites :  906236

Home | Contact | Site Map | Admin |

Site powered by SPIP
design et fonction Easter-Eggs