Monday, September 21, 2009

Goldstone report inaccuracies, part 11

While we have already looked at some of Goldstone's inaccuracies concerning the civilian status of Gaza police, the report makes more specific mention of the police killed at the areas they visited in Gaza, mainly the Arafat police compound and the Al-Abbas police station.
435. From the facts available to it, the Mission finds that the deliberate killing of 99 members of the police at the police headquarters and three police stations during the first minutes of the military operations, while they were engaged in civilian tasks inside civilian police facilities, constitutes an attack which failed to strike an acceptable balance between the direct military advantage anticipated (i.e. the killing of those policemen who may have been members of Palestinian armed groups) and the loss of civilian life (i.e. the other policemen killed and members of the public who would inevitably have been present or in the vicinity). The attacks on the Arafat City police headquarters and the Abbas Street police station, al-Tuffah police station and the Deir al-Balah investigative police station constituted disproportionate attacks in violation of customary international humanitarian law.

436. From the facts available to it, the Mission further believes that there has been a violation of the inherent right to life of those members of the police killed in the attacks of 27 December 2007 who were not members of armed groups by depriving them arbitrarily of their life in violation of article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
From the analysis here, Goldstone takes the facts that it was aware of, where the commission believed the Palestinian Arab NGOs as to which policemen were members of terror groups and discounting Israeli sources, and says that given that information, the direct military advantage of killing members of armed groups is not great enough to justify attacking the police stations knowing that many people who were not members of such groups would be killed.

Goldstone is more explicit in the conclusion:

1720. The Mission also concludes that Israel, by deliberately attacking police stations and killing large numbers of policemen (99 in the incidents investigated by the Mission) during the first minutes of the military operations, failed to respect the principle of proportionality between the military advantage anticipated by killing some policemen who might have been members of Palestinian armed groups and the loss of civilian life (the majority of policemen and members of the public present in the police stations or nearby during the attack). Therefore, these were
disproportionate attacks in violation of customary international law. The Mission finds a violation of the right to life (Article 6 ICCPR) of the policemen killed in these attacks who were not members of Palestinian armed groups.

The implication is that if the majority of the 99 policemen killed in these specific attacks were members of armed groups, then Israel may have been justified in those attacks.

Well, guess what? The majority of the policemen they refer to were members of terror groups.

I'm not 100% sure where the number 99 came from, but according to PCHR there were 91 police killed at Arafat Police City and 9 killed at the al-Abbas police station on December 27th. Based on those 100 people, we have evidence that 65 of them were militants, or 65% - nearly two-thirds. Goldstone's flat-out statement that a majority were not members of armed groups is not true.

Beyond that, Goldstone implies that many non-police civilians would have been in the area at the times of attack and therefore Israel should have not attacked for fear of hitting them. It gives no numbers of civilian casualties in those police stations, however. At Arafat Police City, 90 out of the 91 killed were police, and one was a "driver" who was also a member of the al-Qasaam Brigades. So 100% of those killed at that police station were, according to Goldstone's criteria, legitimate targets, as well over half were members of armed groups.

At the al-Abbas police station, 7 of the 9 killed were policemen, and 7 of the 9 killed were members of terror groups. (One "jobless" civilian was a member, one policeman we found no evidence of being a member.)

It is ridiculous to say that group of terrorists who outnumber civilians by nearly 2-1 would be immune from legitimate attack under international law. While Goldstone's earlier analysis was more concerning the roles that the police were playing at the time of the attack, his conclusion seems to imply that if they were known to be members of terror groups then the attack would be legitimate.

Which is exactly the case.

It is worthwhile to mention that the Goldstone report chooses deliberately to concentrate only of specific events that would demonize Israel. Instead of looking at the total numbers of killed and the circumstances, the Commission cherry-picked specific events and looked in more detail at those events. Therefore, they chose the initial Israeli attacks on police stations on December 27th because those attacks appeared to be the most egregious attacks on civilians (in their minds.) Yet even in this case, they are wrong.