Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ma'an quotes to an Al-Arabiya TV interview with Hamas politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouq. In the interview, Marzouq points out exactly why Hamas is so ecstatic over the Goldstone report, even though people think that the report condemns Hamas for shooting rockets into Israel.

Marzouq points out something interesting:
Moussa Abu Marzouq reiterated the party’s stance on the UN-mandated Goldstone report, which says there is evidence of war crimes in the actions of Israel and Gaza factions during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in December and January.

It was all Palestinian factions who launched projectiles,” Abu Marzouq said, “including Fatah,” indicating that the report does not single out Hamas.

Sure enough, the report does everything possible not to explicitly name Hamas as being in violation of any humanitarian laws.

Going back to the section that is about Qassam rocket attacks against Israel, here is the first time the word "Hamas" is written in that section outside the footnotes, para. 1608:
On 20 April 2009, a member of Hamas called on other armed groups to stop firing rockets “in the interests of the Palestinian people”

Unbelievably, Hamas is only mentioned as a force that wants to stop rocket fire!

Later on, Goldstone does passingly mention the "armed groups" that it is referring to. Hamas, of course, is not one of them, but the Qassam Brigades are described as:
1611. The ‘al Qassam Brigades’ are the armed wing of the Hamas political movement.
Goldstone's reluctance to blame Hamas even for rocket attacks on Israel borders on the comical. The report is forced to admit that Hamas had taken specific responsibility for rockets:

1627. The first civilian casualties from rocket fire were recorded on 28 June 2004 in Sderot, when Afik Zahavi (4 years old) and Mordehai Yosefof (49 years old) were killed by a Qassam rocket. Afik’s mother, Ruthie Zahavi (28 years old) was critically injured and nine others were wounded. Hamas claimed responsibility.994
1631. On 6 January 2009, during the Israeli military operations in Gaza, Khaled Mashal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau wrote in an open letter that the demand to stop the Palestinian resistance was ‘absurd … our modest home made-rockets are our cry of protest to the world”
The comedy descends into farce in this paragraph:

1635. In response to questions by the Mission, on 29 July 2009, the Gaza authorities stated that they had “nothing to do, directly or indirectly, with al-Qassam or other resistance factions” and stated that they were able to exercise a degree of persuasion over the armed factions in relation to proposed ceasefires. While noting that the weaponry used by the armed factions was not accurate, the Gaza authorities discouraged the targeting of civilians.
Not an ounce of skepticism by Goldstone for these manifestly absurd distinctions between Hamas and the al-Qassam Brigades; on the contrary, it appears that Goldstone embraced these distinctions - even when it clearly knows otherwise (para. 1611 above.)

In its Conclusions and Recommendations section, concerning rockets, the most critical paragraph again avoids blaming Hamas:
1950. In relation to the firing of rockets and mortars into southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups operating in the Gaza Strip, the Mission finds that the Palestinian armed groups fail to distinguish between military targets and the civilian population and civilian objects in southern Israel. The launching of rockets and mortars which cannot be aimed with sufficient precisions at military targets breaches the fundamental principle of distinction. Where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into civilian areas, they constitute a deliberate attack against the civilian population. These actions would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.
This is the "balance" that Goldstone proudly points to. Israel is mentioned explicitly with regards to tens of alleged human rights violations; Hamas is not mentioned in connection with any war crimes! And Goldstone maintains the fictional separation between "the Gaza authorities" and "armed groups," meaning between Hamas and its own military wing called the al-Qassam Brigades.

Nothing about Hamas in the Gilad Shalit paragraph:
1952. With regard to the continuing detention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Mission finds that, as a soldier who belongs to the Israeli armed forces and who was captured during an enemy incursion into Israel, Gilad Shalit meets the requirements for prisoner-of war status under the Third Geneva Convention and should be protected, treated humanely and be allowed external communication as appropriate according to that Convention.

Even the sections that undoubtedly must refer to Hamas manages to avoid They Who Must Not Be Named:
1954. Although the Gaza authorities deny any control over armed groups and responsibility for their acts, in the Mission’s view, if they failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the Palestinian armed groups from endangering the civilian population, the Gaza authorities would bear responsibility for the damage arising to the civilians living in Gaza.
Similarly, the Recommendations section avoids the dreaded H-word as well:
1973. To Palestinian armed groups,
(a) The Mission recommends that Palestinian armed groups should undertake forthwith to respect international humanitarian law, in particular by renouncing attacks on Israeli civilians and civilian objects, and take all feasible precautionary measures to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians during hostilities;

(b) The Mission recommends that Palestinian armed groups who hold Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in detention should release him on humanitarian grounds. Pending such release they should recognize his status as prisoner of war, treat him as such, and allow him ICRC visits.
The only recommendations in the report to "Gaza authorities" are to release political detainees and to "continue to enable the free and independent operation of Palestinian non-governmental organizations."

Hamas is not given a single recommendation to stop rocket attacks. Hamas is not told to stop incitement. Hamas is not told to release Gilad Shalit (as if he is being held against Hamas' wishes!).

No wonder Hamas is thrilled about the report. In the entire 450 page report, Hamas is not singled out once for condemnation.

And
all the news stories and Goldstone interviews that claim that the report condemns Hamas are wrong.


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