The Goldstone Report about Operation Cast Lead accuses Israel of an air strike on the mosque on January 3, 2009, which caused the deaths of “at least 15 Palestinians” who were in it at the time. During the confrontation with Dr. Gold, Goldstone claimed that 21 Palestinians had been killed, and he presented the attack as a salient example of Israel’s policy of deliberately targeting innocent civilians. However, Israel issued official documents stating that its Air Force did not attack the mosque and that the dead had been killed in fighting the IDF.Halevi also looks at the many times mosques were used for storing bombs and weapons, for recruiting terrorists, and for breeding suicide bombers.
What really happened at the Ibrahim al-Maqadmah mosque, named for one of the heads of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing? The Goldstone Committee version is problematic because of its many essential failures and weak spots. The committee members relied exclusively on reports from “eyewitnesses” who did not see what was happening outside, especially at the entrance where the missile hit. Moreover, the committee was aware that all the Palestinian witnesses deliberately did not give any information about the activities of the terrorist organizations, because they were afraid of Hamas.
Therefore it is logically impossible to determine unequivocally that the Palestinian statements were “credible and reliable.” Another source of wonder is the dubious methodology used by the Committee in examining the circumstances of the event. The recorded statements of the Palestinian “eyewitnesses” posted on the UN website reveal that Committee members did not ask the Palestinians even one question about armed men or weapons in the mosque, or about what was happening in the open space in front of it.
The fundamental position of the Goldstone Committee was based on fallacious hypotheses. The Committee claimed that it found no evidence that the mosque was used for military purposes, and claimed that Israel presented a “false position” when it issued a Foreign Ministry report denying an attack on the mosque. However, in the same report read by the Committee members, there is unequivocal information supported by photographs of IDF forces seizing weapons in the Salah a-Din mosque in Gaza City during Operation Cast Lead.
The photos appended to the Foreign Ministry report clearly show various types of weapons and ammunition, including EFPs for attacking armored vehicles and a machinegun used to attack Israeli aircraft. The Committee did not explain why it chose to disregard the information completely, and its version becomes more entangled and incomprehensible in light of its admission elsewhere in the Report that it only visited two mosques in the Gaza Strip, because they were the two places the de facto Hamas administration permitted the committee to visit, since it wanted to exhibit the damage caused by the Israeli attacks.
The Goldstone Committee also failed by thoroughly examining the data. If Committee members had examined the names of the Palestinians killed at the Maqadmah mosque, they would have discovered that their identities and the membership of many of them in terrorist organizations contradicted the “eyewitness” claims that there were no terrorist operatives in the area, and contradicted as well the conclusions of the Report in that respect.
Seven of the 15 Palestinians killed at the mosque were members of terrorist organizations who had participated in fighting the IDF, most of them members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, and a few of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Regarding one of them (Ahmed Abu Ita of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), it was reported that he had gone to the Maqadmah mosque to meet “friends,” i.e., other armed terrorist operatives.
In light of the foregoing information, there is another scenario which can explain the circumstances of the attack on the mosque and bridge the gap between the positions of the IDF and the Goldstone Committee: Israeli intelligence discovered the intention of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative Ahmed Abu Ita to go to the Maqadmah mosque to meet other terrorist operatives there or nearby. The Israeli Air Force drone located him as he and the others arrived, but did not spot the civilians because they were inside the mosque praying.
During the narrow window of time the decision was made to attack the groups of armed terrorists near the mosque entrance. The missile launched hit them, killing some outright and damaging the mosque wall, killing Palestinians inside.
The Goldstone Committee, which did not accuse Hamas of war crimes (rather, it mentioned “Palestinian armed groups”) and rocket attacks, also did not examine the aforementioned scenario , which can easily be found in open sources, and did not even try to ask Palestinians witnesses if such a possibility could exist. Based on partial, biased information and without making an attempt to reach the truth, the Committee accused Israel of the deliberate murder of Palestinian civilians.
Israel made the mistake of not presenting the facts and sources to the public, within the limits of security, to dispel the accusation of war crimes raised by the Goldstone Report.