"I do not see in any of the reports a reason to change the values or ethics of the IDF or the military's doctrine, which places an emphasis on the value of life" — Israeli "philosopher"

September 18, 2009

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict

The distorted and one-sided content in the United Nations report on Operation Cast Lead proves that Israel had been right not to cooperate with the fact-finding mission led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, IDF Judge-Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“From an initial review of the report it is clear that it is biased, astonishingly extreme, lacks any basis in reality and is a sharp deviation from the mandate given to the mission,” Mandelblit told the Post in an exclusive Rosh Hashana interview that will appear in Friday’s newspaper.

“The baseless claim in the report that Cast Lead was planned and launched to intentionally harm the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and to punish it, effectively illustrates the radical distortion and one-sided character of the report and proves, in my opinion, that the decision not to cooperate with the mission was the right one,” he said.

The IDF, Mandelblit said, was currently reviewing over 100 complaints that it had received regarding IDF activity during the operation – some of them from human rights groups – and he had already ordered the Military Police to launch 24 criminal investigations.

In the extensive interview, Mandelblit spoke of a new “legal front” that the IDF was facing and warned of attempts by numerous NGOs – and possibly European countries which support them – to deter Israel from launching future military operations by threatening its officers with legal action.

“There is definitely a strategic decision that was made by different organizations and even above them to attack Israel on the legal front,” he said.

Meanwhile Wednesday, Prof. Asa Kasher, the author of the IDF’s code of ethics, told the Post that the harsh and extreme criticism in the report was partially motivated by anti-Semitic views of Israel.

“Part of this criticism is an instinctive reaction that people have for Israel without really thinking,” said Kasher, a professor of professional ethics at Tel Aviv University, academic adviser for the National Defense College and an Israel Prize laureate.

“Politics also play a significant role here, since this report was commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva that unfairly deals mostly with Israel. These are anti-Israel politics that contain a level of anti-Semitism in them,” he added.

Despite his sharp criticism of the Goldstone fact-finding mission, Kasher said that Israel needed to take the report seriously and prepare for the possibility that the charges will be brought before the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“The mission was established by the UN and therefore we cannot ignore it,” he said.

Kasher called the content of the report “unacceptable” and extremely “hostile” towards Israel. “While the report is critical of Hamas it is far more extreme with its criticism of Israel,” he said.

One example, he said, was how the report opened with a detailed description of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

“It is as if this is how it all started,” he said. “They did not bother to ask why there was a siege which was done out of self-defense because of things Hamas was planning at sea, above ground and underground.”

As the author of the IDF Code of Ethics, Kasher said he was not concerned with a possible moral breakdown in the military as portrayed in the Goldstone fact-finding report – and countless other NGO reports that have been published since Operation Cast Lead.

“I do not see in any of the reports a reason to change the values or ethics of the IDF or the military’s doctrine, which places an emphasis on the value of life,” he said.

“I also have no doubt that the claims of deliberate and disproportional killing are baseless. If they weren’t, and IDF troops shot deliberately at innocent Palestinians, then there there should have been thousands of dead Palestinians. If the IDF killed freely then the dead should be half women and half men like the population in Gaza. The fact is that the IDF did not do this.”