Under the evasive title "Gaza Operation Investigations: An Update," Israel submitted on Friday, as had been demanded, a response to the UN secretary general following the Goldstone report. Goldstone is not mentioned in the 46-page Israeli document, nor is the establishment of a state commission of inquiry. Israel thus maintains its policy of whitewashing, which began with its refusal to cooperate with the Goldstone commission and continues with its refusal to establish an Israeli commission of inquiry.
The minute details the document presents of 150 inquiries by the Israel Defense Forces, including 36 criminal probes, are not persuasive that enough has been done to reach the truth. It may be assumed that the UN will not make do with Israel's response, and the danger has only grown that the debate will be taken to the International Criminal Court.
Despite what the document states, the investigation the IDF carried out cannot be seen as sufficient, not only to satisfy the world, but first and foremost to get to the truth. The IDF admits in the report to some instances of "intelligence and operational errors," most of which resulted in the death of innocent people, but the only soldier who has so far been tried is one who stole a credit card from a Gaza resident. It may be assumed that the world will snicker at this finding.
Of course, the relatively large number of incidents the IDF investigated, compared to past wars, underscores the need for an independent probe. The IDF scrutinized most of these incidents following investigations by journalists and human rights activists, both Israeli and international. At the height of the smear campaign against these groups in Israel, it should be noted that the IDF in fact needs their services, if only to obtain information.
The policy of obscuring suspicions did not start with Operation Cast Lead. It began with the Al-Aqsa intifada and the scandalous decision by the IDF not to investigate every killing of a Palestinian. Now it has been proven that the investigation of the truth by the IDF is possible, if at all, only under international pressure. With all due respect to the important status of the military advocate general, which the document emphasizes, until a state commission of inquiry is established, suspicions will continue to haunt Israel and trouble any of its citizens who want to know what happened in Gaza. Therefore, a moment before it is too late, we call for the immediate establishment of a commission of inquiry for the sake of the truth and our international standing.
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