Amira Hass / The one thing worse than denying the Gaza report
Politicians will justifiably note that the U.S. does not have commissions of inquiry thrust upon it by the UN
On Friday an Israel Defense Forces soldier called to protest the publication of another story in Haaretz which in his words, tainted not only the troops' image but also his Sabbath day.
The soldier was referring to Gaza resident Zinat Samouni's account of how soldiers killed her 46-year-old husband and their 4-year-old son Ahmed - just two of the 29 people of the same family the army killed between January 4 and 5.
The soldier, who said he participated in the fighting, said he didn't believe the women's statements were true, though he did believe soldiers "scrawled stupid things on the walls, and that's really not right."
This is a common Israeli solution - in this case, to admit to the graffiti's existence, but downplay its seriousness or view it as everyday Israeli high jinks.
Everything else can be denied. It can always be said that photographs of civilians killed were fabricated. The Palestinians' accounts can be dismissed as lies, intrigues of Hamas, embellishment or, at best, facts taken out of context since Gazans are, after all, afraid of what Hamas would do to them if they told the truth.
Jurists will argue over the meaning of international law and will suggest contradicting analyses. Politicians will justifiably note that the United States does not have commissions of inquiry thrust upon it by the United Nations. Others will say that if Judge Richard Goldstone was reliable enough to be a prosecutor in the International Criminal Court cases on Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and his Pakistani colleague Hina Jilani was fit to participate in the international investigation into Darfur, there is no reason to suddenly cast doubt on their credentials now that they are examining Israel's deeds in Gaza. The Goldstone Commission's findings are in line with what anyone who didn't shut his or her eyes and ears to witness testimony already knows.
B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Haaretz and the international media - to Israelis, these have all fallen into the trash bin of the mendacious Palestinians. In the best case, they have become trapped in their own pure-hearted naivete, and in the worst, into collaborating with efforts to besmirch Israel and bolster prejudices against it. Like the Serbs of yore, we Israelis continue thinking it's the world that is wrong, and only we who are right.
Israel struck a civilian population that remains under its control, it didn't fulfill its obligation to distinguish between civilians and militants and used military force disproportionate with the tangible threat to its own civilians. Air Force drones and helicopters fired deadly missiles at civilians, many of them children; the Tank Corps and Navy shelled civilian neighborhoods with weapons not designed for precision strikes; soldiers received orders to fire on rescue crews; others fired on civilians carrying white flags; and others killed people in or near their homes. Troops used Gazans as human shields, soldiers detained civilians in abusive conditions, the army used white phosphorus shells in dense civilian areas and, on the eve of withdrawing, destroyed wide residential, industrial and agricultural areas.
There is only thing worse than denial - the admission that the IDF indeed acted as has been described, but that these actions are both normal and appropriate.