The European Parliament passed a resolution in Strasbourg yesterday endorsing the Goldstone report and supporting its recommendations with 335 votes in favour, 287 against, and 43 abstentions.
It also urged Israel and Palestinian authorities to conduct investigations into the serious violations of human rights law that were concluded in the Goldstone report, within five months in accordance with the UN General Assembly resolution adopted on February 26th, 2010.
The Goldstone report was produced following a four-member fact-finding mission under a UN mandate to investigate all human rights violations in relation to the war in Gaza from December 27th, 2008 to January 18th, 2009. The assault on Gaza started when Israel began with a week-long air attack.
The report concluded that Israel had committed “crimes against humanity” and its invasion of Gaza was a “deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”
It also found that Israel had “directly and intentionally” attacked Al Quds Hospital and the adjacent ambulance depot with white phosphorous shells, and again used white phosphorous munitions on Al Wafa hospital in eastern Gaza City.
Furthermore, it reported that Israel had carried out “indiscriminate” attacks resulting in loss of life and injury to civilians when it attacked a UNRWA school which at the time was used to shelter 1,300 people, and “deliberate” attacks against the civilian population under circumstances in which Israeli forces were in control of the area and had “previously entered into contact with or at least observed the persons they subsequently attacked, so that they must have been aware of their civilian status.”
It also found that Israel had carried out attacks on “foundations of civilian life” such as industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment, and housing, and it criticized Israel’s failure to cooperate with the fact-finding mission.
The report also blamed the Palestinian armed groups for committing “war crimes” by firing rockets and mortars into Southern Israel and failing to “distinguish between military targets and the civilian population and civilian objects.”
It concluded that these attacks by Palestinian armed groups have caused “loss of life, and physical and mental injury to civilians as well as damaging private houses, religious buildings and property and eroding the economic and cultural life of the affected communities and severely affected economic and social rights of the population.”
Furthermore it found that Palestinian armed groups have launched about 8000 rockets and mortars into Southern Israel since 2001.
The report also said that since June 18th, 2008, the rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups have killed five civilians and injured over 1000 civilians inside Israel, and that 918 of those injuries occurred during the Israeli military operations in Gaza.
During the three-week assault on Gaza however, Palestinian casualties were disproportionately high. The report cited figures from various organizations.
NGOs such as Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights reported that the number of overall fatal casualties were 1,417 and 1,409 respectively, and both concluded that fewer than 17% of the Palestinians killed were combatants. Israel reported a lower figure of 1,166 overall Palestinian fatalities.
In contrast, Israel’s official figures show a total of 13 fatal casualties, with three civilians killed, and four Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire. However, the Goldstone report did find that the relatively few civilian casualties sustained inside Israel was “due in large part to the precautions put into place by Israel… [such as having] an early warning system, and the provision of public shelters and the fortification of schools and other public buildings.”
The resolution adopted by the European Parliament will once again bring attention to the Goldstone report’s finding that Israel had committed war crimes.
Although Israel had condemned the report and said that the UN General Assembly vote on November 5th, 2009 to decide whether the Assembly will endorse it, “mocked the reality faced by democratic states like Israel, that confronted terrorist threats,” the resolution passed overwhelmingly by a count of 114 in favour to 18 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Poland, Slovakia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, and the United States), and with 44 abstentions.
Furthermore, the November resolution requests that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon submit the Goldstone report to the Security Council. However, any move to validate the report will likely be vetoed by Israel’s key ally, the United States.