Maurice's Supplementary memorandum to the Goldstone Mission
From Maurice Ostroff - July 17, 2009
To the members of the UN Human Rights Council Fact-finding Mission
This supplement to my memorandum of June 21, 2009 and my video memorandum of June 25, 2009, relates to parts of the evidence that appear on the webcasts of your public hearings in Gaza and Geneva. As Judge Goldstone said in his closing remarks at Gaza, that the mission will take into account and will give careful consideration to all the information already received and still to be received, I trust that this submission will fall into that category.
At the outset I must say that it was very painful to listen to the agonized testimony of the victims who appeared before you, accentuating as it did, the horrors of war.
Alleged crimes by Israeli soldiers.
As an Israeli, I am shamed by the accusations that have been leveled at the behavior of some of our troops. Since the locations, dates and times of the alleged disgraceful acts are known, there should be no difficulty in insisting that the IDF identify the alleged perpetrators, investigate the incidents and punish them if found guilty. On the other hand if the allegations are found to be false, this result deserves to be given as much publicity as the allegations.
The IDF is a citizens' army in which every physically fit adult male is obliged to serve. I have personal acquaintance with many soldiers who I know behave impeccably. It has a proud legacy of a strict code of purity of arms, which is adhered to by the overwhelming majority of soldiers. But, as in the case of every other country, our civilian population unfortunately also includes some undesirable elements, that perforce, also serve in the IDF and if and when they disgrace their uniforms they need to be severely punished.
Unlike the PA and Hamas, the IDF takes severe disciplinary action against violators of its code of conduct. According to a Bt'selem report, between the years 2000 and 2006, 132 people were charged, of whom 110 were found guilty of various offences, four were acquitted, eight indictments were annulled and the trials of 10 others were still under way, at the time of the report. While we are dismayed that these trials become necessary, we are gratified that our open society ensures that neither rank nor position protects culprits from the wheels of justice, as is evident from the recent sentencing of our former minister of finance.
In Israel's democracy, the high court may even overrule a military court. As recently as July 1, 2009, UPI reported that Israel's High Court of Justice ordered the military prosecutor to hand down stiffer sentences to soldiers involved in shooting at the toe of a cuffed Palestinian.
By comparison, I don't know of any action ever having been taken by the PA or Hamas against the perpetrators of flagrant murders of Israelis. A notable example of a crime that has gone unpunished by the PA was the lynching of two Israelis by PA policemen in Ramallah. On October 12, 2000, two non-combatant Israeli reservists (serving as drivers), Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami, mistakenly entered Ramallah. PA policeman took them to their local police station. A crowd of over 1,000 Palestinians gathered calling for the death of the Israelis and rioters stormed the building, beating and stabbing the soldiers to death. One of the soldier's bodies was then thrown out the window, stamped upon and beaten by the enraged mob, which soon afterwards dragged the two mutilated bodies to Al-Manara Square in the city center as the crowd began an impromptu jubilant victory celebration. The PA took no action, but Aziz Salha, one of the lynchers, was later arrested by Israel and sentenced to life imprisonment.
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Take A Pen thanks Mr. Maurice Ostroff for his diligence and his precious work and for the permission to publish it on his behalf.