New revelations about the UN Goldstone Report seriously undermine its credibility. The findings were reported by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in a press conference Wednesday.
According to the JCPA, Col. (ret.) Desmond Travers, formerly of the Irish Defense Forces, was one of the four members of the UN Fact Finding Mission that produced the Goldstone Report. The Mission investigated Operation Cast Lead which Israel conducted in Gaza in January 2009. As the only former officer who belonged to Justice Richard Goldstone's team, he was the senior figure responsible for the military analysis that provided the basis for condemning Israel for war crimes.
JCPA said that serious flaws have recently become evident in Travers' collection and processing of data, and in the conclusions he drew. His bias became more evident after some of his recent interviews. The Jerusalem think tank enumerates these problems thus:
Travers rejected the Israeli proof, saying: "I do not believe the photographs.”
'A fundamental bias against the Israel Defense Forces'
During the Mission's collection of testimonies from Arab psychologists in Gaza, Travers simply asked them to explain how Israeli soldiers could kill Palestinian children in front of their parents. In an interview with Middle East Monitor, on February 2, 2010, he asserted that in the past Israeli soldiers had "taken out and deliberately shot" Irish peacekeeping forces in Southern Lebanon. Both of these statements by Travers are completely false. It should be stressed, JCPA explained, that one of the most vicious and unsubstantiated conclusions in the Goldstone Report is the suggestion that Israel deliberately killed Palestinian civilians.
While Travers assumed the worst of intentions on the part of the Israel Defense Forces, he praised Hamas for their cooperation with the Mission. When he was asked about Hamas intimidation that affected the Mission's inquiries, he replied that that there was "none whatsoever." Yet the Goldstone Report itself noted in Paragraph 440 that those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of Palestinian armed groups because of a "fear of reprisals." He rejected the notion that Hamas shielded its forces in the civilian population and did not accept the idea that Israel faced asymmetric warfare.
'False Information Reported About Weapons Systems'
Travers come up with a story that the IDF had unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could obtain a "thermal signature" on a Gaza house and detect that there were large numbers of people inside. Incredibly, he then suggested that with this information that certain houses were "packed with people," the Israeli military would then deliberately order a missile strike on these populated homes. The primary technical problem with his theory is that Israel does not have UAVs that can see though houses and pick up a thermal signature. More importantly, Israel used UAVs to ensure that Palestinian civilians had left their houses after delivering multiple warnings, precisely because Israel sought to minimize civilian casualties. This was “a fact that Travers could not fathom, because of his own clear biases,” JCPA assessed.
'Completely Inaccurate Data'
Travers rejected the notion that Israel began military operations against the Gaza Strip on December 27, 2008 as an act of self-defense in response to Hamas rockets. He based this idea on the supposed “fact" that in the month prior to start of the war, there were only "something like two" rockets that fell on Israel. However, Israeli military sources found that there were in fact 32 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over three days alone--between December 16 and 18, 2008.
In his interview for Middle East Monitor, Travers stated that he "only came across two incidents of where there was an actual combat situation" – the exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas. JCPA concluded that “Because he minimizes the possibility that Israel was engaged in real combat in the Gaza Strip, it follows that he naturally conclude[d] that Israel was essentially attacking non-combatants during Operation Cast Lead.”
JCPA also noted that Travers exhibited a lack of professionalism in conducting thorough investigations. He dismissed the idea that mosques were used to store weapons, but only checked two mosques. When Israel produced photographic proof that large amounts of weapons were stored in mosques, like the Zaytun Mosque, Travers rejected the Israeli proof, saying: "I do not believe the photographs.”
Travers' most recent interview also had a disturbing additional element. When addressing the role of British officers in defending Israel's claims, Travers suddenly added: "Britain's foreign policy interests in the Middle East seem to be influenced strongly by Jewish lobbyists." Travers implies that British Jews have interests that differ from Britain's own national interests and that Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government is influenced by these considerations.
“This statement,” said JCPA, “unless corrected, places Travers is a position in which his views are suspect of being motivated by anti-Semitic prejudices. Even without this last statement, he clearly emerges as an individual who is not qualified to take part in any serious fact-finding mission and the U.N. should not seek his services in the future. Given his statements, Justice Richard Goldstone should repudiate Col. Travers and completely reject the conclusions that he reached as a result of his work.”