First looks at Israel's response to Goldstone...
Of course, there won't be a Hamas response...
Israel was set to submit its rebuttal on Thursday to a United Nations reports accusing it of having committed war crimes in Gaza last winter. Though the Israeli response has been kept under wraps, it is expected to list the essential flaws in the report and explain why the report is biased against Israel and tainted with many problems.
By the fifth of February, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was to file a compilation of all the responses to the Gaza report, authored by renowned South African jurist Richard Goldstone.
In its rebuttal, Israel was to explain the reasons behind the offensive in the Gaza Strip and what it terms the hardships of fighting against a terror organization that operates inside civilian homes, schools, hospitals and UN facilities.
The Goldstone report has demanded of both Israel and Hamas to carry out independent investigations into the war crimes allegations raised in the UN report. It has not yet been decided whether, in its rebuttal, Israel will inform Ban that it will not carry out any investigations beyond the military probe already completed. It is also not yet clear whether Israel will eventually establish an investigation committee to neutralize the effect of the Goldstone report and to ward off possible UN resolutions that could stem from it.
Officers involved in writing the rebuttal gave the New York Times some details.
One concerned the destruction of Gaza's sole flour mill, the New York Times reported on Saturday. In its rebuttal, Israel will apparently offer photographic proof contradicting the Goldstone report allegation that the Bader flour mill "was hit by an airstrike, possibly by an F-16." Israeli investigators say they can prove the mill was accidentally hit by artillery during the course of a firefight with Hamas militiamen, the paper reported.
The distinction is significant, the paper continued, since the UN report asserts that "the destruction of the mill was carried out for the purpose of denying sustenance to the civilian population," an explicit war crime.
Another detail disclosed to the New York Times concerns the destruction of a wastewater plant, which led to a massive flooding of raw sewage. The Goldstone report argues that Israel deliberately hit the plant, while Israel denies any connection to the incident and suggests the plant may have been destroyed by Hamas explosives.