Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gaza, Goldstone, Guardian

Israel has published yet another interim report about its investigations into events during the Gaza operation last year. It's 40 pages - not that long - and you can read it here. I only found the time to skim over it, but even what I saw was quite interesting. Parts of it are the usual hyperbole: legalese, diplomatese, the sort of stuff that's inevitable in such documents. A larger part tells about things Israel is learning for future use, the most interesting being the decision to attach a Humanitarian Law officer to every combat brigade. I expect there may be such institutions in other fighting armies, but I've never heard of them.

The bulkiest part of the report tells about specific allegations and how the investigations into them are progressing. In a few cases criminal proceedings have been instigated. In a few the Palestinian witnesses refused to give legally binding testimony, so the investigations have floundered. In quite a few cases, however, the investigations found differing degrees of justification for the actions of the IDF, and even - hard as it may be to believe - that the allegations were simply false.

Elder of Ziyon tells of a case where someone seems to have planted incriminating evidence, Goldstone and the Guardian ran with it, but the investigation refutes the whole story.

If I had time - I don't - it would be interesting to go back to the Goldstone Report and read it case by case, while comparing its allegations with the present findings. Should anyone wish to do so, I'll be happy to host their report.

The purpose of the whole exercise is manifold. First, it teaches the IDF worthy things about what it did, what it needs to do better, and in general how to be more effective and focused.

The second thing it does is demonstrate to the officials who can be demonstrated to, i.e American officials and some European ones, that Israel takes its behavior seriously, tries to learn from its mistakes, and hopes to limit future mistakes. This is irrelevant in the world of Jew-haters and their twins the atavistic Israeli-haters, but it can be quite significant in the halls of real power.

What it doesn't do is to make any impression on the Jew haters. Take the report of the Guardian, for example. Their reporter, Harriet Sherwood, clearly took the time to download the report and scroll through it. Indeed, she tells us reasonably accurately about the lessons Israel is learning for the future, and by implication, the things the IDF did wrong. Then, at about page 16 of 40, she drowsed off, and thus managed to miss the whole part that compares previous allegations with present findings. Sad.

Since I was already at the Guardian's website, I had a glance at their report about the incident this afternoon in which Israel killed at least one (it may have been two) Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza. According to Haaretz, IDF forces killed two Jihad men and wounded six additional ones. According to the Guardian, however, one Jihad "militant" was killed, 22-year-old Mohammad Al-Kafarneh, and seven undefined others were injured, one of them a 10-year-old girl. I'm willing to accept - should it be proved - that a little girl was wounded: Islamic Jihad fighters like to have civilians and children about them. Then the reporter (Ms. Sherwood) goes on to make the following statement:

Following the three-week war in Gaza in 2008-9, the Israelis established a 300m-wide "buffer zone" on Palestinian land abutting the hi-tech security fence that marks the border. The aim was to prevent militants from firing rockets into Israel or launching attacks on military posts. Palestinians were warned that anyone entering the buffer zone would be shot dead. The zone has swallowed 30% of Gaza's arable agricultural land, and many farmers have been forced to abandon their crops. [My italics]

30%? Thirty Percent? Really? Almost one third of the arable land in Gaza is crammed into the 300 meters along the border? Does Ms. Sherwood have any source for this astonishing allegation? I ask because when I read it I did some really snazzy, highly complex, truly sophisticated high-tech intelligence investigations, based on my many years of reading John le Carre: I used Google Earth. You can do so, too. Actually, I recommend you do so: don't take my word for it, though I will tell you my word for it: Hogwash. Which is a nicer word than "anti-Jewish lies".

Just as an addendum, about the things the media manages not to tell you, here is Khaled Abu Toameh on the parts of the Palestinian story that rarely if ever get mentioned, in the Guardian or anywhere else.


Anonymous said...


General Odierno had a human rights advisor attached during the surge. It was a British woman, Emma Sky. There were some reports on it.

and there were others - David Kilcullen, an Australian, who I think, hitched up with Petraeus but probably not in the field - he is on Wikipedia - I once heard him in a lecture - the link is below.


this looks not like the piece on Sky I remember but for a start it will do:
or this

and here is a lecture by David Kilcullen at Pritzker

Anonymous said...

Sherwood had the "honour" of getting fisked at CiFWatch several times
this is the last
it reads like the woman might be more adequate in the fairy tale writing department


4infidels said...

Khaled Abu Toameh is a real journalist. Unfortunately as the "Journolist" episode in America displayed, there are far too few of them left these days.

Tamara said...

Yeah - I too rubbed my eyes when I got to that 30%. Ms Sherwood is what is known as - here in London - a bit of a tool. Gullible. And gullible because she hates Israel. A while back I watched a very long and very poor quality film of a discussion at the Frontline Clun on the subject of reporting on Israel, Ms Sherwood was on the panel and dearie dearie me.

Well done, Yaacov, for cutting to the chase, as always.

Anonymous said...

Ariadne commenting at CiFWatch got an answer from the UK government to the "No to Goldstone" petition:

which reminds me that I had once a boss who didn't like me and thus claimed he found working together with lesbians intolerably hard because they/we had such an unfeminin attitude (Mannweib) which at the time was quite a common belief. He based his classifying of alas very hetero-me on the fact that I preferred a shoulder-strap handbag. What should I have done? copulated lustfully with a male with him looking on? Would that have changed his view or would he have come up with that I must be "bi"?


Anonymous said...

one mustn't be so hard on Madam Sherwood - she probably meant 3 % (which still seems a lot to me) and then had a typo
- One zero less or more, what is it these days ;-)


AKUS said...

The 30% is nonsense, and, as you say, a few seconds on GoogleEarth shows it to be.

You can view some pictures of the buffer zone I took from Nir Am here:

which show the buffer zone very clearly as a strip a couple of hundred yards wide, and the lare stretches of farmland stretching south from there.

NormanF said...

I wonder why Israel's government wastes it time filing such reports with the Jew-hating UN. Will it ever change the latter's mind about Israel? It will not. Israel should stop acting like it needs to apologize for defending itself and go over to the offensive and attack its critics, including the UN. It sounds to me like Israel is still playing defense. That is not the way, in my opinion, to tackle the damage the Goldstone Report inflicted on Israel head on. A different approach is very badly needed today to deal with the multiple threats that stem from it.

Anonymous said...

I see possibilities in offense because I guess that there must be young ones who have had it with the do-gooder hypocrisy. It seems to me that most are at least fortyish i.e. the ideal bunch for youngsters to go against and make everything better which means of course "Israel ... right or wrong"


Paul M said...

Just so's you know, here are more precise numbers about that buffer zone along the Gaza border (I'm older than Yaacov and have been reading Le Carré longer than he has).

The Israeli border with Gaza runs 51 km. A 300 m. buffer zone therefore takes 15.3 sq. km.

Total land area of the Strip is 360 sq. km., of which 29% or 104.4 sq. km. is arable land. 15.3 is 14.7% of 104.4, so the maximum possible percentage of arable land the buffer could eat up is no more than half what Sherwood alleges — and then, only if every centimeter of the buffer zone had been arable land previously.

That doesn't seem believable, but not all agricultural land is arable. What if we say that all the buffer zone was at least agricultural, even if not arable? Total agricultural land in Gaza amounts to 50% of the land area: 180 sq. km., so the buffer zone could use at most 8.5% of that.

But at least half the buffer zone wasn't taken from agricultural land, because Israel didn't "establish" a 300 m. zone after Cast Lead, it expanded an existing (since 2005) 150 m. one. The expansion can have therefore have swallowed no more than 4.25% of Gaza's cultivated land — less if any of that 150 m. ribbon had been non-agricultural to begin with.

30% vs 4.25%, tops, and all the numbers come from a few minutes with the CIA World Factbook at and a four-function calculator. No wonder journalists have the kind of reputation that used to be reserved for politicians and whores.

Incidentally, I was entertained to see that the title to Sherwood's article is:

Israel shelling kills Palestinian 'militant' at Gaza border

Somebody got so confused, they forgot that at the Guardian it's "terrorist" that goes in ironic quotes. "Militant" is to be written straight-faced.

Barry Meislin said...

The Israeli border with Gaza runs 51 km. A 300 m. buffer zone therefore takes 15.3 sq. km.

Not to nitpick, but it's even slightly less than that because of the overlap on the NE corner of the strip.

Still, I'm sure that Ms Sherwood, so beleaguered with the facts, is firm in her certainty that she got the gist of the thing right.

Who, after all, cares about accuracy when there's a cause to flog?

Anonymous said...

great stuff, what a long way a bit of calculating goes but:
how can you expect any self-respecting journalist to even get in the vicinity of CIA-data which in the past have looked to me quite reliable.

They'd lose all their respectability and credibility with their kind - btw the whores I had the honour to meet seemed quite decent and reliable to me ;-)

for anybody looking for a safe career path though Israelinurse at CiFWatch has job advice to offer


(btw I could re-write her stuff with ease to fit McKinsey-normatized young managers)