The Findings of the Goldstone Report


During the attack on Gaza, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) passed resolution number "Symbol"A/HRC/S-9/L.1[1] which condemned Israeli aggressions and called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on alleged war crimes which occurred during the Israeli attack. On 3 April 2009, the HRC established an international independent Fact Finding Mission with the mandate “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”[2]


On 29th September 2009, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, composed of South African Judge Richard Goldstone and his 3 person team, submitted its report to the Human Rights Council  (12th session). The “Goldstone Report” entitled Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict[3] confirmed that both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups had committed grave violations of international law, including war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.


The Goldstone Report documented Israel's attacks on UN facilities, mosques and schools and the use of Palestinians as human shields. It also gave details of particularly horrific incidents, such as one in the Zeitoun district of Gaza in which Israeli soldiers gathered over a hundred members of the Samouni family into one house before opening fire with rockets and artillery shells, killing 29 members of the family and injuring dozens more. Alongside the documentation of killings, the report also verified reports of the wanton Israeli destruction of civilian infrastructure and private property in Gaza including the razing of a chicken farm and 31,000 chickens and the destruction of one of the raw sewage lagoons of the Gaza Waste Water Treatment plant, leading to the outflow of 200,000 cubic meters of raw sewage onto the neighboring farmland.


The Goldstone found that, in the lead up to the Israeli military assault on Gaza, Israel imposed a blockade amounting to collective punishment and carried out a systematic policy of progressive isolation and deprivation of the Gaza Strip. During the military operation, houses, factories, wells, schools, hospitals, police stations and other public buildings were destroyed, with families, including the elderly and children, left living amid the rubble of their former dwellings long after the attacks ended, as no reconstruction has been possible due to the continuing blockade. Significant trauma, both immediate and long-term, has been suffered by the population of Gaza. The Gaza military operations were directed by Israel at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population.