oPt

OPT: Operation Cast Lead - a Critical Study of the Goldstone Report

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By Britain Eakin for MIFTAH

Introduction

It has been one year since Israel launched its 22-day long attack codenamed Operation Cast Lead (OCL) on the Gaza Strip. Last week a British court issued an arrest warrant for Israeli Kadima opposition leader Tzipi Livni for her role in orchestrating the assault. Livni, who was Israel's foreign minister at the time, was scheduled to visit the UK but ended up calling off her trip; the arrest warrant was cancelled as a result. However the issuing of the warrant in and of itself is an incredible feat. It is also a direct result of recommendations made in the Goldstone Report concerning how to bring justice to the Palestinian victims of OCL.

Israel launched OCL in what it said was response to years of rocket and mortar fire emanating from armed Palestinian groups operating in the Strip, invoking self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter as justification for the attack. Article 51 of the charter reads "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations..."

Israel maintains that the operation was indeed necessary for self-defense, and stated that the aim of the operation was to end rocket attacks into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, to dismantle the ability of Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups to launch rockets and mortars into southern Israel, and to restore Israel's deterrent capability. Yet on the first day of the operation and within the first few minutes of OCL alone, Israeli forces killed 99 members of the Palestinian police force in Gaza. The attack occurred in midday when the streets were full of people, including many school children, which spiked the death toll of the first day to over 200.

In the days that followed, the death toll increased significantly, drawing the condemnation of Palestinians, human rights groups and the international community who decried the operation as having a disproportionate and what seemed an intentional impact on civilians. The number of Palestinians killed during the operation varies, but most human rights groups put the number around 1,400 and say that an overwhelming number of those killed were civilians, including approximately 300 children. Additionally, there was extensive and severe damage to civilian objects and infrastructure; the overall impact of OCL on the civilian population of Gaza caused widespread international outcry and protests, which led to the establishment of the UN Fact Finding Mission to Gaza, and ultimately resulted in the Goldstone Report.