Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Investigating War Crimes on Our Fact-Finding Mission to Gaza - Noura Erakat

The Huffington Post, February 17, 2009 - In early February Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, released a study concluding that Israel did not violate the laws of war during its 22-day offensive against Gaza. Upon returning from a National Lawyers Guild fact-finding mission in Gaza, I believe it is of the utmost importance to speak to Cordesman's resounding dismissal of international law and his turning of a blind eye to Israel's military tactics in "Operation Cast Lead."

In his 88-paged study, Cordesman writes: "...Israel did not violate the laws of war. It did deliberately use decisive force to enhance regional deterrence and demonstrate that it had restored its military edge. These, however, are legitimate military objectives in spite of their very real humanitarian costs." These baffling conclusions reveal a deeply flawed methodology.

Cordesman based his findings solely on Israeli military accounts: briefings in Israel before and after the military offensive as well as daily reporting issued by the Israeli Defense Spokesman. One need not have a law enforcement background to understand why assessing a crime scene requires surveying the scene itself as well as interviewing witnesses. Moreover, Israel's media blackout of Gaza during the offensive heightens the imperative of rigorous scrutiny. Therefore it is odd, to say the least, that Cordesman has unquestioningly accepted the Army's account and proselytized it as "truth."....

Noura Erakat is an attorney and an activist. She is currently an adjunct professor of international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown University. Most recently she served as Counsel for a Congressional Committee in the House of Representatives.

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