Nov 6, 2009

Spinning the Story - Justice Goldstone and the Mosque Case

This is a follow-up post to the "The Goldstone Report Forgery" post on this blog regarding the
written report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and in it the chapter »The attack on the al-Maqadmah mosque, 3 January 2009«.

Revisiting the facts according to the written mission report (PDF):

"822. The al-Maqadmah mosque is situated near the north-west outskirts of Jabaliyah camp, close to Beit Lahia. It is located less than 100 metres from the Kamal Idwan hospital, in the al- Alami housing project. At least 15 people were killed and around 40 injured – many seriously – when the Israeli armed forces struck the entrance of the mosque with a missile."

The mosque was struck "with a missile" fired by the Israelis.

"829. The Mission observed that the interior walls of the mosque and part of the exterior wall around the doorway appeared to have suffered significant damage as a result of a spray of small metal cubes. A good number of these were lodged in the wall even at the time of the Mission’s visit to the site in June 2009. Several of these were retrieved and the Mission could see how deeply embedded they were in the concrete walls."

"834. The Mission has established that the Israeli armed forces fired a missile that struck near the doorway of the mosque. The penetration pattern witnessed on the concrete ramp and stairs underneath is consistent with that which would be expected of a shrapnel fragmentation sleeve
fitte onto an air-to-ground missile. Shrapnel cubes that the Mission retrieved from the rear inside wall of the mosque are consistent with what would be expected to be discharged by a missile of this nature.463"

footnote "463 The Mission considers it possible in analysing the information available that the missile in question may have been a modified high-explosive anti-tank missile, sometimes referred to as either augmented high-explosive antitank (AHEAT) or high-explosive dual-purpose (HEDP)."

The mission assumes that it was an anti-tank-missile fitted with something which seemed to be a "shrapnel fragmentation sleeve" that can be "fitted onto an air-to-ground missile". Here the mission suggests that it could have been an air-to ground missile and therefore the alleged attack an air strike.

"836. The Mission is not in a position to say from which kind of aircraft or air-launch platform the missile was fired. It believes the testimony of the witnesses regarding the circumstances of the attack, finding it plausible and consistent not only with the other witnesses, but also with the physical evidence at the scene. The Mission also notes that a number of local organizations sent representatives to the site of the attack very shortly after it occurred and they witnessed the scene for themselves. The Mission has also spoken with them and notes that their accounts are consistent with the testimony provided by the witnesses it heard."

Although the mission says that it is not able to determine the TYPE of aircraft which the projectile was fired from, it clearly makes the claim that it had in fact been an air-launched missile and therefore an air-strike on that mosque.

"837. There has been no suggestion that the al-Maqadmah mosque was being used at that time to launch rockets, store weapons or shelter combatants.464 Since it does not appear from the testimonies of the incident or the inspection of the site that any other damage was done in the area at that time, the Mission concludes that what occurred was an isolated strike and not in connection with an ongoing battle or exchange of fire."

Here the mission is claiming that no other damage had been done in that area at that time and that it had been an isolated strike on that mosque with no other IDF units especially no ground units involved or operating in that area. This is in accordance with the oral testemonies in the public hearing regarding this incident (RealMovie-video at the UN site) . None of the witnesses is suggesting that ground troops were operating in that area.

In the previous post "The Goldstone Report Forgery" it has been shown how justice Goldstone on several occasions has modified this story of a missile air strike on that mosque towards the story of a mortar shell flying through the main door of the mosque on a presumably unusual flat trajectory.

Here the debate between Goldstone and Gold held at the Brandeis University on November the 5th, 2009 with regard to this incident shall be examined. In the Q&A section of that debate Goldstone again laid out the mosque case:

(Index 6:27 of 45:34 The video edition Q&A):

"But the one attack that certainly affected me was an attack on a
mosque in Gaza city. A three year old mosque during a service. Where over three hundred people attending the combined morning and evening service that were combined because of the war. And they were attacked by a missile fired presumably from from eh well not presumably from IDF ground forces. The the missile came through the front door of the mosque killed killed some 21 people and injured and injured many more. There were no questions there was no question at all of any secondary explosions which indicated that there was no question of ammunition being kept there. But even if it was. There is no basis in law that you can eh assuming in favour of the attackers that there were that there was ammunition being stored there. You don't you don't mortar shell it during a service."

There are some notable points here: The number of casulties has risen from 15 (written report, interview, lecture and press conference) to 21. This is not impossible. Or has Goldstone upped the numbers here?

There is this strange "There were no questions..." sequence in this transcription which is not directly understandable. The author regards this sequence to be valuable material for a in-depth analysis which will not be done here and now though.

But most importantly the mortar shell from the interview/lecture/press conference has turned back into a missile "fired presumably from from eh well not presumably from IDF ground forces". Not presumably but with certainty this missile was fired from Israeli ground forces - according to Goldstone in this debate. Anti-tank / anti-building missiles fired by ground forces usually need - at least for launching them - a line of sight to the target and their effective range is limited. This implies that these ground forces were operating in that area in close proximity to the mosque. Depending on the buildings surrounding the mosque it could have been necessary for such ground troops to be positioned directly in front of the mosque. This completely contradicts the written report according to which no ground forces were in that area and to which it was an air strike. And it completely contradicts the oral testemonies from the public hearing in which no ground troops have been mentioned. Presumably from ground troops ? "Well not presumably". Goldstone is very sure about this. Luckily missiles launched by ground forces can indeed travel on a flat trajectory through a front door something he is claiming in the subsequent sentence. One can say that within these two sentences Goldstone has his facts straight. But some sentences later the missile again has turned into a mortar shell.

When confronted by Gold on this issue who claims in this debate that that mosque had not been attacked by the IDF at all (Index 14:00), Goldstone claims that tungsten cubes had been extracted from the mosque walls:

Index 17:35 "We found the reminents of the Israeli ammunition. And tungsten squares that were pulled out the wall in my presence..."

This interestingly has not found its way into the written report although it would have been strong evidence for an Israeli involvement. They forgot to incorporate their best argument into the written report? That seems unlikely.

The written report claims that it had been an isolated air strike unrelated to any ground operations and fire fights and explicitly claims that apparently no ground forces were in that area during that incident. Lateron the air-to-ground missile has turned into a mortar shell which does not contain any tungsten and can not be fired precisely at a mosque door and would not have allowed to make such a case of an Israeli strike because the origin of such a mortar shell would remain unclear. Now this mortar shell has turned back into a missile which is claimed to be - with certainty - a ground-to-ground missile fired by ground troops who - which is implied in it - would had been operating in the closest proximity of that mosque not mentioned by anyone in the testemonies or by the written report. And suddenly - for countering Gold's claims that the mosque had not been attacked by the IDF - Goldstone adds some tungsten shrapnels which are not mentioned in the written report with regard to this incident.

Goldstone is (or along with him the other mission members are) obviously modifying the story when he/they deem(s) it necessary.

Something persons who are genuinely interested in finding facts wouldn't do.