JERUSALEM, Feb. 1, 2010 -- Israel continues to battle what Prime Minister Netanyahu has called the "Goldstone effect", referring to the UN-sponsored Goldstone Report published last September which accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes during Israel's military campaign in Gaza launched in December 2008. Today reports say that the Israeli military has reprimanded two senior officers for firing artillery shells at a UN warehouse during the Gaza war.
According to Palestinians and international human rights organizations some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the fighting. The Goldstone Report accused Israel of using disproportionate force and of targeting civilian infrastructure.
Israel has strenuously denied the report's findings and has refused to follow through on its main recommendation, i.e. to launch an independent inquiry into the military's actions. It has instead launched a concerted public relations campaign against the report and its author and has received qualified support from the Obama administration for doing so.
But the negative effects of the report have inspired a debate within Israeli government circles and a diplomatic price is being paid. A number of senior Israeli officers and politicians now face possible legal action in foreign countries and a number have had to cancel foreign travel for fear of arrest warrants.
Last Friday, however, Israel handed a 46-page preliminary report to the UN in New York in which it admitted that the army has launched a number of investigations into the actions of its soldiers.
The Haaretz newspaper today reported that the military has reprimanded two officers for shelling a UN compound during the campaign in Gaza. Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg and Colonal Ilan Malka were found to have exceeded their authority and endangered human life. The nature of the reprimand or any subsequent disciplinary action has not been revealed.
The army stated: "Based on these findings, the commander of the Southern Command disciplined a brigadier general and a colonel for exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others."
Israeli Media Say Netanyahu Supports Independent Inquiry
Israel's limited report claims 150 incidents have been investigated and that 36 have been referred for criminal investigation. So far, it claims there has been one conviction, a soldier who stole a Palestinian's credit card.
Israeli media reports suggest Prime Minister Netanyahu is now in favor of establishing an additional independent inquiry in a bid to head off further diplomatic fallout.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his chief of staff have been consistently opposed to such a move.