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"A commission appointed by the Human Rights Council to investigate Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza last winter could have set an example of serious treatment of such issues. Headed by the respected South African jurist Richard Goldstone, the panel altered the one-sided mandate it received, so as to examine abuses by both Israel and Hamas during the three-week conflict. But Israel refused to cooperate — and the Goldstone commission proceeded to make a mockery of impartiality with its judgment of facts. It concluded, on scant evidence, that "disproportionate destruction and violence against civilians were part of a deliberate policy" by Israel. At the same time it pronounced itself unable to confirm that Hamas hid its fighters among civilians, used human shields, fired mortars and rockets from outside schools, stored weapons in mosques, and used a hospital for its headquarters, despite abundant available evidence. By pretending it did not know whether Hamas employed such tactics and by claiming that Israel’s actions were driven by a motivation to kill civilians on purpose, rather than to defeat Hamas, the panel dodged the hard issues it should have tackled. It did not seriously attempt to balance civilian deaths against the threats Israel was targeting or to understand the real motivations for the destruction in areas from which rockets were launched at Israeli cities. As it happens, Israel is ahead of most other nations in managing these issues. In Gaza its forces used thousands of e-mails, phone calls and even non-lethal explosives to warn civilians away from airstrike targets. Its army’s criminal division is investigating 45 complaints of abuses. A broader, government-sanctioned independent investigation is called for: a number of specific allegations in the Goldstone report, one-sided though they are, deserve a full answer. Not just Israel but the United States and many other nations ought to face more pressure to justify the means they use to fight insurgents and terrorists. Sadly, the only thing proved by the Goldstone commission is that the United Nations is incapable of performing that service."