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Harper’s Magazine Interviews Desmond Travers On Goldstone Report

by on Friday, October 30, 2009 at 10:52 am EDT in Middle East, World

Here’s an interesting read: Ken Silverstein interviews Den Travers, one of the four members of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.  “Travers is a retired Colonel of the Army of the Irish Defence Forces. His last appointment was as Commandant of its Military College. He also served in command of troops with various UN and EU peace support missions.”

Silverstein asks Travers six questions about the Goldstone Report — which found that Israel and Hamas committed war crimes:

1. Were you surprised by the criticism of the report?

There was a lot of criticism even before the report came out, primarily against individuals, especially Justice Richard Goldstone. So we were not unduly surprised by the whinging when the report was released, except for the intensity and viciousness of the personal attacks. Justice Goldstone has publicly invited the critics, especially within the U.S. government, to come forward with substantive evidence of incorrect or inaccurate statements. But there has been no credible criticism of the report itself or of the information elucidated in it.

2. Douglas Griffiths, the American delegate to the Human Rights Council, said, “While Justice Goldstone acknowledged Hamas’s crimes, in examining Israel’s response sufficient weight was not given to the difficulties faced in fighting this kind of enemy in this environment.” Is that a fair criticism?

I was a soldier for 42 years and I reject that criticism, which seems intended to excuse alleged Israeli breaches of the laws of warfare. I retired as a colonel in the Irish army in 2001 having served in war zones in Cyprus, Lebanon, Bosnia and Croatia, and I would not underestimate the challenge of combat in built-up areas. Nonetheless, armies have never had the technological luxury that they do today when it comes to taking out targets without inflicting collateral damage.


Read the last four Q&As here: Six Questions for Desmond Travers on the Goldstone Report