One achievement of the Goldstone Mission report to the UN Human Rights Council that my country and Israel are battling is that it singles out the thunderclap that started the Gaza onslaught on the morning of December 27, 2008: when Israel hit a graduation ceremony at the Gaza police academy, killing scores of young police cadets. That attack played a significant part in turning the world against the slaughter. When I visited Gaza in May-June, I heard the Gazans calling this "our ground zero." I’m a terrible photographer, but look at my foto above, a billboard of some of the police dead, outside the central police station in Gaza City one night.
Reader, we had those very same billboards and remembrances all around New York after 9/11.
Goldstone went right after the police killings. The mission reports that 99 policemen and 9 civilians were killed in the first minutes of the slaughter. Overall, 240 policemen were killed during the war– a sixth of the Gaza casualties. Police were "deliberately" targeted. And on what basis? Well, Israel regards the police institutionally– or in large part individually– as part of the Gazan military.
The mission analyzed the history of the Gaza police since the Hamas takeover in 2007. While policemen were recruited from Hamas followers, Goldstone found that the police are a "civilian law-enforcement agency" and that the police targets of Dec. 27 were none of them taking part in hostilities and had not lost their "civilian immunity." Yes "individual" policemen were surely members of armed groups and can be considered combatants. But the Israeli attacks failed to strike an acceptable balance, between anticipated military advantage of destruction and civilian damage. The great majority of these policemen were civilians. So the mission concludes,This was a violation of international humanitarian law.
Under Goldstone’s legalistic words, I read anguish and passion. Who was not moved by the wanton murders of 400 of New York’s finest on 9/11–out of a city of 7 million? And who cannot be moved by the wanton murders of 240 of Gaza’s finest? The UN was.
Now think of the justice that America demanded for its Ground Zero: our long arm going into Afghanistan (in a war the world approved) and then Iraq. Meantime we fight even recognition of the atrocities at Gaza’s Ground Zero, let alone any motion of justice.