What Happened at the mosque and inside Goldstone’s mind?

Jonathan Dahoah Halevi, whose work on the evidence from OCL is extensive, has published some thoughts on the Al Maqadmah mosque case and the Goldstone Report’s handling of it. I add comments to bring out some of the more astonishing aspects of his argument.

What happened at mosque?
Jonathan Dahoah Halevi questions reliability of reports on Gaza mosque attack

Jonathan Dahoah Halevi
Published: 11.12.09, 17:21 / Israel Opinion

On November 5, 2009 there was a confrontation at Brandeis University in Massachusetts between the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dr. Dore Gold, and Judge Richard Goldstone. It dealt, among other things, with the affair of the Maqadmah mosque in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, about which two contradictory versions exist, that of Israel and that of the Goldstone Committee’s Report.

The Goldstone Report about Operation Cast Lead accuses Israel of an air strike on the mosque on January 3, 2009, which caused the deaths of “at least 15 Palestinians” who were in it at the time. During the confrontation with Dr. Gold, Goldstone claimed that 21 Palestinians had been killed, and he presented the attack as a salient example of Israel’s policy of deliberately targeting innocent civilians. However, Israel issued official documents stating that its Air Force did not attack the mosque and that the dead had been killed in fighting the IDF.

What really happened at the Ibrahim al-Maqadmah mosque, named for one of the heads of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing? The Goldstone Committee version is problematic because of its many essential failures and weak spots. The committee members relied exclusively on reports from “eyewitnesses” who did not see what was happening outside, especially at the entrance where the missile hit. Moreover, the committee was aware that all the Palestinian witnesses deliberately did not give any information about the activities of the terrorist organizations, because they were afraid of Hamas.

Therefore it is logically impossible to determine unequivocally that the Palestinian statements were “credible and reliable.” Another source of wonder is the dubious methodology used by the Committee in examining the circumstances of the event. The recorded statements of the Palestinian “eyewitnesses” posted on the UN website reveal that Committee members did not ask the Palestinians even one question about armed men or weapons in the mosque, or about what was happening in the open space in front of it.

For the best close analysis of this account, see Harris’ post: Spinning the Story, which can also be found at the page on this case study at Understanding the Goldstone Report, along with other studies based on close analysis of the evidence.

The fundamental position of the Goldstone Committee was based on fallacious hypotheses. The Committee claimed that it found no evidence that the mosque was used for military purposes, and claimed that Israel presented a “false position” when it issued a Foreign Ministry report denying an attack on the mosque. However, in the same report read by the Committee members, there is unequivocal information supported by photographs of IDF forces seizing weapons in the Salah a-Din mosque in Gaza City during Operation Cast Lead.

Weapons, including an anti-tank cannon, discovered in a Jabaliya mosque during the Gaza Operation

The photos appended to the Foreign Ministry report clearly show various types of weapons and ammunition, including EFPs for attacking armored vehicles and a machinegun used to attack Israeli aircraft. The Committee did not explain why it chose to disregard the information completely, and its version becomes more entangled and incomprehensible in light of its admission elsewhere in the Report that it only visited two mosques in the Gaza Strip, because they were the two places the de facto Hamas administration permitted the committee to visit, since it wanted to exhibit the damage caused by the Israeli attacks.

The Goldstone Committee also failed by thoroughly examining the data. If Committee members had examined the names of the Palestinians killed at the Maqadmah mosque, they would have discovered that their identities and the membership of many of them in terrorist organizations contradicted the “eyewitness” claims that there were no terrorist operatives in the area, and contradicted as well the conclusions of the Report in that respect.

Seven of the 15 Palestinians killed at the mosque were members of terrorist organizations who had participated in fighting the IDF, most of them members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, and a few of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Regarding one of them (Ahmed Abu Ita of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), it was reported that he had gone to the Maqadmah mosque to meet “friends,” i.e., other armed terrorist operatives.

Disguised political agenda

Without noticing it, Committee member Desmond Travers exposed the political agenda when he said that the claims regarding the use of mosques for military purposes reflected the Western perception in certain circles that Islam was a violent religion: “We also found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions. Those charges reflect Western perceptions in some quarters that Islam is a violent religion… If I were a Hamas operative the last place I’d store munitions would be in a mosque.”

This is pure cognitive egocentrism and shows the extent to which the members of the mission saw things through their own lenses, with no attention to the evidence. Desmond, you’re not a Hamas operative, you’re a decent (if deluded) person, who can’t understand what you’re looking at. Hamas operatives think a mosque is a great place to store munitions because either Israel doesn’t strike ’cause it’s a mosque (good), or they do, and you can scream bloody murder, with a little help from clueless non-Muslim spokesman like yourself (better).

He is apparently saying that it is wrong to even mention the claim without examining the facts. The facts, which he and the rest of the Committee never examined, contradict his position. For Hamas, the most important function of the mosques in the jihad against Israel is repeatedly mentioned, beginning with its charter, through the remarks made by the organization’s senior figures, to the documentation of the military-terrorist activities of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

During the first and second Intifadas the mosques were used to identify and recruit suicide bombers and operatives for the various military-terrorist wings, to store weapons, and as meeting places for terrorist operatives, for pre-attack briefings and as stations from which to attack IDF forces.

Imagine that you’re going to church, or synagogue, and you have to worry that pressure will be put on you or your son, to become a suicide terrorist…

When this kind of stuff is tolerated, encouraged, broadcast, then it can happen:

Two particular events which were widely covered by the media should have been a heads-up for the members of the Goldstone Committee. In August 2007 Hamas “police” attacked the Ard al-Ribat mosque, located in the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City and controlled by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Two years later, and one month before the Report was issued, Hamas “police” and Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives attacked the Ibn Taymmiyah mosque in Rafah, where armed operatives of the Jund Ansar Allah, a network affiliated with the global jihad, were located. The two attacks caused the deaths of dozens of Palestinians.

Moreover, the mosques in the Gaza Strip are engaged in a “suicide bombing competition” to determine which one bred the greatest number of bombers. The dubious title is held, apparently, by the Al-Khufla al-Rashidoun mosque in Jabaliya (not far from the Maqadmah mosque), which for years has been called the “fortress of the suicide bombers fighting for the sake of Allah.” According to the official Hamas forum, among the members of the mosque who were killed in 2000, 12 were Hamas suicide bombers and between 50 and 90 were Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives. One of the most famous was Ibrahim Nizar Rayyan, who was trained and sent by his father the imam to carry out a suicide bombing attack in Israel. The Goldstone Committee also closed its eyes to that information.

A possible solution to the riddle

In light of the foregoing information, there is another scenario which can explain the circumstances of the attack on the mosque and bridge the gap between the positions of the IDF and the Goldstone Committee: Israeli intelligence discovered the intention of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative Ahmed Abu Ita to go to the Maqadmah mosque to meet other terrorist operatives there or nearby. The Israeli Air Force drone located him as he and the others arrived, but did not spot the civilians because they were inside the mosque praying.

During the narrow window of time the decision was made to attack the groups of armed terrorists near the mosque entrance. The missile launched hit them, killing some outright and damaging the mosque wall, killing Palestinians inside.

Plausible, but we’re not doing medieval history here. We don’t have to be satisfied with working hypotheses or premature condemnations. What’s the IDF got to say?

The Goldstone Committee, which did not accuse Hamas of war crimes (rather, it mentioned “Palestinian armed groups”) and rocket attacks, also did not examine the aforementioned scenario , which can easily be found in open sources, and did not even try to ask Palestinians witnesses if such a possibility could exist. Based on partial, biased information and without making an attempt to reach the truth, the Committee accused Israel of the deliberate murder of Palestinian civilians.

Israel made the mistake of not presenting the facts and sources to the public, within the limits of security, to dispel the accusation of war crimes raised by the Goldstone Report.

And so, where is the Israeli government in all this?

19 Responses to What Happened at the mosque and inside Goldstone’s mind?

  1. harris says:

    I haven’t seen a single image of that allegedly attacked mosque, not from the Goldstone mission and more importantly not from the various propaganda outlets! Nothing out there. Those people who normally put the most gruesome images on the net have forgotten to do so in this case? I think this is the most striking indication for a propaganda op.

  2. harris says:

    The name of the hospital nearby the mosque is Kamal Adwan Hospital. When searching for this name this nive fella comes up: http://www.webgaza.net/palestine/people_profiles/Adwan_Kamal.htm

  3. harris says:

    Can someone please provide a link to the most offical list of the casualties and injured in this incident?

  4. Cynic says:


    By chance I came across this link which I found most concise in its overall criticism of Goldstone’s flip flopping. It is a long read and exposes many contradictions in the reporting and should complement your work.
    An Open Letter to Richard Goldstone Trevor Norwitz – 10.19.2009 – 3:59 PM

    In the hope that you may offer a substantive response, I am reissuing my critique as a formal “open letter” (in substantially the same form as before).
    Your Report,[1] by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read quickly or widely, to paraphrase that infamous war criminal (by your definition) Winston Churchill.
    You note those reports about the Al-Shifa Hospital but simply state (at 466): “The Mission did not investigate the case of the Al-Shifa Hospital and is not in a position to make any finding with regard to these allegations.” You then immediately go on — astoundingly — to make a formal finding of fact (at 467) that “on the basis of the investigations it has conducted, the Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations made by the Israeli government [that Hamas used medical facilities for cover].”

  5. Lianne says:

    Aside from the contradictions, I’d like to see a someone address more fully whether the questions were useful in determining blame or motive. And how many important questions were not asked.
    For instance, how important was it to determine that the metal cubes were made of tungsten, and did anyone ask whether the Palestinian side had access to Spike missiles, either through the diversion of foreign sales or capture.

  6. Cynic says:


    Maybe this link will help clear up some of the vagaries introduced by Goldstone still not accounted for:
    A Formal Letter to Justice Goldstone

    Lots of questions have been asked by others and not answered to their satisfaction while the Mission was remiss on in many instances
    For example:
    Why were these photographs deemed reliable by the Mission, while at the same time photographic evidence of a weapons cache located in a Jabaliyah mosque were not considered reliable enough to determine that mosques were utilized as weapons storehouses?)
    However, many journalists in Gaza and Palestinian eyewitnesses described seeing Palestinian fighters in civilian dress. These were cited in news reports published by some of the world’s largest newspapers. (See details in our attached study.) Why did the mission not investigate Palestinian eyewitnesses or journalists who provided detailed descriptions of this?

  7. Cynic says:

    … If I were a Hamas operative the last place I’d store munitions would be in a mosque.”

    This statement by Travers exposes more than cognitive egocentrism. He was the Military expert was he not; and after what went on in Iraq he comes out with this?
    He’s deluded or just plain ignorant.

  8. Lianne says:

    Thanks for the link.

    Re: Travers
    The Irish army doesn’t do war, it does peacekeeping operations such as Lebanon. Such might give one grounds to believe he is deluded, ignorant and biased.

  9. Eliyahu says:

    Cynic, there is another alternative. Maybe he is a conscious liar. Maybe he makes reckless statement knowing that they will make an emotional impact on the ignorant and bigoted. See link:


  10. Eliyahu says:

    by the way, the article about Travers is also here:


    This site, understanding the Goldstone report, has much helpful info about many aspects of the goldstone report and the related controversies.

  11. Cynic says:


    The Irish army behaved like absolute rogues, along with the Swedes, in the former Belgian Congo in the 60s when they formed part of the UN forces there.
    Where ever Travers was he must have been made aware of what sort of behaviour in the field to expect and certainly if ordinary citizens were made aware of Hezbollah’s behaviour, the so called “insurgents” in Iraq and other incidents then he must know as well.

    Surely you read about an attack on a mosque fairly recently by Hamas on an armed group holed up inside?
    It’s what they do all the time.
    Even after the 1948 war Jordanians snipers fired from mosques at Jerusalemites.

  12. Lianne says:

    I found some limited bio on Travers
    “He served also in a variety of UN or UN-mandated peacekeeping missions abroad: Cyprus (Peacekeeping in 1964, 1969-1970), Middle East (Observer Mission in Lebanon in 1980-1982), Lebanon (Peacekeeping in 1984-1985 and 1987-1988), Croatia, Ex Yugoslavia (EU Monitor in 1993) and Bosnia and Herzegovina Ex Yugoslavia (2000-2001).”
    So yes, at the very least he should have heard about the incidents in the Congo.
    On the mosque issue, if Travers turned a blind eye to evidence from both Gaza and Iraq, what did he decide to overlook in Lebanon?
    Btw, am I remembering correctly that there was quite a bit of bad blood between the Irish and the Israelis over the pecekeeping in Lebanon?

  13. Cynic says:


    One needs to take Lebanon in context from the 70s when Arafat and his gang fled Jordan where the Little King started wiping them out (Black September) after their attempted coup and set up shop and started a killing spree especially against Christians.
    The town of Damour in 1976 for example.
    The civil war as it was denoted should have given Travers plenty for introspection.

    I don’t know about the Irish but there was plenty of bad blood between the “realists”, Baker and Weinberger, and Israel.
    They were so realistic that they permitted the Ayatollah Khomeini to set up shop in Lebanon, creating what was to become Hezbollah, even as they hammered Israel at every turn and discarded actual intelligence that could have prevented those hundreds of Marines dying in vain.
    (I could be really sarcastic and use vein)

    I suppose that the Irish as part of the UN would have played the game against those yids especially as UNIFILth showed so brazenly displayed in helping Hezbollah with its attacks across the frontier.

  14. Eliyahu says:

    cynic, don’t forget that zbig brzezinski –who was jimmy carter’s national insecurity advisor– did a great deal to bring khomeini to power in Iran. Thank Zbig before thanking baker and weinberger.

  15. Stan says:

    DR ANTHEA JEFFERY published a letter in the SA Jewish Report (see page 10 of link http://www.sajewishreport.co.za/pdf/2009/nov/27-november-2009.pdf) in which she describes how Kapo Goldstone did a political hatched job on the Zulu population of RSA – like he did to Israel – even though they fully co-operated and submitted evidence – which was ignored as it did not fit the foregone conclusions decided up-front.
    This man is a serial liar and expert at political in-justice.

  16. Cynic says:


    Most interesting page 10 in that link of yours.
    From this it makes it easier to understand why the UN crowd chose him to lead the commission.

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