Mayor of southern city accuses judge who led UN-appointed probe of Operation Cast Lead of ignoring Israeli side of equation. ‘You and entire world stood silent when 8,000 rockets landed in our city,’ he says in letter, to which he enclosed photos of three children killed in past Qassam attacks
Sderot Mayor David Buskila sent a letter over the weekend to Judge Richard Goldstone, who headed the UN-appointed committee investigation Operation Cast Lead in Gaza that ended in a report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in the Strip.
In his letter, the mayor said, “The entire world, including yourself, were silent, you stood silent in the face of our children’s bodies, you stood silent in the face of our children’s frightened eyes, you were silent in the face of each and every one of the 8,000 Qassam rockets that landed in our city.”
Buskila opened his letter by mentioning the children who were killed in Qassam rocket attacks: Afik Ohion, killed in an attack in 2004, and Yuval Ababa and Dorit Inso, killed in another attack the same year.
“The blood of the children whose lives were taken cries out from the earth. There is no redemption and no forgiveness for the blood of a small child whose short-lived presence in this world has not yet taught him that there is hatred and that there are wars,” he wrote, and enclosed pictures of the children, “who will never grow up”.
Most of Goldstone’s report focused on Israel’s conduct during the January war, but certain parts of it criticized the terror organizations as well, and accused them of violating international laws of armed conflict.
The report read: “Some of the Palestinian armed groups, along them Hamas, have publicly expressed an intention to target civilians as reprisals for the fatalities of civilians in Gaza as a result of Israeli military operations, the Mission is of the view that reprisals against civilians in armed hostilities are contrary to international humanitarian law.”
Identifies with Palestinian suffering
Buskila said in his letter that while his city was under attack for eight years, the IDF refrained from taking action to stop the rockets, as the world stood silent: “Your silence was frightening.”
He continued to say he identifies with the suffering of the Palestinian people, “I regret and am saddened by every Palestinian child that is killed, I feel the pain of the Palestinian civilians, but let us not ignore the facts – the suffering of the residents of Sderot and their children, as well as the suffering of the residents of Gaza, rest on the shoulders and consciences of the leaders of Hamas and the fundamentalist Islamic terror groups, whose essence of life is war crimes, and who do not adhere to the norms of the Western world.”
Buskila ended his letter saying, “I hope peace prevails in our region and I invite you to witness up close the suffering of the residents of Sderot that make up the other part of the equation that you were not familiar with and did not bother to get to know.”
After sending the letter Buskila told Ynet he could not sit idly after the report was published: “The message I wished to convey is that his equation is simply incorrect. We are sorry for the children in Gaza who were hurt, but you have to look at the big picture. I don’t have high expectations, but I think the message will sink in eventually.”