A central charge leveled by the Goldstone Report is that Israel’s bombing of Hamas police was a war crime because the gunmen were innocent civilians and non-combatants. Despite Hamas orders for the police to “face the enemy,” Goldstone in par. 414 of the report relies on the testimony of one Islam Shahwan to support the notion that “face the enemy” really meant distributing food stuffs:
414. On 1 January 2009, during the Israeli military operations in Gaza, the police spokesperson, Mr. Islam Shahwan, informed the media that the police commanders had managed to hold three meetings at secret locations since the beginning of the armed operations. He added that “an action plan has been put forward, and we have conducted an assessment of the situation and a general alert has been declared by the police and among the security forces in case of any emergency or a ground invasion. Police officers received clear orders from the leadership to face the enemy, if the Gaza Strip were to be invaded.” Confirming to the Mission that he had been correctly quoted, Mr. Shahwan stated that the instructions given at that meeting were to the effect that in the event of a ground invasion, and particularly if the Israeli armed forces were to enter urban settlements in Gaza, the police was to continue its work of ensuring that basic food stuffs reached the population, of directing the population to safe places, and of upholding public order in the face of the invasion. Mr. Shahwan further stated that not a single policeman had been killed in combat during the armed operations, proving that the instructions had been strictly obeyed by the policemen.
415. The Mission notes that there are no allegations that the police as an organized force took part in combat during the armed operations…
Is Israel targeting the Palestinian population in Gaza by distributing libido-increasing chewing gum in the Strip? A Hamas police spokesman in the Gaza Strip Islam Shahwan claimed Monday that Israeli intelligence operatives are attempting to “destroy” the young generation by distributing such materials in the coastal enclave.
Does Goldstone believe that, too? You can bet his fellow panelist Christine Chinkin does.
Israel futher points out the following (“Initial Response,” at pp. 9-10):
In seeking to support its assertion that the Hamas police were not involved in terrorist activity, the Report prefers to gloss over has to deal with the admission of police spokesperson Islam Shahwan who that the police had been given orders “to face the [Israeli] enemy”. The Mission unquestioningly accepted his explanation that the intention was that in the event of a ground invasion the police would continue ensuring the movement of foodstuffs and upholding public order(¶ 414). The Mission is similarly accepting of an interpretation given by the director of the Police that by “resistance fighters” his intention was that they would develop into a law enforcement force (¶ 416). At the same time, the Report dismisses posters and photographs of policemen praising their involvement as members of the terrorist groups, arguing that this does not mean that these individuals “were involved in resistance in any away” and suggesting that they had been “adopted” post-mortem by terrorist groups(¶ 421). Beyond these reinterpretations of the evidence, the Report claims that no other evidence has been presented against “the civilian nature of the police in Gaza” (¶ 417), quite simply ignoring numerous explicit statements in Israel’s report: The Operation in Gaza – Factual and Legal Aspects, which it quotes on many other matters. Among the many statements cited, ignored by the Report, is the admission by Hamas police chief Jamal al-Jarrah that “the police took part in the fighting alongside the resistance”.