To Shoot an Elephant
zondag 28 maart 2010 - 16:00
The film will be followed by an interview with Colonel Desmond Travers, member of the Goldstone Commission, and director Alberto Arce about the war in Gaza and about how to reach an end to impunity for war crimes committed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On 27 December 2008, Israeli troops launched a military offensive in Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead, which led to many civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian property. The Goldstone Commission, a United Nations Fact Finding Mission led by South African judge Richard Goldstone, presented its official report on the Gaza conflict in September 2009. The conclusions are as plain as day: both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes. Hamas fired rockets at Israel, and Israel retaliated during the three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip in early 2009. The invasion was apparently not primarily intended to take out Hamas, but to collectively punish the entire population.
The Goldstone Report recommends that the UN Security Council should send the conclusions on to the International Criminal Court, opening up the possibility to prosecute the parties responsible. Israeli and Palestinian authorities do not recognise the ICC.
The UN Human Rights Council adopted the report, infuriating Israel. The Netherlands did not support the Goldstone Report.
Colonel Travers served in the Irish army for 42 years, taking part in international peace missions eight times during his military career, primarily in the Middle East. Since 2003, he has been part of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations in The Hague, which trains professionals in the techniques and knowledge necessary to impartially investigate genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. In an interview in the NRC newspaper (Carolien Roelants, 24 December 2009), he disaffirms that Israel had a military reason to enter the Gaza Strip to put an end to the rocket launches by Hamas, stating that the operation had been prepared months in advance.
Journalist and political scientist Alberto Arce was one of the few foreign journalists to take a camera into the area during the Gaza Strip offensive. He portrays a shocking picture of the war that unfolded there when the region was closed off from the rest of the world. While making the film, he was working on behalf of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a peaceful Palestinian movement that resists the Israeli occupation. The organization gives the Palestinian people a voice, reveals human rights violations and shows the army's violent incursions to the outside world. Alberto Arce is currently working on a film about non-violent activists in Iraq, entitled The Other Resistances: Iraqi Civil Society Speaks Out Against Violence.
Lars van Troost
Lars van Troost is head of Political Affairs and Press Office for Amnesty International in the Netherlands.