It was while he was trying to adapt to a peaceful retirement after alifetime of military service that he got a call from a former Chief of Staff of the army who was the Executive Director at the Institute of International Criminal Investigation in The Hague. It is at this institutethat investigators are taught how to carry out systematic and formalinquiries into war crimes. Travers was asked if he would like to takeover the role of teaching a module on military affairs, an opportunity he jumped at. During his time teaching at the institute he also attendedother courses there as a student, including international law andinternational humanitarian law taught by Professor William Schabas.
HC - How important do you think it was for a military expert to be appointed to the panel investigating theassault on Gaza, bearing in mind that your military background gives you a greater understanding of weapons such as white phosphorus bombs, flechette shells, Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME) and so on?DT
- There was also an overriding need to produce a kind of resume of the tactical operations that took placeon 27th December. Why did such events take place? What was the rationale for occupying houses and forshooting people who came near them? What was the rationale for attacks from the North, the South, the Eastand the West? I had to produce a whole exposition on this and also to identify the [Israeli] units that had comeinto Gaza, which I did. So in reality, before I actually put my boot on the ground I spent six weeks researchingGaza and the conflict, and the first job I had to do when we four met with our lawyers was that I had to give anexposition of what I believed took place and I did.
Why did you agree to undertake such a contentious and monumental role? What was your motivation?Politics? Justice?
- I had a very, very apolitical reason for doing this. If one teaches about war crimes, one has to be up tospeed on current military operations. I wanted to see this so that I could produce a better product forinvestigators when I was giving lectures in The Hague later. I had no special romantic or moral agenda, I simplywanted to see how a modern, highly technically advanced army fought against an insurgency, because this isthe new phenomenon. People are now saying this is the way it is going to be from here on out. Even the horrid
word "asymmetric" has come into the conversation, which I reject entirely. It’s a totally
nonsensical word, but
it’s a big word so it impresses people. When I hear the Israelis saying, “How else can you fight an asymmetricwar except by killing civilians?” immediately a razor sharp critique apparatus starts working in my head
because it is a nonsensical phrase.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Goldstone Report can you please summarise the
- Well, before I can do that I have to tell you this; a literature search was carried out by ourselves and ateam of lawyers and from that literature search we determined that a number of areas had to be investigated.For example, in the case of Hamas we would have to investigate the question of rocket fire into southern Israel.
We would also have to investigate human rights’ viola
tions by Hamas against the citizens of Gaza, so therewere two sub-issues under Hamas.