Israel fights charges over Gaza war crimes

Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip hold a press conference where they vowed to punish Israel.

Israel has called on the U.N. to cancel a report that said it had committed war crimes during its December 2008 to January 2009 Gaza offensive, after its author said he may have been wrong.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone chaired a fact-finding mission which in a 2009 report to the U.N. Human Rights Council said both Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, were guilty of war crimes in the conflict.

Goldstone wrote in a Washington Post column published on Friday: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”

About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the devastating war that was launched with Israel’s declared aim of ending cross-border rocket fire from Palestinian militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a written statement issued on Saturday, called on the U.N. to cancel the Goldstone report.

“Everything we said has been proven true,” the statement said. “Israel did not intentionally harm civilians … the fact that Goldstone has retracted should bring the report to be shelved once and for all.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Israeli Channel 2’s Meet the Press that “the truth has come to light.”

Clearing the air

Israeli military investigations into cases of misconduct later shed light on civilian killings, Goldstone said.

“I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians were targeted,” Goldstone said.

Goldstone also wrote that Israel has investigated “to a significant degree” incidents cited in his report, while Hamas has “done nothing” to examine its rocket attacks which were “purposefully and indiscriminately” aimed at civilians.


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