Goldstone rethinks controversial report
Head of UN probe into alleged war crimes carried out by Israel, Hamas during 2008 Gaza conflict laments his criticism of Israel in article published by Washington Post; claims Goldstone Report would have been a different document 'if I had known then what I know now'
WASHINGTON – Richard Goldstone regrets a report that accused Israel of war crimes. In an article published Friday in the Washington Post, titled "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes," the South African judge wrote: "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
Goldstone wrote that now he knows that the final report by the UN committee of independent experts, headed by Justice Mary McGowan Davis determined that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza while the de facto authorities (Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”
The South African judge noted that while the crimes committed by Hamas during Operation Cast Lead, including the indiscriminately rocket fire toward civilian targets were intentional, "The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion."
Goldstone agreed with the conclusions of the Israeli investigation into the IDF shelling of the al-Simouni family home that killed some 29 people.
"The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack," he wrote in the article.
'There has been no effort by Hamas.' Goldstone (Archive photo: AFP)
Goldstone said he regrets that the "fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes," adding that "Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants."
The author of the controversial report stressed that he indicated from the very beginning that Israel's cooperation would have been welcomed.
"The purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel. I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel," he wrote.
In his article, Goldstone denounced the murder of the Fogel family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar last month, saying "The Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds.
To conclude, the judge wrote, "Our report has led to numerous 'lessons learned' and policy changes," adding that "regrettably, there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
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