Israel urges UN to cancel Goldstone Report on Gaza war

Palestinians flee from an Israeli air strike in Gaza, Dec 2008 Israel's 22-day Gaza offensive ended in January 2009, with 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead

Israel has called on the UN to cancel a report that said it possibly committed war crimes during its 2008-2009 military offensive in Gaza.

The report's author, South African judge Richard Goldstone, said on Friday that new accounts indicated Israel had not deliberately targeted civilians.

He said that if he had known what he knew now, "the Goldstone Report would have been a different document".

Israel's prime minister said the remark meant the report "should be buried".

Operation Cast Lead was launched in response to repeated rocket attacks on Israeli territory by militants in Gaza. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, as well as 13 Israelis.

Hamas criticised

The Goldstone Report, published in September 2009, concluded that both the Israeli military and militants from the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls Gaza, had committed potential war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the offensive.

The UN-appointed expert panel led by Mr Goldstone accused Israel of using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure, and using people as human shields.

Start Quote

Israel does not purposely target civilians and its investigative institutions are competent”

End Quote Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli Prime Minster

The report also accused Hamas of deliberately targeting civilians and trying to spread terror through by firing rockets at Israeli towns and cities.

Israel refused to co-operate with the investigation, accusing the panel of being biased, and rejected its accusations. It did, however, conduct independent investigations into more than 400 allegations of misconduct.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Friday, Mr Goldstone wrote that his conclusions about Israel appeared to have been wrong.

He said the Israeli investigations, which were recognised by a UN committee, indicated that "civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy".

"We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war," he explained. "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."

On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement: "Everything we said has been proven to be true.

"Israel does not purposely target civilians and its investigative institutions are competent, while Hamas intentionally fires at innocent civilians and does not investigate anything.

"The fact that Goldstone has backtracked means the report should be buried once and for all."

Mr Goldstone also noted that Hamas had "done nothing" to examine its rocket attacks, which were "purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets".

There was no immediate response from Hamas.

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