Israel refuses Goldstone report

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The Israeli government says it is appalled by the latest United Nations commission report which claims both sides in the Gaza conflict committed war crimes.

A fact-finding mission, headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone, has produced a 574-page report which concludes: “Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity.”

The report added: “The Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population.”

The report also described Palestinian rocket attacks into southern Israel as war crimes.

Israel refused to co-operate with the mission because of its “one-sided mandate”.

The members of the UN committee investigating the conflict made two visits to Gaza in June and July but were refused access to Israel and the West Bank.

They also held two sets of public hearings, in Gaza City and in Geneva, where 40 witnesses, victims and war experts gave testimony.

An Israeli government spokesman said they did not consider the report to be accurate.

The spokesman said in a statement: “Both the mandate of the mission and the resolution establishing it prejudged the outcome of any investigation, gave legitimacy to the Hamas terrorist organisation and disregarded the deliberate Hamas strategy of using Palestinian civilians as cover for launching terrorist attacks.”

“Notwithstanding its reservations, Israel will read the report carefully — as it does with all reports prepared by international and national organizations. Israel is committed to acting fully in accordance with international law and to examining any allegations of wrongdoing by its own forces.”

The report will be formally presented to the UN Human Rights Council on September 29.

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