Sunday, April 03, 2011

Israel / Palestine

Israeli Officials Cheer After Goldstone Rethinks War Crimes Report
AOL News, April 3, 2011
"Israeli officials feel vindicated after Judge Richard Goldstone retracted part of his harsh criticism of Israel's conduct in Gaza two years ago, and have launched a major diplomatic effort to get the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone Report. 'I found it hard to believe that Judge Goldstone, a Jew and even a Zionist, could have really believed that Israel would deliberately target Palestinian civilians,' Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon told a group of journalists, including AOL News, by phone. "He must have been influenced by Arab propaganda." On Friday night, Goldstone posted an op-ed on The Washington Post website, writing, 'We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document. ... [Palestinian] civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.' That has been Israel's claim all along and today, Israeli politicians celebrated. 'There are very few instances in which those who disseminate libels retract their libel. This happened in the case of the Goldstone Report,' Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday. 'This leads us to call for the immediate cancellation of the Goldstone Report.' Goldstone had also harshly criticized the Islamist Hamas movement for its rocket attacks on Israel. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri today said, 'Goldstone's retreat is reprehensible' and called on the UN to implement the Goldstone Report -- despite the author's change of heart about Israel.
Israel had refused to cooperate with Goldstone and launched its own independent investigation. The Goldstone Report covered 32 incidents of suspected war crimes. Israel's army independently investigated all 32 incidents. In four cases, the chief military prosecutor recommended legal action. All of Israel's investigations resulted in one conviction -- for a soldier who stole a Palestinian's credit card. Two other indictments have been filed against soldiers who allegedly ordered Palestinian children to open bags they suspected were booby-trapped. Several other investigations remain open. ... During the fighting in Gaza in 2008-09, some 1,400 Palestinians -- including hundreds of civilians -- were killed. Palestinian officials insisted the majority of the dead were civilians, while Israel said they were fighters. Goldstone's comments also sparked controversy in Israel. Hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused dovish Israeli organizations like the New Israel Fund of supplying misinformation to Goldstone, which led to his errant conclusions. Goldstone's comments came as tensions increased between Israel and Hamas over the past few weeks. Early yesterday, an Israeli airstrike killed three Hamas militants who Israel said were planning to kidnap Israelis in Sinai over the upcoming Passover holiday. Hamas threatened revenge. Thousands of Israelis usually cross the border to Egypt to visit the Sinai beaches during Passover. The Israeli government warned Israelis not to travel to Sinai."

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