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Israel asks UN to dump Gaza war crimes report

Israel has asked the United Nations to dump a damning report on its much-criticised military operation in Gaza two years back after its author regretted some of his conclusions.



Jerusalem: Israel has asked the United
Nations to dump a damning report on its much-criticised
military operation in Gaza two years back after its author
regretted some of his conclusions.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday
his country was planning an international campaign to push the
UN to retract the Goldstone Commission`s report on the Israel
Defence Forces` (IDF) 2008-2009 Gaza operation, Haaretz
newspaper reported.

Israel`s fresh demand came after South African judge
Richard Goldstone expressed regret for his accusation that the
IDF targeted civilians during the Gaza war.

Netanyahu yesterday asked the UN to "nullify" the
report, saying it "must be thrown into the dustbin of
history."

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Goldstone, who
had led the UN investigation, said: "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".

"I regret that our 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," Goldstone wrote.

"If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone
Report would have been a different document," he said.

After Goldstone`s retraction, Netanyahu asked his
National Security Adviser Ya`akov Amidror to establish a
committee focused on `minimising the damage caused` by the
report.

Netanyahu said he was expecting to receive suggestions
on how to proceed in the coming days towards efforts to see
the report officially retracted.

Netanyahu told his cabinet at its weekly meeting that
Goldstone`s retraction of his conclusion accusing Israel of
war crimes was rare and deserving of further action.

"There are very few incidents in which false
accusations are taken back, and this is the case with the
Goldstone report," Netanyahu told ministers.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel must force the
judge to appear before international forums - particularly the
UN - to explain the revision of his account.

"The Gaza front must be dealt with by the
international community, as terrorists are fighting from
within the civilian populace," the defence minister said.

Barak backed Israel`s decision not to cooperate with
Goldstone`s fact-finding commission on Operation Cast Lead,
calling the Commission for Human Rights which sponsored the
report a "ridiculous forum of the enemies of Israel".

President Shimon Peres called on Goldstone to
apologise for his report.

Peres defended the IDF as having operated out of
self-defence, adding that Israel had carried out an internal
probe of its own on the matter.

"Goldstone ignored the main reason for the IDF`s
operation in Gaza, the firing of thousands of rockets at
innocent civilians," said Peres.

During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military
offensive launched in December 2008 in response to rocket fire
from Gaza.

Netanyahu said the Jewish state did not deliberately
target civilians.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, Islamist movement Hamas said the
report remained credible despite Goldstone`s retraction and
asked the UN to implement it.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Palestinian
organization was surprised by Goldstone`s new stance.

"Hamas is surprised ... by the position in which he
retracted some parts of his report and supported the Israeli
narrative," the statement said, recalling that Hamas had
cooperated with the inquiry, while Israel had not.

"Hamas calls on the United Nations to enforce the
provisions in the Goldstone report because the report has
become an international document," the statement said.
It said Goldstone did not now have the right to come
and change the findings.

PTI

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