Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on the United Nations Saturday night to
disavow the Goldstone Report alleging war crimes by the IDF in Gaza two years
ago after its author said he had erroneously accused Israel
“The fact that [South African jurist Richard]
Goldstone backtracked must lead to the shelving of this report once and for
all,” Netanyahu said in a statement to the press.RELATED
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Israel had refused to
cooperate with Goldstone’s fact-finding mission into its military operation in
Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, known as Operation Cast Lead, and
rejected the September 2009 report, which accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes
and possible crimes against humanity and suggested that the matter be referred
to the International Court of Justice if Israel did not hold follow-up
investigations into the matter.
Israel charged that the report, which
focused largely on its actions in Gaza, was biased and flawed. But it has held
investigations into Operation Cast Lead.
“Everything we said has proven
true,” Netanyahu said on Saturday night.
“Israel did not intentionally
harm civilians. Its institutions and investigative bodies are worthy, while
Hamas intentionally fired upon innocent civilians and did not examine anything,”
The absurdity here, Netanyahu added, was that the UN Human
Rights Council, the body that called for the report, had Libya as a
“It’s time to throw this report into the dustbin of history,” he
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who held that post during Operation
Cast Lead, said that Goldstone should send his new conclusions to the same
international forums “in which he published his twisted and nonfactual
“Only that way can there be a partial correction of the damage
that was caused,” he explained.
Both Netanyahu and Barak spoke after
Goldstone published an opinion piece in Friday’s The Washington Post in which he
said: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been
a different document.”
Goldstone said the fact-finding mission’s
allegations that Israel took actions which intentionally led to the death and
injury of civilians, were based on the information available to him at the
Investigations conducted by the Israeli military into those
incidents, which have been recognized by the UN, “indicate that civilians were
not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.” Goldstone noted in particular
the work of the UN Human Rights Council’s panel, which monitors compliance with
the report and delivered its own assessment of the matter to the council in its
As an example, Goldstone pointed to one of the most
serious attacks his committee investigated, in which 29 members of the
al-Simouni family were killed in their home, apparently because of an erroneous
IDF interpretation of a drone image.
“An Israeli officer is under
investigation for having ordered the attack,” he said.
“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 aboutintentionality and war crimes,” Goldstone wrote.
He added he regretted
Israel’s lack of cooperation with the report.
Goldstone defended his
committee’s work by stating that it had never intended to “prove a foregone
conclusion against Israel” and said that Israel had a right to defend itself,
just like any other sovereign nation.
He also defended portions of the
report, particularly those that accused Hamas of violations and which he said
marked the first time that Hamas was investigated and condemned by the United
Nations. His report has also demanded that Palestinians investigate their human
rights violations in Gaza.
While Israel has investigated its actions, he
said, Hamas has done nothing. He had hoped, Goldstone said, that his report
would sway Hamas to halt its rocket attacks against Israel.
attacks have continued, he noted.
“I had hoped that our inquiry into all
aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the UN
Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted,”
He called on the UNHRC to condemn Hamas rocket attacks against
Israel and the Itamar attack, in which an Israeli couple and three of their
children were killed.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu said Saturday
that Goldstone should travel around the world and go country to country and
newspaper to newspaper to try and repair the damage he caused
Benayahu said the IDF believed all along that it had operated in
Gaza with a high moral standard, and that the military never deliberately target
“The same morals and Jewish conscience that led us during the
operation and our subsequent investigations should lead Judge Goldstone to look
in the mirror and realize that it is time to share his feelings with the world,”
the IDF spokesman said.
Benayahu said that the IDF made some mistakes
during the operation and has investigated all of them.
however, that Hamas and Hezbollah were already establishing their military
infrastructure inside population centers and that the world needed to be
prepared for the consequences in the event of a future war with
“We knew how to locate the mistakes even before we heard the name
We did this for Israel and the Jewish people, and not
for the world,” he said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on
Channel 2’s Meet the Press that he was not surprised by Goldstone’s
“We had no doubt that the truth would come out eventually,”
Goldstone actually came to the same conclusions that the
two follow-up committees to the Goldstone committee came to, he said, namely
that Israel’s court system acted objectively and professionally in investigating
allegations of war crimes.
In addition, both Goldstone and the follow-up
committees agreed that Hamas had done nothing to address allegations of war
crimes or human rights violations that the Goldstone report accused them of
during Operation Cast Lead.
Lieberman also expressed satisfaction with
the fact that Goldstone recognized the anti- Israel bias of the UN Human Rights
When asked if he believed, given Goldstone’s comments, that
Israel should have been more cooperative with Goldstone’s fact-finding mission,
Lieberman said that Israel did not want to set a precedent of international
bodies interfering in the government’s internal decision-making
Rebecca Anna Stoil and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this