Goldstone: Israel didn't target civilians

Richard Goldstone writes that Israeli investigations refute allegations against it; slams Hamas war crimes, calls UNHRC "skewed against Israel"; "Israel has right, obligation to defend itself, its citizens."

Judge Richard Goldstone 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Judge Richard Goldstone 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
Judge Richard Goldstone said that if Israel had cooperated with his UN-sanctioned fact-finding mission into Operation Cast Lead and if he had known then what he knows today, "the Goldstone Report would have been a different document," especially its allegations of "possible war crimes" directed at Israel.
In a Washington Post op-ed on Friday, Goldstone wrote that while Hamas clearly indiscriminately targeted civilians, subsequent Israeli investigations indicated that civilians "were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy" by Israel. He lamented that Israel did not cooperate with his mission, as it would likely have influenced the Goldstone Report's findings.
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The former judge wrote that due to a lack of Israeli cooperation, his investigation was unable to corroborate how many of those killed during Cast Lead were civilians and how many were in fact combatants, numbers which he says are now clearer.
Goldstone also slammed the United Nations Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, saying that the original mandate given to him was "skewed against Israel."
"I have always been clear that Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within," he wrote.
Saying that he changed the original mandate handed to him in order to investigate Hamas as well as Israel, he noted, "something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations." He added that he had hoped his inquiry would usher in an era of even-handedness in the UNHRC, whose bias against Israel "cannot be doubted."
In a new condemnation of Hamas and its continued "heinous acts," Goldstone regrets that Hamas did not investigate or curtail attacks by its members, who his inquiry found "were committing serious war crimes."
Noting that Hamas continues to target southern Israel's civilian population, he wrote, "that comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality." He added, "the UN Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms."
He also called on the UN body to condemn the "cold-blooded" Itamar attack, in which five members of one family, including three children, were slaughtered "in their beds."
While praising the IDF for following up on his report with "'lessons learned' and policy changes," he laments that "there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity."
Clearly stating that the laws of armed conflict apply to non-state actors such as Hamas just as they do to state armies, he says that only if all parties are held to these standards, "will we be able to protect civilians."