Hamas: Goldstone 'retreat' doesn't erase 'war crimes'

Spokesman claims the group fully cooperated with Goldstone's investigation; PA says report was "clear as Israeli crimes [in Cast Lead]."

Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri 311 (R) (photo credit: Osman Orsal / Reuters)
Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri 311 (R)
(photo credit: Osman Orsal / Reuters)
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri on Saturday dismissed Judge Richard Goldstone's "regrets" expressed in a Friday Washington Post op-ed article, saying that "his retreat does not change the fact war crimes had been committed against 1.5 million people in Gaza," and claimed that the group cooperated fully with the fact finding mission.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Goldstone's comments did not change a thing. "The report was as clear as the crimes that Israel committed during the war," he said.
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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 time.
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.
Instead those 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 said.
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.
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 March session.
As an example, Goldstone pointed to one of the most serious attacks his committee investigated, in which 29 members of the 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 about intentionality 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.
Tovah Lazaroff, Yaakov Katz and Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report