Hamas: Goldstone does not own UN report

April 3, 2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas on Sunday urged the UN to confirm its report on Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip, after the report’s author said its conclusions would have been different had Israel cooperated in the investigation.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s fact-finding mission into Operation Cast Lead found that Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The mission found evidence that Israel committed “grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of willful killings and willfully causing great suffering to protected persons.”

It recommended that both parties conducted investigations into the allegations.

In an opinion piece published Saturday in The Washington Post, Goldstone criticized Hamas for failing to conduct “any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”

Goldstone praised Israel for launching investigations, although he noted that few of these have been concluded.

Hamas: Report was not Goldstone’s “private production”

In a statement Sunday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri questioned Goldstone’s regret over the report, and noted that Israel refused to cooperate with the UN investigators “while in Gaza they were welcomed and their work was facilitated”

The Hamas official also noted that Goldstone did not have sole authority over the report, which was an international document and not his “private production.”

Abu Zuhri added: “The report is not the private property of Goldstone, as it was co-authored by him and a group of international judges.

“Furthermore, the report was based on documents and testimonies giving it credibility and strength.”

Senior Islamic Jihad leader Ahmad Al-Mudallal also expressed his disappointment in Goldstone’s comments, which he said resulted “from pressure exerted on him by the zionist lobby”

He added that Israel might take Goldstone’s remarks as a pretext to wage a new war against the Gaza Strip and “commit more massacres.”

Israel calls on UN to rescind report

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that Goldstone’s commentary “confirmed what we all knew all along… I think our soldiers and army behaved according to the highest international standards.

“We expect this farce to be rectified immediately,” he added, during a brief televised address.

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Washington Post opinion piece was “an extremely important development and right now we are multiplying our efforts to get this report rescinded.”

Goldstone: Israel’s process of investigation underway

In Goldstone’s commentary, he refers to the Israeli army’s investigation into its soldiers’ killing of 29 members of the Samouni family in their home in Gaza.

“While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly.”

However, in the recent UN report by independent experts charged with following up on Goldstone’s recommendations, the committee said it did “not have sufficient information to establish the current status of the on-going criminal investigations into the killings of Ateya and Ahmad Samouni, the attack on the Wa’el Al-Samouni house and the shooting of Iyad Samouni.”

The committee noted that the officer who approved airstrikes that killed 21 members of the family was “allegedly” aware that civilians had been ordered to wait in the home. The same officer refused to allow ambulances to access the area.

However, the committee found that Israeli military investigators “did not conclude that there had been anything out of the ordinary in the strike.”

The committee said it was “unable to determine whether any investigation has been carried out” by Israel in relation to several other allegations of war crimes.

The follow-up report added: “The Committee reiterates the conclusion of its previous report that there is no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”

Israeli forces killed over 1,400 Palestinians during the 22-day offensive on the besieged coastal enclave, which began on December 27.

AFP contributed to this report




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