UN General Assembly to take up Goldstone report on Gaza war crimes
Allegations of war crimes by Israel and Hamas in Gaza last winter, outlined in Goldstone report, come before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
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The Goldstone report – named after the South African international jurist and former UN war-crimes judge, Richard Goldstone, who headed the investigation – alleges criminal wrongdoing on the part of both Israel and Hamas in the fighting last December and January, but it comes down harder on Israel. It accuses Hamas of shelling civilian targets in Israel, but it also says Israel targeted civilian buildings and installations – a charge Israel also faced after its 2006 incursion into south Lebanon [Editor's note: The original version misrepresented the report's accusations against Hamas.].Skip to next paragraph
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The report has caused an uproar, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare that peace talks will never restart as long as Goldstone is under consideration. The Israeli government says it launched the Gaza incursion to stop Hamas's shelling of Israeli towns and insists granting the report any legitimacy would undermine Israel's right to defend itself from terrorism.
The report has also divided some human rights activists from backers of Israel.
After House passage of the resolution, Rep. Nita Lowey (D) of New York, chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement: "It is outrageous that the UN General Assembly – at the urging of nations with deplorable human-rights records – is poised to give its stamp of approval to this flawed report."
But Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights organization, said Congress should not discourage investigations into documented allegations of criminal activities. "The congressional resolution condemning the Goldstone report has factual errors and would help shield from justice the perpetrators of serious abuses – both Israeli and Palestinian," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
She also noted that, while the Obama administration is critical of the report, it is also on record encouraging both sides in the conflict to investigate allegations from their own citizens of official misconduct.
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