Israel rejects UN criticism of Gaza war conduct
The UN report, which accuses Israel of committing war crimes, "makes a mockery of history," said Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Israel has adamantly rejected the recommendation of a United Nations report to carry out an independent inquiry into its conduct during the 22-day Gaza war in January. Although the 575-page report released Tuesday condemned Palestinian groups for rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, it came down hardest on Israel for its treatment of Palestinian civilians during and after the war.
The UN investigation of Israel’s war in Gaza, code-named Operation Cast Lead, was led by Richard Goldstone, a Jewish South African who has also served as a prosecutor for war crimes in the Balkans and Rwanda. The report looked at 36 cases that it said were representative of conduct during the war.
The Israeli military has launched several investigations of its conduct during the war and all such investigations have cleared the Jewish state of any wrongdoing. The UN report seizes upon that fact to contend that "what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate, and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability."
The report suggested that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority conduct independent investigations into their conduct during the war, reports The New York Times. The authors of the report threatened to have the United Nations Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court if no such action was taken.
Israel refused to cooperate with investigators during their fact-finding mission and now accuse the UN of appointing a team that had a “clear anti-Israeli bias,” reports the Associated Press. Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev said his government would conduct no independent investigation.
“This report was conceived in sin and is the product of a union between propaganda and bias,” Mr. Regev said. “Israel is a country with a fiercely independent judiciary. ... Everything done by the military in Israel is open to judicial review by the independent judiciary.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Goldstone’s daughter has come out in defense of her father, calling him a “Zionist” who “loves Israel.” In a telephone interview with Israel’s Army Radio, Nicole Goldstone said that had her father not been involved with the UN investigation, the report would have likely come down even harder on Israel, reports the Jerusalem Post, a conservative Israeli newspaper.
“I know that if he thought what he did would not somehow be for the sake of peace for everyone in Israel or that it would have hindered such efforts, he would not have accepted the job,” she said. Nicole insisted that the fact the report also accused the Palestinians of crimes against humanity showed that her father tried to be balanced.