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Gaza war: Palestinians battle bitterly over Palestinian forces' conduct

One year after the Gaza war, 11 Palestinian rights groups came together to ask leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to investigate the conduct of Palestinian forces during the war.

By Ilene R. PrusherStaff Writer / January 19, 2010

A Palestinian boy sits on rubble in an area that was destroyed during Israel's January 2009 Gaza offensive, in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday.

Hatem Moussa / AP

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Jerusalem

On this day last year, a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel took effect after three brutal weeks of fighting that left close to 1,500 people dead. And while today, the guns are largely quiet, the truth of what happened in that devastating war is still being bitterly fought over – not between Palestinians and Israelis, but among Palestinians themselves.

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That point was clear this week as 11 Palestinian human rights groups came together to demand that Palestinian leaders – both of Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank – investigate accusations of Palestinian violations outlined in the Goldstone Report. The organizations asked that Ismail Haniyeh, who acts as Hamas's prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, launch investigations into the conduct of various Palestinian forces during the war.

The groups are demanding that leaders move on the issue before Feb. 5, when the UN Secretary-General is to report to the UN General Assembly on compliance by both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Goldstone found fault with both sides

The Goldstone Report, named after South African Judge Richard Goldstone, immediately engendered controversy when it was released last September.

The 575-page report, the result of a UN fact-finding mission, found fault with both sides in the conflict and said there was evidence of both sides having committed war crimes. The report saved its most scathing criticism for Israel, whose military campaign to stop rocket fire from Gaza, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, lead to the deaths of 1,417 Gazans, according to a Palestinian count; the Israel army says its count is 1,166. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.

But the report also pointed up alleged behavior by Palestinian officials and militants. This included militants using other Palestinians as human shields, shooting rockets from homes and crowded areas knowing that Israel would likely retaliate from the source of the fire, summary execution of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, and torture of suspects.

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