Israel: UN war crimes probe gives legitimacy to Hamas terror

A UN investigation led by former South African judge Richard Goldstone accused Israel of “war crimes and possible crimes against humanity” in its 33-day Gaza Strip campaign against Hamas which ended late January.
Although the panel found evidence that Palestinian armed groups, by firing rockets and mortars into Israel civilian areas, had also “committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity,” the bulk of the 575-page report released Tuesday, Sept 15, pointed the finger at Israel.
The foreign ministry spokesman in Jerusalem called the report “unbalanced, shameful and dangerous” in its even-handed treatment of Israel and Hamas. “The Goldstone report has written a shameful new chapter in international law by questioning the right of this nation to self-defense.”
Jerusalem refused to cooperate with the investigation or accept its authority, maintaining its mandate was loaded a priori against the Jewish state by the UN Human Rights Council, which routinely singles Israel out for castigation while turning a blind eye on Palestinian violations.
In this case, the panel disregarded the deliberate Hamas strategy of using Palestinian civilians as cover for launching terrorist attacks, said the foreign ministry in Jerusalem.
By prejudging Israel guilty of war crimes before the panel began its work, “the world body has declared diplomatic war on Israel and more dangerously given a terrorist organization legitimacy,” the foreign ministry official said.
Israeli diplomats have been instructed to challenge the Goldstone report on those grounds and urge UN Security Council members to reject it.
Israel’s envoy to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, said: “We knew the report would be biased and one-sided, but did not imagine it would be so harsh.”
Israel Defense Forces investigated more than 100 complaints of misconduct during Operation Cast Lead in which Hamas reported 1,300 killed, most of them civilians, figures which Israel challenges.
In a preliminary investigation immediately after the war, the Israeli army cleared itself of systematic wrongdoing and found that any rights violations were isolated incidents. This was followed by separate probes of individual soldiers.
Goldstone, a former chief UN war crimes prosecutor who headed the four-person inquiry team, said he would pass its findings to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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