News / Middle East

    Israel Calls on UN to Retract Gaza War Crimes Report

    Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in a 22-day war that ended in January, 2009.

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured here at a weekly meeting of his cabinet  April 3, 2011, has issued a written statement calling on the UN to retract its Gaza war crimes report
    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured here at a weekly meeting of his cabinet April 3, 2011, has issued a written statement calling on the UN to retract its Gaza war crimes report
    Robert Berger

    Israel is going on the offensive against a scathing United Nations report about alleged atrocities against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The move follows an about-face by the report's author.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding that the United Nations retract a report that accused Israel of war crimes during the Gaza conflict two years ago.

    Netanyahu told his Cabinet that he is launching an international campaign to clear Israel's name.

    He was responding to an article in the Washington Post by the report's author, Richard Goldstone, who backtracked on his key accusation that Israel deliberately targeted Palestinian civilians. Goldstone said if he knew then what he knows now, the report would have looked much different. But he said his U.N. team lacked information because Israel refused to cooperate with the investigation.

    The Goldstone Report sparked outrage in Israel, which said that its three-week assault on Gaza was legitimate self-defense against years of Palestinian rocket attacks. Netanyahu described the report as a "smear campaign."

    The Israeli prime minister said it is rare for those who disseminate libel to retract it, but that is what happened with the Goldstone Report. Therefore, he said, a committee of top officials would work to repeal the report and minimize "the great damage" it has done to the state of Israel.

    The U.N. report also accuses the Palestinian militant group Hamas that rules Gaza of war crimes for deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. And Goldstone did not retract that charge in his newspaper article.

    Hamas described Goldstone's about-face as reprehensible. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the organization, said Goldstone caved into threats and pressure from Israel, the United States and Jewish lobby groups around the world. Hamas said the killing of 1,400 Palestinians during the Gaza War is proof of Israeli war crimes.

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