Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Israel invites UN war crimes envoy amid Gaza furore

Goldstone at a press conference during a two-day hearing session on Gaza conflict -UN office, Geneva July 200 Richard Goldstone headed the UN Gaza enquiry in 2009
Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai has invited UN war crimes prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, to visit Israel.
The move comes after Mr Goldstone retracted key findings of his UN report which accused Israel of targeting civilians during its 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip two years ago.
The South African jurist, who is Jewish, had been vilified in Israel over the report's findings.
But Mr Yishai has now welcomed the retraction and invited him to Israel.
The Israeli interior minister told Army Radio that he had offered Mr Goldstone a tour of the southern Israeli communities that have endured decades of Palestinian rocket attacks.
U-turn The Goldstone Report, published in September 2009, concluded that potential war crimes had been committed by both Israel and the militant Palestinian group, Hamas, during the 2008-2009 conflict in Gaza.
Israel refused to co-operate with the investigation, accusing the panel of being biased. It did, however, conduct independent investigations into more than 400 allegations of misconduct.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Friday, Mr Goldstone wrote that the Israeli investigations, which were recognised by a UN committee, indicated that "civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy".
Israel has since demanded that the UN scrap the report.
But the UN Human Rights Commission has said that it stands by the report. A spokesman said that Mr Goldstone would need to submit a formal request if he wanted it changed.
Israel says it launched Operation Cast Lead in response to repeated rocket attacks on Israeli territory by militants in Gaza.
Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, as well as 13 Israelis.

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