The head of the UN Human Rights Council commission on Gaza war has expressed disappointment at the accusations of bias hurled against the investigative panel’s report.
"I’m not surprised but disappointed for not seeing any detailed response," Judge Richard Goldstone of South Africa said on Wednesday evening, regretting that ‘there was a very quick rejection of the report, even before anyone read it’.
On Tuesday, the Goldstone commission released a 575-page report which mainly highlighted evidence of war crimes by the Israeli army during the massive offensive against the Gaza Strip.
The Goldstone report drew a volley of furious tirades from officials in Tel Aviv, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a ‘kangaroo court’ whose findings were pre-written.
The Israeli army also disparaged the report as ‘biased, radical and groundless’, while Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described it as an attempt to deface Israel.
"I deny that completely, I was independent, nobody dictated any outcome… the outcome of the report which was the result [of our independent investigation]," Goldstone stressed.
The UN official said he hoped ‘there would be open inquiry in Israel’, repeating the committee’s proposal that the Security Council should require Tel Aviv to begin independent investigations into the ‘serious violations’ of international law included in the committee’s report.
"Israel can do it if it wishes, it is a matter of will and [an Israeli investigation] would prevent international involvement," he said.
The report, which is due to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council later this month, listed multiple specific instances of alleged war crimes, such as Israel’s shelling of a house where soldiers had reportedly forced Palestinian civilians to assemble, targeting fleeing civilians who waived white flags and sometimes even followed Israeli instructions, as well as the alleged targeting of a mosque at prayer time, killing 15 people.
It also documented ‘direct and an intentional attack’ on al-Qods Hospital, and Palestinians’ complaints that they had been used as human shields by the Israeli army.
On the Palestinian side, the report charged armed groups in Gaza with failing to distinguish between military targets and the civilian population in their rocket attacks in southern Israel.