Goldstone’s continuing value

Richard Goldstone, the internationally renowned jurist, has attracted attention by retracting key conclusions in the report he prepared for the United Nations Human Rights Council on Israel’s 2008-09 Gaza Strip Operation Cast Lead. Writing in the Washington Post on April 1, he drew upon an independent investigation, chaired by the United States judge Mary McGowan Davis, to state that “civilians were not deliberately targeted” as a matter of Israeli policy — although both the Israeli government and Ms McGowan Davis have confirmed the validity of cases against certain Israeli soldiers. Mr. Goldstone also noted that Israel had investigated more than 400 cases of “operational misconduct” by members of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Gaza; but that the Palestinian ruling party Hamas, for which Gaza is a stronghold, has investigated none of the allegations the Goldstone report made against both sides.

As can be expected, official reactions in Israel have been intemperate. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants the original report to be “thrown into the dustbin of history.” Other leading Israelis have launched vitriolic attacks on Mr. Goldstone, and there has been talk of attempts to persuade the U.N. to withdraw the report altogether. But the retractions do not alter the core fact that during Operation Cast Lead, more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed — and that half the number of Palestinians and three of the Israelis were civil… >>>

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