Friday, October 2, 2009

Judge Goldstone Defends Gaza Inquiry Alleging Israeli War Crimes

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council held a one-day debate Tuesday on a recent inquiry finding Israel committed a number of war crimes in its assault on the Gaza Strip. The head of the inquiry, Judge Richard Goldstone, said all but one of the individual Israeli attacks examined by investigators had no military purpose.

Judge Richard Goldstone: “We detail a number of specific incidents in which Israeli forces launched direct attacks against civilians with lethal consequences. These were, with only one exception, where the facts establish that there was no military objective or advantage that could justify the attacks.”

Around 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attack, most of them civilians. Goldstone rejected Israel’s claim that it was targeting “terrorist infrastructure” in Gaza.

Judge Richard Goldstone: “If ‘infrastructure’ were to be understood in that way and become a justifiable military objective, it would completely subvert the whole purpose of international humanitarian law built up over the last hundred years and more. It would make civilians and civilian buildings justifiable targets. These attacks amounted to reprisals and collective punishment and constitute war crimes.”

Goldstone’s report also accuses Palestinian fighters of committing war crimes in firing rockets at nearby Israeli towns and urges both sides to conduct investigations or face prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

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