Goldstone colleagues attack 'unjustified' report reversal

Judge Richard Goldstone

Judge Richard Goldstone

Judge Richard Goldstone's recent comments challenging the key findings of his report into Operation Cast Lead have been described by three other members of the probe as unjustified and an attempt to "misrepresent" the original document.

LSE 's Professor Christine Chinkin, former irish peacekeeper Desmond Travers and Pakistani lawyer Hina Jilani said in a statement to the Guardian that they felt it was necessary to challenge the "aspersions cast on the findings of the report" by the chair.

The report, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, was published in September 2009 amidst great controversy. Originally charged with investigating only Israel's roles in the conflict, its mandate was later extended to looking into Hamas.

Judge Goldstone said in a Washington Post comment piece on April 1 that he would have compiled a different report now with the benefit of hindsight.

Although he declined to ask the UN formally to withdraw the report, he said that he had been wrong to accuse Israel of intentionally targeting civilians and admitted that the HRC had "a history of bias against Israel".

However his colleagues said there was no justification for reconsidering the report. They said: "Nothing of substance has appeared that would in any way change the context, findings or conclusions of that report with respect to any of the parties to the Gaza conflict."

Judge Goldstone noted that Israel had undertaken detailed investigations of 400 allegations made in the original report, and his colleagues acknowledged "that no domestic investigations at all have been started into any of the allegations of international crimes committed by members of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza", they said Israel's efforts were not sufficient.

They said: "In the case of the Gaza conflict, we believe that both parties held responsible in this respect, have yet to establish a convincing basis for any claims that contradict the findings of the mission's report.

"We consider that calls to reconsider or even retract the report, as well as attempts at misrepresenting its nature and purpose, disregard the right of victims, Palestinian and Israeli, to truth and justice.

"Had we given in to pressures from any quarter to sanitise our conclusions, we would be doing a serious injustice to the hundreds of innocent civilians killed during the Gaza conflict."

Last updated: 11:33am, April 14 2011