The three co-authors of the damning United Nations report on the 2008-2009 Gaza war rejected on Thursday an op-ed by the fourth member and chairman Richard Goldstone in which he retracted key conclusions of the report – in particular saying that Israel had not intentionally targeted civilians during the war.
In an article in the British daily The Guardian, the three members – the Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani; Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics; and former Irish peace-keeper Desmond Travers maintained that the conclusions of the report remain valid despite Goldstone's shift and subsequent calls to retract the report in the UN.
"There is no justification for any demand or expectation for reconsideration of the report as 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," they wrote.
Earlier this month, Goldstone published an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he backtracked on claims he had made in the UN report, accusing Israel of targeting civilians during its war on the Gaza Strip two years ago.
The three international law experts did not mention Goldstone by name, but slammed a number of the points he made in his op-ed in the Washington Post, writing that "aspersions cast on the findings of the report cannot be left unchallenged" and said they have "misrepresented facts in an attempt to delegitimize the findings" of the Goldstone Report and "to cast doubts on its credibility."
Moreover, they said that any kind of retraction of the report is an insult to the victims of the Gaza war.
"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."
In his Washington Post op-ed earlier this month, Goldstone said that if Israel had cooperated with his probe then the conclusions on the report would have been different.
"We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report," Goldstone wrote, adding: "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
Goldstone said that Israel has shown to probe itself "to a significant degree" over Gaza war actions, Goldstone wrote, Hamas, who has been in control of the coastal enclave since 2007, "has done nothing."
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