Hamas dismissed on Saturday the remarks made by Richard Goldstone who expressed regret in a column over the damning Goldstone report on alleged Israeli war crimes during the Gaza war.
"His retreat does not change the fact war crimes had been committed against 1.5 million people in Gaza," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, adding that the group had cooperated fully with Goldstone's fact find finding mission.
South African jurist Richard Goldstone chaired a fact finding mission which in a 2009 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council said both Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, were guilty of war crimes in the conflict.
Goldstone wrote in a Washington Post column published on Friday: "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad aL-Malki said Goldstone's comments did not change a thing. "The report was as clear as the crimes that Israel committed during the war," he said.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the UN to retract the Goldstone Report in light of Goldstone's column.
"The fact that Goldstone changed his mind must lead to the shelving of the report once and for all," Netanyahu demanded.
In the Washington Post column titled "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes," Goldstone wrote: "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," adding, "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
The former South African jurist said that while "Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes."
While 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."
In the United States, the American Jewish Committee also called on Goldstone to ask the UN Human Rights Council to update the 2009 report in a way that aligns its conclusions with his new thinking on what transpired.
“The Washington Post is not the place for Judge Goldstone to recant the biased and damaging UN report he wrote on the Gaza conflict,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “Judge Goldstone should apologize to the State of Israel for the accusations of intentionally targeting civilians, which he now admits were unfounded. He should present his updated conclusions to the UN Human Rights Council, as well as to the General Assembly, which endorsed the skewed report, and press for its rejection.”
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