Goldstone: Israel intentionally targeted Gaza civilian sites
Netanyahu: Trying war crimes alleged in Goldstone report in Hague would cripple peace efforts.
Richard Goldstone, who recently headed a United Nations commission investigating the events of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter, told CNN on Wednesday that Israel had intentionally targeted some civilian sites during the fighting, though he stressed that he did not believe it was an Israeli policy.
The report, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, was formally presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday.
When asked whether he believed that Israel had targeted civilians, Goldstone said "Not as a policy. A fully fledged formal investigation will find that out. We didn?t get near being judicial."
However, he also said that "some of the killing...was certainly intentional. There was no mistake in bombing factories. The Israeli intelligence has very precise information."
The former judge explained that "Israel has said that given the density of the population in gaza - they did the best they could to avoid civilians," but added that "we certainly looked into the fact that Hamas put their weapons near civilians. We looked for proof but didn't find it."
In response to news that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had suggested on Wednesday that he would establish an investigative commission to probe the report findings, Goldstone said "I would be delighted if Israel established a committee to investigate our allegations. That?s what we asked for - a transparent open investigation into our allegation I hope Hamas will also go for it."
Goldstone voiced satisfaction with the worldwide debate sparked by the report his team had compiled, saying "the report has opened a huge debate in Israel and internationally and I hope the report will have consequences in the future in the protection of innocent civilians."
Netanyahu: UN Gaza report spells death for peace
Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu said that allowing the International Criminal Court in the Hague try the war crimes alleged in the report would deal a death blow to peace.
Speaking during a meeting with ambassadors from Asia and the Pacific islands, Netanyahu said that the Goldstone report and its conclusions could impede peace and make it difficult for democratic nations around the globe to fight terror.
Netanyahu explained to the ambassadors that the principle that a democratic nation has a legitimate right to respond to terror has been "crushed by a body belonging to the United Nations."
"This is a serious blow to the UN," he went on to say. "It [the UN] could revert back to the days when it compared Zionism to racism. It's starting in Israel, but it will reach other nations and it will hurt the UN."
"Anyone who supports the Goldstone report and its conclusions is in effect against peace," the prime minister continued, "since no country, and no people, would be willing to take risks for the sake of peace if their right to self defense was taken away."
"If the report reaches the international court in Hague, it will bring the peace process to a halt because Israel won't take the risks necessary to achieve peace if it is not assured the right to defend itself. Anyone who desires peace must stop this report right now," the prime minister concluded, asking the ambassadors to pass the message along to their respective governments.
Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu announced plans to present a proposal to his cabinet for the establishment of an investigative commission to probe the findings of the Goldstone report.