Justice Richard Goldstone
Justice Richard Goldstone, author of damning report on Israel-Gaza war Photo by AFP
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The New York Times has denied rumors that it refused to print an opinion piece authored by jurist Richard Goldstone in which he retracted some of the statements made in his UN Human Rights Council report on the war between Israel and Gaza in 2008-2009, political columnist Ben Smith reports in Politico.

A New York Times spokesperson stated in an e-mail that the paper did, in fact, receive an op-ed submission from Goldstone on March 22, but that the piece that he submitted at that time was significantly different from the one that he eventually published in the Washington Post on April 3.

A source close to the New York Times told the Politico website that the major difference between the two versions was that the op-ed that was originally submitted to the paper did not include the "crucial repudiation of the report's central thrust."

Goldstone headed a panel of international jurists that was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of war crimes and the intentional targeting of civilian non-combatants by Israel and Hamas, who rule the Gaza Strip, in their war of 2008-2009, also called Operation Cast Lead.

The report, released on September 15, 2009, concluded that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes by intentionally targeting civilians. The committee did not receive information from the Israel that would have contradicted these conclusions because Israeli government officials refused to cooperate with members of the fact-finding mission.

Goldstone published an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Sunday in which he said that if he had known that Israel would later investigate IDF soldiers on suspicion of having intentionally targeted civilians, he would not have previously concluded that the IDF may have had a policy of intentionally targeting civilians.

Israeli media sources reported on Monday that Goldstone first approached the New York Times to publish his op-ed piece retroactively exonerating Israel of the most serious accusations made in the Goldstone Report.

The Times did not publish any article by Goldstone, and when originally asked why they did not do so, the Times said in response only that it does not comment on the paper's editing policy.