President Shimon Peres has called on Judge Richard Goldstone to publicly apologize to Israel for his 2009 report charging Israel with war crimes in the Operation Cast Lead. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “I don’t need an apology because we knew who we are, and we know the murderers are from Hamas.”
Goldstone set off a bombshell by writing in The Washington Post Friday, “While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”
Goldstone (pictured), a Jew from South Africa, headed the United Nations Human Rights Council investigation of alleged war crimes in Cast Lead. The nearly 600-page report barely mentioned Hamas missile attacks on Israeli civilians while focusing primarily on alleged Israeli “war crimes.”
His op-ed article was welcomed by almost all Israeli leaders and by American Jewish groups, many of whom demanded a halt to legal actions against Israel.
President Peres said that the retired South African jurist should apologize to the State of Israel. "Goldstone ignored the main reason for the IDF operation in Gaza, the firing of thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens,” he stated.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) commented, “Richard Goldstone's astonishing article in The Washington Post saying he is now rescinding his charge in the UN report that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in the Gaza war is both gratifying and distressing.
“It is important that the author of the report now recognizes…that targeting of civilians runs against everything the Israel Defense Forces stands for,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman wrote in the statement.
He added, “Also significant is the clear distinction he makes between Israel's conduct in investigating accusations and the absence of any such investigations by Hamas…. What is so distressing is the fact that Goldstone rushed to judgment in the first instance as to Israel's alleged intention to target civilians without any convincing evidence…. His specious conclusion caused Israel untold damage in the international community and played a key role in fostering the campaigns of delegitimization of Israel."
Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni, who was Foreign Minister during the Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign, agreed with President Peres that an apology is in order. “The operation was important. The Goldstone Report was born in sin. He must publicly renounce it."
Florida Congressman Ted Deutch also said Goldstone should retract the report and noted that his article stated that the U.N. Human Rights Council’s "history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted."
The American Jewish Committee called on Judge Goldstone to "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.”
Goldstone’s article in The Washington Post stated, "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
IDF spokesman Avi Benyahu responded, “In the end, [Goldstone] was guided by the same conscience and Jewish morality that guided us during the course of Operation Cast Lead. Goldstone also wants to keep his legal status and know that he can look himself in the mirror. I just hope that other groups in Israel and abroad who followed him, or even surpassed him, will know to be as honest as him.
“The IDF embarked on Operation Cast Lead after the hundreds of thousands of citizens of southern Israel had suffered from eight years of merciless Hamas attacks," Benyahu continued, "including incessant rocket fire. Despite the attacks and casualties, Israel maintained a policy of restraint over a long time period.
“The IDF used limited force and firepower during Operation Cast Lead. IDF soldiers faced a complex security reality in the midst of a densely populated area where Hamas cynically used the civilian population as a human shield. Hamas operated deliberately from residential homes, schools, kindergartens, mosques, hospitals and United Nations facilities."