Goldstone: Panel had to pursue justice

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Pursuing justice was essential, the author of a U.N. commission report on last winter’s Gaza war wrote in The New York Times.

Failing to "pursue justice" for alleged Israeli war crimes during the conflict would have a "deeply corrosive effect on international justice," Richard Goldstone wrote in an op-ed Thursday.

He wrote that "no state or armed group is above the law" and that Western governments would be seen as "hypocritical" if they pushed for "accountability in places like Darfur" but did not do the same in Israel.

Goldstone, a Jewish South African judge who served as chief prosecutor for war-crime tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, led a U.N. fact-finding mission that issued a 574-page report Tuesday calling on both Israel and Hamas to investigate charges of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in last winter’s conflict in Gaza.

The report said an international investigation should be launched if Israel fails to begin a probe within six months.

Israel and a number of Jewish organizations have been harshly critical of the report, although they have steered clear of criticizing Goldstone himself.

In the op-ed, Goldstone said that "in many cases, Israel could have done much more to spare civilians without sacrificing its stated and legitimate military aims" and charged that Israel’s internal investigations are "unlikely to be serious and objective."

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