Gaza: Goldstone challenges US

2009-10-22 14:14

Dubai - The author of a UN report accusing Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group of war crimes in the Gaza conflict challenged the United States on Thursday to justify its charge that the findings were flawed.

"I have yet to hear from the (Barack) Obama administration what the flaws in the report that they have identified are," South African former international war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone told Al-Jazeera television.

"I would be happy to respond to them, if and when I know what they are," added the jurist who led a fact-finding mission on the 22-day conflict that erupted on December 27, 2008.

"The Obama administration joined our recommendation calling for full and good-faith investigations, both in Israel and in Gaza, but said that the report was flawed," he said.

Some 25 of the UN Human Rights Council's 47 members, led by Arab and African states, voted for a resolution endorsing the report last week. Six others, including the United States, voted against, while 16 either abstained or did not vote.

"I've no doubt, many of the critics - the overwhelming majority of critics - have not read the report," he said, adding that the criticism had become personal.

Goldstone concluded that both Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the conflict that Israel launched in response to rocket fire from the territory.

He recommended that the findings be referred to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague, if Israel and Hamas fail to conduct credible investigations within six months.