10/17/2009, 00.00
ISRAEL - PALESTINE

Israel rejects UN report that accuses it of war crimes in Gaza

by Joshua Lapide
The resolution of the UN Commission on Human Rights condemns Israel for its policy of violence in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority praises the vote. Hamas appreciates the fight against "the Zionist criminals," but does not comment on the allegations concerning itself. United States and Italy among the dissenting votes.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The Israeli Foreign Ministry "unilaterally" rejects the Goldstone report that accuses Tel Aviv of war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity in the war waged in Gaza last December and January. The report, the result of on the ground investigations, was yesterday voted by a majority at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva; 25 votes in favour, 6 votes against (including United States and Italy), 11 abstentions. Britain and France did not vote. The resolution requests the submission of the report to the UN General Assembly.

The nearly 600-page report, prepared by the South African judge Richard Goldstone, accuses Israel of committing war crimes with a disproportionate use of force, of deliberately targeting civilians; of using Palestinians as human shields and of having destroyed civilian structures during the Cast Lead offensive.

It also accuses Hamas and Palestinian organizations in Gaza of having committed war crimes and perhaps crimes against humanity in their repeated firing of rockets and mortars on towns in southern Israel.

The report recommends that Israel and Hamas carry out investigations into these crimes within 6 months if they do not want to stand before the international tribunal in The Hague.

In Ramallah, Nabil Abu Rudainah, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority (PA), praised the vote in Geneva and asked that they "translate words into deeds, to protect our people from all aggression in the future." The PA, had initially decided - under pressure from Israel and the United States - to delay the vote on the report. Then it changed its mind because of the fierce criticism of the Palestinian people at home and the Diaspora. A Hamas spokesman said the most important thing is that "the Zionist criminals are brought to court," but did not comment on the accusations against his group.

The UN resolution was not just about the Goldstone report, but also accused Israel's policy in East Jerusalem, condemning the obstacles placed on access to Muslim holy sites, the forced demolition of Palestinian homes, excavations under Temple Mount.

Voting in favour of the resolution: Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ghana, Djibouti, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia

Against: Italia, Olanda, Ungheria, Slovacchia, Ucraina, Usa.

Abstained: Bosnia, Burkina Faso, Camerun, Gabon, Giappone, Messico, Norvegia, Sudcorea, Slovenia, Uruguay.

Did not vote: Angola, Francia, Gran Bretagna, Kirghizistan, Madagascar.

According to humanitarian organizations, in operation "Cast Lead”, 1400 Palestinians were killed, the vast majority civilians and children, 3 Israeli civilians and 10 soldiers.

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