IANS | Robert Berger Jerusalem | 17 October 2009
Israel is facing growing international pressure after the United Nations Human Rights Council approved the Goldstone Report, which accuses the Jewish state of war crimes against Palestinians. The Goldstone Report also accuses Palestinian militants of war crimes during the Gaza conflict of nearly a year ago.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling on him to cooperate with the Goldstone Report. They urged Israel to open an “independent, transparent investigation” into alleged war crimes during the three-week Gaza conflict last December and January. The resolution by the Human Rights Council endorses the Goldstone Report’s recommendations that both the Israelis and Palestinian militants show the U.N. Security Council they are investigating the war crimes accusations. Israel has rejected the report as one-sided and biased and says the Gaza war was a legitimate act of self defense in response to years of Palestinian rocket attacks. Israeli officials say opening a war crimes investigation would be tantamount to accepting guilt.
But Israeli David Horovitz, the editor of the Jerusalem Post, says defiance may be counterproductive. “I would have thought the last thing Israel can afford to do is to try to simply ignore it,” he said. “There has to be some kind of intelligent response, even though the national sense of justice and pride motivates many, I think, in the Israeli leadership to say, ‘This is just so unfair, so clearly prejudiced, that we do not want to justify it or honor it by responding.’ I don’t think Israel can afford to do that.” Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti says Israel should be held accountable, and he called for international war crimes trials. “Those who committed crimes like killing children for no reason, who hurt civilians for no reason, yes; anybody who kills children for no reason should go to court,” he said. Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered officials to prepare for a long diplomatic, legal and public relations battle explaining Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism. As Mr. Netanyahu put it, “We will delegitimize those who try to delegitimize us.”
An Israeli army artillery battery fires a smoke bomb into the Gaza Strip from the border, 06 Jan 2009