Judge who authored anti-Israel U.N. report backtracks on key claims 

Richard Goldstone, the South African judge who authored a United Nations' report accusing Israel of war crimes during its campaign against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, has now backtracked on the report's key claim that Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians.

At the time it launched its war on Hamas in late 2008, Israeli civilians were at the receiving end of thousands of rockets fired by members of the terrorist group in Gaza. As any country would under such circumstances, Israel took action to protect its people. While the Israeli military went to great lengths to als protect the lives of Palestinian civilians, Hamas used its own people as human shields -- firing rockets from residential areas, hospitals, and schools, daring Israel to retaliate, knowing that this would lead to condemnation of Israel.

Though the military campaign did reduce rocket fire from Gaza, Hamas also got what it wanted from the international community. Based on a flawed methodology that held Israel to a different standard, the U.N.'s Goldstone report concluded that Israel intentionally targeted civilians and that Hamas did not use human shields. (For a more complete case against the flawed report, read Alan Dershowitz here.)

For the past year and half year, the report has been used as a tool for Israel's enemies and critics to demonize the Jewish state, yet writing in the Washington Post, Goldstone now admits: "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."

More from Goldstone (emphasis mine):

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. 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.

In repsonse to Goldstone's op-ed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the U.N. to retract the report. 

"Everything that we said proved to be true,"  Netanyahu said, according to Haaretz. "Israel did not intentionally target civilians and it has proper investigatory bodies. In contrast, Hamas intentionally directed strikes toward innocent civilians and did not conduct any kind of probe."

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