In a CNN interview last night, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lashed out at the recent United Nations report on Israel’s conduct during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009. “Hamas actually was committing a double war crime,” he said, “firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians.” The report of the U.N. fact finding mission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone accused Israel’s military of committing war crimes during its Gaza incursion.
The report was problematic for many reasons. First, it is incongruous with Israel’s record of minimizing casualties in conflict. The report also failed to expose the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets by the Palestinians into Israeli population centers. More broadly, the report establishes a precedent whereby U.N. commissions may accuse Western democracies—fighting against terrorism—of war crimes.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, a Nobel Laureate and Oslo Accords signatory, said: “The Goldstone report is a mockery of history [that] in practice grants legitimacy to terrorism.” Likud’s party spokesman concurred: “If the investigators lived for a single day under the rocket fire that residents of the South endured for nearly eight years, they would have written a very different report.” U.S. President Barack Obama, who is now undertaking efforts to jumpstart Middle East peace talks, has failed to personally condemn the report.