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Hamas: Israel manipulating evidence of war crimes

Feb. 7, 2010 6:09 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 9, 2010 10:55 A.M.)
Gaza – Ma'an – Israel's rebuttal to the UN's fact-finding mission is just the latest its its "constant efforts to escape responsibility for committing war crimes in Gaza," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Sunday.

"Yet again, Israel seeks to mislead international human rights organizations by conducting investigations based on fabricated and forged evidence," Barhoum said in a statement. "Such obstruction, by either party ... affirms involvement in these crimes."

He said evidence of Israel's efforts in this regard were confirmed in a report issued on Sunday by Human Rights Watch, which alleged Israel was failing to fully investigate accusations of war crimes. The report also accused Hamas of violating the laws of war.

Barhoum said Richard Goldstone's fact-finding mission on the Gaza assault had documented and condemned Israel's "war crimes and crimes against humanity," and affirmed "the involvement of its leaders in committing these crimes, among them the use of internationally banned weapons in killing Palestinian civilians."

He urged the international community to "take practical procedures on the ground and start trials for the occupation's [Israel's] leadership on charges of war crimes in international courts."

Meanwhile on Sunday, according to The Associated Press, HRW dismissed claims by Hamas that its projectile fire was legal because it targeted military infrastructure rather than civilians in southern Israel.

"Hamas can spin the story and deny the evidence, but hundreds of rockets rained down on civilian areas in Israel where no military installations were located," said HRW deputy Middle East director Joe Stork.
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