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Gaza officials protest EU vote on Goldstone report

April 5, 2011 12:50 P.M. (Updated: April 6, 2011 10:18 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Over 100 Palestinian figures from the Gaza Strip sent a letter of protest to the EU Representative in Palestine, after delegates voted against moving forward on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report at the UN.

"Our Palestinian people feel shocked and angered regarding the European vote on Friday, March 25, 2011 in the 16th term of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva," the letter said.

EU representatives voted against a resolution which started a process that could lead allegations of war crimes during Israel's 2008-2009 war on Gaza to the International Court of Justice.

"We were expecting a European position that supported the resolution," the letter added.

While member nations of the UNHRC passed the motion, Palestinian officials denounced "the fact that the majority of European countries did not vote in favor of the resolution."

The letter was sent days after justice Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist behind the investigation, printed an opinion article in the Washington Post, questioning the findings of his own investigation.

"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," the article said, referring to the refusal of Israel to participate in the probe.

However, Goldstone added that "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."

Critics have questioned Goldstone's motivation for writing the article, and cited a history of suspect internal Israeli military investigations as reason to remain skeptical, and pursue charges in an international court system.

In Gaza, officials said "There is a big difference between what the European governments claim in terms of their care for respect to human rights and international humanitarian law and their real positions on the ground which prevent achieving justice in this region of the world."

The letter said the failure of European governments to support the report and its recommendations "reflects the double standards," noting that Britain voted against the resolution while other EU nations abstained.

Goldstone was charged by the UN to carry out an investigation into the events of Israel's Operation Cast Lead, in which 1,400 Palestinians - mostly civilians - and 13 Israelis were killed. The investigation found evidence of war crimes committed both by the Israeli military and Gaza resistance factions. It recommended that investigations be carried out into the allegations, and said that if credible investigations could not be carried out internally, that they should be referred to the ICJ.

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