Ashrawi says we will prosecute crimes against Palestinians 5Apr11 April 6, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  5 April 2011

PLO leader Hanan Ashrawi expressed concern Monday over Richard Goldstone’s recent comments over his report on Israel’s Operation Cast Lead offensive on the Gaza Strip .

In an opinion piece published Friday by The Washington Post, Goldstone reconsidered his report, which found evidence that Israel and Hamas committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 22-day attack.

“If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” the retired judge wrote.

Ashrawi said she believed Israel would take advantage of the article and seek the dismissal of the report from the UN, where it was pushed forward last month by a vote at the UN Human Rights Council.

“Israel will seek the recall of the Goldstone report with the same ferocity with which it put pressure on the judge to retract his statements,” Ashrawi said.

“We deplore this retreat and view it as a grave matter. We are used to retreats from the side of politicians, media personalities and others due to pressure. Israel’s pressure on a human rights defender, however, is unacceptable. We will continue to hold Israel accountable and seek the prosecution of those responsible for crimes against the Palestinian people,” she concluded.

Responding to Goldstone’s commentary, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told army radio on Sunday that he would personally commit to securing the retraction of the report.

“This is an extremely important development and right now we are multiplying our efforts to get this report rescinded,” Barak said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that The Washington Post article “confirmed what we all knew all along.”

“We expect this farce to be rectified immediately,” Netanyahu said.

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 then they should be referred to the International Courts of Justice.

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