It will be interesting to observe the reaction of the Israeli government and its allies in the West and the Israeli people to the United Nations Report (Goldstone Report) that concludes that Israel should face prosecution by the International Criminal Court, unless it fully opens independent investigations into repeated violations of International law,'possible war crimes and crimes against humanity' during Israeli operations in Gaza earlier this year (which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1300 Palestinians).
The Report is the result of a fact finding mission led by the Jewish South African Supreme Court Judge Richard Goldstone. The Report found that Israel, as well as Hamas and Palestinian armed groups had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Independent in Britain reports that the Goldstone Report concludes that "Israel targeted 'the people of Gaza as a whole' in the three-week military operation .
The Report also made harsh criticisms of Hamas and other armed groups, claiming that its rocket attacks into Southern Israel would also constitute war crimes and may constitute crimes against humanity. The Report also condemned the extra judicial killings, detention and ill treatment of Palestinian detainees by Hamas regime in Gaza as well as the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank
The comments of Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip make interesting reading. Last December, the Israeli government denied him entry into Gaza. He was reported as saying:
"The Goldstone Report is a milestone in the long effort to impose accountability under international law on Israel as the occupying power in Palestinian territories. It confirms in a balanced and comprehensive manner the main allegations of Israeli war crimes associated with the Gaza attacks starting at the end of 2008, as well as acknowledging the criminal nature of the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
"These allegations center on Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians, hospitals, mosques, schools, as well as UN facilities, as well as the absence of reasonable steps to minimize the harm to civilians. For the first time, a respected UN body urges that Israeli impunity for war crimes be ended by referral of the case to the International Criminal Court and by encouraging claims in those national courts, such as Spain and Belgium, where universal jurisdiction over international crimes is exercised. Whether and by whom the recommendations of the report will be implemented is a large open, unanswered question that poses a challenge to the UN and world public opinion, and also to the U.S. government."