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War crimes the result of "mistakes": former Israeli official

Retired brigadier general admitted that Israel committed war crimes, though said it didn't do so intentionally.

As a retired general, Brom was giving his personal views not the official view of the Israeli military. The Israeli government, which refused to cooperate with the U.N. inquiry, harshly rejected the report. A government spokesman said Israel’s own investigations were a “thousand times” more serious than Goldstone’s. Israeli President Shimon Peres called the report “a mockery of history.”

Goldstone’s report recommends that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon send the findings to the U.N. Security Council, which should give Israel and Gazan authorities six months to “genuinely” investigate the war crimes charges his team unearthed or have both their cases sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Goldstone dismissed Israeli military investigations into the allegations as not credible because the military probes were held in secret and only questioned Israeli soldiers.

On Thursday, Ban refused to commit to sending the report to the council. He said: "I have directed our staff to have a detailed review of this report and we will discuss this matter
when we have fully reviewed this report."

The U.S. would be in a difficult position if Ban transmits the report to the council. Washington might feel obliged to block a resolution demanding an Israeli domestic probe.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said Thursday that the U.S. was still studying the report and indicated it was Washington’s view it should not come to the Security Council.

“We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report,” Rice told reporters. “We will expect and believe that the appropriate venue for this report to be considered is the [U.N.] Human Rights Council and that is our strong view.”

She also said Washington considered that Goldstone’s mandate from the Human Rights Council was “unbalanced, one sided and basically unacceptable.” Goldstone said he was optimistic that the Security Council would act on his recommendations: “I would be disappointed if any permanent member of the Security Council would object to a resolution requiring Israel to have appropriate domestic investigations organized by itself with international monitoring.”

Human rights groups hailed the report as the beginning of the end of what they see as Israeli impunity in its conflict with the Palestinians.

“The fact-finding mission’s findings of serious violations by both Israel and Hamas are a significant step toward justice and redress for the victims on both sides,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “Now the UN, and the Security Council in particular, need to act on these recommendations and ensure that justice is done.”

Whitson said the U.S. should “welcome this opportunity for the Security Council to address the actions of both sides in this conflict.”