Israelis Blast U.N. War Report

Israelis are angry over the findings of the Goldstone Report claiming that Israel deliberately targeted civilians during its three-week military operation in the Gaza Strip launched in late December.

The U.N. investigation, led by former South African judge Richard Goldstone, concluded that "there is evidence that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity."

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The 574-page report was released Tuesday at a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

According to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry, "Israel is appalled and disappointed by the report, which compares it to Hamas and rewards acts of terror. We will treat it accordingly… The report attempts to rewrite a shameful chapter in the history of international law and nations' right to defend themselves."

The statement also says that "the committee did nothing but gather biased testimonies against Israel."

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Tal Semo, a 26-year-old law student, echoed sentiments expressed by the Israeli government. "The point of view expressed [in the report] was one that prefers the suffering of the Palestinian people over Israel's suffering, and blames Israel while ignoring the causes.

"The bottom line is that war is war, and it's never nice," Semo said. "But you need to get a more rounded picture. Most of the sources were Palestinian, because the Palestinian side was hurt the most, but the report seems to ignore the years of missiles in Israel, the kidnapped soldier whom no one knows is still alive [Gilad Shalit, held hostage by Hezbollah since 2006]. You can't gloss over Palestinian crimes."

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The report does state that there is evidence that Palestinian-armed groups committed war crimes by not distinguishing between military and civilian targets in its repeated rocket and mortar launching into Israel from the territories, while it is highly critical of Israel.

Ayal, a 25-year-old Israeli graduate student of international relations who preferred not to be named, said that the problem was with the U.N. as an investigator, not the results. Ayal is politically to the left and critical of Israel's policies, yet he said he doubts the ability of the UN committee.

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"Most Israelis are very skeptical of the United Nations and both its impartiality and ability to investigate," Ayal said. "I do believe an investigation is needed, and that the report should not be completely discredited, but the U.N. is problematic both to investigate or to have any credibility over here."

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