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At Brandeis, Goldstone defends UN war crimes report

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Justice Richard Goldstone, in his first public discussion with a high-level Israeli official regarding his controversial UN report on war crimes during Israel's invasion of Gaza last year, hardly came out reeling.

He began the forum at Brandeis University by confessing a concern about anti-Israel bias in the UN Human Rights Council, and even said the original mandate of his fact-finding mission was unbalanced (until he refocused it to include a look at Hamas attacks), and he repeatedly asserted his belief that Israel should be able to defend itself.

“I’ve publicly stated on many occasions,” he said, “that Israel has the right under international law not only to protect its citizens from rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, but it has a clear duty to do so.”

Since a UN fact-finding mission issued the report more than a month ago accusing both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes in the Gaza invasion last winter – in which some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed – the media have been abuzz with both vitriol and praise for the document.

Israeli officials have called the report biased, insulting, and even an legitimization of terrorism. On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to “oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration” of the document.

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