Hamas to examine alleged war crimes


THE HAMAS government in Gaza yesterday pledged to carry out investigations into alleged war crimes by the Palestinian side identified in the Goldstone report on Israel’s war on Gaza.

“Although we do not agree with certain aspects of this report, we intend to act on [Mr Justice Richard Goldstone’s] recommendation and carry out our own investigation into any alleged crimes committed by the resistance movements in Gaza,” the foreign ministry said.

It welcomed debate in the UN Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, and reiterated its view that “Judge Goldstone undertook his mission without bias and in a genuine attempt to establish the facts of what happened in Gaza. We will report our findings to Judge Goldstone in due course.”

Hamas co-operated with the Goldstone mission when it visited Gaza. The Israeli government, which did not allow the mission to enter Israel, rejects the report and refuses to conduct an investigation of war crimes allegations.

Retired Irish colonel Desmond Travers, a member of the mission, told al-Jazeera that Palestinian fighters committed war crimes by firing missiles indiscriminately at Israeli civilians while Israel used battlefield weapons and massive force in densely populated Gaza.

The death toll was three Israeli civilians and 10 soldiers and 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians.

Meanwhile, the Hamas leadership based in Damascus said it would not sign the Egyptian-mediated proposal for reconciliation with Fatah, which approved it on Wednesday. Seven other Palestinian factions exiled to Syria followed Hamas’s lead and called for the plan to be revised to include a reference to the right of Palestinians to resist Israel’s occupation.

This announcement amounted to a reversal of Hamas’s expression of support for the reconciliation proposal on September 28th when the movement’s politburo head, Khaled Meshaal, and deputy, Mousa Abu Marzouk, travelled from Damascus to Cairo to meet Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas’s negotiator from Gaza who attended that meeting, told The Irish TimesHamas would sign the Egyptian plan.