In April 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) established a fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations during the Gaza War that took place in December 2008 and January 2009. Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist, headed the mission, and its findings became known as the Goldstone Report. Israel refused to cooperate with the investigation because of the perceived anti-Israel bias of the UNHRC and the mission itself.
The report, released on September 15, 2009, found evidence that both the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes, breaches of humanitarian law, and possible crimes against humanity. The report further accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilian populations. The mission recommended that both Israel and the Palestinian authorities launch independent investigations into the war crimes.
The Israeli government rejected the report as flawed and biased, part of a political assault against Israel. The United States also rejected the report as biased, but the United Nations and most of the international community accepted its findings. Following the release of the report, Israel launched its own independent investigation into the Gaza War.
On April 1, 2011, Goldstone published an article in the Washington Post saying that subsequent investigations by Israel had proven that the I.D.F. did not intentionally target civilians. The other three members of the fact-finding mission rejected Goldstone’s reassessment and stood by the findings of the report.
• Goldstone Report (the full document)
• Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Initial Response to the Goldstone Report
• Richard Goldstone, Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes, Washington Post, April 2, 2011
• Statement issued by the other three members of U.N. fact-finding mission to Gaza, in response to Goldstone’s Washington Post article