|Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the UN report into atrocities in Gaza to be nullified [AP]
Israel has called on the United Nations to retract a report which said it had committed war crimes during its December 2008-January 2009 Gaza offensive, after its author said he may have been wrong.
Richard Goldstone, the South African judge who led the UN investigation, said in a Washington Post column published on Friday that "if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been
a different document," and likely less critical of Israel.
Responding to Goldstone''s piece on Saturday, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel''s prime minister, urged the world body to "nullify" the report, saying it "must be thrown into the dustbin of history".
Goldstone chaired a fact-finding mission which, in a 2009 report to the UN Human Rights Council, said both Israel and Hamas - which controls Gaza - were guilty of war crimes in the conflict.
About 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, and 13 Israelis were killed in the devastating war - named Operation Cast Lead - that was launched with Israel''s declared aim of ending cross-border rocket fire from Palestinian militants.
Israel refused to cooperate with Goldstone''s mission and condemned his report as distorted and biased.
During Operation Cast Lead, Netanyahu said Israel did not deliberately target civilians, while Hamas fired at innocent civilians and did not conduct investigations.
"Everything we said has been proven true, Israel did not intentionally harm civilians, its investigating bodies are worthy and the fact that Goldstone has retracted should bring the report to be shelved once and for all," Saturday''s statement by Netanyahu said.
Goldstone indicated in his Friday essay that had Israel cooperated with him at the time, it could have shown civilians were not deliberately targeted "as a matter of policy".
Israeli military investigations into cases of misconduct later shed light on civilian killings, Goldstone said.
"I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes," Goldstone said.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson, dismissed Goldstone''s remarks saying that "his retreat does not change the fact war crimes had been committed against 1.5 million people in Gaza," and noted that the group cooperated fully with the fact finding mission.
Riyad al-Malki, Palestinian foreign minister, said Goldstone''s comments did not change a thing.
"The report was as clear as the crimes that Israel committed during the war," he said.