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STOCKHOLM (AFP) ? The European Union backed on Thursday a contentious UN report blasting Israel‘s military offensive in Gaza, praising its chief author and saying the document is “worthy of consideration.”
Israel immediately expressed disappointment at the support from Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt — whose country holds the EU presidency — and said it showed that Bildt had either not read the report or misunderstood it.
“It is worthy of consideration needless to say, I think Mr Goldstone is a person of high credibility and high integrity and accordingly his report carries weight,” Bildt told reporters in Stockholm.
The report by a fact-finding mission led by former international war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Palestinian armed groups of committing war crimes in the three-week Gaza war that erupted on 27 December, 2008.
“It is now in the Human Rights Council (based in Geneva) and that’s where we think it should be deliberated, it is an independent report,” Bildt added.
In Israel, foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: “Anyone who had bothered reading the report and not just the headlines in the press would realise this is not an independent or professional investigation but a collection of claims brought forward by Hamas to the members of the panel.
“The Swedish foreign minister‘s words are very disappointing because they show that either he did not read the text or that he really did not understand what was written in it,” he told AFP.
More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s land, sea and air assault, Operation Cast Lead, launched in the impoverished coastal strip to stop Hamas militants firing rockets at Israeli civilians.
Some 5,300 people were wounded, with 4,100 homes destroyed and 17,000 damaged. Israel lost 10 soldiers and three civilians.