CAPE TOWN - The Jewish Board of Deputies yesterday called for former Constitutional Court judge Richard Goldstone to repair the damage it said he had done to Israel, after he said he would have reached different conclusions about the Gaza conflict if Israel had been more forthcoming with the facts it had at its disposal.
"If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document," he wrote in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on Friday.
His controversial 2009 report, commissioned by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, found Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity during the 2008-09 conflict.
On Friday, Judge Goldstone effectively reversed his findings , saying subsequent investigations by a UN committee of experts revealed that Israel had not deliberately targeted civilians. The committee found Israel had investigated "over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza" while Hamas had not conducted any investigations.
"Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn't negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes," wrote Judge Goldstone.
He said Israel's lack of co-operation at the time meant his investigation could not corroborate how many of the Gazans killed were militants and how many were civilians .
Yesterday, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies called on the UN council to review its acceptance of the report .
Cape Town executive director David Jacobson applauded Judge Goldstone for writing the article and urged him to repair what he described as the damage done by its publication .
South African Zionist Federation vice-chairman Ben Levitas said the report had had a big effect because it did not differentiate between Israel and Hamas.