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Israel deputy PM calls for internal Gaza war crimes investigation

[JURIST] Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor [official profile] called Wednesday for an independent Israeli investigation into the war crimes allegations detailed in the Goldstone report [text, PDF], which accuses Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] and Hamas [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] fighters of war crimes during last winter's Operation Cast Lead [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. The Israeli government has been resisting [JURIST report] mounting pressure from the international community to address the findings of the report, which also suggests referring charges to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] in the event that credible internal investigations are not commenced on both sides. Meridor's statement [Haaretz report] comes amid the consistent refusal [JURIST report] by the Israeli government to conduct such an investigation and the assertion that anti-Israeli bias has influenced [JURIST report] the findings of the report. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official profile] has argued [Haaretz report] that an ICC investigation into IDF conduct in the Gaza conflict would make the military leaders of other states fighting terrorism vulnerable to international indictment. This has prompted him to direct [Al Jazeera report] the government to create plans for a "world-wide campaign" to change the international law of war following a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] endorsed [JURIST report] the final report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict [official website], which urges Israel and Hamas to investigate the conduct of their fighters during the 22-day war, or face referral to the ICC. Israeli officials have faced threat of arrest [JURIST report] during travels abroad recently under war crimes charges arising in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead. Richard Goldstone, head of the Gaza mission, presented his findings [JURIST report] to the UNHRC last month. The Goldstone mission began [JURIST report] its field operations in Gaza in June, entering Gaza through Egypt's Rafah crossing after Israel announced that it would not cooperate with the investigation, and concluded hearings [JURIST report] in July. Goldstone was appointed to head the investigation [JURIST report] in April, amid strong criticism [JURIST report] from Israel.

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