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(NECN: Scot Yount, Waltham, Mass.) - Two months ago, the government of Israel rejected a U.N. report that accused the Israeli military of war crimes. The investigation centered on the war Israel launched against the terror group Hamas last winter. Thursday at Brandeis University the head of the U.N. fact finding mission and a former ambassador to Israel went head to head on the issue. With both the United States Congress and Israel rejecting his fiercely controversial United Nations report, South African constitutional Judge Richard Goldstone agreed to a forum Thursday at Brandeis University with former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold. "War crimes are committed when disproportionate force is used," Goldstone said. "The report simply distorts the very essence of what Israel stands for and provides fuel for those seeking its de-legitimization," Gold. Goldstone's report centers on a three week conflict last winter in Gaza that killed 13 Israelis and nearly 1400 Palestinians, many of them civilians. The report concludes that Israel used disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and using Palestinians as human shields during its incursion into Gaza to root out Palestinian rocket squads. "That is the essence of what war crimes are all about, Israel has the absolute right and duty to defend its citizens, I repeat for the third time but in doing so its responses must be proportionate," Goldstone said. "That is the law and up till now that law has been accepted by Israel." The report is mostly critical of the Jewish state but also blames Palestinians for launching thousands of rockets at civilians in Israel since 2001. "The single reason Israel went to war on December 27, 2008 was to finally bring the rein of rocket fire on its civilians to a halt," Gold said. Goldstone's report recommended the UN Security Council require both sides to carry out what it called "credible" investigations into alleged abuses during the conflict. The Palestinians have agreed but at this point Israel has refused. "I personally have full confidence in the Israeli legal system to get to the bottom of the Gaza War, " said Gold. "The military is investigating itself behind close doors that's not a legal system, that's not a judicial system that's not justice at all," said Goldstone. Students and other observers said the forum was a rare chance to hear Judge Goldstone defend the report against a senior Israeli figure.