UN picks South African Jew to head Gaza war crimes inquiry


Published on 3rd April 2009

Source: Haaretz (original source: REUTERS)

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Richard Goldstone, a South African Jewish judge, will head an international fact-finding mission into allegations of war crimes by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants in Gaza, the United Nations said on Friday.

The former war crimes prosecutor will head a four-member team whose mandate stems from a resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council at a special session on January 12.

“It is in the interest of all Palestinians and Israelis that the allegations of war crimes and serious human rights violations related to the recent conflict on all sides be investigated,” Goldstone said in a statement.

Goldstone served as chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Goldstone will investigate conduct by both sides in Israel’s 22-day offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. According to a Palestinian rights group, 1,417 people including 926 civilians were killed in the fighting.

Israel has disputed Palestinian claims that most of the people killed in the recent offensive in Gaza were civilians, stating that the vast majority of the dead were in fact Hamas militants. Thirteen Israelis were also killed in the hostilities.

“I am confident that the mission will be in a position to assess in an independent and impartial manner all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the [Gaza] conflict,” the president of the Human Rights Council, Nigerian ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, said in a statement.

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