UN unsure if Gaza probes set up


Source: Aljazeera English

The UN secretary general has said he cannot determine if the Israelis and Palestinians have complied with a UN demand to carry out credible and independent investigations into alleged war crimes during the war in Gaza more than a year ago.

Ban Ki-moon told the UN General Assembly in a report released on Thursday that both sides were still looking into the allegations made in a September report by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge and former international war crimes prosecutor.

“No determination can be made on the implementation of the [UN] resolution by the parties concerned,” Ban said in his report to the 192-member assembly that contains responses provided by Israel and the Palestinians.

Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said anyone looking to the UN chief to make a stand on the investigations demanded would have been disappointed.

In his 72-page report, Ban mostly forwards reports to him from the Palestinians and Israelis and makes no assessment himself, our correspondent said.

‘Hope’ over probes

Last Friday, Ban received a 46-page report from Israel in which it denied violating international law, but admitted “tragic results” due to the “complexity and scale” of conducting a military operation in a heavily populated area.

 Ban highlighted Israel’s assertion that two of its senior officers – a brigadier-general and a colonel – were disciplined for the firing of white phosphorous shells towards a UN compound during the Gaza war.

Also last Friday, Ban was handed a preliminary report from the Palestinians in which they said a commission of five well-known judges and legal experts had been set up.

In his report on Thursday, Ban said he had on several occasions urged both sides “to carry out credible domestic investigations into the conduct of the Gaza conflict”.

“I hope that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of human rights abuses,” he added.

A UN spokesman said the General Assembly would meet soon to discuss Ban’s Gaza report.

The Goldstone report accused Israel and Palestinian fighters of war crimes during the Gaza war.

Most of criticism in the report was directed towards Israel, which was accused of using “disproportionate force” and deliberately targeting civilians.

It recommended that its findings be passed to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court at The Hague if Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction which governs the Gaza Strip, fail to carry out credible independent investigations of the claims by Friday – six months from when the report was submitted.

About 1,400 Palestinians – many of them women and children – were killed in the war. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were also killed.

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