UN appoints Gaza war-crimes team
The UN has appointed South African judge and former war crimes
prosecutor Richard Goldstone to lead a fact-finding mission to the Gaza
Mr Goldstone will
investigate alleged violations of international law during the recent
conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.
Martin Uhomoibhi, president of the UN Human Rights Council, said the mission
would be independent and impartial.
Israel calls the council biased and has previously refused to co-operate.
Mr Goldstone will lead a four-member team, which also includes experts
from Pakistan, Britain, and Ireland, in investigating "all violations
of international humanitarian law" before, during and after the Israeli
campaign in Gaza that ended on 18 January.
"It's in the interest of the victims. It brings
acknowledgment of what happened to them. It can assist the healing
process," Mr Goldstone said.
"I would hope it's in the interests of all the political actors, too."
The fact-finding mission, which will aim to provide clarity on the
legality of the deaths and destruction, is due to start work in the
region within weeks, the UN said.
Israel 'singled out'
The council voted to set up the investigation into at a special meeting
in January, after widespread allegations of war crimes committed by
Israeli forces in Gaza.
“ I believe I can approach the daunting task that I have accepted in an
even-handed and impartial manner ”
However, the Israeli army says its operations in the Gaza Strip "were
carried out in compliance with the rules of warfare under international
It says it took "numerous measures to avoid causing harm to the civilian
The Palestinian militant group Hamas is widely accused of basing its
forces within heavily populated areas, allegations it denies.
The Israeli government has in the past refused to
co-operate with UN human rights council investigations, including one
led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
It is not clear whether Israel will co-operate with the new investigation.
"This committee is instructed not to seek out the truth but to single
out Israel for alleged crimes," said Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the
Israeli Foreign Ministry.
He said the council was a discredited body.
Mr Goldstone is a former UN chief prosecutor for war crimes in
Yugoslavia and Rwanda. He is also a former judge at the South African
He is also on the board of governors at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Mr Goldstone said he was "shocked, as a Jew", to be invited to head the
"I've taken a deep interest in what happens in Israel. I'm associated with
organisations that have worked in Israel.
"And I believe I can approach the daunting task that I have accepted in an
even-handed and impartial manner."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/04/03 14:42:52 GMT
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