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Middle East

Former Gaza envoy to head probe on Israeli offensive

Latest update : 2009-02-10

UN chief Ban Ki-moon informed the Security Council that he had asked former UN envoy to Gaza Ian Martin to head a five-member panel that will probe last month's Israeli attacks on UN facilities in the Gaza Strip.

AFP - Former UN envoy Ian Martin is to head a five-member panel that will probe last month's Israeli attacks on UN facilities in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian UN observer Ryad Mansour said Monday.

Mansour told reporters that UN chief Ban Ki-moon informed the UN Security Council Monday that Martin, a former UN envoy to Nepal who earlier served as secretary general of Amnesty International, would lead the commission.

Ban informed the 15-member UN Security Council during closed-door consultations that the panel "would be composed of four individuals and a member of the (UN) secretariat" and would be "headed by Ian Martin," the Palestinian observer said.

Mansour described Ban's move as a "positive and responsive development, a step in the right direction of investigating crimes committed by Israel."

Ban last month demanded a full explanation from Israel after its forces struck several UN facilities in Gaza, including a compound of the UN agency providing aid for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), and UN-run schools, during a 22-day military onslaught to stop rocket firing by Palestinian militants.

The Israeli offensive killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, and left some 5,400 wounded and 14,000 homes razed.

On the Israeli side, three civilians and 10 soldiers were killed in combat and by rocket fire.

Martin, a Briton with some 30 years of experience in the field of human rights, served as secretary general of Amnesty International from 1986 to 1992.

He later served as UN special envoy to East Timor and more recently to Nepal.

Date created : 2009-02-10