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Middle east

UN urges 'credible probes' into Gaza war crimes allegations

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-10-15

The UN Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss a report that accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during the conflict in Gaza last year amid fierce objections from Israel, which claims the report is biased against the Jewish state.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called for Israel and the Palestinians to conduct without delay “credible” probes into allegations of war crimes committed in Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009 as the Security Council began discussion of the Goldstone report.

Named after respected South African jurist and former international war crime prosecutor Richard Goldstone, the report accuses both Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas of committing war crimes in the three-week long Gaza assault.

About a dozen Israelis and some 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the fighting.

The report recommends that the case be referred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague if both violating parties fail to carry out incredible investigations within a certain time frame.

Bad for the Palestinians, devastating for the Isaelis

“The report is bad for the Palestinians and devastating for the Israelis,” says Philippe Bolopion, FRANCE 24’s correspondent at the UN.

Wednesday’s debate comes a day before the UN Human Rights Council, which initially ordered the report published in September, reopens its own debate into the document in a special session in Geneva on Thursday, requested by the Palestinian Authority.

Goldstone’s mandate drew sharp criticism from Israel, who refused to cooperate with the fact-finding commission team, accusing it of being deceitful and biased against the Jewish state.

"For those of us who seek to resume the peace process in the Middle East, debating the Goldstone report in the Security Council is but a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev warned on Wednesday.

Israel looks for a helping US hand

Israel is counting on support from the US and the likelihood that it will use its veto right against a resolution.

"The Obama administration considers that Goldstone’s mandate was biased," says FRANCE 24’s Bolopion. “Western countries, and in particular the US, didn’t want to debate this issue,” he adds.

Meanwhile Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told the Council that implementation of the report's recommendations "must be seriously pursued" and urged both the General Assembly and the International Criminal Court to act.

"The credibility and foundations of international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as of the UN as a whole, is at stake," he said.

No resolution was however expected to result from the Security Council talks.


Date created : 2009-10-14