UN criticises Israel, Hamas for inadequate war crimes probes
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In a statement released Tuesday, an independent UN committee criticised both Israel and Hamas for failing to carry out credible probes into the claims of war crimes having been committed on both sides during Israel's offensive on Gaza in late 2008.
AFP - Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas failed to carry out credible and adequate probes into claims of war crimes committed during the conflict in Gaza nearly two years ago, a UN committee said Tuesday.
"The investigations ... remain incomplete in some cases or fall significantly short of meeting international standards in others," said the chair of the UN committee of independent experts, Christian Tomuschat, in a statement.
Israel had flatly refused to cooperate with the committee appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine the progress of investigations by all parties in the war which left some 1,400 Palestinians dead and 13 Israelis.
The mission was set up after a UN-mandated report by South African judge Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Palestinian groups of war crimes during the three-week conflict which erupted in late December 2008.
On Tuesday, the committee of three experts concluded that Israel has to date failed to cover all allegations of violations covered by the Goldstone report.
Israel neither investigated the role of its leaders nor claims of violations which occurred in the occupied West Bank during the same period.
"Israel conducted investigations into many incidents, but only four resulted in criminal indictments, one of which led to a conviction for a credit card theft," noted Tomuschat.
"There were also concerns about whether the inquiries met standards of impartiality," added the committee, which is due to present their findings to the UN Human Rights Council on September 27.
The committee's report likewise criticised two probes conducted by radical Islamists of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, saying that the first "made no serious effort to address the allegations raised by" Goldstone's mission.
"The second body provided information on measures taken to redress violations in the Gaza Strip, but failed to substantiate assertions that political prisoners had been released and criminal prosecutions had taken place," the committee added.
Only the Palestinian Authority had set up investigations that met international standards, assessed the committee.
However, its lack of access to Gaza did not allow it to conduct a full probe of allegations, noted the committee.
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