Israel does not heed UN report on Gaza war, refusing opening probe

Israel told the UN chief it will not conduct an independent probe of the Gaza war as demanded by a UN report, a minister said.

Israel does not heed UN report on Gaza war, refusing opening probe

Israel told the UN chief it will not conduct an independent probe of the Gaza war as demanded by a UN report, a minister said on Tuesday, two days before the Jewish state submits its official response to charges of war crimes.

Edelstein, who was to present Israel's rebuttal on Thursday, said he informed Ban of his country's intention during the meeting late Monday.

"Israel has no intention of creating a verification commission," Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein told Israel public radio from New York a day after meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The U.N. report, authored by veteran war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians and intentionally destroying infrastructure, homes and livelihoods.

It was not certain that Edelstein's comments were Israel's last word on the subject. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was out of the country, and his office declined comment.

Israel launched on Dec. 27 a massive offensive in Gaza, killing more than 1434 Palestinians, a third of them children, and wounded at least 5300.

In its land, sea and ar offensive, Israel targeted hospitals, schools, mosques and government buildings and destroyed infrastructure system in Gaza, lefting Palestinians without electricity, gas and power.

International ciriticism

By rejecting calls for an independent inquiry, Israel could open itself to international war crimes proceedings. But Israeli leaders are worried that forcing soldiers to testify could hurt morale and make troops wary of taking part in future attacks.

Israel refused to cooperate with the Goldstone probe, despite Goldstone's Jewish faith and his close ties Israel, because the U.N. body that commissioned it has a history of singling out Israel for particular censure.

Haaretz daily said however that Israel might agree to set up a limited inquiry to deflect some of the massive international criticism over the offensive.

Such a committee would review the Israeli army's internal investigations and examine whether there was any basis to one of the charges of daily said.

Call of rights bodies

Nine Israel-based human rights groups issued a call Tuesday to Netanyahu to order a full-fledged inquiry. In a joint statement, they said the internal probe "does not satisfy Israel's obligations to investigate."

The UN report recommended that its conclusions be referred to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague if Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza fail to carry out credible investigations within six months.

In November the UN General Assembly endorsed the report and called on both sides to carry out investigations "that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards" by February 5.

Although Israel denies wrongdoing, it is worried about the report, which has battered its image internationally. Netanyahu recently called the report one of Israel's three biggest strategic challenges — along with Iran's nuclear programme and bloodless rocket attacks from Gaza.

Agencies
Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2010, 01:14
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