World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel now faces several war crimes probes after 22-day Gaza assault, that killed 1300 Palestinians.
The UN secretary-general has on Thursday announced an probe into the attack on the UN headquarters in the Gaza Strip during Israel's 22-day assault on the Palestinian territory.
A total of 53 installations used by the United Nations Relief and Works agency were damaged or destroyed during Israel's Gaza campaign including 37 schools - six of which were being used as emergency shelters - six health centres, and two warehouses.
Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that he was angered by the unacceptable Israeli attacks on civilians and UN relief agency compounds.
"Over the past several weeks, unacceptable and terrible situations have taken place against the civilian people and against particularly the United Nations compounds, where many civilians were sheltered," he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Ban said there would be an "independent investigation to look into the case of UN compound bombing".
UN officials say they have evidence that white phosphorous, a smokescreen agent that can cause severe burns, was used in the attack on the UN relief agency's main building in Gaza that left three people injured.
"I myself saw and visited this compound, which has been destroyed by Israeli forces. It was just, again, unacceptable, and I was very much frustrated and upset and angered by what I had seen," Ban said.
Ban's investigation will be separate from one that the UN Human Rights Council has launched into alleged violations of humanitarian law during the fighting, but he did not give details on who will carry it out and when.
All branches of Mazlumder, a Turkish human rights group, on Thursday filed a war crimes case against Israeli officials to the offices of the Public Prosecutors over 22-day Gaza assault.
Mazlumder Istanbul Branch chairman Ayhan Küçük and other members and volunteers went to Sultanahmet Court in İstanbul "to ask investigation for Israel's war crimes against humanity" for their involvement in Gaza massacre.
Last Mod: 30 Ocak 2009, 16:05
The written application demands "20 Israelis, whose names and involments in the killings of 160 Gazans are known", to be put on trial and punished for "their crimes against humanity according to the Turkish Criminal Law and International agreements."
After submitting the petition calling for the Israeli officials of the massacre in Gaza, Küçük said they went to Gaza to probe violations during Israeli bombings and assaults, and this petition is "the result of their findings that shows Israel committed serious crimes during the attacks."
"What Israel did in Gaza is a genocide, war and crimes against humanity. In our first investigation, we witnessed that all infustracture of Gaza had been destroyed, people`s bodies were burned by phosporus bombs, Gaza Islam University building and its most important laboratory, stores in the city center, UN schools, mosques, ambulances, and official buildings were bombed, he added.
" Additionally, we have seen flatten out buildings, orange fields, animal farms, small manifacturing facilities, and public buildings in Jabaliya. We want all Israeli officials who are responsible for this attack to be put on trial in International Criminal Court and in Turkey," he said.
Meanwhile, "Spain's High Court will launch a war crimes investigation into seven Israelis, including a former defence minister, over a 2002 attack that killed 14 civilians and a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip, court papers said, Reuters reported.
Spanish law allows the prosecution of foreigners for such crimes as genocide, crimes against humanity and torture committed anywhere in the world.
Spanish court papers said the bombing killed 15 people, the majority of them children and babies, and injured 150.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is bringing the case against then-Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and six military men, most of whom are now retired from active duty, involved in the decision to drop a one-tonne bomb from an F-16 plane onto a housing block on July 22, 2002.
The blast killed Hamas commander Salah Shehada, but the organisation said it was bringing the case on behalf of only the families of 14 civilians killed, nine of whom were children, and 96 injured.
"If Israel would like to be a civilised nation it will have to accept the rule of law, and the rule of law is not served with a 1,000-kg bomb," the Palestinian Centre's lawyer Gonzalo Boye said.
Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu's investigation, which is expected to last several years, was brought after Israel declined to reply to a question from the court last August as to whether the seven would be tried at home.
Boye said the offensive which Israel launched in Gaza on Dec. 27 and killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children, could result in more Spanish prosecutions.
Fear over war crimes cases
But Israel took counter-steps to prevent war crimes trials and army said it would not reveal the names of the battalion commanders who oversaw the assault in the overcrowded slums and cities of Gaza "on the ground that they could face arrest and prosecution for war crimes if they travelled abroad".
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also promised military personnel "state protection" from foreign prosecution over "war crimes" despite international calls to investigate Israel over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.
Israel killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children in the 22-day military aggression on Gaza and wounded 5,300 Palestinians, and Gaza infrastructure suffered massive damage totaling some 476 million dollars, according to Palestinian medics and officials.