UN council urged to probe Israel's war crimes in Gaza

Officials urged U.N. Security Council to probe Israeli violations of international law during Israel's three-week assault in the Gaza Strip.

UN council urged to probe Israel's war crimes in Gaza

The U.N. Security Council should look into possible violations of international law during Israel's three-week assault in the Gaza Strip, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday.

Karen AbuZayd, head of the U.N. relief agency in the Palestinian territories UNRWA, told the 15 council members that they shared part of the burden of helping the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza return to normalcy.

This, she said supports moves to investigate apparent contraventions of international law, including direct attacks on U.N. personnel and facilities, as in UNRWA's own headquarters and five of its schools."

AbuZayd told the council she had seen in Gaza "what appears to have been systematic destruction to schools, universities, residential buildings, factories, shops and farms."

Britain's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce told reporters before the meeting that
"I do think there are some credible allegations of the use of things like white phosphorus, which bear investigation," she said.

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.

"Systematic destruction'

Richard Falk, a special U.N. investigator sent to the Middle East by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, has said there was evidence that Israel committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip and there should be an independent inquiry.

Falk, who is Jewish, has compared the situation in Gaza to that of the Warsaw Ghetto during the World War Two, where the Nazis systematically starved and murdered Jews.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said there were major questions to be asked about the Israeli killings of civilians and not to protect humanitarian workers in Gaza.

Holmes also said that around 1.3 million Gazans -- roughly 90 percent of the strip's population -- needed food aid.

He added that the United Nations would launch a flash aid appeal next week to raise funds for emergency relief in Gaza.

Calls for probe

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during Gaza visit, he expected Israel to provide urgently a full explanation of attacks on U.N. facilities in Gaza and said those responsible must be held accountable.

MAZLUMDER, Turkish human rights group, also went to Gaza to probe violations during Israeli bombings and assault.

The 47-member UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, voted by a large majority on January 12 to set up a probe into grave human rights violations by Israeli forces against Palestinians.

Amnesty International, which has investigators in Gaza, said that it had found indisputable evidence that white phosphorus was used by Israeli forces in densely populated areas.

Eight Israeli human rights groups have also called on the Israeli government to investigate given the scale of the casualties, describing the number of dead women and children as terrifying.

Butdespite international calls to investigate Israel over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday promised military personnel "state protection" from foreign prosecution over "war crimes".

"The commanders and soldiers sent to Gaza should know they are safe from various tribunals and Israel will assist them on this front and defend them," Olmert said.

Last week, the military censor ordered local and foreign media in Israel to blur the faces of army commanders in photos and video footage of the Gaza war on the ground that "they could be identified and arrested while travelling abroad."


Agencies

Last Mod: 28 Ocak 2009, 15:02
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