UN Rights Council to send mission to probe Israeli assault in Gaza

The Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council has said it will send a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli assault in Gaza.

UN Rights Council to send mission to probe Israeli assault in Gaza

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday 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.

Reporting to the U.N. Security Council on a trip to Gaza region, Ban said the recent violence in Gaza was a sign of "collective political failure" and called for a "massive international effort" to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Ban visited the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to pledge aid for Palestinians after Israeli attacks killed 1,300 and made thousands homeless in a 22-day assault.

Hamas and Israel declared ceasefires on Sunday and Israel has withdrawn its troops from Gaza.

Ban said he had demanded a thorough investigation by Israel of several incidents of outrageous attacks against U.N. facilities.

At least four UN-run schools were hit in Israeli strikes, including one on Saturday in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya where some 1,600 people were sheltering.

Saturday's strike occurred two days after Ban was given Israeli assurances that such attacks would not recur.

The United Nations provides support for much of the 1.5 million population.

"I expect to receive a full explanation of each incident and that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions," Ban said in a report delivered for him by Under Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe because Ban had lost his voice.

He said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had promised to provide the results of an inquiry "on an urgent basis."

"I will then decide on appropriate follow-up action."

Other U.N. officials, including John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, have called for an independent investigation into the attacks. U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said Ban also wanted one after the Israeli inquiry.

Meanwhile, the Security Council adopted a non-binding statement stressing the need for full implementation of its Resolution 1860, adopted earlier this month, including a call for a Gaza ceasefire "to be durable and fully respected by all parties."

UN probe mission

Ryad Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer, immediately welcomed the Council statement.

Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour said he was satisfied with Ban's comments because in his view determining the next step ... includes many things, including legal proceedings in (the) international legal system.

The Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council has said it will send a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli assault in Gaza. UNRWA will also conduct its own probe, Pascoe said.

He also hailed the fact that UN humanitarian chief John Holmes and UN special Middle East coordinator Robert Serry would begin a mission to Gaza to assess relief aid needs in the wake of the devastating Israeli offensive.

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.

Israel has come under fire for using excessive force during the conflict with Amnesty International accusing the Jewish state of war crimes.

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.


Agencies

Last Mod: 22 Ocak 2009, 15:50
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