New York: Palestinian authorities have established an independent commission to look into the alleged war crimes committed by Hamas and Israeli forces during the Gaza conflict that killed over 1,400 people a year ago, according to Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour.
Mansour said he has submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's office documents relating to the establishment of the independent commission made up of judges, legal experts and professors.
"The Palestinian side met the deadline in submitting what is required from it," he told reporters here yesterday, noting that documents along with a presidential decree establishing the Commission also contained a "preliminary report" prepared by the new body.
The report was submitted in response to a UN General Assembly resolution that had called for investigations into the alleged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead carried out by the Israeli Defence forces on the Gaza strip.
The resolution was based on findings of the Goldstone report prepared by the UN Fact Finding Mission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone, which found strong evidence of war crimes committed by the Hamas and Israeli forces during the military assault that lasted from December 2008 to January 2009 and killed 1400 Palestinians as well as 13 Israelis.
The main recommendation of the Mission is for UN Security Council to require Israel and Palestinians to report within six months on domestic prosecutions. If the governments fail in this task, the Council should refer the matter to the prosecutor of the ICC.
Mansour works for the Fatah government that controls the West Bank while Hamas controls the Gaza strip and it is not clear whether Hamas will cooperate with the investigations.
Hamas also prepared its own response to the Goldstone report denying that the group had deliberately targeted Israeli civilians.
Meanwhile, the Israeli side submitted its own report to the United Nations defending internal investigations being carried out by its military but not addressing the possibility of an independent probe as required by the resolution, the New York Times reported.
However, a government source told BBC that the senior leadership, except for Defence Minister Ehud Barak, agreed that some kind of investigative body independent from the military should be established.
Ban will report to the General Assembly on the progress made by both sides and recommend further action.
The Goldstone report, which slams Israel more than Hamas, has been declared as "biased" by Israel and the United States.
"The action of the occupiers, which is war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be compared to any action by the Palestinian side that might have been taken," Mansour said.
First Published: Saturday, January 30, 2010, 13:05