UN panel criticises Israel, Hamas over Gaza probes

A group of UN experts criticised Israel and Hamas on Wedbnesday for failing to conduct serious investigations into alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip last year.

Last Updated: Sep 22, 2010, 11:13 AM IST

Geneva: A group of UN experts criticised
Israel and Hamas on Wedbnesday for failing to conduct serious
investigations into alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip last
year.

The three-member panel appointed by the UN Human Rights
Council said in a report that Israel had only investigated
low-ranking officials and the inquiries hadn`t met standards
of impartiality.

"Israel conducted investigations into many incidents, but
only four resulted in criminal indictments, one of which led
to a conviction for a credit card theft," said the panel`s
chairman Christian Tomuschat, a law professor at Humboldt
University in Berlin.

It also criticised Israel for refusing to cooperate with
the panel`s multiple requests for information and access to
Israel and the West Bank.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor,
called the panel`s criticism "bizarre" and said the UN experts
had ignored many internal investigations conducted by the
Israeli government, the results of which were given to other
officials within the global body.

On the Palestinian side, the UN panel said an inquiry by
Hamas "made no serious effort" to address allegations levelled
against the Palestinian militant group by a previous UN panel
led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.

Hamas officials couldn`t be immediately reached for
comment.

The panel`s conclusions will be debated by the
Geneva-based Human Rights Council on yesterday. On the same
day the 47-member body is scheduled to receive a separate
report on Israel`s military assault on a Gaza-bound aid
flotilla in which eight Turks and one Turkish-American were
killed.

PTI