UN to call for another probe into Gaza conflict
New York: Fourteen months after the outbreak of the Gaza war, the UN General Assembly was set to again tackle the conflict with a new draft resolution to be debated on Friday.
Similar to a resolution the Assembly passed last year, Friday`s draft would again urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to each investigate the Israel-Hamas fighting in Gaza Strip in the winter of 2009.
The draft resolution, already endorsed by 19 Arab states and the Palestinian Authority, calls for an investigation that is "independent, credible and in conformity with international standards".
The move is similar to the General Assembly`s call last year for the two warring parties to investigate the conflict and submit reports carried out by independent authorities.
The deadline for that first set of reports expired earlier this month. While Israel submitted a 52-page report of its own investigation, the Palestinians said they had just initiated an investigative process.
The draft to be considered on Friday by the 192-nation body asks for each side to investigate "the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law" and to ensure accountability and justice as a result of the conflict.
The call by the General Assembly for the individual reports had its seeds in the Goldstone Report which was carried out under the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In that report, former South African Judge Richard Goldstone led a four-member panel which found that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The report detailed how the December 2008 - January 2009 conflict killed 1,400 Palestinians and nine Israelis. It detailed also the extensive destruction in Gaza.
Israel rejected the Goldstone report, calling it unacceptable and biased. The US also rejected it.
It was not clear why both Israel and Hamas were being asked to submit a new round of reports, when Israel already submitted one.
Earlier in February, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the Israeli report as one based on an investigative system comparable to any used by democratic nations like the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.
In his report, Ban said the Israeli investigators had followed on every allegation "regardless of whether the source was neutral, hostile or friendly." The investigators had probed 150 separate incidents, including 36 criminal investigations.
Ban at the time said however that some of the Israeli investigations were still underway.
The possibility that the General Assembly will call for another round of reports from Israel and Gaza was endorsed by human rights organisations.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said the draft resolution pointed the way to "justice for victims of serious violations of laws of war committed by Israel and Hamas".
"Israel and Hamas have failed to conduct credible investigations thus far, so UN members need to ensure justice for civilian victims on all sides," said Steve Cranshaw, the UN advocate for Human Rights Watch.
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