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Headed by Richard Goldstone, UN war crimes investigators arrive in Gaza, spurned by Israel and welcomed by Hamas

Spurned by Israel and welcomed by Hamas, UN war crimes investigators arrive in Gaza

Date: 01 / 06 / 2009  Time:  11:09
Gaza – Ma’an –

A UN fact-finding commission into alleged violations of international law committed during Israel’s recent offensive arrived in Gaza via Egypt’s Rafah crossing on Monday morning.

Israel has announced it will refuse to cooperate with South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s investigation, while Hamas, the ruling power in Gaza, says it welcomes the team, which was tapped by the UN’s Human Rights Council.

In a statement issued on Monday Hamas said it praised all efforts by human rights committees and organizations that work to reveal the truth about the Gaza war.

Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum welcomed Goldstone’s team, saying, “We are ready to help these committees and encourage them to unveil the truth and bring out all the hidden details of what took place during the war, hoping to show the entire world the truth.”

Barhoum added in a statement sent to Ma’an: “I consider that the Israeli rejection of dealing with such committees proves that they committed crimes in Gaza and they want [the truth] to be hidden.”

Hamas official Minister Ghazi Hammad and local UN officials met the investigators at the crossing.

The inquiry is led by a Jewish South African judge, Richard Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The team also includes Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics; Hina Jilani, a human rights advocate from Pakistan; and Desmond Travers, a former officer in the Irish Armed Forces with expertise on international criminal investigations.

According to a statement issued by the UN in Geneva, the team’s initial field visits will take place over the coming five days, with future visits in the works.

The commission was established with a mandate to “investigate all violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”

“In accordance with its mandate,” the UN statement said, “the Mission will focus on relevant violations by all parties in the entire occupied Palestinian territory, including Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel.”

More than 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed during the three-week assault in December and January.

Israel maintains that its own internal investigations are sufficient inquiry into war crimes allegations, but human rights organizations reject these probes as a cover-up.

UN inquiry committee arrives in Gaza

Monday June 01, 2009 12:58 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

The team of UN investigators assigned to probe war crimes committed during the22-day offensive against the Gaza Strip arrived on Monday morning into the Gaza Strip.

The committee is headed by Human Rights expert, South African judge and former International War Crimes Prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, who also probed war crimes in Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

Hamas movement in Gaza welcomed the committee and said that it is willing to fully cooperate with the investigation.

On its side, Israel said that it will not cooperate in the investigation. Israeli Foreign Ministry stated previously that the committee is coming to the region with the intent to show Israel as the guilty party, and decided that cooperating with the committee would be meaningless.

Committee members arrived first from Geneva to Egypt and then headed to Gaza on Monday morning.

The twenty-two day offensive against the Gaza Strip was initiated by Israel on December 27. More than 1450 Palestinians were killed, most of them were women, children and elderly and thousands of residents were wounded.  Thirteen Israelis, including ten soldiers, were killed by Palestinian fire.

 The Committee said it wants to investigate whether Israel and Hamas violated the international law during the three-week offensive.  

The UN said that the committee would investigate all violations by all parties in Israel, the Gaza Strip and even the West Bank.

 But Israel claimed that the United Nations is singling out Israel and ignoring “crimes committed by Hamas”.

Hamas hopes UN fact-finding mission would end in trial of Israeli war criminals

[ 01/06/2009 - 04:21 PM ]


Hamas on Monday welcomed the arrival of the UN independent fact-finding mission into Israeli war crimes committed during the latest Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas's spokesman, said in a statement that his Movement would fully cooperate with the mission and table all evidence documenting the Israeli war crimes with its members.

He hoped that the investigation would end up with the trial of Israeli war criminals at the international court of justice.

He said that the Israeli government's refusal to cooperate with the UN mission as the biggest proof of its involvement in war crimes in Gaza.

Dr. Mohammed Awad, the secretary of the Palestinian government, voiced a similar statement when he said that his government would extend all assistance to the UN committee.

He added in a statement that the team members would be allowed to freely tour the Gaza strip to see for themselves the bulk of devastation inflicted by the Israeli war other than the thousands of casualties.

The UN fact finding committee arrived in the Strip on Monday from the Rafah border terminal to investigation war crime allegations committed by the Israeli occupation forces during the war on Gaza.

The Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor was quick to reject any cooperation with the committee charging it with prejudice even before it started its work.

During meeting with UN Secretary-General, Barak slams UN investigation committee

Tuesday June 02, 2009 00:28 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

During his Monday meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in New York, Israeli occupation government defense minister, Ehud Barak, slammed the UN committee that arrived in Gaza to investigation war crimes committed during the Gaza offensive. Israel’s Foreign Ministry officials said the ministry will not cooperate with the investigation.

Barak reiterated the Israeli rhetoric and claimed that the Israeli army “is the most moral army in the world”, and that Israeli sent its troops into Gaza to achieve security for the Israelis.

He also said that the United Nations should have investigated why the Palestinian factions fired homemade shells towards Israel, and why they did not stop firing homemade shells even after the disengagement from Gaza and after all settlements were dismantled and settlers were pulled out.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Israel will not cooperate with the committee because “it just aims at throwing accusations at Israel”.

Barak demanded the UN to practice more efforts for the release of the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, and also demanded the UN to organize a meeting between Red Cross representatives and Shalit in Gaza.

On the Iranian issue, Barak said that Iran’s military power boost threatens the region and the whole world, and added that Israel insists that the international community should increase the economic sanction on the country.

In Gaza, Hamas leadership welcomed the committee and said that it hopes “Zionist leaders will be brought to justice for their crimes against the Palestinian people.

The four-member team, headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, entered the Gaza Strip on Monday via the Rafah border terminal between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

The team plans to remain in Gaza for one week, with the possibility of coming back again, and then it would submit its final report in early August.

 Over 1450 Palestinians were killed and thousands were injured during the Israeli offensive, most of the casualties were civilians, including women and children. The army shelled homes, education facilities, infra-structure, mosques, hospitals and medical crews. 13 Israelis, including ten soldiers, were killed by Palestinian fire.

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