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Israel unlikely to comply with UN Human Rights probe in Gaza

April 15, 2009 4:58 P.M. (Updated: April 15, 2009 4:58 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israel is "very unlikely" to cooperate with a UN probe investigating violations of human rights and international law during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in December and January, AP quoted an Israeli official as saying Wednesday.

The investigation, launched by the UN Human Rights Council, runs in parallel to a UN investigation on "several incidents in the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 19 January 2009 in which death or injuries occurred" according to a UN statement.

The Human Rights probe has been welcomed by dozens of international organizations as well as Hamas, which said it was ready to work with the investigators on the probe. Dozens of local organizations in the Gaza Strip have been collecting testimonies from citizens over the human rights violations carried out by the Israeli army during their war.

The Israeli government official indicated that the UN had been notified of the country's position on the probe, but noted that he was unsure whether the probe's chief Justice Richard J. Goldstone, had been informed of the decision.

Israel's ambassador to the UN was quoted Tuesday as saying Israel does not have faith in the UN Human Rights Council.

According to AP, he said of Israel's position that, "(It's) not about Justice Goldstone. It has nothing to do with him.It's clear to everybody who follows this council and the way that it treats Israel that justice cannot be the outcome of this mission."

Investigating violations

Human Rights Watch said Gaza's Hamas rulers should also be investigated by the probe, for both the firing of projectiles towards Israeli towns, and the alleged use of Palestinian civilians as human shields during the Israeli war on the area. In its statement on the probe HRW noted its earlier criticism of the UN Human Rights Council "for its exclusive focus on Israeli rights violations."

The statement also extolled the probe's members saying the investigation is likely to "demonstrate the highest standards of impartiality."

Also under investigation by the probe will be Israel's use of white phosphorous shells in densely populated Gaza, indiscriminate shelling in civilian areas, the willful destruction of civilian property, attacking clearly identified medics, and knowingly firing at unarmed civilians.

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