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Hamas officials hand over documents to UN's Gaza war crimes inquiry

June 2, 2009 1:38 P.M. (Updated: June 2, 2009 1:38 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinian de facto government officials in Gaza handed over documents, photos, and other materials to a UN fact-finding commission in cooperation with an investigation into allegations of war crimes on Monday.

The Hamas officials met with the UN team, headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone, on Monday night at the end of the first day of the team's field visit to Gaza.

The officials said the materials were evidence of Israeli violations of the laws of war during the attack on Gaza in December and January, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead.

Health Minister Bassem Na'im, Justice Minister Muhammad Faraj Al-Ghoul, and Foreign Ministry political advisor Ahmad Yousef, and government spokesman Taher An-Nunu held talks with Goldstone's team in the Health Ministry building in Gaza City.

Al-Ghoul said in a press conference after the meeting, "The government provided and will provide more documents and papers that will show the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation against Gazans." He also said that the Palestinian officials explained the types of weaponry used by Israel during the war.

Away from the cameras

On Tuesday Goldstone's commission continued its work. The team refuses to release the details of its schedule. The local organizations hosting the team, such as UNRWA, have also refused to disclose this information. Reporters and photographers are not allowed to travel with the group.

Goldstone and his team of 15 international legal experts are staying in the Ad-Dira Hotel in Gaza. The group left the hotel at eight in the morning and was not expected to return until late at night. What is known is that the team planned to meet with more government officials and also visit the Samuni family, which lost 29 of its members to the Israeli bombardment in January. Police kept journalists from covering the visit.

Speaking at Monday night's press conference Hamas political advisor Ahmad Yousef also said that the government will work seriously to provide the commission with what they need to do their work successfully.

An-Nunu said that the UN team will visit areas devastated during the Israeli invasion, including Jabaliya Refugee Camp, the town of Beit Lahiya, and the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

The Hamas government's response was in stark contrast to the Israeli government's ongoing refusal to cooperate with Goldstone's investigation.

While the Goldstone's mandate calls on him to investigate violations committed by all parties, including Palestinian fighters and the Hamas-led government, it is unclear if authorities in Gaza would also cooperate with that aspect of the inquiry.

Goldstone's team leaves Gaza on Friday and is due to submit its report to the UN Human Rights Council in August.

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