Israel calls on UN to end ‘obsessively biased’ Gaza war probe 27Sep10 September 28, 2010

Haaretz -  27 September 2010


Israel called on Monday for an end to United Nations Human Rights Council investigations into its actions in the 2008-09 Gaza conflict, insisting that the body was “obsessively biased” against it.

But in discussion at the 47-nation council of a report from a UN expert mission on the fighting, Islamic countries and their allies said pressure had to be kept on the Israelis to make them halt “aggression” in the region.

The military action in late December 2008 and early January 2009 against the enclave controlled by Hamas Islamists came “in response to years of attacks by Hamas
terrorists,” said Israel’s ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar.

The stance of the council, he declared, “has continually been one-sided and obsessively biased….It did not matter that steps were taken by Israel to protect its citizens while limiting damage whenever possible to Palestinian civilians.”

During the Gaza fighting, more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died after Israel sent troops into the enclave between Israel and Egypt in what it said was an attempt to halt Hamas rocket fire on its towns near the border.

The UN report, released last week, said investigations by both Israel and the Palestinians into violations of human rights in the conflict were inadequate. It also criticised Israel for refusing to cooperate with the mission.

Israel probe

Leshno Yaar told the council Israel had launched its own independent investigation into how far it had looked into the behaviour of its forces in Gaza and whether its legal system was up to dealing with any complaints of excessive violence.

“Given these processes, and Israel’s significant efforts, it is time to bring activities from this hall to a conclusion,” the ambassador said. This would allow the council to focus on seeking out true human rights failures in the world, he added.

Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has been a prime target for the council, where Islamic countries and their allies in Africa and Asia have a built-in majority, since its launch in
2006 to replace an earlier body seen as over-politicised.

In Monday’s debate, member countries of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) insisted that the council and the U.N. General Assembly in New York must continue to focus on the Gaza operation and its aftermath.

“Israel must put an end to its culture of violence….and show a new face to the world,” Turkey told the rights body.

The UN expert mission’s report centred on how the two sides of the Gaza conflict had responded to a UN call to investigate allegations of war crimes and rights violations.

That call had come in a report of a fact-finding mission last year led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

The Goldstone report found that both the Israeli army and the Hamas were guilty of war crimes in the conflict but focused mainly on violations by Israel, which rejected its findings.

In a separate matter, being discussed alongside the Gaza conflict question, UN experts said last week that a May attack by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla was unlawful and resulted in violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.


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