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UN chief sending Gaza war crimes report to Security Council

Edith M. Lederer,Associated Press
Saturday 07 November 2009 01:00 GMT

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday he will send a report calling for Israel and the Palestinians to investigate alleged war crimes during last winter's conflict in Gaza to the UN Security Council "as soon as possible."

The 15 council members have already received copies of the 575-page report by an expert panel chaired by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. But the General Assembly in a resolution adopted Thursday asks the secretary-general to transmit it, which will make the report an official Security Council document.

The Goldstone report recommended that the Security Council require both sides to carry out credible investigations into alleged abuses during the Gaza conflict — in which 13 Israelis and almost 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed, and thousands wounded — and to follow that up with action in their courts within three months.

If either side refuses, the investigators recommended the Security Council refer the evidence for prosecution by the International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

The Security Council, however, is highly unlikely to take any action.

The United States has repeatedly said the report belongs in the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which appointed the Goldstone panel. Diplomats said Russia and China also don't want the Security Council dealing with human rights issues. All three countries have veto power in the Security Council.

The International Criminal Court can only investigate crimes on the territory of nations that recognize its jurisdiction, unless a case is referred to it by the Security Council.

The Palestinian Authority recognized the court in January and urged prosecutors to launch an investigation into crimes committed during the Gaza conflict, but prosecutors are investigating whether this is possible since there is no state of Palestine.

Israel reiterated its rejection of the Goldstone report and said Friday the General Assembly resolution did not have "the support of the moral majority."

The report concluded that Israel used disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians, using Palestinians as human shields, and destroying civilian infrastructure during the incursion to root out Palestinian rocket squads targeting southern Israel.

It accused Palestinian armed groups of deliberately targeting civilians and trying to spread terror through its rocket attacks on southern Israel. Hamas, the main rival to the Palestinian Authority which Mansour represents, controls Gaza and most armed groups in the territory.

The Goldstone panel concluded that both Israel and Palestinian militants committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the Gaza war.

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