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UN rebukes Israel over Gaza raids

A United Nations inquiry into attacks by Israeli forces on UN property during the Gaza conflict four months ago has heavily criticised Israel's army.

It found Israel to blame in six out of nine incidents when death and injuries were caused to people sheltering at UN property and UN buildings were damaged.

In one case, Palestinian militants were found to have fired at a UN warehouse.

The UN recommends further investigation into possible war crimes. Israel has branded the report "highly unbalanced".

The investigation rejects Israel's claim that militants were firing from the Fakhura school when at least 40 people outside the school were killed in shellfire.

The board of inquiry also criticises Israel's use of white phosphorous shells which caused the incineration of UN's main food warehouse in Gaza - something the UN says showed "reckless disregard" for civilian safety.

The Israeli foreign ministry said UN investigators had ignored evidence given by Israel and had sided with the Palestinian Hamas movement.

"The spirit of the report and its language are tendentious and entirely unbalanced and ignore the facts as they were presented to the commission," it said in a statement.

"The commission prefers the positions of Hamas, a murderous terror organization, and by doing so misleads the world public."

'Untrue'

The BBC's Laura Trevelyan at the UN says it is a hard-hitting report which includes heavy criticism of the Israeli military's actions and subsequent explanations and justifications.

The UN board's first recommendation seeks "formal acknowledgment" by Israel that its public statements that Palestinians fired from a UN school and from within the UN's field office compound "were untrue and are regretted".

Another says the UN should take appropriate action to seek accountability and reparation for all deaths and injuries involving its personnel and property.

The report says Israel's actions were in breach of the agreement that UN premises and those sheltering within them should be immune from attack, something which cannot be set aside for military action.

The board says investigating the deaths of the 40 people killed outside the Fakhura school is outside its remit.

It recommends that this and allegations of war crimes committed in Gaza and southern Israel by Palestinian militants and Israel should be investigated by another inquiry.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has stressed this report is not a legal document.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8034565.stm


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Added: May-5-2009 Occurred On: May-5-2009
By: loweyes
In:
News, Middle East
Tags: Israel, Palestine, gaza, west, bank, war, cimes, idf, white, phosphorous, un, inquiry
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