Israel not to cooperate with Gaza war crimes probe


Jerusalem : Israel said Friday it would not cooperate with a United Nations team appointed to investigate into alleged war crimes committed during its 22-day offensive in Gaza.

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The UN announced from Geneva Friday that the four-member team, headed by South African war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, will head to the region this weekend, and wants to begin work next week.

Goldstone has previously said the investigation would go ahead with or without Israeli cooperation.

He has also indicated he will attempt to enter Gaza via Egypt if not allowed in through Israel.

“This committee has been instructed to find Israel guilty no matter what and there is no point in cooperating with such a masquerade,” Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor told DPA.

Israel, and other nations such as Canada, have accused the UN Human Rights Council – which mandated the fact-finding mission in a January resolution passed by 33 in favour, one against and 13 abstentions – of overtly singling it out.

The resolution which gave the UN team its mandate “is profoundly biased,” Palmor claimed – pointing out it has only ordered a probe only into alleged Israeli violations, while ignoring Hamas, the radical Islamist movement ruling Gaza.

Israel launched the Dec 27-Jan 18 offensive in Gaza in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants from the coastal salient at its southern towns and villages.

According to the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), 1,417 Palestinians, most of them civilians, died in the war, which also caused massive destruction. Thirteen Israelis also died.