U.N. group: Gaza acts amounted to war crimes

The U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict is headed by Richard Goldstone.
A United Nations group will present a scathing report Tuesday on Israel’s conduct during its military offensive into Gaza that began late last year.

In the report, released earlier this month, the U.N. group accused Israel of committing “actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity” during its military incursion into Gaza from December 27 to January 18. The group, called the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, is headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone. Goldstone is scheduled to present the 400-plus page report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Tuesday. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights will present her own report after Goldstone. Goldstone’s report also found that Palestinian militants committed war crimes, but the overwhelming majority of the report’s criticism targets Israel. Israel did not cooperate in the investigation. The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement earlier saying Israel “did not feel able to cooperate with the Fact Finding Mission because its mandate was clearly one-sided and ignored the thousands of Hamas missiles attacks on civilians in southern Israel that made the Gaza Operation necessary.”

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The report claims that the Israeli Defense Forces “failed to take feasible precautions required by international law to avoid or minimize loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.” The U.N. report also said Israel fired the chemical agent white phosphorous in civilian areas, intentionally fired upon hospitals using high-explosive artillery shells, and failed to provide effective warnings to civilians or U.N. workers before attacks. It also claims that Israel used Palestinian civilians as human shields and deliberately attacked Palestinian food supplies in Gaza. The report recommends that the U.N. Security Council require the government of Israel to launch appropriate independent investigations into the findings of the report within three months. The findings also recommend that the alleged Israeli war crimes be explored by the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor. The findings also call on the Palestinian leadership to investigate alleged war crimes, for militants to respect humanitarian law, and for the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on humanitarian grounds.