World

UN judge to investigate alleged war crimes in Gaza conflict

The United Nations appointed a Jewish South African judge Friday to investigate both sides amid allegations of war crimes and human rights violations during the recent Israeli offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The United Nations appointed a Jewish South African judge Friday to investigate both sides amid allegations of war crimes and human rights violations during the recent Israeli offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Richard Goldstone —  a former UN chief prosecutor for war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda — said his team will investigate "all violations of international humanitarian law" before, during and after the conflict that ended Jan. 18.

The human rights probe will examine alleged war crimes by Israel in its three-week war with Hamas, as well as possible Palestinian violations in southern Israel.

"It's in the interest of the victims. It brings acknowledgment of what happened to them," Goldstone told reporters in Geneva. "It can assist the healing process. I would hope it's in the interests of all the political actors, too."

As a Jew, he said he was "shocked" to be asked to head the mission, but believes he can handle the task in an "evenhanded and impartial manner."

The UN Human Rights Council ordered the investigation in January.

Israel has refused to co-operate in such investigations in the past, calling them biased.

"This committee is instructed not to seek out the truth but to single out Israel for alleged crimes," said Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The investigation team includes British professor of international law Christine Chinkin, Pakistani lawyer Hina Jilani and retired Irish army colonel Desmond Travers.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said a human rights probe headed by Richard Goldstone would investigate alleged Israeli war crimes during a three-week conflict with Hamas that ended Jan. 18, 2009. In fact, Goldstone said his team would investigate "all violations of international humanitarian law" before, during and after the conflict, including allegations against Israelis in the Gaza Strip and allegations against Palestinians in southern Israel.
    Apr 09, 2009 12:55 AM ET

With files from the Associated Press