06/01/2009, 00.00
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UN fact-finding mission on Gaza war

Richard Goldstone, former chief UN Prosecutor in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, heads delegation to probe alleged war crimes committed last December-January. Final report expected for early August.
Rafah (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A United Nations fact-finding mission arrived in the Gaza Strip today to investigate alleged human rights violations during Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian coastal enclave. Richard Goldstone, former chief UN Prosecutor in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, heads the mission, which should stay a week in the Strip.

According to Palestinian sources, 1,417 people including 926 civilians were killed during Israel's 22-day offensive. Israel lost 10 soldiers and three civilians in the fighting, but says that 1,166 Palestinians were killed, 295 of them civilians.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said his group would cooperate with the UN commission so that it can fully do its job and, he hopes, see “the leaders of the Zionist enemy brought to justice as soon as possible as war criminals in the international courts.”

Israel announced early May that it would not cooperate with the UN mission after it presented its first results saying that it had proof that Israel was responsible for attacks against a number of schools, a hospital and UNRWA headquarters.

Goldstone said that the mission will probably be back in Gaza, probably at the end of June before it handed in its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in early August.

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