09/16/2009, 00.00
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UN: Israel and Hamas guilty of war crimes in Gaza

by Joshua Lapide
Israeli army and Palestinian militants also accused of "crimes against humanity." The report will be presented later this month to the UN Commission on Human Rights. Within six months, if the two authorities do not carry out investigations, the allegations will be presented to the International Criminal Court. For Israel the report is "one-sided" for Hamas "not objective".

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Israeli army and Palestinian militants committed war crimes in the conflict in Gaza last winter says an official UN report, drawn up under the guidance of South African Judge Richard Gladstone.

The report is based on 188 interviews and over 10 thousand pages of documents and 1,200 photos. It is stressed that during the war waged by Israel between 28 December 2008 and January 18, 2009, there were "serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law." Israel "committed actions that can be considered war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity." And again, that the Israeli military operations "were planned carefully in all their stages, and disproportionate, designed as deliberate attack to punish, humiliate and terrorize the civilian population."

According to humanitarian organizations, in the "Cast Lead”, 1400 Palestinians were killed, the vast majority civilians and children.  Among the dead were 3 Israeli civilians and 10 soldiers.

The report also condemns the rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Gaza against Israeli civilians. Speaking at the launch of the report at a press conference in New York, Gladstone said: "The launch of rockets and mortars from Gaza into towns, villages and civilian areas in Israel is equally serious and this is a serious war crime and a crime against humanity.

The report will be submitted to the UN Commission on Human Rights at the end of this month. It calls on the authorities of Israel and Gaza to carry out investigations into such crimes within six months, otherwise they will be reported to the International Criminal Court.

The text also widely condemns the blockade of Gaza close to the conflict, seen as a "collective punishment" against the civilian population. At the same time, it condemns the arbitrary arrests and executions without trial by Hamas in Gaza, and asks that the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured in 2006 be freed. The report also demands he be extended all the rights of the Geneva Convention for prisoners of war and be visited by the Red Cross.

Hamas cooperated with the UN For the preparation of the report, but Israel refused. Yet the conclusions are rejected by both sides. Mark Regev, spokesman for the government of Tel Aviv said that the report is “clearly one-sided” and "born in sin" from the beginning. Hamas said that "at the end, it is not objective and accurate".


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