Middle East

UN faults Israeli, Hamas probes into Gaza conflict

Palestinians flee from an Israeli air strike in Gaza, Dec 2008
Image caption Israel's 22-day Gaza offensive ended in January 2009, with 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead

A UN panel has criticised Israel and Hamas for failing to conduct credible and adequate probes into alleged war crimes during the 2008-2009 Gaza war.

Israel only investigated low-ranking officials, the three-member panel said.

And a Hamas inquiry "made no serious effort" to address allegations raised by a previous UN investigation led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.

More than 1,400 Gazans and 13 Israelis died during Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza which began in December 2008.

Israel said Operation Cast Lead was aimed at halting militant attacks on Israel from Gaza.

According to the United Nations, the Israeli military campaign left more than 50,000 homes, 800 industrial properties and 200 schools damaged or destroyed.

'Far short'

"The investigations... remain incomplete in some cases or fall significantly short of meeting international standards in others," said the report by the three-member panel appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.

Israel did not investigate the role of "officials at the highest levels" who were complicit in human rights violations, as alleged by the Goldstone report, or other alleged violations which occurred in the occupied West Bank during the conflict, the report said.

Officials at Israel's mission to the UN in Geneva declined immediately to comment.

The panel also criticised two probes by Hamas, the Islamist movement which governs Gaza, saying that the first "made no serious effort" to address the allegations raised in the Goldstone report and the second "failed to substantiate assertions that political prisoners had been released and criminal prosecutions had taken place".

Only the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank had set up investigations that met international standards, the committee said.

The Goldstone report has recommended that the issue be transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if Israel and Hamas failed to conduct credible probes.

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