Middle East

UN chief Ban Ki-moon to set up Gaza conflict inquiry

Palestinian school children walk through destroyed houses in Gaza City's Shejaiya neighbourhood. Photo: 19 October 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption The 50-day conflict devastated parts of the Gaza Strip

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he is setting up an inquiry into attacks on UN facilities during Israel's recent offensive in Gaza.

He said the independent investigation would look into most serious cases where innocent people were killed.

The inquiry will also analyse the reported use of UN facilities by Palestinian militants to store weapons.

Some 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel.

The UN says that most of the Palestinian dead were civilians. Israel says the high civilian death toll was because of Hamas fighters launching attacks from residential areas, including schools and mosques, drawing return fire.

Israel launched the offensive in Gaza on 8 July, with the stated aim of stopping militants firing rockets and mortars at its territory.

Following several short-lived ceasefires, both sides agreed to an open-ended truce on 26 August which has so far held.

'Clock ticking'

Mr Ban was speaking at a UN Security Council on Tuesday after his visit to Gaza, including the Jabalia refugee camp, where civilians had sought protection during the conflict.

Israel-Gaza conflict

8 July - Israeli offensive began

5,226

air strikes on Gaza

4,591

rockets and mortars fired at Israel

  • 2,104 people killed in Gaza - UN estimates 69% of deaths are civilians

  • 6 civilians killed in Israel (including one Thai national)

  • 67 Israeli soldiers killed

"I look forward to a thorough investigation by the Israel Defense Forces of this and other incidents in which UN facilities sustained hits and many innocent people were killed," he said.

"I am planning to move forward with an independent board of inquiry to look into the most serious of those cases, as well as instances in which weaponry was found on UN premises."

In one incident, Israeli shelling reportedly killed more than a dozen people sheltering inside a UN-run school in Gaza.

Mr Ban also said "the clock is ticking" for humanitarian relief to rebuild the war-ravaged Palestinian enclave as winter approached.

He did not provide any further details about the investigation.

Last month, Israel ordered its own criminal investigation into five incidents in which civilians were believed to have died, and is investigating over 100 incidents in total.

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