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Israel, Hamas fail to make progress on violations probe: UN

Both Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas have failed to make credible progress in investigating claims of war crimes committed during the 2008 conflict in Gaza, a UN committee said Monday.

In a report presented to the UN Human Rights Council, Mary McGowan Davis, who heads the committee, acknowledged that Israel has dedicated “significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza.”

However, only a fraction of these investigations have been completed.

“Given the scale of this undertaking, much remains to be accomplished. We noted that a number of investigations reportedly remain open,” Davis said.

In addition, “there is no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead,” Davis noted.

The committee also deplored Hamas’ failure to carry out investigations.

“We remain extremely concerned by indications that the de facto authorities have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel,” said Davis.

Israel had flatly refused to cooperate with the committee appointed to examine the progress of investigations by all parties in the war which left some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

The mission, which has had no access to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, was set up after a UN-mandated report by South African judge Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Palestinian groups of war crimes during the three-week conflict which erupted in late December 2008.

A first progress report drawing similar conclusions was made in September 2010 to the UN Human Rights Council.

Responding to Monday’s update, the Non-Aligned Movement and Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) slammed Israel for its refusal to cooperate with the committee.

“We cannot but express our dismay at the lack of progress and the utter disrespect by Israel of its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws and total disregard to the resolutions of this council and the General Assembly,” said Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Pakistan, speaking for the OIC, said the report should be referred to the General Assembly and the Security Council “to take necessary measures.”

The 575-page Goldstone report recommended that its findings be transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if Israel and Hamas fail to conduct credible investigations into the war.