(photo credit: Associated Press)
A group of UN experts criticized Israel and Hamas on Tuesday for failing to conduct serious investigations into alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip last year.
The three-member panel appointed by the UN Human Rights Council said in a report that Israel had only investigated low-ranking officials and the inquiries hadn't met standards of impartiality.
"Israel conducted investigations into many incidents, but only four resulted in criminal indictments, one of which led to a conviction for a credit card theft," said the panel's chairman Christian Tomuschat, a law professor at Humboldt University in Berlin.
It also criticized Israel for refusing to cooperate with the panel's multiple requests for information and access to Israel and the West Bank.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, called the panel's criticism "bizarre" and said the UN experts had ignored many internal investigations conducted by the Israeli government, the results of which were given to other officials within the global body.
On the Palestinian side, the UN panel said an inquiry by Hamas "made no serious effort" to address allegations leveled against the Palestinian militant group by a previous UN panel led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.
Hamas government spokesman Taher al Nunu also criticized the panel's
report and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"Ban Ki-moon personally and the UN are biased in favor of the occupation
(Israel) against the victims of the Gaza war," he said.
The panel's conclusions will be debated by the Geneva-based Human Rights
Council on Monday. On the same day the 47-member body is scheduled to
receive a separate report on Israel's military assault on a Gaza-bound
aid flotilla in which eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed.
Israel is frequently a target of close scrutiny by the council, which is
dominated by countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America.