UN watchdog urges Israel to probe possible Gaza war crimes

Israel should investigate all alleged violations committed by its forces during three recent wars in Gaza and ensure military commanders are brought to justice for any crimes, a UN human rights watchdog said on Thursday.
A panel of independent experts urged Israel to halt construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, stop confiscating land for their expansion, prevent violence against Palestinians and take measures to withdraw all settlers.
Punitive demolitions of Palestinian and Bedouin homes in the West Bank and Israeli Negev desert, and forced evictions and transfers of these populations should be halted, they said.
The UN Human Rights Committee, chaired by British expert Sir Nigel Rodley, issued its conclusions and recommendations after examining Israel's compliance with an international treaty on civil and political rights.
Israel's latest land and aerial attacks on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in July-August caused a "disproportionate number of casualties among civilians, including children," the panel said.
More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the 51-day conflict, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel.
Israel launched the offensive with the stated aim of halting repeated militant rocket attack out of Gaza and to destroy tunnels built underneath the border area, which Hamas Islamist fighters used to stage attacks.
It was the third major conflagration in just seven years.
"(Israel) should ensure that all human rights violations committed during its military operations in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014 are thoroughly, effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in positions of command are prosecuted and sanctioned...," the committee of 18 experts said.
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