UN to probe IDF damage to Gaza premises

Ban to establish commission to look into Israeli damage to UN premises during the recent Gaza conflict.

gaza rubble 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
gaza rubble 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council Monday he was about to establish a commission to look into Israeli damage to UN premises during the recent Gaza conflict, Reuters quoted diplomats as saying. Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu, the current council president, told reporters that during a closed-door briefing, Ban had promised to provide the council with details on the panel's mandate and the names of its members in the coming days. Several diplomats said the commission would be led by Ian Martin, a Briton who until recently was UN special envoy to Nepal. From 1986-92, Martin served as secretary-general of Amnesty International. Several UN buildings were damaged during Operation Cast Lead. On January 6, Israeli fire reportedly killed more than 40 people outside a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UN officials said that on January 15, Israeli shells demolished an UNWRA warehouse, and that the shells contained incendiary white phosphorus, whose use is banned in built-up areas. Shells also hit a UN-sponsored vocational training center, wounding three, they said. The IDF said that in each instance it had been responding to fire by Palestinian gunmen. Ban strongly protested the Israeli actions at the time and said there would be a UN inquiry. The diplomats said he was now ready to announce details. At least two inquiries are already under way, one by UNRWA and one by Israel. In addition, the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has announced plans for an probe of alleged human rights violations in Gaza. Takasu said the commission announced by Ban would report back to the Security Council, which would then decide how to respond. Other diplomats said they thought it unlikely that the US, which has veto power in the council, would allow the 15-nation body to adopt the commission's report as its own. Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters he understood the commission would consist of four members, plus a member from the UN secretariat. Another diplomat said the inquiry would last for a month. "We believe that what [Ban] did is a positive and responsible development and significant step in the right direction of investigating the crimes committed by Israel and keeping the Security Council engaged," Mansour said.