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10 February 2009

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Gaza – UN investigation must be extended

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's announcement today that he will conduct an investigation into attacks on UN installations in Gaza is welcome yet insufficient, unless a comprehensive inquiry is established, Amnesty International said today.

“The UN's investigation must not be so limited as to look only at recent attacks by Israeli forces on UN schools, staff and property in Gaza. It is not only the victims of attacks on the UN who have a right to know why their rights were violated and who was responsible, and to obtain justice and reparation,” said Secretary General Irene Khan. “What is needed is a comprehensive international investigation that looks at all alleged violations of international law - by Israel, by Hamas and by other Palestinian armed groups involved in the conflict.”

Amnesty International researchers who visited both Gaza and southern Israel during the fighting and in its immediate aftermath, found compelling evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. This included direct attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, attacks which breached the prohibition on disproportionate attacks and the use of weapons, such as white phosphorus, which have indiscriminate effects when used in densely-populated civilian areas. In the same period, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of indiscriminate rockets into civilian population centres in southern Israel.

The organization is urging the Secretary-General immediately to broaden the scope of the investigation announced today so that it would cover all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by all of the parties to the conflict. The Security Council should also support the call for a comprehensive investigation.

“The Security Council must live up to its responsibility to uphold international law and to ensure full accountability,” said Irene Khan. “It should support a full and independent investigation that covers all attacks that may have violated the laws of war during the recent fighting in Gaza and southern Israel.”

Amnesty International is urging all UN member states to support the Secretary-General's initiative and to demand a comprehensive UN investigation into all alleged abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law during the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel. 

“Long-term peace and security cannot be found in the Middle East unless accountability is established for crimes under international law and the cycle of impunity for serious violations perpetrated by all parties has come to an end,” said Irene Khan. 

Region Middle East And North Africa
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