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UN starts investigation in Gaza into human rights violations

RIA Novosti

20:4802/06/2009

GAZA, June 2 (RIA Novosti) - A UN investigative team began work in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to examine claims of human rights violations that are alleged to have occurred during a three-week military offensive by Israeli troops on Gaza in January.

The investigative team visited a UN office in Gaza that came under attack during the offensive, met a family, which lost dozens of family members and have also been given documentary evidence of the events in the enclave.

The group is working under Hamas-controlled security forces, which has barred journalists from the investigative process.

The delegation, which consists of 14 legal experts, is headed by a South African, Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The group is expected to remain in the Gaza Strip until Friday, and then continue their investigation in southern Israel, where Palestinian militants fired mortar rounds on border towns.

Israeli authorities have refused to cooperate with the UN investigators.

The Israeli Army earlier carried out an investigation into some of the more controversial events in the assault on Gaza, including strikes on a UN office, a hospital and residential areas, targeting of medical personnel and the death of hundreds of civilians, as well as claims the Israeli military used artillery shells containing white phosphorus.

The Israeli military said that there was "a very small number of incidents" that could have been considered reconnaissance or operational errors.

At least 1,300 Palestinians were killed many of them civilians, during the three-week offensive and some 5,000 people were injured.

 



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