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U.N. Report on Gaza War Does Not Look at Hamas’ Role

The U.N. Secretary General’s interim report on investigations into the 2009 Gaza War does not include a direct investigation of Hamas’ role.

Ban Ki-moon attached an interim Israeli account of its investigations, and a lengthy report by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in his submission this week to the U.N. General Assembly, but there was no sign of any investigation by the authorities in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip of the terrorist group’s role in the war, which resulted in between 1,000-1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths.

Israel says Hamas launched the war with a massive intensification of rocket attacks on Israel’s south. Richard Goldstone, the U.N.-appointed investigator who charged both sides with war crimes, has said it is incumbent on both sides to make good faith efforts to set up independent inquiries.

Ban does not explain the omission. “I have called upon all of the parties to carry out credible, independent domestic investigations into the conduct and consequences of the Gaza conflict,” he writes. “I hope that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

Human Rights Watch, an independent group, chided Ban for not going further. “Israeli investigations still fall far short of being thorough and impartial, while Hamas appears to have done nothing at all to investigate alleged violations,” it said in a statement. “We regret that the secretary-general merely passed on the reports he received from Israel and the Palestinian side instead of making the failings of these investigations clear.”

The Israeli report included in Ban’s submission summarizes what it says is progress in military and civilian inquiries into the war.

The Palestinian Authority report focuses mostly on what is says are Israel’s violations, and then on Hamas violations of civil liberties in Gaza; it exonerates the Palestinian Authority of any excesses in the West Bank, although human rights groups say it is cracking down on opponents. Hamas drove the Fatah-led P.A. out of Gaza in 2007.

The P.A. report says that Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians would violate human rights, but adds that it does not have proof that these occurred, although such attacks have been subject to extensive media scrutiny.

The P.A. commission was not allowed access to the Gaza Strip.

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