UN Begins Gaza War Crimes Probe

Israel alleges bias, but Jewish rapporteur draws wide praise
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2009 6:36 AM CDT
UN investigator Richard Goldstone arrives for a meeting to the Hamas Health Ministry, in Gaza City, Monday, June 1, 2009.   (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
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(Newser) – A UN team investigating possible war crimes by the Israeli army and Hamas has arrived in the Gaza Strip for a weeklong fact-finding mission. Israel is refusing to cooperate with what it calls a "masquerade," alleging that the UN Human Rights Council is unfairly biased. But the selection of Richard Goldstone, a South African Jew with experience in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as head of the inquiry has given the commission greater legitimacy, reports the BBC.

Goldstone's team is to meet NGOs, UN agencies, and victims of alleged war crimes. In addition to visiting Gaza, Goldstone wants to tour southern Israeli towns that suffered Hamas rocket fire, but Israel seems unwilling to allow the UN team access. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already requested more than $11 million in compensation from Israel for damage to UN property in Gaza; a limited inquiry by the UN earlier accused Israel of targeting civilian shelters during the operation.