That three-week Israeli military offensive, which started at the end of 2008 with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by militants operating in the area, left more than 1,400 people dead, injured 5,000 others and reduced homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble.
The report of the UN fact-finding mission, led by Justice Richard Goldstone, found that Israeli forces and Palestinian militants had committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, during the conflict.
The four-member team, set up at the request of the UN Human Rights Council, called on the two sides to carry out independent credible investigations into their actions.
Mr. Ban’s report – which concerns the implementation of the recommendations contained in the so-called Goldstone Report – contains inputs received from the Israeli and Palestinian sides on the efforts which they have undertaken so far to investigate alleged violations.
“I reiterate that international human rights and humanitarian law need to be fully respected in all situations and circumstances,” he writes in the report, which was issued yesterday.
“Accordingly, on several occasions, I have called upon all of the parties to carry out credible, independent domestic investigations into the conduct and consequences of the Gaza conflict. I hope that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
He adds that it is his hope that an Assembly resolution from March, by which the 192-member body endorsed the Goldstone Report’s findings and recommendations for further action, has served to “encourage investigations by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards.”
In March, the Human Rights Council decided to establish a panel of independent experts to monitor the independence, effective and genuineness of the investigations and their conformity with international standards.
The Secretary-General is conveying the documents he received from the Israeli and Palestinian sides to the High Commissioner for Human Rights for transmittal to the three-member panel, which comprises Christian Tomuschat, an expert on international human rights and humanitarian law; Mary McGowan Davis, a former justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York; and Param Cumaraswamy, a human rights expert who served for nearly 10 years as the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.